Cast Off Without End

Last night I was knitting on Lyrica Euterpe, and it was all bad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely thing, oh – so lovely.  A beautiful, well written pattern that would have even perhaps have been termed "quick", relatively speaking, you understand – had I not had to essentially re-knit it when I had the dye lot mishap.  I love the yarn, and though I wouldn’t wear it myself, I even adore the colour.  The bad part came when I was trapped in the last few rows. The last few rows are always long, and even longer when they’re the long side of a top-down shawl, but it’s more than that.
I went shopping yesterday for the few balls of yarn that I needed to begin the finale of the Christmas knitting, and all of those skeins and balls and plans were sitting there mocking me. 

I thought, several times as I tried to power through those last few indeterminable rows, rows without seeming end, that it might be better to stop. Not to give up, you understand, because I want to see this shawl done, it is a Christmas present, and I do really, really love it – but somehow I felt like if I put down the shawl and instead cast on the eight (8) projects that I plan on completing before Christmas, that at least those things would be underway. I thought that might make me feel better. I thought that might actually make me feel great.  All of them, underway and steaming towards the finished line.  Somehow I believed that casting them all on wasn’t just going to be fun, but necessary, and fantastical, that once I cast them all on, it wouldn’t seem sisyphean anymore. It would seem like giving that boulder a shove down the right side of the hill, knowing that it would all come to a rest in the right place on Christmas Eve.

I came to my senses, of course, about 10pm when I realized that it was a way better idea to use casting on everything as a prize. A prize for completing these long rows. (I also realized that the yarn I ordered for one of the Newphew sweaters hasn’t arrived yet, and that I therefore couldn’t cast on everything, and that took a little of the wind out of my sails. Honk if you’re looking forward to the day when yarn you order will simply materialize inside of a hole in the wall like Earl Grey tea, Hot, on Star Trek. Can you imagine? "Merino worsted – sky blue" Zap. There it is. A better world awaits us, I tell you. A better world.)  I plugged on, and this morning I did a few more rows with my coffee, and today I have only the unreasonably long picot cast off to manage.

After that? I’m casting it all on. Or most of it. Or whatever is already in the house.  All the projects – cast on, and awaiting only the knitting time that will make all of them real by the 24th.  What the heck. Only two of them are sweaters.

121 thoughts on “Cast Off Without End

  1. First comment? Hooray!
    I love the concept of instant yarn. You go, Harlot, I know you will finish all your Christmas gift knitting on time!

  2. Holiday knitting – don’t you just love it?! Why do we give ourselves all this stress each year. At least you know that yours will be appreciated!!

  3. You *can* do this!
    I, too, adore the idea of instant yarn, but I’d still settle for Earl Grey, Hot coming out of the wall in a nice teacup and ready to drink.

  4. Have you started the rest of the projects? I LOVE the idea of using those projects as your “reward”. 🙂

  5. And one of those sweaters is for Baby Lou so it hardly counts! Good luck with your knitting. I’m trapped with a pair of gray socks for my husband that I am making myself finish before starting the beautiful green gansey mitts. It’s long and tedious but the fun knitting will come eventually

  6. Yes. I need a yarn replicator. Also a fold button on the dryer. I really want the future to get here. 🙂

  7. Gosh! I can’t get a pair of socks finished!!! And then I have only five Christmas projects – none of them sweaters! Damn, you go girl!!

  8. I’ve had “cast-on-itis”–four projects started and the fifth is about to go on the needles. There’s method in this madness for me. Mum is not doing well, and there’s a possibility of having to make a dash to the hospital for an unknown quantity of time. Every time I think about that, I cast on another project, to get it past the beginning stages and ready to sail on. At least it’s getting the Christmas ball rolling.

  9. OMG! Two sweaters in a month and 7 other projects as well? More power to ya! What’s really amazing? I have no doubt you can do it!

  10. Eight projects plus finishing a shawl? We all know you knit like the wind, but I have to say that reading your post gave me an “oh dear” kind of gut feeling. Anyway, the shawl is really lovely, and will be treasured by the lucky recipient. And now, may the knitting goddess smile on you in the next four weeks!

  11. I have so done that negotiating in my head–no, no cast-ons, must finish, they’ll be the reward… Got myself to finish a project I didn’t like working on last night that way. To the finish lines!

  12. I don’t want instant yarn. I know most of you think that is crazy talk, but I LOVE the anticipation of it arriving and then getting to pet it and love it. Kind of a yarn foreplay!!

  13. I have no doubt in my mind, whatsoever, that you will finish your Christmas projects – but 2 sweaters – I am perspiring just thinking about it. I don’t know how you do it and yet I know you do it.

  14. Eight? EIGHT projects between now and Xmas? What about gingerbread, and shopping, and napkin ironing? Are you sure? Even spreadsheets don’t invent more time!

  15. You know, for the first time ever, I put together a spread sheet of what I have to complete before the holidays, including the holiday knitting. I credit you entirely with that development, and laying it all out, I found myself making decisions like, “Not casting on three extra hats would make all the rest of the knitting much more manageable.” Who would have known that visual charts can be as useful when deciding what to knit when as they are for fair isle or lace knitting? (Anyone that thought about it for a second, probably, but well.)

  16. I can’t wait for my Christmas knitting to be finished becasue I have three “fun” projects lined up! I am glad I don’t have as many projects as you do. That would take me a couple of years.

  17. I feel the same way about those shawls. Oh so lovely while you’re knitting and then I get the itch to just finish it. I am always a row or two short and I just about sob during the bind off.

  18. I’ve got a bottle of Norton Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon breathing on the table and a batch of popcorn ready for the kettle…the most wonderful time of the year!

  19. Only 8? Gosh, I’d say that’s really do-able.
    Caramel popcorn for me and hot chocolate.

  20. I only wish I could knit as fast as you do. I’m a woefully slow knitter, even all these years later.

  21. Only two of them are sweaters. I feel like that all the time, though I really don’t have that many projects to knit (with deadlines). Mostly because I don’t believe in deadline knitting for holidays and not due to some strange virtue in myself.

  22. Last Christmas I did something a little different. I gave to everyone on my list a form to fill out – for socks. They could choose the color, the weight of yarn, the “style”, etc. Most were returned soon after Christmas and then I had my list of projects to do between then and now. This year, I think I’ll extend it to scarves, hats, and mittens as well. That way, everyone gets something they really want and I don’t feel very much pressure. I did several other projects through out the year for myself. I’m working on the final pair of socks for last Christmas. Just an idea…

  23. You’ll blog about the struggle, we’ll enjoy reading your posts, you’ll make your deadline, and we’ll be cheering for you at the end.
    The only Christmas deadline knitting I attempt is one pair of socks for my husband. I’m almost finished with the first one… but I can barely stop myself from casting on yet another unnecessary, totally self-indulgent project before I complete the pair.
    Maybe I should make him a pair of your foot ovens instead.

  24. Don’t give me ideas. It’s bad enough that I have the yarn, patterns and notions for each of my projects in zip-loc bags, now they’re starting to mock me. But the reading mitts will be done first!

  25. Well, if the two sweaters are the nephew sweaters (and presuming the yarn for the 2nd arrives soon), then I’d say you’re golden! Sure wish I could knit as fast as you. I think I’ve given up on the idea of any knitted gifts this year. 🙁

  26. That instant yarn thing happens at your LYS… You see it, buy it and it’s in your hand. My problem is that I don’t always see it at the local store as it is small with a limited supply. So, I too wait for the mailman to deliver yarn… Good luck with your projects.

  27. I completely get that. I was knitting a Shawl for my Mother’s birthday, and Oh My Gosh, by the time I got to the cast off, I was dying. I wanted to be knitting anything but that shawl, though it was a lovely pattern. And I totally agree with you about the Star Trek Replicator. That would be awesome.

  28. Hmmmm…I really like the yarn replicator idea.
    But then, there is also the joy of the yarn foreplay.
    And who can forget their LYS with walls of yarn to touchy-feely, the eye stimulation, the “what if”…
    Or, even better, a fiber show where you can not only touchy-feely the finished product, but actually see “wool on the hoof”…
    SIGH! At least we can all probably agree that you should finish those several-100-stitch rows BEFORE you cast on another project to keep that incentive mo-jo going!

  29. And my Christmas knitting this year is teeny-tiny MochiMochi. It is taking the place of all the counted cross-stitch ornaments that I did…but never framed.

  30. I feel like replicated yarn would still run out just before the end, and leave you stuck with a different dyelot for a cuff and the hem…

  31. I’ve put aside a few projects of my own in order to bust through some Xmas socks, with the prize getting to go back and work on them again. Although I think I’ll have to put even the socks on hold long enough to knit myself a hat – it’s freaking cold here in New England these days!
    Good luck to us both!

  32. Honk Honk! I have to say, my stomach dropped to the floor when I saw that you and I have the same amount of knitting projects in our que at this stage. I mean, you are a much faster knitter than I am. But two sweaters? Two of my projects are hats for toddlers. That makes me feel better. We can do it!

  33. “Somehow I believed that casting them all on wasn’t just going to be fun, but necessary, and fantastical, that once I cast them all on, it wouldn’t seem sisyphean anymore.”
    You just nutshelled my Christmas knitting mindset: “If I can just get them cast on… then they’ll practically knit themselves in the next month, no problem!”

  34. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself! I finished all my Christmas knitting (24 projects! 14 hats and 10 pairs of socks) and being finished feels amazing!!

  35. Instead of the replicator, I’d rather have the transporter. Just imagine it: “Beam me up, Scotty”–and zap, I’m at Webs. Although the replicator would be handy for money to take with me.

  36. Mary Peed has the best idea—a fold button on the dryer. I’ve long thought that laundry that’s been washed and folded the same way over and over should “learn” how to fold themselves.
    Just think what you could accomplish if you didn’t have to take time to fold laundry over and over and over…

  37. Now what I want to know is how will all these “cast on” items fit on your spread sheet? Will they require a page of their own or what? Not being a spread sheet user, I don’t quite know how this would work, but I am sure you will get it right. Last year I knit a pair of bunny slippers for my friend and sent the ears along so she could sew them on herself. You probably wouldn’t do that, but she didn’t mind too much. lol! Good luck with your knitting, it will be more than wonderful.

    I am already afraid of all the yarn that appears in my house with a delay, I really don’t think I need instant gratification yarn!

  39. Reward systems are brilliant. I have a knitting/housework system on the go at the moment. 10 minutes housework then 4 rows of the cabled sock. Dishes get done (no dishwasher in this rental, other than me) and the socks will get finished 🙂
    Now if only the babies would leave me alone….

  40. Love your comment about startrek – that sounds like a wonderful idea. oh sigh if only..
    I’m pretty well under way with my christmas presents, but then I am only making some wrist warmers, and not big projects like you.
    Hope you will have a good time knitting 🙂

  41. I, too, am waiting for the Star Trek replicator. Yarn, needles, maybe occasionally a UFO magically finished! Will you attempt to finish the large projects first to tick off largest number of stitches or try to get the small projects checked off your list so the number of finished objects grows quickly??

  42. Unless YH has become super organized, as soon as she gets 2 or 3 projects cast on she will realize she needs/can’t find at least one set of needles in the correct size or that all eight projects are on the same size (of which she can find only six sets) 🙂

  43. Eh, can I live with you with instant yarn comes real? I am bad enough now with instant patterns…I shutter to think what would happen with instant yarn…but I will definitely be homeless…
    NOW. One of those sweaters is for Hank. Perhaps the other could be JOE’S GANSEY??? (Rams you out there?). Please…finish it NOW…before he decides to lose a hundred pounds the day after you finish (don’t ask me how I know and why I have a lot of new yarn in stash????).

  44. Although the replicator would be nice — especially if the tribbles stayed out of it (“My chicken sandwich and coffee. This is my chicken sandwich and coffee.”) — I’d sooner have Rosie, the Jetsons’ robot maid. Let’s just say I’m allergic to housework. . .;)!
    I can sympathize with the case of startitis. Except for me, it doesn’t quite get to the point of actually casting on.
    Presbytera, please put extra butter on my popcorn while I go get some Newcastle Brown Ale.

  45. I love the first hearings of your Christmas knitting, because it makes my seemingly nail-biting list seem much more manageable.
    27 days until Christmas.

  46. I just (today!) finished three pairs of socks in lovely yarn for a customer and I can say with my hand on my heart-shaped row counter, that I have never been so out of patience with a project before. The socks were easy-peasy and look wonderful, they were pleasant to knit – and I’d rather have been doing almost anything else. Why? Because I got fabulous yarn in Haliburton last trip that I am dying to get started with, a ton of baby knitting waiting for me to begin it, and another ton of Christmas knitting in a state of suspended animation. Add to this that my sons have come late to an appreciation of my knitting and are requesting hats and mitts of their own, so that the knitting queue is miles and miles long by now and the yarn has entirely overwhelmed my tiny two-bedroom-no-storage home. ‘Tis the season; but at least the damn socks are done!

  47. I think that after logging a certain amount of time of watching shows with magical technologies like replicators and transporters, it causes cognitive dissonance when we realize that they actually aren’t real. And yes, I do read and watch waaay too much science fiction.

  48. I have officially finished my Christmas knitting.
    But that only means I have completed what I set out to do.
    There are a whole bunch more ideas keep jumping into my head that want to be made…. but there’s also a half a sweater for me on the needles and I wanted to wear it for Christmas.
    “instant” yarn would be too dangerous.

  49. This morning, I was thinking that casting on all three of the remaining pieces of the sweater that I’m knitting for Christmas would make it seem like I was getting more done. I just finished casting on both sleeves and then read this. I’m just going to presume that great minds must be thinking alike and go ahead and cast on the other front.

  50. If we’re going to dream, how about the Sock Summit marketplace all set up and me the only customer there for as long as it takes to check out every single booth?!

  51. I want to live in a world where you can transmorgrify yarn and the correct needles into my lap.. on demand!

  52. Oh, good. I thought that casting on for a sweater this past weekend for a sweater that must be done on Christmas was crazy. Thank you for making me feel sane. 🙂

  53. I love your optimism. I have no doubt you will pull it all off.
    Instant yarn would be a wonderful idea. Maybe then we wouldn’t need to manage the ever growing stash.
    But that might not be as much fun. Last night, as an example, I was working on a hat knit in the round. As round after round went by I actually said out loud that someone should invent a machine for this 🙂 Then I laughed since someone had and I choose not to use it. Maybe instant yarn would be the same.

  54. Heaven only knows how much knitting and Christmas preparation I could get done if I didn’t have to read every comment on here. I too, am in awe of your speed. Wish I could knit that fast.

  55. sisyphean – endlessly laborious or futile. That is a new one for me. love it! best of luck to you!

  56. once again, you are brilliant. But if I had a box in my wall that instantly gave me yarn, I’d probably never do any knitting while I sat and just watched as every possible color/fiber combination was thought of and squished.

  57. What I’m really waiting for is wireless yarn. You can knit it, but without the actual yarn to get tangled and caught on things. It just materializes on the needles.

  58. “Honk if you’re looking forward to the day when yarn you order will simply materialize inside of a hole in the wall like Earl Grey tea, Hot, on Star Trek. Can you imagine? ‘Merino worsted – sky blue’ Zap. There it is. A better world awaits us, I tell you. A better world.”
    I laughed so hard at these words. Also, HONK! (Cashmere silk merino sport – emerald green)

  59. I love Romi’s designs, so I do hope you and the giftee love Lyrica (one I haven’t done yet) when it’s finally finished. Someday I’d like to just sit and watch you knit. I wonder if my eyes can follow movement that fast?

  60. Newphew!
    One of MY favourite (and regularly typed) typos!!
    Heading toward one of my own “un-endings” being a mere 5 rows from finishing an Aeolian Shawl…

  61. I have wondered lately why I don’t cast-on everything I’d like to knit if I have the yarn, the needles, the pattern, and the desire (sometimes unrequited for years). I have more than enough knitting bags. What keeps me from starting everything? Will it really end badly? Perhaps it will be my 2013 new year’s resolution, after I see how it turns out for you.

  62. “Ah, it’s Popcorn Time. Pull up a chair, everyone, and pick out your favorite beverage.
    IT has begun.”
    Can I get some extra butter? I’ve got a bottle of merlot to go with it!

  63. What discipline. how satisfying when one can applies one’s own wisdom. have a great time with the mega cast ons…

  64. Darlin, everything, in the beginin are dificult, but at lat is wonderfull, work hard, is necessarily, and enjoy the experience!

  65. Hooray, I was afraid that the spreadsheet would take the fun out of Christmas preparations, but it seems like you’re on the right path for frantic pre Christmas knitting anyhow. There stil is hope for pictures of uncles with two hands in one mitten. ;^)

  66. I find the idea of instant yarn truly terrifying. I already have a stash which would take years to knit completely. Instant yarn would just bury me in fibre. I would be found, mummified, years later.

  67. At first I thought I might honk like mad, but I’m unwilling to part with the joy of anticipating a yarn delivery. It’s like getting two presents: first when you order the yarn and again when you finally get your grubby hands on it.

  68. You know, if yarn were available like tea on Start Trek, finished knitted items would likelwise be immediately available, eliminating the need for pursuits like knitting , weaving, spinning, quilting, sewing . . . . Just sayin. A better world – or maybe not.

  69. I felt like _I_ needed a lie down in a dark room when you said you have eight projects to start and finish before Christmas. Eight! (Even though I know you have the Magical Spreadsheet of Organisational Power.)

  70. Casting on is so much fun though 🙂 I think you have a lot more self-control than I do!
    I have two pairs of socks on the go, the Tempting I never finished in time for Rhinebeck, and one lonely crocheted baby blanket (Project Linus – It’s my “I’m bored and don’t know what to knit” project). I have several other things that I want to knit, but I need to finish the socks first. The first pair, second sock is at that “my feet aren’t really THAT long, are they??” stage of interminable stockinette. But it’s a sock, so all things will come to an end, and sooner rather than later.
    I’m finding that I enjoy my knitting so much more now that nothing has deadlines. I have banned deadlines from my life where crafting is concerned. Granted, the fact that I no longer celebrate Christmas helps 😉

  71. Casting on for everything is a brilliant plan. I have the worst time when I’ve finished a project gearing up to cast on for a new one. I wander through the stash, dither over which yarn and which thing to knit — unless there’s something else on the needles somewhere in the house. It’s especially bad if I don’t have easy “TV-knitting” at the ready.
    Can’t wait to see your holiday dash. It’s very motivating for a slow knitter like me!

  72. I am totally on the same page. I have one gift project OTN, almost half done and another yet-to-be cast on with yarn that is just now starting the journey from Canada (not to mention it will need to be mailed to CA once knit). And just yesterday I was winding yarn and browsing patterns for projects that I want to start once the Christmas stuff is done. We knitters are firm believers in magical stuff. The notion of yarn appearing in a hole in the wall is lovely. But then we wouldn’t need these large stashes that we all adore.

  73. Thank you! I’ve been avoiding Christmas knitting for years, but now I have two great-nieces & a great-nephew. They’re all young enough not to make faces about getting hand knits so I decided on sweaters this year. The six month size is complete, the size 4 isn’t quite half way, and I don’t have yarn or a pattern for a size 2 vest yet. All due by December 15. In the back of my mind was a bit of a worry, but after reading your list (even though I don’t knit as fast as you do!), I’ve decided there’s nothing for me to worry about. (Besides, it’s a 3 hour drive to get to the family, so that’s even more time!)

  74. “Only two of them are sweaters.” And small-ish sweaters, at that. You can do it! I need the same finishing mojo for a 2-piece weaving project that must be finished and hanging in church by Sunday’s 10am service… haven’t finished sleying the reed yet (for the first one!).

  75. I admire your fortitude. I’m knitting a scarf the long way, by casting on the entire length and then knitting rows end to end. Such very long rows, and it’s color work, and the rows are very long (Optika Scarf). It was taking so long that I ordered some fancy DPNs and started another pair of socks. I’m afraid the scarf is doomed.

  76. I love the concept of instant yarn!
    I went through the same thought process about casting on last night! (Although truth be told, none of my holiday knitting projects is a shawl.) I managed to resist the casting on so far. But since the end of one of my projects is in sight, I’m hoping for tonight.
    But to add to the madness, I got a request for a beaded bracelet from my niece . . . . I’m hoping I have time for it at least by her birthday.

  77. Honk! My replicator order would look something like this: tweed, Aran: cream. Tea, Earl Grey: hot. Picard, Jean Luc: hot. Good luck with the Christmas knitting, I’ll be watching with popcorn and a glass of Pinot noir in hand!

  78. I can knit faster when the cat isn’t trying to hog half the armchair, but she’s such fun to watch when she grabs for the yarn! I’m not knitting anything for Christmas this year, just going to make beaded ornaments for my sister’s tree and mine, and since my kid is out of the house and she doesn’t have any, we’re only doing birthday gifts. It’s a much more relaxed sort of season as a result.
    I do second KarenB’s replicator order though, all three parts!

  79. As much as I’d love yarn to magically appear, what I’d really love is that star trek magic transporter so I could just beam myself around the world in an instant to whatever yarn store, class, or convention I wanted fancied visiting!!!

  80. Casting on is indeed a lovely reward, though not nearly as nice as a replicator would be. I’m a slacker with respect to Christmas knitting. I merely have one pair of socks to knit between now and the 23rd of December and I’ve got trans-Atlantic flights on which to make a big dent in that task.
    Best of luck staying on track!

  81. Not sure why, but this is one of my favorite posts. Ever. Makes me want to go cast on all kinds of Christmas knitting, even though I have six homeschooled children and a half-finished house to fix up in that time span. ;o) Hooray for eternal optimism, and casting on!

  82. I use knitting as a reward for knitting all the time! I do love the thought of yarn replicators.
    Also, I made a $20 donation to MSF. (I tried to email to the address given in your sidebar and was told it “couldn’t be found”)

  83. Great shawl. I can’t wait to see the pics of the finished piece. Before you do any more csting on, please be sure you have enough yarn for each project. I love your blogs where you run out just before the end of the project but maybe this time you’ll buy enough so you’ll have a happy instead of a frantic ending. :o)

  84. Thanks for such a great post! I feel like you might have written something similar last year, and the year before that, and the year before that… I love that about you.

  85. I’m with the “Are you crazy?” two sweaters crowd by the 24th crowd. I’d be surprised if I finished a vest (a vest!!!) for myself by that time. Really, I’m just sad an ace sewer. Give me my Guinness, my Viking Husqvarna and a 24-hour deadline and I’m good to go! I can make stuff on a deadline. A tight one.

  86. I have noticed that Sam looks good in anything you put on her for the blog! The Blog appreciates all of her modeling for us to see how things might look! Thanks!

  87. I can’t wait till yarn materializes!! I purchase some really beautiful skeins and new needles on a black friday sale and am so anxious about it getting shipped! It’s only been a few days and I know it will take longer to process because of the impending holidays but I’m still trying not to crawl out of my skin over not having it started infront of me…yarn/ needle DT’s arn’t pleasant…

  88. Hi mah,My recommendation is not to mix patnrets especially if you are using the thick size yarn. The Cage pattern comes up soft , while the Fish Thorn is tough. It will be kind of untidy project.If you would like to make it anyway, I suggest you to do it in the smaller size at first ( like 10 stitches ) , then make it in the real size if you are satisfied with the result.Instruction: After knitting wished rows of Fish Pattern, knit one more row with the basic stitch, and then switch to the Cage Pattern from Row three in the given instruction . Again after doing the Cage Pattern, knit one more row with the basic stitch and switch to the previous pattern . Just make sure to knit the same number of rows for the Fish Thorn.

  89. It’s fun to have a few gifts going at the same time, I have three and will start number four tonight. It makes for nice choices when the time for knitting is upon oneself! Never a dull moment, plus when mailing time comes I just pick the UFO that needs to be done ASAP and away we go!

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