As though it were a Chinook, the knitting mood I was in at the beginning of the week has passed.  On Monday I couldn’t get enough new projects and started about eighteen things by the time it ran its course… and now the urge has faded, and with it, the rationale for why I started all those projects.

At the time, the green sweater I began seemed like the only thing that would scratch the itch, and just this morning I looked at it and tried to figure out what the hurry was.  That vest? Was I really going to knit that? Out of that yarn?  Really?  Knowing full well that the only person in the family who needs a hat is me… what’s up with that pile of circular needles – each with two rounds of a hat for everyone but me on them?  What – I think, as I survey the stacks of projects that startitis got off the ground… what was I thinking?

It’s always been compelling to me that knitting is so many things.  I know it looks simple, but it’s just not, and the motivation for doing it at all can be just as diverse.  Ever have that thing where someone asks you if knitting is relaxing.. and you’re about to say yes… because you’re thinking of how relaxing it is, when suddenly you remember that episode with the bobbles that wouldn’t stay on the right side of your work and how you ended up actually crying fierce, hot tears of frustration?  Crying about bobbles? That wasn’t very relaxing, was it?  How about gauge? You find that relaxing? How about that time that you spent all that money on that yarn and then couldn’t work the stitch pattern for the sweater you were working on because there was an error in the pattern.  That was absolutely MEDITATIVE, wasn’t it? 

When people say stuff to me about knitting, characterizing it as… whatever they think it is (calming, hard, relaxing, stupid, tricky) I just say yes.  

"My goodness, you must have the patience of a Saint- that’s so precise!"
I say yes.
"That looks really complicated, it must be hard."
I say yes.
"Oh- aren’t you lucky.  Being a knitter must be so relaxing."

Truth is that it’s all of those things.  When you’re getting shafted by brioche stitch, knitting is as frustrating as trying to train cats to work calculators. Trying to interpret an intricate bit of lace – it becomes fiddly and challenging.  Starting six new things is nothing short of exciting, accomplishing a neat bit is absolutely encouraging…casting off a sweater generates something else. (That’s a tricky one.  It could be pride and fulfillment …or soul crushing disappointment. No way to know in advance.)  I can agree with all of them because knitting is all of them, at one time or another – and that knitting can be many things and serves many deeply personal motives, is really too much complexity to help your average non-knitter come to understand in a few minutes as they admire your sock in an elevator.

I suppose then, that it might be too much complexity for me to entirely understand too, as much as I think I do.. because here I sit, surrounded by a mountain of things that it was vital I knit on Monday… 

…and it is snowing outside, the CBC is on the radio, my kettle is about to sing, and for the life of me, I can’t tell you what I thought I needed with any of that knitting,  other than a nice, plain sock.

Knitting, you are a deep and fickle mistress.

174 thoughts on “Quietly

  1. Well, I think the only answer to why you started everything is “it happens”. You could be Franklin. He worked and worked and worked on a manly biker hat for himself that turned into a cloche. It Happens too.

  2. My recent startitis mixed knitting and carding and spinning. I dealt with it by knitting a row or 2, carding a few locks of the show Lincoln fleece, spinning those locks on the drop spindle, and spinning a few handfuls of Falklands wool on my espinner. Nothing is getting accomplished fast, but I haven’t added to the start pile, yet.

  3. How can you not love knitting it so mimics life in general. And for all the reasons you mentioned.

  4. At least yours seems to be knitting in parallel. I seem to do serial knitting myself. Cast something on, work furiously for an hour or two, declare it absolute crap, rip it out while describing its failings in GREAT detail, cast on something else, repeat until I run out of yarn, needles, patience, or wakefulness.
    You’ve got a pile of projects…I’ve got a pile of tangled yarn. I like your way better.

  5. Enjoy the tea, the craziness will return at a later date (tea will be good then too!)

  6. I am suffering from “can’t decide on yarn” for a specific project. This has lead to two separate purchases that will now be used for other things. The 1st yarn need still exists and I now have yarn for two yet-to-be-known projects. 🙂
    Love the yarn for the socks!

  7. When the poop hits the fan again with your mother, and the tears of rage, frustration, sorrow, guilt and exhaustion blind your eyes, then a nice sock top just round and round actually does sooth the soul and allows some creativity to come out of the chaos, pain and maelstrom of your life.

  8. Keep going — it hasn’t completely passed until you remember that the reason there’s no hat for you in that pile is your conviction that hats make you look like a penis with feet.
    The sock’s pretty gorgeous, though.

  9. I’m hopeing the finishitis hits me with the pile of stuff I’ve finaly finished knittintg that just needs to be seamed, or blocked, or a bit of ribbon or buttons or something- and is still just sitting there.

  10. Steph,
    Sometimes I am amazed how you seem to reach into my head and beautifully articulate what I am feeling as a knitter AND about life. Thank you. I remain an awed fan!

  11. Yes. All of that -yes. I am very curious to see what the neuroscientists eventually figure out about the brains of knitters – what little pleasure center is getting pushed over and over again that I have 20 fleeces to spin? How strong is my hippocampal (or whatever) denial spot that I have 4 (or maybe 5) bins of unfinished projects? What the hell am I, really?

  12. You know, sometimes I think knitting is whatever we need it to be right in that moment. Those bobbles that made you cry? Probably a day you were due for a good cry – and if you’d needed something soothing and easy, you would have picked up the plain socks that day instead. Except for the trying on a new sweater to crushing disappointment – that one defies explanation.

  13. Other than a pair of socks and a sweater, most of my startitis got taken out by getting out the yarn, copying the pattern and putting them in a baggie on the project shelf. The sweater is for my granddaughter and is more than 1/2 done, and I just turned the heel on one of the “unnecessary” socks (except my mom was at my sisters and my sister accidentally felted the socks I made mom last year so she needs a new pair, making this pair necessary now 🙂
    My project shelf is packed… stuffed, actually, but fortunately I don’t have a pile of “what-the-heck-was-I-thinking” knitwear going. (not talking about the lace… frogged that, still not sure why I can’t knit Icarus and get past the 25th row without having to pull it back).

  14. While I’m pretty sure you mean the Wind by “Chinook”, I’m at work right now in a Salmon genetics lab and had the most hilarious moment of confusion I’ve had in a while while I tried to figure out what knitting and startitis had to do with salmon…Made my day!

  15. Salmon pass, too, if you happen to be standing next to a stream in the right part of the continent! 🙂

  16. It’s good to know that the post-holiday slump doesn’t affect just me. I was so proud to finish all the promised gifts and then what happened? I sit surrounded by sparkling new things and old wips (now is the time!) and am overwhelmed by total brain freeze. Help! (Send chocolate!)

  17. Love the sock yarn, too, and for once, you forgot to tell us what it is. Your kitchen looks peaceful and lovely, so right for a snowy day! We were snowed in yesterday, too, so I got a lot of extra knitting time and finished my first big project for 2011–Gina’s Rhuanna–which came out cozy and warm. Woke up this morning, evidently having decided in my sleep that my next project is going to be your Snowdrop Shawl in Malabrigo lace–can’t wait to get started! Best, randmknitter

  18. I, too, am having very itchy start-itis. But I think mine is fuelled by new pattern books. I am forcing myself to at least finish ONE sock before casting on for the fabulous Origami Shrug in Brave New Knits (from Melissa Wehrle)…I already have the first hank of yarn wound up and ready to go!

  19. I absolutely agree. And knitting has helped me get through this holiday season when I lost my grandmother (age 91) and my sister-in-law (age 40) the Sunday before Christmas. I knit everyday to escape, to collect my thoughts, to mourn. At first I wasn’t able to focus on anything more than a garter stitch scarf and now I look at that warm, fuzzy, soft scarf and I am grateful that that piece of knitting is there to comfort me when I am at a low point.
    Thanks knitting.

  20. You are a harlot, after all. ‘Tis your nature to be fickle. Now, I just need an excuse for my fickleness. Also, what’s that sock yarn? It looks Trekking tweedy.

  21. I’m so glad you can put words to the feelings of the rest of us. When the world commits all the knitters to asylums you will be the lone voice of reason. (We hope)
    After finishing the majority of my Christmas knitting, the second sock for my brother triumphed with help from a sinus infection to bring me down for two and a half weeks. I’ll beat the stupid thing though I fixed the heel problem and I’m roughly 3″ from the end. Just wait I’ll be hit by a car or something…

  22. I just walked in from a day at the local needlework group needing to frog 2/3 of a day’s knitting on my first Clapotis. I needed your post. Thank you.

  23. Unfortunately, my 2010 self-imposed sock club failed miserably about half way through the year. New year, new goal. This year I will make it all the way to the end successfully. So why in God’s name, when I have chosen man-sized socks for the January installment, did I also cast on a lace shawl (Bee Fields nonetheless)?? Startitis can be a real bitch.
    P.S. Must know the name of that sock yarn. Absolutely lovely.

  24. Yep, that’s exactly why I love knitting. It is all things at different times (and sometimes all at once). And I just realized I’ll be in New York next week…what projects should I bring? And should I start something new for the plane?

  25. Your post reminded me of something I thought of the other day…
    I love knitting and if I don’t get some knitting time in each day, I just feel out of whack.
    And my husband is a fly fisherman, a tyer of flies and creator of tiny fake insects. (thats usually what fly fisherman do in the winter months…)
    Anyway my thought was crystalized in your post. Substitute the words knit, knitter and knitting, with the same forms of what it is in fly tyer terms – tie, tyer, tying I think…and the overiding sentiment would be valid too.
    Replace sweater, sock, hat, scarf with any of the miriad of flies and insects that a fly tyer produces and it would work. (Although not so much the crying stuff. I don’t think fly tyers get that emotional, but I could be wrong.)
    It dawned on me that when I expect my husband to respect the frustrations on bad knitting days, and pride I feel on the good knitting days, that I should always remember to show the same for his endeavors with his hobby. I am sure to him tying is calming, hard, relaxing, stupid, tricky, meditative, rewarding and frustrating. It made me look at what is he doing with completly different eyes.

  26. Seriously, AMEN. Last night I too was terrorized by Startitis. Your post today has talked me down, off the ledge. Thank you. I feel better “off the ledge”.
    Knitting is definitely ALL of THAT!
    Very much enjoy your blog, thank you.

  27. I’m having anti-startitis. I really don’t want to cast on for anything, but I really want to be in the middle of something I can just pick up and work on. Maybe I’ll cast on for a triangular shawl tonight. I think I can handle casting on 3 stitches. Maybe once I have a few things on the needles, I can think about sitting down to cast on the few hundred or so for that sweater I want.

  28. I try to keep things rational… Am I at a part of my sock where I need to pay attention? Well lets take 30mins to cast on it’s mate so that when I reach the heel/interesting part I can work on its mate’s less interesting parts. I also take all my sock yarn and measure it out into two equal size balls when I get it so that if I’m working toe up I can end when I run out and if I’m doing cuff down then both the toes will match!
    I also want to know that lovely yarn’s name and number. Care to hook a girl up?

  29. I have never thought knitting was meditative. Perhaps it’s because I still have to look at my work while I do it, but my brain is just fascinated by the mechanics/physics/engineering aspects of knitting. I cannot look at a knit item with out seeing it as if it were a “blueprint” of how to make it myself.

  30. What is that yarn? (I am with AlisonH and Jane cerebrally anyway, if not physically). It looks like Zauberball Crazy Sock in Schlocken-something like chocolate or coffee – excuse my German, no need to guess what I have spent a lot of the last four weeks doing on Ravelry. I ordered a different colourway, and received it, but I don’t like it, but DH says he would like socks out of Kleiner Fuchs (go figure that one), perhaps if I mix it up with a brown stripe, a la Noro striped scarves he might actually wear them!
    Yes, knitting is many things. Aren’t we lucky we find this wonderful thing that can be so many things to us all in one craft. I am more of a cerebral knitter – scheming, planning, dreaming of colour, buying, not so good at achieving the FO’s. And yes, I now always like to have a pair of socks at the ready with some plain garter stitch, very soothing when the rest of the world is getting to me.

  31. I chuckled as I read your post – all those projects now sitting unloved and unwanted. Perhaps you’ll come back to them some day. I do love the sock though.
    The threatened snowstorm was just a couple of inches, and since I was busy cooking chicken noodle soup, the only thing I started was a swatch for some wristlets. Worked up to wrong gauge, so now I have to buy some more needles before I can proceed. Oh well, back to Dad’s slipper sock. Maybe I can finish it by the weekend.

  32. The nice thing about Startitis is when the backlash hits, as demonstrated here, you are only 2-5 rows into whatever you were going to make. So, frogging tends to be a bit easier.

  33. Startitis is why I have a small linen closet stuffed with projects bags…and why almost none of them are empty! (But I’m down from TWO small linen closets stuffed full, so progress is being made, lol.)

  34. I’m on the mood to knit a whole lot of stuff too. I am trying to resist the urge to start a million things, and I’m doing okay with it…. for now.

  35. Still working on my husband’s red Christmas sweater (plain knit stitches in the round – sooooo boring!)
    so I put it down to start on the Saroyan scarf. I had some stash I needed to get rid of anyway. I guess I’m still in the startitis stage and beginning to doubt if I’ll ever finish that sweater.

  36. I have thus far in my knitting career remained Start-itis Free. I’m always amazed to hear that people started 15 projects in a row – I just don’t get it. Perhaps there is something wrong with me?

  37. I’m not having startitis – I’m having re-startitis. I cast on (the same) pair of socks for the 3rd time in less than a week yesterday. Too holey once, dropped a stitch 3 rows earlier the next time. I’m hoping 3rd time’s the charm…
    I also have one shawl to block and fringe and a triangle shawl to cast on (which I could actually do now that I’ve changed my needle size on my socks. Hmmmm…)

  38. I really wish my startitis would run out of steam already. It’s getting embarrassing.
    Why do we never knit for ourselves when we need something, but knit others absolutely lovely items.

  39. Are you using different needles? Those look like knitpicks – I thought you preferred metal…

  40. The other day my boyfriend said something along the lines of: It’s amazing that you’re so into a hobby that seems to stress you out.
    And maybe sometimes it does create unnecessary stress in my life, but despite it all, I love knitting. And I love what I get out of it. So yes, it’s hard and stressful, and I cry a lot when I keep messing up the gauge, but knitting rocks my world.

  41. And sometimes our startitis is caused by others demanding that we make them some of what we made others. I am lost in the midst of sock wilderness where not only have I had to overcome second sock syndrome but because they all wanted the same I’m dealing with 6th sock syndrome with two more to go.

  42. Absolutely positive I’ve been here, and I’m doing the teach myself method. Now what EXACTLY was I thinking?!? [:)

  43. I always think that one day there comes a time of expertise in which knitting won’t kick my behind. Guess I’m dreaming. PS Love the mosaic tiles and warm colors in your kitchen.

  44. And that pretty yarn is…? (Looks like Mary Maxim Mardi Gras because I have some in my stash, but it can’t be because that sock is just too pretty to be mass-market Mary Maxim yarn.) PS, your kitchen is *lovely*. Wish mine was that clean. Can you be borrowed? 🙂

  45. Said eloquently as usual. For me the big push was to get my 12ft Dr Who scarf done. Now that it’s done I don’t really know what to do with myself. I miss the miles and miles of garter stitch (never thought I’d say that!).

  46. And I really want to see the piles of things you started so I don’t feel like such a dork having as many unfinished projects on the needles as I do. If the Harlot does it, it must be okay!
    Is that sock the January 2011 sock of the month?

  47. Finally! You got your priorities straight again… um, sort of. LOL! At least plain socks are relaxing… except when I’m knitting Paul Bunyan sized socks instead of the right size for my husband… AND knitting a pair of socks for my daughter… on the same circular. Crap! I dropped the marker again!

  48. For the record, I am jealous of you. Not because of the knitting (although I am!) or the kettle on… it is the amazing cleanness of your kitchen counters! They are lovely, and mine wish to look likeyours!

  49. Steph’, one of the reasons why you have such a legion of loyal and admiring fans is that you have a way of stating so eloquently and succinctly, all the things we think and feel and—most importantly—love, but can’t find words for about knitting! Thanks!

  50. First, I want to meet Rams and Presbytera. Second, your home grown sock club has prompted me to organize a home grown wip finish-’em-up club for myself. Third, I started a pair of socks for a friend in 2007 that are done to the heel flap. In lieu of finishing them for her birthday last March, I knit her a Double Vee cardigan.
    Fourth, I am adding those socks to the wip club. Maybe they’ll get done this year?
    Fifth, the process of knitting, at least in my environs, is rarely logical.

  51. I love what you are knitting in the picture. More info, please.
    Your blog today sounds like you are very contented with your life.

  52. Is the yarn Online Supersocke Sierra? I have only knit plain socks for myself once and it was out of this same yarn.

  53. lovely sock. what yarn? so different wound than knit up! a nice surprise – and perfect for a snowy day

  54. I’ll have to show this post to my husband. It’s finally starting to dawn on him that I really do love knitting *even when it drives me crazy*. It’s kinda like him, in that regard. Unconditional love, despite the beloved’s flaws. He thought I was nuts the last time I kept knitting through my tears (when the double-knit hat I was making for him got mangled by one of the cats to the point of having to be completely frogged and re-started). He just couldn’t understand why I’d keep knitting it when I was so obviously miserable.
    Then again, I have trouble understanding the allure of bicycling across the state of Iowa in July, with the heat and mugginess and storms and so on, sleeping on the ground and bathing in convenience store bathrooms. But it makes him happy, so I give him a hug goodbye and settle in for a week of knitting and having the bed all to my ownself, wheee. We’re both crazy, yes? Just crazy about different things.

  55. Like several other commenters, I have a serious need to know what sock yarn that is. I must have it!

  56. As quite a few have said already, sounds quite a bit like life. But I enjoy the challenge that both bring on a daily basis. Cheers!

  57. Pretty kitchen, pretty yarn, and even prettier needles! What are they? (I lust after DPNs almost as much as I do after sock yarn.)

  58. omg– I made those socks! I mean, I know, lots and lots of people bought that yarn, too… but yours look so much like mine, somehow, that it made me smile.

  59. Please would the Steph School of Slightly Less Crappy Knitting please give a tutorial on keeping bobbles on the right side of the fabric? Pleeze???

  60. I desperately need to know what that sock yarn is, and what you do with brussel sprouts for pasta (from your Tweet)! I’m staunchly holding my personal line against Startitis because I really really really need to finish my first ever cardigan sweater that is so very nearly done. It just needs ends woven in and buttons sewn on. Guess I’d better finish it tonight before you post the identity of the sock yarn . . .

  61. Mmmmm…I like that yarn. Can you remember the name of it? Looks like a Zauberball maybe?…I just started my first Z. socks that look like a lake in the forest in autumn…of course, I could be overthinking that… Anyway, please share.

  62. I’m in that state where I should just go ahead and cast on what I want to to take the edge off. I have to finish six little Pocket Creatures, and they take FOREVER to get all the fiddly little details right. Or at least, I’m so anxious to be casting on the next project and so totally done with these that I am slower than molasses in January. Hopefully tonight I can finally scratch that itch – and probably cast on four new projects!

  63. Every time I sit down to knit I try to figure out what it is about knitting that I love so much, and for the life of me I can’t figure it out.
    I love that sock yarn.. can you whare what it is?

  64. OMG…were you channeling my sock-exhausted brain today? I had a similar bout of cast-on fever and ended up with two pairs of socks going at the same time along with a birthday gift scarf and was feeling guilty that I hadn’t swatched my son’s promised hoodie. Threw sock #1 into knitting basket, as it needed a timeout for misbehaving mosaic knitting, threw sock #2 across office desk because the foot was BORING, but managed to finish the scarf…off to swatch “Guilt Hoodie” tonight. Maybe I need lots of rounds of stockinette to make me realize how much fun knitting can be.

  65. I must fear starting something new. When I’m nearing the end of a project, I begin to feel pangs of regret. I don’t want to decide what to do next. I don’t want new yarn, different needles, someone else’s style of pattern writing to decipher. I cling to the familiar, even if the familiar is less than rewarding. I suspect it relates to the size of my stash. I don’t have much of a yarn stash, except for my own handspun. I never buy “a sweater’s worth” of some yarn I admire, because I don’t know how much a sweater’s worth is.
    So I complete a project, then stand frozen, facing a bleak evening with no project. I am bereft. I wander the halls of Ravelry without coming up with a project that I can immediately cast on.
    Clearly, I haven’t taken my Ravelry queue building seriously, nor have I enough yarn to see me through an emergency. Perhaps those could be my resolutions this year. Next year is soon enough to stock the earthquake preparedness kit.

  66. Mom said that knitting was like composing music. Different yarns, different time signature or key, different patterns, different songs, different instrumentations….. Mom knits little creatures, cats, doggies, bears, lynxes, bunnies…from 3 inches to 10 inches and plays fiddle with a dance band. Maybe she could write a jig-n-reel set called “Knitting etc.” and they would dance to it. Hmmmm

  67. I am between small portable projects and trying to learn to knit stranded (only 2 colors) but it’s like wrestling octopus. I probably should start a plain sock for travel but I’m afraid I’ll never finish the stranded hat! No, it’s not portable – I don’t want people to hear me swearing in public.

  68. I had a severe bout of startitis about the same time you did. I think it was left over holiday knitting “energy.” I had been all amped up to finish some presents and and I wasn’t quite ready to turn it off just yet.
    I thought I would try to be productive and created a bunch of monthly “kits” of everything I need to knit this year (Christmas and birthdays) and space them out sensibly. I’m a little afraid that as the year goes on I’ll look at a kit and wonder why I thought that was a good idea. But I figure I can always change the project as long as I’m not trying to finish them all in the wee hours before they are “due.”
    Ravelry has a group for this and they give away prizes! I’m alway motivated by the chance of a prize so I’m hoping this plan will work this year.

  69. Steph, you are a multitasker. Knitters are brilliant and can do several projects at the same time. We want to start so many projects because we love the fiber, the textures, the colors, the patterns, the comradery and everything else about knitting. We can do it all even if it takes us months or years to finish something or we have the option to frog the projects we don’t like or want to do anymore! It’s our love of knitting that keeps us going. Thanks for keeping us going!

  70. Yesterday, a woman told me knitting was SOoo domestic, and she almost lost her clueless head

  71. Right on the mark with this post for sure. I have now purchased yarn, that I didn’t really need, to knit a sweater that I promised myself I would never do again after making a few that didn’t fit or got screwed up one way or another..Oyeee !!! Me thinks there should be shrinks that just counsel the likes of me.

  72. LOL….Same thing has been happening here in GA…figured it was being snowed/iced in…but have 4 new projects…and finishing the 3 I was working on when the storm began!

  73. I really need to avoid yarn suppliers (of all kinds) when I’m depressed (whether I know it or not).
    Because I’ll buy yarn and commit extended stash. (I have stash *now*, thankyouverymuch.)

  74. What a calm yet energizing photo of your sock and kitchen. I’ve admired, but never commented on your beautiful mosaic backsplash- it’s fun and wonderful!

  75. A virus can run it’s course in as little as 24-72 hours, but then you are left with the days and even weeks of the side-effects. Take the common cold for example, live virus 24-72 hours (the part where you start to feel like the bottom of shoe) then just when you know you’re sick, it’s actually the side-effects (fever, runny nose, sore throat, etc.)the effects can last from 3 days to four weeks.I think Startitis can be explained like this as well and it seems to me you got knocked on your arse with a bad case of Startitis and its side-effects. The sooner you dump all those effects in the stash the sooner you’ll be completely cured. For this round anyway. Here’s hoping you feel better soon!!!
    Peace and joy!!!

  76. It must be going around, because I had it, too. Somehow, nothing I’ve started lately has made it very far… the lace scarf I was most excited about turned out to be so uninspiring about 2/3 of the way through that I’m over it. Don’t know where to go from here, except that my neighbor needed help sewing costumes for the musical at the high school where she teaches, so I volunteered. There goes my knitting time…

  77. I do so love your blog…it makes me feel mostly normal in my world of non-knitters. I have lost so much time knitting the last few days because I have spent too much time on Ravelry salivating over wonderous patterns…so many new projects, so little time!

  78. And the laughing you hear is Joe’s gansey as it considers the fate of all those newly-abandoned projects. . .

  79. Another wonderful true insight into the joys and sorrows of knitting.
    What always strikes me — is the uncharted knowledge of whether something will truly fit — unlike sewing, in which you can easily make alterations, knitting to fit is another animal completely. A totally different learning process (not that it deters me, mind you …)

  80. This reminds me of the time I heard myself say something insane to a friend, while knitting my very first lace shawl. She asked how I liked knitting lace. I said, “I love it. It makes me curse and want to throw things, but I love it!”

  81. I finally realized about 2 or 3 years ago that I am a “process knitter”, now when the urge hits I have a GIANT throw that may take forever made up of lots of different yarns and ribbons to fool myself into thinking it’s something different!(too boring for me to knit something Giant with just one type of yarn) I just go at it until I’m sick of it. I also have a bag of cotton yarn to make wash cloths if I want to feel good about actually finishing something. Of course there is all the yarn, books, patterns and misc. supplies I bought and stored up in the last 30+ years before I realized my desire to knit has little to do with making anything! I just like to knit sometimes!

  82. So wait, Acer is history? I’m counting on you to do what always seems to happen: knit the thing I want to knit before I do so you can, um, troubleshoot it for me. By the way, I think I’m knitting a pair of Latvian mittens this year.

  83. I am having a really really crap knitting day today – youknow, ‘knit one, purl two, frog three’. I think even a garter stitch scarf would go wrong….(well, it did yesterday..)
    Here in the UK, a Chinook is a very large and noisy military helicopter – so thank you so much for making me laugh this morning. I really needed that! In fact, thank you for making me laugh so often.

  84. I’m feeling guilty because I would rather work on a scarf for myself in a yarn I’m obsessed with (Trendsetter Fatigues) than a boring old sweater for my husband that I started because he ranted on 12/19 about sweaters made in China. He is not all that enthused about the sweater, yet every minute I spend on the scarf is plagued with guilt, guilt, guilt. Last night I decided to use every last bit of yarn on the scarf even if it turns out to be 8 feet long. My internal dialogue is killing me. We do this to ourselves.

  85. I, too, want to meet Rams and Presbytera -a penis with feet? That’s hilarious, and why I NEVER wear hats.

  86. I want to meet you, too – I see you’re the actual author of that amazing comparison :o)

  87. I love this post…because it is SO true! With me, knitting is an obsession…something I MUST be doing with every free minute. Lately, until this weekend, all of my recent projects have been successes: everything I made for Christmas fit, my first fair isle sweater turned out great, I finally finished that afghan…and I guess I’ve gotten complacent. Then the snow hit, and I was out of school for three days. I cast on for a quick scarf, and BAM, halfway through, I’m going to frog it. The pattern is terrible, my knitting has mistakes 60 rows back, and it’s too heavy to wrap. Now three days are gone with nothing to show for it! Yes, knitting is all those things you mentioned, plus so much more…infinitely satisfying, terribly expensive, and oh, so frustruating…kind of like an illicit affair!

  88. Good morning, Stephanie! It’s wonderful to start the day with a laugh. Please don’t stop writing or blogging. Sally Melville says, in either The Knit Stitch or The Purl Stitch, that knitting is a “right brain” activity, and one of the most valuable aspects of a right brain activity is that it can be as challenging or as simiple as you want it to be. The book isn’t at hand, so that isn’t a correct quote; my apologies to Ms. Melville. The point is that something inside of us knows what we need, really, most of the time. Add to that the fact that working with our hands is hugely therapeutic anyway, and now we see that knitting can be a terrific cure-all. Perhaps the rush of startitis got you over a bump in the road you didn’t know was there. Perhaps Nanook has gone back north, or you were more anxious about the New Year rituals than you realize, or you were simply tired from so much socializing and the work that the holidays entail. Stephanie Inside knew what to do, and you were right to go along with it. Any of those projects you don’t want to pursue can be ripped and re-wound, and the ones you choose to finish will walk with you a little further toward spring. My spinning does the same, so I haul out fleece, prepared fibers, drumcarder, and wheel along with the yarn, books, patterns, scratch pad, needles…. What else is invigorating and soothing at the same time? Happy New Year, all.

  89. Yup! Gotta love/hate/admire/snub/ridicule/gush/enjoy knitting – right? I started teaching my daughter to knit. Her first project is a scarf that I started. She has managed to garter stitch a couple miles on it – and now I’m to finish it. But – she’s hooked. Just wait till I show her how to cast off.

  90. What IS it about the siren call of an unlooked-for pattern or pop-up ad for some newly dyed yarn?
    The very minute it moves from fantasy to reality, there is a whole mood shift….kinda like giving birth to a baby. Thgere always comes a point where you look at that squalling, red-faced, demanding little piece of reality and think, “What was I thinking?!’
    But the moment passes…and sometimes you get a nice surprise. 🙂

  91. Huhm. Ignoring the rest of the post entirely (sorry) to say that I think I knitted a plain sock out of that same yarn last week. Weird.

  92. My Niece is coming over this afternoon for a knitting lesson……think I should have her read today’s blog? LOL! Some things are best learned on your own when it’s an experience such as knitting is.
    Well said Steph, as always….

  93. My cure for startitis is swatching. I’m more likely to want to start a new project becaused of the stitch pattern, the technique, or something unusual in the design. I discovered that if I get that out of the way through a swatch, then I don’t need to start the project. Saves on having too many Startitis Bags lying around my studio.

  94. Steph, I understand the feeling of how you wondered what you were thinking. Its that way with alot of things from knitting that baby sweater on size two needles to why did I ask the kids to do laundry, to my day absolutely is rotten. I write, as well as paint, knit, sew, design, have three kids, a full time sales job go to school and I sometimes wonder why I think I can do all this stuff.
    Its because the desire to create,to write, to prduce good and beautiful things over whelms the good sense that we should not do all this at once, it is insane!
    We are exceptional people we knittiers. We use our art to clothe the ones we love,to show our care for someone. We feel loss we knit a sweater(write an essay). We see the homeless on the street we knit socks and donate them. We see people in need of medical care,we get together and donate to surgeons to perform miracles for the very poor. We are good hearted creative people. The startitis is what happens when we get the creative overload, and well it just blows up temporarily.
    I took startitis and said “I’ll make it finish it all”. I will I almost bought more Brown Sheep cotton and wool blend but no, just like my book I have decided to just choose the slow and steady course on a wee bit at a time(as my Irish grand ma would say). Though my children now wonder why I’m sitting on the kitchen counter every night with a Sam Adams Chocolate Bock and several knitting projects, a note pad and several small note pads. I just tell them its a process.

  95. Steph, I understand the feeling of how you wondered what you were thinking. Its that way with alot of things from knitting that baby sweater on size two needles to why did I ask the kids to do laundry, to my day absolutely is rotten. I write, as well as paint, knit, sew, design, have three kids, a full time sales job go to school and I sometimes wonder why I think I can do all this stuff.
    Its because the desire to create,to write, to prduce good and beautiful things over whelms the good sense that we should not do all this at once, it is insane!
    We are exceptional people we knittiers. We use our art to clothe the ones we love,to show our care for someone. We feel loss we knit a sweater(write an essay). We see the homeless on the street we knit socks and donate them. We see people in need of medical care,we get together and donate to surgeons to perform miracles for the very poor. We are good hearted creative people. The startitis is what happens when we get the creative overload, and well it just blows up temporarily.
    I took startitis and said “I’ll make it finish it all”. I will I almost bought more Brown Sheep cotton and wool blend but no, just like my book I have decided to just choose the slow and steady course one wee bit at a time(as my Irish grand ma would say). Though my children now wonder why I’m sitting on the kitchen counter every night with a Sam Adams Chocolate Bock and several knitting projects, a note pad and several small paintings in progress. I just tell them its a process.

  96. Sometimes – usually at the end of a long and trying day – I just need to start something. A new thing that takes me away from stress or drama or even boredom. My brain thinks it is giving me control. Instead it is giving me something that I will exhibit signs of stress, drama or boredom about when the reasons I was so strung out have run their course. It’s a cycle, only as vicious as I make it. Of course, to manage this I’m back on the rotation. I might not finish many things this year, but they will hopefully be mostly old things. Finish or rip!

  97. I’m in a “knitting fingerless mitts and merets (aka woolywormhead’s mystery beret)” marathon. Which hasn’t stopped me from promising more of these to others than I can knit in my lifetime. I also am having a hard time with online shopping. Not for yarn but for warm things such as outerwear (landsend) and down comforters and coats (thecompanystore). I know there is a lot more winter left and I feel I must prepare. For all those that wonder about the sock yarn, it looks almost exactly like Online Supersocke that I bought at http://www.littleknits.com (warning: that site is addictive). Yes.

  98. Your kitchen counter is scary neat. When do you have time for that?? As one of my refrigerator magnets says, “Housework or knit? Hmmmmmmmm…”

  99. I echo the comments of several other comments. You seem to “channel” my knitting moods and feelings. In a fit of knitting enthusiasm, I cast on several projects over the past week – – way over my normal comfort zone of WIPs. I fear that some of the knitting was in response to my not wanting to clean up all the holiday decorations. Huge avoidance issue! Now, after putting several projects back in the cupboard and concentrating on only a couple, I am back on track. Thanks, Stephanie! Great post!

  100. I tell people I have knitters A.D.D.
    I HAVE to have 15 projects on the needles, so it doesn’t get boring………but there is something soothing about knitting a pair of socks! HA!

  101. Finish-itis going strong here (at present writing) One sweater completed and currently being worn while the dreaded second mitten continues apace. Okay so I maybe picked up a new pattern and am glancing over at it a little too frequently…

  102. Oh, you’re just so, so right (per usual)! Knitting, we love you in so many deep and mysterious ways. Thanks for one of the best posts I’ve read lately. I’m glad you’re out there in the world, recording these lovely little things for me to read!

  103. One of my favorite lines is “knitters don’t care about the house so much” What’s with that absolutely spotless stove and counter top? I’m just jealous because I have left my two boomerang sons in charge of the kitchen since New Years Day. In order to cope with this plan I’m knitting socks.
    PS please straighten the towel on the oven door handle. Thanks.

  104. I recall when I was competing in Ravolympics 2008 and foolishly believed that since my accomplished lace-knitting (she knits DOILIES people), non-working, speed knitting friend had completed a Swallowtail in three days, I could CLEARLY finish one in 17 days. Even though it was my second lace project. And I’d never seen a nupp, let alone knit one.
    And, as the days ticked by and the birthday for which it was a gift marched steadily closer, I sat on the floor of the living room, swearing like I was still a sailor as I tried to purl an f’ing nupp, and my Partner looked over at me and said, “I thought knitting was supposed to be relaxing.”
    A fickle mistress indeed.

  105. Yes to everything in this entry! Yes! (But what I really had to say is that I’m so totally impressed that your kitchen counter is clean enough to photograph. If I posted pix of mine, social services would remove my children from my home. It’s piled high with books, yarn, more books, mail, magazines, school papers, crayons…you name it. Pretty much everything except what you would expect to find in a kitchen. I worship the clean counter, but I fear I will never live in a house with one. I tip my hat–which is probably on the counter–to you!)

  106. Gosh, Trish at 2:41, Abby at 2:57 and Judy Miller at 3:00 echoed my feelings precisely. Please tell us your counter only gets cleaned up like that for pictures. And as for that you-in-hats description (hilarious), I think you just haven’t found the right hat!

  107. You said: “… She asked how I liked knitting lace. I said, “I love it. It makes me curse and want to throw things, but I love it!”
    Posted by: Q at January 13, 2011 11:39 PM ”
    There needs to be a T Shirt that says that. I would buy it.

  108. Beautiful colors in that sock – nothing plain about it really. Startitis. I’m trying to avoid it. Trying to make 2011 a year of finishing. HAH! I signed up for a Brioche class that starts this next week and I’m dying to cast on another shawl. Got this month’s sock yarn last week and cast those socks on last night. lol
    Gotta be a knitter to really understand it.

  109. Every project I wanted to start I did not have the right needle size or circular length or dpn. It took 2 trips to my LYS to remedy problem. Startitis has me doing a cowl and fingerless mitts, socks start today so I can enjoy the Bears game tomorrow.

  110. I see that I’m in good company. I start something, thinking it’s going to be the best thing ever, and soon find myself tired of the yarn, or frustrated with the pattern, or that it’s knitting up too slow, or I just stop liking it, or or or. And then sometimes I find just the right project, and it goes great, I understand the pattern, the yarn is better than I expected, and bam! Project finished. Knitting for me is a little like drugs, and chasing that first high. And I would no more stop knitting than breathing. I might slow down, but stop completely? Never.

  111. All those things & more! I like the textures & colors of yarn, keeping my hands busy, creating something practical, being proud of my work, being challenged, knowing I can solve a problem on my own or with expert knitting help… the list goes on & on. Isn’t it wonderful!

  112. I just had to chime in when I saw that bit about someone using the phrase, “You must have the patience of a saint.” I was just left this comment by a dear non-knitting friend when I posted pictures of my Haruni shawl on facebook. “I love it, it’s so intricate, you must have the patience of a saint.” When actually, I’m not usually a patient person, so it was somewhat upsetting to me in some odd way, even though it was A) meant as a compliment to me and B) yes, that shawl did take a lot of time, and was finicky and challenging, therefore most likely requiring a lot of patience… so I don’t really know why I was a teensy bit irked. Then again, I’ve had the same emotional response when a novice knitter told a group of non-knitters (upon them oohing and awing over the fact that she can knit), how “easy” it is. Although, she is the type, bless her who never actually knits and thinks that cables are far and away the hardest thing in knitting.. I just think people like the idea of knitting, and so they’ve already made their minds up about what that means as one big generalization. When, like you said, it really can be any number of things at any given time. I guess I just don’t like others summing up in one seemingly well-meaning sentence the depth of what I do means to me.
    I other words: I so get it. 🙂 And yes, I just smile and nod to those commments as well.

  113. I was so inspired by your “sock of the month” project for 2010 that I spent much of today gathering my yarn, needles, patterns, etc. and bagging them up. I have two market baskets that I keep WIPs, so I can just grab the basket and move it from room to room or even travel out with it. Now I have one filled with just sock projects and the other filled with my lace shawl and blanket projects.
    Thanks for sharing your love and passion with us all. Reading your blog is the highlight of my week.

  114. Down here in the South, we just call folks with more than one “project” workin’, Yarn Sluts. You just cain’t help but dance with whatever cutie catches your eye…even if it is just for a minute – while your best beau, your faithful Sock Jones, jist sits there an’ waits patient-like for you to come to your senses and back to your own true love.
    Sigh. Bein’ a slut, it is such a tremendous burden.
    Here’s yarnin’ to all my *S.L.U.T.S. and **G.R.I.T.S. out there.
    *S.L.U.T.S. – Southern Ladies Under Tremendous Stress
    **G.R.I.T.S. – Girls Raised In The South

  115. so relieved you are home safe and sound
    I know the kind of drive you had yesterday
    today, relax and knit and unwind

  116. Thanks for sharing. I had the same experience and was wondering if I was having a hormonal rush 😉 or something. Anyhow, I’ve got two new projects on needles in addition to an almost finished one plus and lot of new yarn just in case!
    I really enjoy your posts.

  117. I just recently started following your blog, and I must say it is always the highlight of my day. Love it!

  118. That freaking brioche stitch! Shafted was a good word to use. I love your take on how complex it all is, like finishing a pair of gloves (that you are attempting for the first time) for your daughter who may or may not wear them and you, yourself, don’t really like the design but you just go ahead and make the second one because you already have one done.

  119. okay, i surrender. i’m hooked again. my mom taught me to knit when i was 5 or 6 and, now, decades later, after several affairs with knitting, i am in a passionate, juicy, loving long-term relationship with the knitting goddess.
    many thanks to the yarn harlot for taking me off the streets and guiding me, with all your light, to my favorite yarn shop in london. (london, england!!). it’s called loop and, well, what can i say, it’s orgasmic!

  120. so glad to hear that your severe startis was short-lived with no permanent damage. i’m hoping to catch the related but extremely rare disease of finishitis.

  121. I have found my personal solution to startitis, which is actually – socks! They are done quickly enough that I can start another, and whether it’s the second of a pair or not, doesn’t seem to make a difference to my tiny little mind.
    This past weekend, my socks visited a science fiction convention in Boston and had a wonderful time. And people ask the same questions about the knitting, regardless of a storm trooper costume, a Victorian-era “steampunk” thing, or an elf. Gotta love it.

  122. I knit a pair of socks for my dad from this yarn. Looks like Ditto by Universal Yarn. 75% super wash wool. very easy care

  123. This is perfect. You have nailed the knitting thing exactly. Add some spinning, and the whole menu is covered (until weaving starts, godhelpme, no.)

  124. You look fabulous, the skirt looks beautiful, and I think the red socks make the outfit. If any fashionable types get snooty with you about what you are wearing, I think you should just ask them about their clothes, and reply: “You got that at a store? Oh.”

  125. Oops! This comment landed on the wrong post… I’m having a challenged kinda day myself (I should just go finish knitting my mitten and eat some chocolate. I’d hope for tomorrow, but tomorrow will be Monday and that’s unlikely to fix anything…)

  126. Arghhhhhh.. you’re killing me!!!!
    For the love of wool, what is the name of that sock yarn?!?

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