Tips and Tricks: Penance Knitting

Almost every knitter I’ve ever talked to has a project that they love, but can’t bring themselves to work on.  Sometimes it’s because there is a long stretch of “boring” knitting, like the endless stockinette in my Arctic Faery Ring Cardigan.  First there was the skirt (ENDLESS), which I powered through because at least there was decreasing every so often, plus cables to look forward to.  I did the sleeves two-at-a-time to avoid SSS (Second Sleeve Syndrome), but stalled out on the hood.  Seriously — I had the entire body done, the sleeves done and set in, but I couldn’t get myself to work on the hood. It was killing me.

1241 Arctic Faery Ring

Conversely, the other end of the spectrum of knitting difficulty can stall a knitter just as bad as doldrum knitting. I have a certain blanket that has languished since July because the border is tricky and requires my full attention. I can’t quit halfway through a repeat without paying (and paying) later on.  I don’t dare pick it up unless I know I have enough time and attention to finish a full repeat.  So my pretty, soft lap blanket sits with two borders done, and two still waiting.

0471 Yggdrasil blanket

The cardigan and the blanket both suffered further, because they were both for ME — no deadline, nobody waiting, no guilt to spur me on.  And, in the end, guilt is KEY for finishing this type of project.  I call the work “penance knitting” for a reason.  My technique is simple: I choose a very appealing project with pretty yarn and a fun pattern, and set it in front of myself.  Then, I require myself to knit a certain number of rows of my penance project, before I allow myself to work on the reward project.

I hate to say it, but right now my penance knitting project is my third (yes, third) Harry Potter scarf.  It seems like it’s taking forever, which is kind of true … because I keep looking at it and groaning.  Time to bump it up in the priority queue and get it done!  Here are the first two scarves, to further inspire and castigate me :).

9896 J models Harry Potter scarf

0381 HP Hufflepuff scarf

What project do you have, languishing in mostly-done state on the needles, that could be finished with a little penance knitting?


9 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks: Penance Knitting

  1. I am constantly putting off trying to knit something other than very beginning things. Will soon be 69 and just learned to knit a year and a half ago, So I guess I am just stuck on scared to try anything other than very basic things

    1. What kinds of things have you made and enjoyed? What kinds of things scare you? Maybe I could suggest a “stretch” project that won’t be too scary :).

  2. Oh my, this cardigan is beautiful! So jealous of your cable skills.

    I started knitting a cape couple of months ago but it’s just acres of stockinette stitch with a bit of garter thrown in…. it’s about half way done and I can’t bear looking at it anymore :o)

    1. Thank you! Cables are definitely the kind of knitting that falls under “not as hard as you might think.” Give it a try … sorry to hear about your Endless Cape. Maybe 1 row a day?

      1. Thanks! I’m in the process of learning to do cables without cable needle so hopefully the frustration of flipping the cable needle will go away!
        But yours are something I would love to be able to do one day!

        As for the Endless Cape (love the name!) I started it when all I could do what st & garter stitch … I learnt many new pretty things since then so it will on hold for a while I think :o)

  3. I have a pair of socks that I Dislike, and Will Not Do. Sadly, I’m not even on the second sock yet, so it’s not like they’d be quick to finish if I would just put in a little time (except in the “socks are generally faster than other things” department.

    They have three things about them that offend me: 1) they’re beaded, but I used beads that are a little too small, so it’s hard to get the loop through the bead. 2) I’m using two circulars, which I like, but the two circs are a little too short, so it’s awkward and I suspect I’m bending one of the circs off its cable. 3) The pattern has the temerity to use increases and decreases instead of twisted stitches, as is Right and Proper.

    I have bought a new pair of circs to switch to, so #2 should be resolvable if I would just take two minutes and move the project to the new needles. #1 is kind of moot right now, because I’m past the beaded portion for the first sock, at least. So all my grumpiness has come to focus on point three, to the extent that I’m beginning to find increases and decreases Morally Rephrehensible, which is a little silly.

      1. I have a recipient who has clamored enthusiastically for them, so that mostly counts as something I want to have. And, I bought new size-0 circs just for the purpose of fixing the needle annoyance, so… I really should just grit my teeth and keep going. I just liked the opportunity to complain about them. 🙂

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