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Patience Not (Always) Required

If you’ve been knitting for any time at all, you’ve likely heard someone say, “I’m not patient enough to be a knitter” .

While knitting is definitely a form of slow fashion crafting, you don’t have to have a wellspring of endless patience to do it.

If you’re staring down a hefty project and you’re starting to feel like it will never end, let me share some of my survival secrets.

  1. Block it early. There, I said it. We don’t have to wait until the end to block our project – especially when it comes to sweaters. If you’re just dying to see how the pattern or fit will develop after blocking, get those stitches onto long enough needles (or two long sets of circulars – just be sure they’re metal ones) so it can lay flat. Give it a soak, then pin it down and let it block just like you would normally do; the only difference is you have a set of needles attached. Blocking partway can give you an idea of the finished product, and can be quite encouraging to help you get through to the end. (I still do a full-on block at the end, or at least block the section that wasn’t blocked the first time. Partial blocking can be awesome for checking fit and making sure you’re on the right track.)
  2. Speaking of blocking early, you can also use a steamer to give your knitting a quick steam block to get a feel for (this is the one I use). Steam blocking is no substitute for the real thing, but it can give you a sense of progress.
  3. Rotate projects. If the idea of knitting through one long project start to finish makes you weary, it can help to have several different types of projects on the needles so you can rotate between them. The little “wins” of finishing smaller projects can break up the monotony of the longer ones.
  4. Have a support group. Knitting with friends can be an incredible motivator to finish a project. They’ll likely ask how it’s coming along or want to see progress at the next night.
  5. Speaking of a support group: Social knitting can be a great way to power through long stretches of mindless knitting. If you find yourself struggling with sleeve island or knitting miles of stockinette stitch, save the project for social knitting time. You’ll be surprised how much progress you can make when you’re a bit distracted.
  6. Use a progress keeper. Progress keepers are terrific for marking progress, especially when it feels like you’re knitting and knitting and knitting and somehow your project isn’t growing (or seems to be growing shorter??). Just clip a little progress keeper on your last row and leave it in place so you can actually see progress happening as you move further and further away from it.
  7. Set goals. Sometimes I give myself little challenges (and rewards) for making progress on a project that feels like it’s never going to end. I’ll challenge myself to knit 2 inches/5 cm on the project each day, and my reward will be that I can then work on a new project I’m more excited about. It might seem silly, but it really does help.

Being a knitter isn’t only for patient people. Remember there are shortcuts, little wins along the way, and tricks for avoiding burnout. It’s not cheating if it keeps the project interesting and helps you finish.

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