Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Surprising Turn of Speed

As I've been knitting around and around the first sleeve of the colorwork pullover, I've been thinking about Toni's comment on how quickly this is all going:
colorwork sweater pieces

Yes, that really is the whole body of the sweater, ready to have the sleeves joined on, underneath the first sleeve. I cast on the ribbing in the middle of last week, and started first band of colorwork on Friday evening. So- this is going unusually quickly. Being of a scientific turn of mind, I considered several hypotheses for why this might be the case.

Hypothesis #1: I'm a really fast knitter.

I really like this one. Unfortunately, over twenty years of experience suggests that while I'm reasonably expeditious, I'm not unusually fast. To check this, I timed myself on a representative round of the body. I did stack the deck by making it one of the plain stockinette rounds in one color, which would presumably represent my maximum possible knitting speed...and, no, not really. Research shows that experienced knitters may produce anywhere from 12 to over 100 st/in (depending on the type of knitting). My 42 st/min maximum is quite respectable, but not exceptional.

Hypothesis #2: I've developed the supernatural ability to siphon progress from the projects of other crafters.

This occurred to me because of the of the many times I've heard people say on a project that they knit and knit and knit and don't seem to be getting anywhere. I had kind of mixed feelings about this. Because if this was what I was doing, I'd feel obliged to give it back. Which is a problem, because it's really cool and I don't want to if other crafters found out I was doing it, they'd come after me with many pointy implements of retribution I have no idea how. Fortunately, I could not posit any plausible mechanism by which this could occur.

Hypothesis #3 Assistance of the feline persuasion.
cat on pattern book

Okay this was a long shot. (And an excuse for gratuitous cute cat photos.) But, Woats has been taking an unusual amount of interest in this sweater. Normally she likes to knead people exclusively, but she has several times kneaded the sweater-in-progress (it wasn't even on my lap), curled up on it for a nap, and kneaded the ball of yarn. She's also helpfully sat on the sweater and pattern and talked to me while I was knitting. But none of these things obviously translate into knitting progress.
cat kneading sweater

It was at about this point that I realized that I had done almost nothing at home for the past five days except knit. This had several causes- first the crappy weather, which made sitting on the couch underneath a cat with yarn in my hands pretty attractive. Not that it's hard to sap my will to do housework. Really, almost any excuse will do.

And then there was my karate practice on Monday, where I and another middle-aged student spent much of the class throwing each other on the floor and practicing techniques coming off a forward roll (somersault). Since I don't bounce quite the way I did in my twenties--or even thirties--this resulted in a certain amount of stiffness and disinclination to move off the couch except for more yarn or ibuprofen. (See notes above re sapping will to do housework.)

My conclusion? Spending a lot of time knitting results in swift progress on a project. Drat. And here I thought I was on to something new.


  1. My spinning teacher claimed that cats can see green; both she and I had cats (hers, and in my case, my neighbor's) that claimed and climbed into wool we'd put outside after dyeing it: the cats demanded it was theirs after we dyed it green. None of the other colors got any attention from them, but the green, that was theirs.

  2. ats! I thought you had maybe discovered why those darn sleeves are taking so long to knit!!!!


  3. I'm going with hypothesis #3. I think we can all use help from our furry babies. lol. Great progress!