Tuesday 1 May 2012

“quick-to-knit” v. “concentration required”. Discuss.

Over the past few weeks I have been knitting, on average, an article a day. Of course, these are small articles: fingerless mitts, which I knit on metal dpns (hard on my hands due to their inflexibility), alternated with cowls, which I knit on wooden circulars.
2012 mitts - five2012 cowls - four
Generally I knit these to my own “go-to” patterns. Both are knitted in the round. The fingerless mitts are mostly in stocking (stockinet) stitch which means, except for the ribbing, there is no need to purl so they are very fast to knit.
2012 Elle Bee's No Fuss Men's mitts
The cowls have been started and finished with a garter stitch edge and have three rounds of garter stitch for every three or four rounds of stocking stitch simply because I liked the look (and the garter stitch edge means they don’t roll).
2012 Elle Bee's No Fuss cowl
Then I started knitting the Alexstraza Cowl (Ravelry link) designed by Robbyn Kenyon. I love the look of the cowl and it knitted up beautifully.
2012 Dragon Skin Cowl
But it took me three days to knit, which got me thinking: is it a productive use of my time to spend three days on one item when I could knit three items in that time frame?

You see, winter is rapidly approaching in this part of the world. The charities for whom I knit are mostly involved with caring for the homeless and disadvantaged. I have deadlines to meet but no obligation to send any specified number of items. So, should I knit three cowls and warm three people or knit one cowl that requires concentration and constant tinking? I love the process of knitting, even simple stocking stitch; and I get a little frustrated with patterns that require constant attention (because I knit in front of the television). But I also get great joy from conquering a pattern and doing something different – variety is, after all, the spice of life.

Tell me please, I really want to know (even if you’re not a knitter, the principle is the same for any craft): what would you do?


  1. While that last cowl is undoubtedly the prettiest, I think if they are going to be given to a charity to warm the homeless I'd probably be going with the simpler, faster design, Lynne. As you say, you can help more people that way. Well done! That charity will be so grateful for your cosy donations!

  2. I would probably alternate, if I were you. If conquering a pattern and learning something new gives you pleasure, then that is a good thing - especially if it keeps you motivated to knit more. No doubt it is a bit of a break on your hands too, also important, because if your hands get sore, you won't be able to knit at all.
    And finally, I'm sure the homeless and disadvantaged appreciate nice patterns too.

  3. I'm always a little put off when someone quilting for charities makes a super simple, not particularly attractive quilt and defends that decision by saying that quantity is more important than quality. If you're going to make a baby quilt for a preemie, or a wheelchair quilt, or a Quilts of Valor quilt for a veteran, it seems to me that it should be made with as much care and attention as anything you'd make for a friend. The only exception is quilts for the homeless. As awful as it sounds, we're encouraged to make "ugly" quilts for the homeless because the item will not have value, and thus will not end up somewhere other than sheltering a person who needs it.

    That said, you're making useful objects for the homeless, and the "plain" versions are also attractive. I think in this case making faster projects is completely justified.

  4. And the flip side to Di's comment is that the knitter must be interested in what she knits-which means changing it up for mental challenges every once and a while and also, a little beauty goes a long way to warm up the soul, too. I would definitely say the three days makes a good investment, too, for both the giver and the receiver! Love all your items btw!!!

  5. I'd say, follow your heart and make what pleases you. You are giving it away, you have no obligation. Keep it fun and light. I would have to mix it up to keep my own interest from waining.

  6. I think you need variety to keep your interest. I also think that some of the homeless or disadvantaged would very much appreciate the extra work involved too
    Well that is what I tell myself :-)
    I know I constantly check out other people's knits

  7. i think you should do whatever pleases you and makes you happiest. Honestly. Don't make it about hard work. Do a bit of both if you want. There are, as we have established before, no knitting police.


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