Really, I knew that when I promised myself I would only knit on the blanket, that it would only be a matter of time until I tried to break that same promise. Myself and I are rather well acquainted at this time, and I know that great honking swathes of garter stitch executed in neutral colours is a recipe for knitterly infidelity, and that the deadline alone wouldn’t be enough to keep me faithful. I knew it would only be a matter of time (a short time at that) before I was trying to weasel out of all sorts of parts. I would be saying things like “I said I wouldn’t knit on anything else, but I didn’t say I wouldn’t work on socks. Socks don’t count.” or “Well, when I made the promise to only knit on the blanket, what I really meant was that I wouldn’t start anything new. Finishing things already underway doesn’t count” or even that old standby “I know I said that I wouldn’t knit on anything else but really, it would be reprehensible to ignore the fact that Christmas is in only 191 days and I’d better get cracking on that.” or how about “Holy cow, so-and-so is having a baby? That’s just cause. Allow me to drop this blanket faster than a boxful of dead gerbils and get right on that”. I knew that after a tiny little time, I would be looking for knitters with broken arms and knitting deadlines and proffering up help, exclaiming that it was my duty to help the poor souls.

I knew it. I knew that a couple of thousand stitches into an exercise in repetition, I would be begging for an excuse, so I made my promise to myself iron-clad. I promised that I would not knit on anything else. Nothing. Not socks, not emergency baby blankets (there’s irony), not Christmas, not birthdays, not rescue missions. Nothing. Knit this. Only this. Just the blanket. No other knitting. All other knitting counts. Knitting. This. Blanket.

I recognized my basic nature, copped to it and fenced myself in. So yesterday, when I really was about to run screaming into the night and had cleaned the bathroom with an old toothbrush so as to avoid the blanket… I finally found a way out.


That’s an Abby Batt (wool, silk, alpaca) being spun on a Trindle that I’m test driving. It’s a neat tool. It goes fast, but takes some getting used to.

It’s not knitting. You’ve got to admit it. I’m a genius.

160 thoughts on “Snap

  1. Did some thing change on your blog? The words on the far right are covered by the other links. It was fine before this last post.

  2. When I saw grey fleece I thought “genius!”. Spin up some more yarn for the gansey. It would be grey and no one would notice that it wasn’t the grey blanket. Or if they did, it would be more yarn for the blanket.

  3. Ah, but the feeling of having achieved your pledge to yourself to finish the blanket… and you are already over half way there, aren’t you? Doesn’t that oath of honor still have an allure of attraction for your pagan knitterly soul? Geeze, just think back to all those ponchos that you waded through…

  4. I think it’s like asking the sky to not be blue, or for water to not be wet. You are the Yarn Harlot….it’s not like you’re not up front with it! But the genius is definitely tangible on your loophole here. I don’t spin yarn (yet), but that little doohickey (spindle?) looks sweet. Enjoy!

  5. You are a genius! I have been wishing I picked up one of those trindles at MD sheep and wool.

  6. It’s not knitting, but it is a neutral color.
    How fast would you drop a box of dead gerbils?

  7. Not me, man. I let Presbytera shoulder that heavy load long since. (She’s a priest’s wife. She’s got bigger problems.) Me, I’m just giggling and nodding and hugging myself and waiting for that deadline to get close and the gibbering to begin. Because I’m going to be sooooooooo sympathetic.

  8. I’m having difficulty being monogamous with a lovely cashmere shawl so I can sympathise with the troubles of being jiggy only with a neutrals garter stitch blanket.
    How long will it be before trindles are the new spindles?

  9. Re: the spinning: Abbybatts = yum.
    Re: the trindle: OMG COOL LOOKING WANT ONE OMG
    Re: project monogamy: I like your resoning. It’s not knitting, it’s spinning! It’s a whole different hobby. ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Bravo – this ADD person is impressed with the thought process! I have always stated you can’t stop any imprinted behaviors cold turkey – this causes too much anxiety and twitching. I think the blanket will be all the better for your temporary distraction.

  11. Excellently devious of you! There’s nothing better than weaseling around your own words, is there? Are you sure you weren’t intended for a career in law?

  12. I’ll just say that watching you avoid deadline knitting is really tremendously entertaining for some of us. So go ahead. Spin the Abbycrack and leave the blanket for the very last second. Really.

  13. So, how do you like the trindle?
    I saw some at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and really thought about getting one, but there were so many things to buy.
    A review of your spindle would give you something to put in your blog, too, aside from a rant about how much you don’t want to knit the blanket.

  14. And Rams? As if having Norah’s Flower Child hanging over my head for August weren’t enough, I have to do the heckling alone? Honestly.

  15. Are any of us REALLY surprised that spinning would be the way out? I was just wondering how long it would take.

  16. The links beginning with the calendars (at the top) on the right are covering up part of the lines of text… Can you move them over so we can read your blog. Thanks so much.

  17. You made it a lot longer than I would have. These days I have the attention span of a gnat. On crack.

  18. You didn’t feel like a change of colour then? No hankering after pink or lime green or any other colour that came out of a dye pot?
    I have the sister to that trindle in the mail somewhere except that my discs are a sandier colour. I’m glad that I bought it before you showed yours otherwise there would be no chance of me ever getting my hands on one.

  19. still trying to resist the “making yarn” thing. i’m working on a shrug right now that has many many rows of 1 x 1 ribbing with about 250 stitches per round. i’m constantly thinking about other projects, but am trying to stay monogamous (or as monogamous as I can be considering I’ve already swatched on other project, left a second to work on a different project and never came back, and just bought the yarn for a third project). we will see if my will power to finish this project wins out over my desire to do something besides 1 x 1 ribbing! good luck with your garter stitch!

  20. Very cool! And – hey! What happened to Tuesdays are for spinning? Your unspun fiber is calling you…. and maybe a certain grey handspun and handknitted garment.

  21. Hey, hey, hey…no need to scare the crap out of the rest of us by bringing up the Christmas countdown — what did we ever do to you? ;o)
    (You’re totally a genius, though!)

  22. I warned you, my garter baby sweater is done & I’m heading on to complicted, crazy fun knitting, a garter blanket is too much of a committment, I’ve only got one of those in my life & his name is Mark.

  23. I do not have your self control. I am in the midst of finishing sock caps that have a shipping deadine to get to my charity. They have to be sent to the home base to be shipped to the schools so we always mail in the summer. Ack, I love knitting these hats and the purpose they are for but am so tired of the pattern, and they all must be the same. What am I doing this afternoon? A little escape knitting on a new sock. If I had only planned ahead I would not be in this situation, lol.

  24. Good girl! I knew you could do it!
    By the way, did you send Greg Kinnear a birthday card for yesterday?

  25. Excellent point! I am sort of wondering what would cause you to have a box of dead gerbils in the first place – just sayin’.

  26. Ooo, outside weighted a lot. Interesting. Still waiting for my new spindle to come in the mail/to be made. I am very not patient.

  27. I have an observation:
    Today you’re dropping a box of dead gerbils, and a few days ago you had the attention span of an infant gerbil…
    Genius: check. Gerbil preoccupation: ???

  28. That trindle must come with some sort of time-warpish, wormhole attachment that extends deadlines.

  29. Tis human nature to become disenchanted with rows and rows of garter stitch.And spinning your own yarn definitely isn’t knitting.So you found your perfect loophole….

  30. There’s a really REALLY solid reason that this is the “Yarn Harlot” blog and not the “Yarn Fidelity” blog.
    But I would totally read a blog with a cool title like “Yarn Fidelity”

  31. with at least 3 sweaters, two socks, one hat, never mind my own version of the Big Boring Blanket, all on various needles, my long-neglected drop spindle is now the most exciting thing I’ve seen since “Star Trek.” spin on!

  32. Oh Steph, this is great! I’ve thought about reminding you that we have not seen “Tuesdays are for spinning” for quite a long time. But I know you have been very busy and you are not here soley to entertain me with spinning stories. I’m so glad to see you thought of it all on your own!

  33. You haven’t really gone against the “only knit on the blanket” since you’re not knitting, you’re spinning. Yes, a small distinction, but it IS different.
    So tell us about the trindle. I’ve never seen one before. How does it work differently than the spindle?

  34. For some reason the right hand side of the blog entry is cut off by the other stuff that’s on the page. I don’t want to miss anything – is this my computer or yours?

  35. Oh, and I’m not having any issues with reading the blog-using a mac and safari (I checked and it looks fine in firefox too).

  36. Why didn’t you become a lawyer, or a marriage guidance councillor, or, BEST OF ALL, my official excuse thinker-upper! You are the most equipped person to spin, because your brain is already twisting the yarn, twisting your promises and twisting my view of absolute truth – and I have to say I like your way better!

  37. You should be a lawyer… It is true, this not knitting and you did’nt write :” I wouldn’t do anything reliable to yarn before I finished to knit the blanket.”
    Good for you!

  38. I love you for this. I really, really, really do. ๐Ÿ˜€
    And what a cool looking spindle! It’s very futuristic to my eye. ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. Yes, you are a genius! I have two and a half square areas left on the last panel of my throw, The Four Seasons one, and kept thinking that if you could stick to your blanket, I could stick to mine. Now the Little Meggie is calling to me!! Only the blanket, only the blanket, only the blanket…..

  40. Just gonna warn ya, hon. Having done this guy, the panels only get bigger, the color changes fewer and farther between. Progess feels less attainable. On the other hand, mine got finished on its deadline. And that almost never happens. Slog on, dear Harlot, slog on.

  41. I feel your pain. I continue to pick up and put down little log cabin squares of garter for a baby blanket I’m making for my newest nephew (he’s the 10th one and the novelty excitement of nieces and nephews has worn off, sorry). It’s a great project to knit when I want to read or just need mindless knitting, but when the pretty new sock in progress is singing a sweet siren song or a new KAL is starting up, I too can drop it like a box of dead gerbils. I’m setting a new goal of one square a week. I have to have this done before Christmas since I already blew past the May deadline. Good Luck with the blanket knitting motivation!!

  42. I KNEW you’d crack! LOL!
    Stephanie, could the reason for your retreat have anything to do with the colors? You’ve traded a neutral blanket for a trindle with a neutral color. That can’t be the reason.
    Maybe if you spun something outrageously vibrant, it would drive you back to the land of neutrals.
    Back to winding my malabrigo sock yarn. Heaven!
    Have fun trindling!

  43. And my hubbie calls me the Queen of Justification. Really. I am just one of your little princesses. Great job.

  44. Once more demonstrating that, “There is no off position on the genius switch.”

  45. What totally befuddles me is why you cannot allow yourself to knit anything except the big, grey, garter stitch blanket…. Is this penance?? did you confess some big, dark, sin to Fr. Dimitrius at the monastery when you were there?? Did he say you had to knit sober garter stitch only for the rest of your life?? Please, oh please fill us in on the deal with the bloomin’ blankie!

  46. Maybe don’t box yourself in so tightly next time. Divide number of days you have to knit into approx number of stitches (or square inches, or whatever), and see how much you have to do every day to meet the deadline. Once you knit that much each day, you’re free to do something else. And if you knit ahead a day or so, you can skip a day or so without getting off schedule. I did this for his-and-hers afghans crocheted as wedding presents. Made my deadline without losing my sanity.

  47. Ummm – someone is starting to sound a lot like Bill Clinton (“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If . . . ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….”)

  48. I am having the same problem viewing the blog that Cathy asked about. I was starting to wonder if it was just my computer.

  49. Does preparing for the Tour de Fleece count? Or would that be adding another slice of crazy-pie to your plate?

  50. I will freely admit you ARE a genius! (didn’t need you to come up with this to say that though. I think you are a genius anyway)
    Your blog keep me happy and sane. When life is really bad (and it is right now) I stop by and check up on you and most of the time, I laugh! Hard. And it makes me feel better. Not just anyone can make me laugh!

  51. Oh my that’s gorgeous! I have the same problem with making “promises” to myself; as soon as I resolve to finish something or not buy more yarn, the temptation is there to do just the opposite. It’s impossible to ignore.

  52. I have to say I’d hold onto a box of dead gerbils a whole lot longer than a box of live ones. Ewww, rodents. Ick.
    Pretty spinny thing, Harlot. I’m trying to stick to one project at work, one at knit night, and one at home. Trying. Not necessarily succeeding but trying.
    I look forward to the deadline meltdown, too, Rams & Presbytera. I could use a pick-me-up.

  53. The trindling is still using string and waving your arms about repeatedly over it, and it does make something special.
    Not only ‘pre-tty, or so pre-tty’, but also ‘witty and bright’, and I can just see that from the photos and read about it in the blog.

  54. Faster than a box of dead gerbils?! That’s a really really good new idiom. I’m going to start using that one. I already stole “glorious brown elixir of life” to refer to coffee. You do good things for the English language.

  55. I’m impressed you lasted this long (as in, you cleaned the bathroom with a toothbrush first) before finding the spinning loophole — well done ๐Ÿ˜‰

  56. I know what you should do to avoid knitting the blanket of repetitive boredom! Get ahold of those test knitters and get us desperate knitters the pattern for the Pretty Thing cowl!
    We’re all so desperate for it! Please please please can we have it so we can make some for Christmas gifts for loved ones?

  57. I have been finding that for the last several months, spinning is a great excuse and respite from doing almost anything else! Pretty batt!

  58. You’re funny! Ok, I made a baby blanket like this. But mine was wonky. Not on purpose. So maybe that tutorial on picking up stitches would be a good thing. Oh, the baby blanket was still cute :>)

  59. Wow, I’m impressed. I thought for sure you were going to say you found some weasely way to work on another knitting project. Spinning is totally legal. I’m surprised the neutral colors haven’t made you crack yet though.

  60. Omigod you are so cheating! How could you?
    Oh yeah — unfaithful wench, thy name is HARLOT.

  61. Based on Tuesday’s photo, I’d say you got much further than I would have before succumbing to the call of other activities.
    In my case, I’ve been plowing along on a version of the Latifah scarf from Fall ’03 Knitty for the better part of a week. Like your blanket, this is lots of garter stitch with occasional color changes (and accent ruffles). I’m almost 3/4 of the way through and I took a break from knitting it (I also had sworn to finish it before touching one of my other knitting projects) to take a sewing class today. I have a brand new pincushion/sack to show for my efforts, and feel ready to attack that scarf again.
    I’m sure you’ll be excited to return to the blanket as soon as you finish spinning the batt (sooner if the batt is really big).

  62. Re yesterday’s post:
    Blanket Size Check ’09
    ’09? Just how long is this blanket going to take?

  63. Your visit to Woodstock was a success in more ways than one. Your neighbors don’t even know they should be thankful that you didn’t have to go running out into the night. You truly are a genius…..

  64. Oh darling. When you predict your nature, you do not FIGHT it, you compromise. “For every hour I work on this blanket, I get fifteen minutes of something else that will prevent me from sticking my needles in my eyes.” Or something like that but less gruesome.
    At least, that’s how I compromise with myself. Myself is willful, headstrong, frequently uncompromising, and easily bored. Which is why I’m *whispers* not knitting right now. SHHH!

  65. I saw this in the check out at the market:

  66. I bought my ladyfriend a Trindle at MSWF this year, and oh my gosh! We both love it. I’ve stol…erm…borrowed it multiple times. It’s a cool little tool.

  67. I admit, I haven’t had time to read all the comments, but am I the only one bothered by only 191 days until Christmas?!?

  68. If Tuesday is for spinning, then you’ve done great sticking with boring garter stitch, because today is Thursday.
    Isn’t it amazing what you can get done while a deadline is looming? That’s why I love deadlines. Works like a charm for so many other projects. Good work.

  69. I’ve stopped making promises like that to myself. If I hate the project I’m supposed to be working on enough, I’ll actually just stop knitting completely rather than work on it. I find I do better to limit myself to a couple of projects, and switch back and forth when one gets too painful.

  70. Only 191 days until Christmas… I need to lie down.
    I admire your choice to spin instead of knitting something else. I’ll have to use that technique some time. Of course there is a danger that you’ll run out of stuff to spin. I’m just saying.

  71. An entire blanket of garter stitch would, in all seriousness, give you a bad case of repetitive movement syndrome. You really need to alter it with other things. It would be better to swear an hour’s fidelity to the blanket a day and then move on to something else like lace or cables which force you to move your hands differently, if only slightly. Much better for you, and your sanity, in the end.
    But make yourself work on the blanket before moving on to another project.

  72. I actually really love boring garter stitch blankets. I’d be happy to take it off your hands and free you up to do something else, but probably by the time it got to California, I finished it, and sent it back, your deadline will probably be long past.

  73. In extreme cases of knitting project boredom I have resorted to rewards of chocolate, even though it means a trip to the store. Bite sized pieces are broken and for a certain number of rows worked I get a reward. Although there have been times I’ve ( throat clearing )cheated on the row count, I do make progress and am happy doing it because I’m now full of chocolate. Recently, though I have been working on a sweater at the far range of my ability and after discovering serious errors had to frog the entire back and one front. TV watching and Aran knitting = do-overs. A garter-stitch scarf on big needles has been just the ticket to ( what’s left of ) my sanity.

  74. Well, that makes for a nice break but when you do get back to the blanket… if you decide to do a “how to pick up stitches tutorial” which I would be totally for, just to see how an experienced knitter does it (I learn everything out of books), would you also show how you do the last 2 panels that require the intarsia-type thing? I made that blanket last year and when I got to that part I could never get it to look neat, so I gave up and just made it more of a log cabin. They ended up being kind of long strips instead of the cool big blocks. I think your blanket with the natural colors is beautiful, and I do remember getting pretty antsy at about that same point!! i vote for renting those videos!

  75. LOL!!!! I love it and you are absolutely right! Spinning is not knitting so technically you aren’t breaking your promise to yourself. What a cool spindle. I love spindles and I don’t have anything like that in my collection. The fiber looks lovely too. I have to admit that your spindle is probably much more fun than a tutorial on cakes……..but not more fun than a tutorial on how to make authentic Canadian Butter Tarts!

  76. (sickly sweet voice, like you use with a clearly muddled child) Dear dear Harlot. You poor deranged deary. All this neutral color scheme, even in spinning. What you need is some bling to brighten up your garter stitch. Why don’t you randomly toss some pretty bejeweled stitch markers on your needles during the project? Location doesn’t matter…really….but it might spice up the project! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  77. Thank heavens you have come back to your senses! I was worried. I have done a garter stitch blanket with a friend of mine and it was HELL.
    Welcome Back.

  78. Rams, Presbeterya(sp) and AllisonH…You 3 crack me up with your comments ๐Ÿ™‚

  79. I’m a little new at knitting, so I’m confused, what are you spinning??? How does that thing work? It looks pretty cool!
    Oh, and why do you have to only knit the blanket and only the blanket???

  80. Just think of the spinning as a way to avoid rsi or carpel tunnel of the brain.
    Can one spin gerbil fur? Just wondering…

  81. You are indeed a genius – and/or very very clever. I followed the link – but, really, what about this trindle thing? You’ve spun a lot but how does it feel relative to a spindle? I am very intrigued…

  82. You are your own worst enemy, aren’t you? But hey, that’s why, when you promised us the blog would be boring after a stretch of blanket knitting, we didn’t believe you. We didn’t think it would be long before you grew bored yourself (well I guess I shouldn’t speak for everyone and change all the ‘we’s to ‘I’s) and your attention span, while impressive given the hours required to knit the things you knit, is too short to blog only about the blanket, and that you’d find a way around yourself.
    Your blog is never boring. Hello! Harlot! Not monogamous around here.

  83. You need ghost knitters! I don’t know who the blanket is for, or if there is need for your actual fingers to do all of the knitting, but I vote for ghost fingers. Surely, in your area, there are knitters you know and trust to help out. I’d do it if I were closer. Shipping it would be fraught with danger of losing it and need to start over. But local people are longing to have a hand in a harlot blanket. I just know it!

  84. Stephanie,
    I hereby award you the “Master of Self-Deception” Award! And thanks for making me laugh!

  85. You already have a stash weasel. Do we need to make you a knitting weasel too?
    The Trindle looks very interesting. Reminds me of the fifties boomerang/astro style.

  86. Continuing the wildlife theme — your Twitter says you have green-bin-goring raccoons? You already had an aggressive fleece-stealing squirrel. When I think of the people who were worried for you welfare among the remote cabin’s wildlife, I can’t help but think their concern was misplaced…

  87. Project monogamy has got to be bad if you’ll resort to house cleaning to avoid working on something. I mean, to me that has got to be the actual low bar (especially the bathroom)!

  88. i think i speak for your readers everywhere when i say “we have never doubted your genius!!!”

  89. you will have to tell us more about this new tool/toy of yours. When I went to look at the link they were all gone. Off to google to learn more about it if I can, not that I need another spindle but hey a girl can dream can’t she.

  90. Ah… creative thinking. Gotta love it.
    Have you noticed a slight propensity to want to do nasty things to gerbils…? Just askin’.

  91. Just a comment on your Law and Order UK tweet (I am not on Twitter, but I like to read your tweets on this site)…it only started last Wednesday, so if you caught it last night, you only missed one! I heart Bradly Walsh : )

  92. When I try to stick to one project and want to play with other yarns, my arms break out in a stress rash. Clearly I am not a production knitter, but a process knitter. Deadlines do me in every time.

  93. When you started the blanket, I thought it might be an interesting project, but I did the math. I’m a little weird that way. Well, maybe a lot weird. Anyhow I opted for a lacy top in cotton worsted for my 8-year-old niece instead. But if knowing exactly how far you’ve come and how far you have to go is helpful, read below. But if that will just discourage you, STOP NOW.
    The garter stitch knitting of the blanket (excluding cast-on and cast-off, picking up stitches and the border) is 180,840 stitches. At the end of each block, you have completed the following percentage of the whole:
    Block 1 5.5%
    Block 2 7.9%
    Block 3 15.9%
    Block 4 25.5%
    Block 5 31.9%
    Block 6 37.9%
    Block 7 53.1%
    Block 8 70.0%
    Block 9 100.0%
    So when Natalie held up the first 4 blocks for the picture earlier this week you were one-quarter done.
    Keep on truckin’

  94. I have to know…is this the same blanket pattern that your freind Rachel from “Free Range Knitter” made? I breezed through the book, and read exerpts to my mom (who is NOT a knitter) she loved it, I loved it, and I feel connected. Thank you for sharing on your blog and in your book.

  95. I have to say, I knit one of these blankets. It was a wedding present, so also on a deadline. I think the only reason I finished it was that I broke my arm and could only knit simple things on big needles, and I couldn’t cast on anything new. In other words, this blanket was the only thing I could knit for nearly 6 weeks.

  96. I bought my son and I a Trindle at MDSW this year, and it’s so much fun — spins great, and there’s something oddly soothing about twiddling it around in your fingers, even when you’re not spinning with it. Simple, yes…

  97. Oh my! I do admire a woman who understands her limitations, designs a process to limit variance from desired outcomes…and then promptly seeks to find a way around the process definitions! (Can you tell that I used to work in process quality?) I am certain that this was just a test to see how robust your “only the blanket” system was constructed! I am pleased to see that the North American mind demonstrates there is no problem we can’t overcome, no challenge too great! I now know they obviously do not have the right person working on solving global warming or the fiscal crisis!

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