One of the first conversations I remember having with another knitter was him telling me how fast he could knit. He was so into his speedy knitting that he spent quite a while telling me how he spent time challenging himself with exercises in knitting faster. It was surreal because the idea of being a fast knitter or slow knitter really hadn’t crossed my mind. This was sometime in my first year of knitting and I was clicking away purely for the joy of it, reveling in this new fantastic craft that I loved. I remember wondering if I should care, but promptly dismissed it. I was trying to learn new skills & the challenge of perfecting those skills trumped any desire to go fast.
As a teacher this theme of speed was ever-present — from advanced knitters who wanted to be able to cruise through projects in record time to beginners who just wanted to be like those ‘little old ladies who don’t have to look and can move their needles so quickly they are a blur.’ The age-old question always came up, which is faster: Continental or English method? We all yearn to be like those knitters who can crank out socks & sweaters in record time. As a knitter who knits a lot and spent the last two and a half years setting deadlines for myself and others, I understand the incredible feeling of flying through projects as well as the frustration of being bogged down in a work-in-progress that just won’t end. Sometimes the frustration can be so consuming and disheartening that we abandon projects altogether because they simply move too slowly. We’ve all done it, haven’t we?
As I start to shift perspectives away from knitting for work and back toward a more family-centric life with knitting as just a special part of me, I find that I am viewing it very differently. I still knit daily, anywhere from a handful of minutes to a few hours. Because of the time I’ve spent knitting over the past decade, I am quite swift at churning out stitches — speed, after all, is really just a function of how comfortable you are with your craft & how much practice you have. The more you knit, the faster you get — it really is that simple. As I click away these days, I find that I am less focused on racing to the end of my project. I am still thrilled seeing progress and delighted to bind-off, I am still a human knitter after all. I am taking my time, though. I am letting myself savor watching a colorwork pattern unfold. I am taking pride in just really nice, even stitches. I am letting myself enjoy & get to to know the lovely yarns with which I get to knit. Most of all, though, I am allowing myself to enjoy the wonder of craft. Taking the simplest of things — sticks & string — and creating wearable warmth, a bit of stylish flair, or a special treasure for someone I care about is pretty fantastic. Allowing myself this ‘slow crafting’ has given me so much peace and made me feel very lucky & thankful that knitting is a part of my life.
As cliché as it is to say it, this world moves so fast. We are all compelled to move faster, be more productive, and commit ourselves to doing more. While there certainly is something to be said for productivity & I will never not knit with deadlines, I have to say that there is likewise something incredible about slowing down. Call it zen, call it meditation, call it what you will — while everyone else is flying forward, I just want to take my time and savor. If you find yourself wishing you could move faster & produce more, I encourage you to allow yourself to just enjoy your craft. The speed will come in time, with practice. In the meantime, let yourself appreciate your knitting by giving slow crafting a try. Allow yourself to make it not about how many projects you finish, but about watching the projects unfold. I am pretty sure you deserve to enjoy the wonder.