Q for You: What tests your love of knitting?

Q for You: What tests your love of knitting?

Last time in Q for You, I asked what aspect of knitting thrills you most — and I loved the variety of answers to that question. This time I’m pondering the opposite. I’m using my grandmother’s shawl up there to illustrate this Q, but let me perfectly clear up front: I am very happy to be knitting this shawl for my grandma and I can’t wait to give it to her (belatedly, at this point). But honestly? I also can’t wait to be done with it. I always think I like shawl knitting, and I do like it well enough at the beginning when the rows are short and you make fast progress from three little stitches to an ever-expanding wedge. But as time marches on, I’m reminded that the sort of project that tests my love of knitting is that which involves long rows of back and forth. The longer the rows get, the harder it is for me to remember that I like to knit.

I like to make things — three-dimensional things. I love to see a hat or mitt or sweater form on my needles as if out of thin air. For whatever reason, I don’t enjoy just knitting a flat piece of fabric. A flat piece of fabric meant to hang around your neck doesn’t make it any more interesting for me. I’ve been thinking of this as I’ve been knitting all these cardigans and pieced sweaters the past couple of years — how I used to say I hated to knit back and forth, and then here I am doing it routinely. But over time I’ve realized it’s the combination of flatness and long rows that wears me down. Flat is ok as long as a) the rows are short enough that progress is felt, and b) the flatness is a temporary state on the way to three dimensions.

So that’s my Q for You today: What variety or aspect of knitting bores you most? And bonus question: Do you do it anyway, and toward what end? (I wouldn’t let my reluctance to knit long and flat keep me from knitting my granny this beautiful shawl.)


PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What thrills you?

84 thoughts on “Q for You: What tests your love of knitting?

  1. My thing is usually the second sock (and really, the first sock). Tiny little DPNs tend to frustrate me and I still haven’t really gotten over how fiddly they can be. And when you’ve just bound off the first sock and realize you’re only halfway done…perseverance is necessary.

    • Every specific act in knitting can be grinding at some point, yet I love to just be knitting (or crocheting) so I embrace having multiple projects to turn to when things get tedious. It means it takes longer for me to finish something, but then I also get the occasional thrill of finishing a bunch of things in a single week. But there are two parts that are always frustrating for me: casting on and weaving in ends.

    • Ha! Knitting to me is like driving a car. I love going on long car rides…but find it most fun when the drive is interesting. I loath the long interstate stretches but love driving when I have to watch the map for my next turn or when I get to take secondary roads through the country or when I get to stop and visit with a long lost friend along the way. Knitting is just like that. (Kim- who is 1/4 the way through with the second sleeve on a gansey sweater that is taking me a long time to knit.)

  2. Counting. Any number higher than like, four, and I have to harness all of my powers of concentration to not lose track. I love geometric patterns, ribbing, and lace, because I can just trust that the stitch count is right as long as the stitches fall where they’re supposed to. When I have to cast on for a big project, I employ an elaborate system of stitch markers and usually require total silence and solitude. Counting rows means I have to write all the numbers on a piece of paper, and then use a different colored pen to cross them off.
    I also once dated someone who thought it was funny to shout out random numbers when he saw that I was counting stitches. That should’ve been my first clue that he wasn’t boyfriend material.

    • Oh my gosh my niece does a similar thing and it drives me crazy. When I’m counting one to ten or something, there’ll be this very quiet ‘three, seven, fifteen, four…’ at the same time. I think she just wants to join in!

    • I hate this, too! I sometimes use markers for casting on, putting one every ten or twenty stitches so I can avoid having to go back and recount all the time!

    • I can’t count either. Anything after 20 could just be any number. But I have gotten stitch counts wrong so many times that I know enough not to rush through this part. I have taken to using a row counter to note every 10 stitches cast on. It is extremely tedious but unfortunately necessary.

  3. Math homework! (Same thing that tested my love of high school!) Seriously, the thrill of casting on can be such a rush but it so often led to disappointment and sub standard results I’m now resigned to having to think first – do the math – and act just a little bit later .

  4. Nothing. I love everything about knitting. I just wish I could knit, but unfortunately I have hyperemesis gravidarum again and I cannot even look at knitting without being sick. It’s going to be a long 7 more months!

  5. I definitely feel ya, Karen! However I tend to crave these long back and forth projects after I’ve indulged in a few quick projects. I’d have to say, for me it’s the “piecing together” of a sweater and the moment of truth as you slip it on and…… ? I haven’t yet mastered “seaming” with any confidence and “Know How” therefore this is the thorn in my knitting side! I’m thinking, when I finish the current “classic cable sweater” I’m working on, I will take it to someone who can build my confidence in this seaming arena – then, maybe I can begin to feel better about it.
    so… maybe not “boring” but “challenging” none-the -less and always makes me question my love of knitting.

    • I so agree. I hate piecing and the weaving in. So much so that at present I have 4 completed garments not pieced together. I just love the knitting.

  6. Funny..the last rows of a shawl can be tedious. I usually take a few minute break in search of the next project. Having something next in line helps me finish the current project.
    I’ve been wondering the same thing, but right now, it’s the garden that is overwhelming me. I’m trying to focus only on the 4-8 sq ft right in front of me & not look up to see days of work ahead of me. Procrastinating as I type.

    This is where product has to be motivating you more than process.
    And as Ann Lamott’s father says, ‘Bird by Bird.’ Count each new row as an accomplishment.
    And/or pair it with some other pleasure (think about an experience with her, a piece of chocolate, whatever can boost knitting the next row.
    See you at Stitches South.

  7. Weaving in the ends. I have made an intarsia tunic and just recently a complex sweater, both with what felt like gazillion ends to weave in. Never mind how many tutorials I’ve watched in the topic, I never seem to get them right. Now I tie knots before tucking them in, to be on the safe side, even if you’re not supposed to. This does stop me from casting on, but I do hate it.

    • I agree with you! I hate weaving in ends. I usually save them for when I am at knitting group. At least great convo distracts me from the tediousness of sewing in ends

    • I’m not a fan of weaving in ends either! Recently, I started weaving in ends before I’m finished with my project, that way, I end up with only a few left to do.

  8. second socks–I have 12 singles that need mates right now, whittled down from closer to 20 at the beginning of winter.

    and working at a dense gauge to get the fabric I want. My Fringe and Friends KAL cardigan is languishing in the wings because of this issue right now.

  9. I’m fine knitting a gauge swatch if I can then frog it and re-knit the yarn into my finished item. I’m not a fan of knitting a gauge swatch when I have to wash/block it. Yarn is just too expensive to lose yardage.

  10. I wouldn’t say I have anything to report in the boring dept.—– just frustrating. After knitting for a gazillion years my purl stitches and tension are horrible so stockinette patterns are pitiful. Then the light bulb came on and I now knit all sweaters and accessories in textured stitches. After frogging 2 sweaters I knitted over this past long winter for those reasons I’m happy to (maybe) have solved my own problem!!

    • I read somewhere, maybe here, that you (and I) should use a one-size smaller needle as your working needle on purl rows when you have the problem of uneven stockinette. I’ve tried it and it works!

  11. I think the thing I like least, is sewing up seams. I never seem to get it quit right, but I keep going at it. I do love the cleaner lines and finish that you seem to have with seams. These are really great if you have KIDS that love to climb and wrestle, etc. Don’t get me work, I do love the ease of just knitting in the round and do put in false seams to reinforce those area that get a lot of stress but there’s still something about seams that look clean. Maybe I’ll get it right, eventually!!!

  12. For me, it’s the second sleeve in a sweater. I’m soooooo close to being done…… When I was knitting my most recent sweater, I decided to knit both sleeves at the same time and that helped a lot!

    • And I just knit the two sleeves of my sweater project first! A suggestion by Anne Hansen as a way to check gauge. I suspect that will make the balance of the sweater project go faster.

      • Thanks for the good idea! Will be starting a summer sweater soon and that’s what I’m going to do!

    • Frankly, it’s any sleeve for me. I don’t know why I hate them so much. But I do. And it doesn’t matter whether I do them first or middle or last… Maybe that is why I love knitting shawls?

  13. Starting and finishing. I hate making swatches/casting on and I hate blocking/weaving in, alpha and omega. So, the motivation is if I don’t start it, I won’t be knitting anything, right?

  14. I don’t do scarves, shawls at least have repeats. What truly tests my love if knitting, though, is simply where I live. The weather is often too warm for hand knits. In trying to grow an appreciation for warmer weather fibers as well s toy knitting to combat the desire to just so knitting.

  15. I do not like knitting on very large needles! It is just not comfortable and can get no rhythm. And like others that second anything: sock, sleave, or front. Knitting in the round takes forever but when finished it is finished and time to do my favorite thing, start another project !

  16. Hmmmm, weaving in ends especially with fiber that doesn’t stick well to itself (or semi-felt or stay put). Any suggestions for cotton specifically? Must I tie knots? I also get bored with knitting swatches, so I don’t :)

  17. I’m not a fan of weaving in ends either, to the point that I have several, years-old, finished things with all the ends that don’t show from the outside still secretly dangling.. Ha. I also can’t handle seed stitch; it never falls into a rhythm and just feels so tedious to me. I’m okay with long rows or heaps of stockinette if I like the yarn or I have something else to keep my brain entertained, like a podcast or TV show.

  18. Blocking scarves/stoles with wires (A BT signature!) and trying not to poke out my eye , excessive sewing (a nod to a Rowan KAL that sits, blocks complete—ends woven in per pattern— in a lonely corner waiting to be sewn) and MOST OF ALL, poorly written patterns…especially those in which, longing for simplicity, include instruction for every flipping row.

  19. When the freshly turned heel flap stitches throw themselves off the DPNs, my heart seizes, I can’t breathe and I wonder why I torment myself with knitting. Long, flat rows of stockinette are sublime: I loose myself in the formation of every stitch, the mastery of the movement, the devotion to the fiber, the needles, my own machination. It is the only time in my life that I have been able to quiet my mind, know peace, relax. The idea that each one of the stitches is going to touch someone I love, envelop them in comfort and warmth, lends reverence to each and every one. The longer the rows get, the more love goes into the piece; a worthy sentiment for your granny’s shawl…thank you for your lovely blog.

  20. All the prep needed before getting down to the project! First…either I have yarn I want to use and can’t find the perfect pattern, or I have a pattern I love but can’t find yarn that speaks to me (and then when I get some, it just doesn’t work with said pattern). Then making the swatch, and doing it right, the whole swatch, bind off, wash, measure. And it’s too big, so try again. I have finally accepted that the reason I’ve always had trouble with sizing is because I’d rather skip these steps; so I do it now. But I hate it! I just want to get into my project!

  21. Mine is similar, but more about the simplicity of the long rows, and especially if it’s with finer yarn on larger needles. Right now I’m making this nice boxy, airy, open linen top as a present for my sister. It’s so simple, just stockinette–and I just get so bored with it, that I sit down to knit for a few hours in the evening, and then stop after 5 rows because it’s just not exciting enough. And then it feels like I’ll never finish!
    I also sometimes have the same feeling with sleeves: I’ve just finished! And now I have to do the exact same thing again……

  22. “Seconding” second socks! I mostly want to knit socks to try out a new yarn or technique, so some part of my brain is *done* after the first sock. Usually I can eventually convince myself that I actually want to wear the socks at some point, but it’s always a slog!

  23. The math when starting a new project, if you don’t like the gauge required for the pattern, but like to make it anyway, and you need to recalculate… I have postponed project just for that reason.

  24. I am always in a lost desert when I’ve finished a project and am looking for the next one. I start thinking about it before I’m finished with what is on my needles, I look at all the wonderful yarn I could use, I look at all the fantastic projects I want to do, and I can’t make the final commitment. I think deciding whom to marry was easier!

  25. I laughed out loud when I read this! Next to me at my computer are two shawls (sock weight and my husband’s handspun.) I was having a blast until I got to the longer rows. So now there’s no “knitting a quick couple of rows” between other things. One row takes a while and there’s a long way to go on both of them. Its more fun if there’s pattern row but then I also have to keep count of the millions of stitches not to get off the pattern. Over and over, counting – but I learned the hard way that it beats ripping back. After a bit I tend to do what slantedstitches does: take a break with a hat. And am I already planning my next shawl project? Yes!
    Side note from reading some of the sock posts: I knew when I began knitting socks that I’d never want to knit that second one, so right from the beginning I learned the two circulars method knitting two at a time.

  26. anything that requires weaving in a lot of ends! i tend to set things aside for a long time because i don’t want to weave in the ends! but yes, i will still do it on occasion. one other things drives me crazy…having to wait to try a sweater on the intended recipient. i just want to get it done and more on to another project.

  27. Button bands on cardigans. They always end up either bending inwards or being too loose no matter how good the rest if the pattern is. It always takes so long to find an appropriate middle ground that I end up putting the project down for months because I can’t face that bit.

  28. Knitting doesn’t bore me since it is hard to fit into my schedule. When I do get to knit a row I don’t care if it is 350 stitches on a stockinette row or a complicated lace pattern. I am just happy to be knitting!!!!!!!! :)

  29. Sewing up. Although – when you recognize that technically it’s not actually knitting, you can see the problem. It’s not knitting! I will do it for gifts, and I will do it for Mother Bear Project bears (because I love that project so much – although I’m working on a double knit pattern for the bear that means no more sewing up!) It is one of two reasons I am not a sweater knitter. Even sewing up the Felfs I knit for Christmas was yeoman’s work for me!

  30. Magic loop or dpns. The bit where you have to rearrange really slows me down, and I hate it. I’ve started investing in those tiny weeny little fixed circs so I can just go round and round and round.

  31. I find knitting laceweight a chore. Between my wierd style of knitting, and my clunky hands, its just not fun. So, instead, I crochet it, which is fun for me. Also, can’t stand knitting sleeves in the round. So, I knit them flat (which IMO, makes a better sleeve anyway). Not crazy about knitting short rows either, but thank goodness they are usually short-lived and worth it.

    But, I actually enjoy long expanses of simple knitting (and crocheting), especially if the yarn is lovely. Accomplishing a large task, one small, simple increment at a time, is soul-satisfying and meditative for me. I call that kind of work “picking blueberries”.

    • Wow, just saw that another Clare, with the same spelling, no less, commented right before me! What an unusual coincidence! For that matter, I’m also not a fan of knitting on DPNs. ;-)

  32. never ending stockinette. I try to avoid it whenever possible but sometimes the look is exactly what I need

  33. This may be counter-intuitive, but I reallllly do not like to cast on. Every time I get ready to start a project, I wonder if there are others like me and think how much money someone could get from me if they started a business dedicated to casting on.

  34. I also get tired of the ever increasing rows in a shawl. But they are satisfying to finish.

    Right now I’m trying to keep my WIPs to two: one for at home and one that fits in my purse. I’m regretting my choice of two projects in garter stitch! One is about to be cast off and whatever is next will be more entertaining.

  35. First, you said “test”, and my immediate thought was “TWINED KNITTING”. AAAGH! That’ll test even the most nimble of fingers! Boring isn’t fun, but it’s not maddening… or, not totally maddening. My Pi Shawl, on it’s 6th (?) round, at 59o-somthing stitches, I guess I can admit that it’s getting a little dull.

  36. For me it’s not the long, flat “boring” stretches of knitting — I have actually come to love that part. After knitting for over 10 years I have enough finished hats, mittens, sweaters, etc, that I feel like I can take my time and knit miles of fingering weight stockinette with plenty of interest and patience (especially because I can just put on the radio or a movie). What I do find challenging is the counting, the math, the measurements as projects get more complicated. Getting to the end of a lace row and being off count, trying to determine where your mistake was, counting it repeatedly — that gets my head spinning. But often a challenge is good!!

  37. What I find daunting is knitted on edging for a shawl…I’m done with the main body (I did a large square shawl) and now I have to knit on edging around the ENTIRE shawl that I constantly have to turn because the stitch count is so low. Plus on this shawl I ran out of yarn with 5 inches of edging left! The yarn I used was expensive for just 5 inches of edging so I (fortunately) found a reasonable substitute. But I do love the end result!!

  38. I love to knit and until many months ago, I knit every day. Then I bought a pattern that I’m pretty sure, the directions are not correct. I looked it up and found other people had the same problem. I wrote the company and they insisted there was no problem. That kind of did it for me. Maybe this summer I will tackle it again and probably make up my own directions because the sweater pattern is really cute.

    • I’m so over being the test knitter for overpriced patterns. I’ve lost faith in any paid pattern that doesn’t at least have some projects on Ravelry and not just XS.

  39. Since this is a place where a knitter can be honest, I must confess that I don’t enjoy sewing seams. Maybe there will come a time in the future when this will be an enjoyable task, but it’s not now. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for top-down, seamless sweater patterns! They are a joy to knit!!!!

  40. I recently knit so much so fast I got knitters’ elbow (like tennis elbow without the tennis). I hadn’t knit in ages then cranked out two sweaters fairly quickly. Zappo – elbow pain. No knitting for me. I guess my knitting muscles have atrophied. Hmph.

  41. I have no idea why, but since the dawn of my knitting in high school, I cannot stand doing neck shaping where you have to bind off stitches, then join a second ball of yarn and knit back and forth on two separate sides. Crew necks are bad enough, but V-necks? Urgh. Circular yokes and raglan shaping rule!

  42. Making too many things in a row (usually 2)from someone else’s pattern, where I get gauge, and all I have to do is knit. I feel like I’m a boring cover-band. (Producing derivative work doesn’t bother me as much :)). I’m quite fond of plain knitting – that way, I can comfortably read, converse, play games, etc at the same time….

  43. That’s a great question! When I started knitting, I never even thought of starting with “flat” projects like shawls, scarves, blankets, etc. I jumped right into garment making, which cost me several months of casting on and off for a dozen of projects that have never been finished :) When I finally got it, I kept making just garments. So knitting “flat” projects is definitely testing my love of knitting. Right now I occasionally knit shawls, they are perfect relaxing in-between projects. I knit them only as a gift and only without a deadline set. I pick them up whenever I feel the urge for mindless knitting, otherwise it would be a test for the love of knitting that I would definitely fail.

  44. Casting on a large number of stitches. AKA casting on the wrong number of stitches and having to cast on again. Casting on a large number of stitches then joining in the round and twisting only to find out definitively 4 rows later and having to do it all over.

    Picking up stitches for collars/edging etc.


    Not using the right size needles for edging and not having the heart or stomach to frog.

    Knitting a gorgeous pattern only to realize I used the wrong yarn/color and it doesn’t go with any of my clothes.

  45. I *hate* purling through the back loop (until surpassed by p2tog tbl)! I don’t know how it works with British/American knitting, but for a Continental knitter like me, it’s such a pain.

  46. Yep! Math! Starting a project and finding I am off in the fit and having to re-work all that irritating math (rather than just getting on with it) to get the fit right!! uugh!

  47. The second of anything. Socks, mittens, fingerless mitts – I usually put the first one aside once it’s done and wait to get enthused about them again, and then I cast on the second. The only exception is my little guy’s mittens. They go so fast, it’s hard to be annoyed about the second one.

  48. Whipping along, thinking I’ve got it covered and then discovering a major issue five rows down. I’ve tried to scrutinize the knitting more often, and that has helped a bit – frogging two or three instead of 10, but also learning in lace at least, to leave well enough alone.

  49. 1. I hate sewing up so much that I’ll only make sweaters in the round (kinda limits my options, but there you have it).
    2. I despise long pattern repeats–anything more than 6 rows and I’m outta there.
    3. Patterns in garter stitch and nothing but garter stitch, even tho that’s the best knitting for binge watching. I’m making a garter stitch shawl right now because the yarn didn’t work for what I’d originally planned. It’ll be great when it’s done, but man, incessant garter stitch will drive. you. mad.

  50. Stuffed animals – or whenever there are a lot of loose ends to weave in. I also agree with the comments regarding math, my mind seems to go a bit numb when I start reading the instructions that require numerical figures.

  51. the MATH..thank God for my wonderful yarn store! Casting on over 100 stitches and over thinking the instructions which always leads to mistakes.

  52. What tests my love of knitting is when the same sweater gets ruined 3x in the process by various reasons and I have to start over again, and again, and AGAIN #IWILLFINISHTHEAMANDA! :)

  53. I get really annoyed when a pattern requires more than 2 different sized needles. I also no longer care to knit on DPNs — they bog my knitting speed waaay down and I’m filled with constant dread that my stitches will fall off.

  54. Long stretches of stockinette with nothing else to do! I’m working on a top-down sweater now (Tenney Park, which wins the “best use of entrelac in a pattern” award), and I just finished the waist shaping. Now I’m in the “knit plain until x inches” bit, and I just can’t. I usually do the boring knitting while watching TV, and I need to get back to that or this thing will never be done. (I started it in 2012 – I guess having most of a body is progress.)

  55. For me, it appears to be seaming :( I’ve spent huge money on yarn to make myself something I loved the look of but requires seaming, and then it has languished for years, about 75% done.

  56. For me it’s picking up stitches for a button band. Can’t stand it. Never get it quite right.

  57. Big projects like a baby blanket. I love knitting all of my projects, especially, gifts. I get restless and want to change it up. My creative juices want something different. Yet, I feel torn to finish my project. I finally solved it by casting on multiple projects. Then I can break it up. Otherwise, a big project can sit for months.

  58. AHH I have this right now!! I am knitting a moss stitch scarf in varying colours (light brown to dark brown) and am about 2 balls in I still have 5 to go and I am struggling!!!!!

    I hate that its in a very slow ( yeah not very I know moss stitch isn’t that hard but it seems to take soo much longer than garter stitch because of all the toing and froing of the wool (k,p,k,p etc).

    I have put this scarf down for extended periods of time TWICE now- I think that this is a sign that I should pick a new project for that wool but it would look so nice. I am instead thinking of doing varying block stitches of moss stitch to garter stitch and back again.

    choices choices choices.

    I love blocking and finishing a product- just finished a merino wool beanie for a friend and handing it over to her was awesome!! I have gotten already a few messages from her thanking me for saving her head and keeping it warm early in the morning.

    In order to solve my moss stitch scarf dilemma I have cast on a pullover as its getting chilly!

  59. Pingback: Q for You: How do you store your yarn? | Fringe Association

  60. Dropped stitches in garter stitch. This continues to stump me, even though I have been able to rescue dropped stitches in lace patterns!

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