Batch Knitting

By Kay Gardiner
April 9, 2020

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  • Also unable to knit anything but dishcloths… But they are instantly put to good use!

    • I have 4 projects on the needles. But I can’t seem to commit. I pick up, put down, pick up, put down. Unfocused. Scattered thoughts. Distracted. I want the to finish *something* but I can’t seem to carry the ball to the finish line.

      When all “this” started I thought (as didn’t most knitters?): “Hmmm… quarantined for an undetermined amount of time? These moments we live for. We’ve been training (fervently wishing!) for this, right?” But actually?… I don’t seem to have the bandwidth for a long sweater or blanket slog.

      I’m like a blindfolded mouse in a maze. The cheese is there, I smell it, I want it! But I keep bumping into walls.

      I’ve got some cotton in the stash. A dishcloth, at the point, seems…. manageable. Thank you for the reassurance that right now this is ok. I don’t have to knit the 47 sweaters in my Rav queue. Normalcy will return. ‘Til then, my kitchen linens drawer will be refreshed and stocked. And that’s *something.*

      • Dishcloths are forgiving, even with “mistakes”. Have fun with them.

        • Your blanket is magnificent! One for the ages. My focus is shot too. It is wonderful to have you every morning as company and support.

      • Hi dear,

        Don’t be too hard on YOURSELF.

        Knit juste a few rows, it is calming

        Try To have a good day.

        I send you good vibes.

  • Good to know I’m not alone. Have been in solitude for 4 weeks as of today. Only rows 20-40 of the chart for my Papa. Pick up, put down, stare blankly at project bag…. Feel like I should be finishing my 4th sweater. Think some dishrags are in my future. Thank you. And Hugs.

    • Gracious, you are not alone. I’m almost done with a going-away present cowl that should’ve been finished a week ago. Darn it, I keep looking at the news – I should call it “olds” cause there’s nothing new. When I get done (today, bleep it!) I *should* pick up a cardi I’d stopped for the sake of the gift. But my heart says grab a singleton skein/ball and maybe knit one of the Cascade blanket stitches. Or make a onesie for a future grand baby (whose mom and dad don’t even have a twinkle in the eye yet). Or spin.

  • I too can not focus. Of all things, I started a pair of boot socks.

    • After months of having many unfinished projects around, I finally found a project that I have been able to stick with and I am so relieved. After having been a knitter for well over thirty years, I was afraid that I had lost my anchor.

    • Oh Kay — the coin blanket/throw is amazing. I have been looking forward to seeing the finished piece. Beautiful. Love it. That Kaffe Fassett is one talented man. He gets us started, but each project is made beautiful by the person who knits it.

      For me, I have about 40 more rows in my last sleeve and I will have finished my second sweater — the Wave of Change jacket by Denise Bayron. I’m using the Rowan Big Wool I ordered for my Main Squeeze. I’m not the tallest person in the world and I started to worry that the Main Squeeze might swallow me up, so I opted for WoC. Next up are a set of pillows that my Mom has requested. I’m using my Rowan Felted Tweed on the new pillows Arne and Carlos designed for Rowan.

      As the others have said, Thanks to you and Ann and the whole MDK team for gifting us with the March Mayhem, a new Field Guide, and your daily letters. All cheer and enlighten me.

  • Your Kaffe Fassett blanket is breathtaking.

    • Yes, yes, yes! And I love the log cabin border!

  • I’ve also become strangely unfocussed about knitting given that the current situation should be ideal for getting down to a really complex and special project. I did make a couple of swatches of a beautiful expensive mohair/bluefaced Leicester mix that I’ve been saving, but couldn’t concentrate and made plenty of errors. I decided not to risk spoiling the precious yarn and instead I’m using up some serviceable but unexciting merino, making it into a blanket that will be eventually useful for some baby or other. It’s always good to have a ready-made gift when an announcement is made.

  • I was worried about my sanity, since I, too, have been struggling to find the stick-to-itness to cast-on a sweater…despite the fact that I have the yarn I need and love. Thank you for this encouraging article. Now, excuse me while I pick up my project…again. Stay safe and well!

  • Yes! My book group has been gathering on Zoom. On Tuesday night, we all confessed to this very thing: inability to focus and finish. Anything. All this time alone. It felt better knowing that we were all suffering from the same problem.

  • The Kaffe Blanket is pretty. DITTO with regard to lack of focus. As a side note, I ordered 21 skeins of Fibre Co Luma, 3 colorways of 7 skeins, to knit myself a Shaker Rag Top! Thanks for the solidarity and INSPIRATION!

    • I think the lack of focus thing is pretty universal. It bothered me a lot at first, but then I thought ‘why?’. For a few days I’d sit down with a limit, only knitting 2 rows on any project at a time. Setting a limit seemed to help winnow things down to the projects that satisfied the most, so now I concentrate on them. And if I want to change I do, no guilt. Just because I’m stuck at home doesn’t mean my life needs to be perfect (I still haven’t done any more cleaning than normal, which is not much). And I believe some wise sage on this very blog said ‘knitting is meant to be fun’.
      Also, I’ve been buying lots of yarn and planning new things, even if I don’t want to cast on right away. Makes me feel like I’m helping keep fiber business alive…..

      • I like your approach

  • Not even dishclothes here. I made swatches, swatches, swatches, always looking for an appealing project. But after knitting some swatches for the chosen design I gave up and started the same procedure for the next pattern. Ended up with: Sweater. Who needs a sweater? I`ve got several ones, haven’t I?

    On Monday finally I’ve got out my sewing machine to make a face mask. And while I was drawing the outlines of the pattern and cutting the fabric something beautiful happened. For the first time in weeks I felt good with what I was doing: focussed but not driven, and really really happy. It worked out fine, and I made another one. And as long as it makes me happy and my stash of patchwork cottons lasts I will go on sewing them. (And maybe I can sew a patchwork rainbow for my friends … or crochet one ..?)

    I’ll knit again … some sunny day!

  • The coin throw is absolutely beautiful!

  • It IS magnificent! A treasure, to be enjoyed for many years, I am sure. As for me, I am pushing through with a seafoam pattern scarf, and messing it up with an inability to concentrate. Thankfully, the result is pretty forgiving. But these dishcloths have me wanting to pull out my cotton stash, and replenish my kitchen drawer. Knit On, and Stay Home!!!

  • The blanket is a treasure!!!!! That deserves congratulations!!!!

  • Aww, love your post and your dishcloth knitting! I, on the other hand, have cast on for ALL THE THINGS! My cast-on-itis is outta hand! And I’m just rolling with it. It’s giving me joy to look at all these different projects, and not minding when they get done. I think these urges go in phases, because back in January I couldn’t stand to cast on anything until I had finished a few old projects.

    So good to hear both of you during this crazy time. Thanks so much for MDK!

  • Hee hee heee…. ‘estivation’

  • I think the ball band dishcloth speaks to you and others as Boxes from Field Guide No. 13 spoke to me. Those rows of cages are symbolic of our isolation together but apart. Am on the ninth repeat of Boxes for an infinity cowl in the round that will need 24 or more repeats. No repeats of color yet but will get to that later.

  • Need to know about this housey cushion. Everything about it! PS Glorious blanket, Kay.

    • Yes I noticed that too. Any details or “how to make”?

      • Me, too! I noticed it right away.

        • I can’t be the first to ask this – but how about putting ties or ear loops, and a basted liner of shop towel or interfacing, on a BBD for a nice cotton face mask? (I may have to do this myself.)

          Gorgeous coin throw, wow, wow!

    • Yes, about that house?!?

    • I-cord bind off!!! Argghhh!!! Kudos, Kay!

      And yes, that little house/cabin cushion is soooo adorable. I, too, would love to know what the pattern is, if it exists.

  • Yes. All of my friends have talked about this same loss of focus. I didn’t know “batch knitting” had a name but I whipped out a stack of dishcloths (grandmothers’ favorite) in January while I was doing the middle of the night shift with a just-home-from-the hospital preemie grandbaby. I knit those dish clothes until my hands quit.
    So happy that my current WIP was well underway when it became my quarantine knitting—it’s a lap throw that is basically a giant dishcloth!

  • I’m doing scarves. I have all this stash yarn for basic long-ish scarves, so that’s what I decided to do. I’m on the fourth one now. I did just get EIGHTEEN skeins of yarns for my cardigan project so I’ve been winding that too and I can’t wait to cast that on. But right now it’s just garter stitch all day long.

    • I’m doing hats and mittens. I call them my “instant gratification “ projects. Helps to use up the odds and ends in my stash. I do have a rather intricate sweater on the needles, I just can’t seem to summon the focus to work on.

      • “Instant gratification”! Love that. Yup, that’s what the scarves are for me.

  • I have been able to accomplish no knitting other than ball bands as I have the attention span of a tsetse fly right now. Every time I try anything else, I mess up. No sewing other than masks (lots and lots of masks) despite having made a list of sewing projects that I want to complete and not a single of the really fascinating books I ordered (I can read a cookbook and that’s about it). I am so grateful that you suggested dish cloths at the beginning of this. I passed on your suggestion to a knitting blogger who was despairing of getting anything done (Leslie at A Friend to Knit With) and she thought it was spot on as well. Thank goodness for the humble dishcloth.

  • I am desperately trying to make a pair of socks for my husband but it is slow going. I’m afraid if I put them down and start a dishcloth I’ll never pick them up again.

    PS, I love the blanket and those rocking chairs.

  • Batch knitting – brilliant! The batch we need up here in Toronto though are masks – for the general public. Can you help us with that by pointing us to a pattern, a yarn, the techniques? It needs to be easy and quick and the wool in our stash or easily ordered. We too are in lockdown; Canadians, Americans, and the world – we are in this together…stay safe

  • The Blanket is Exquisite. I am trying to knit 8 blankets for graduation blankets for grandchildren, so having to knit simple quick projects. 3/4 finished with blanket THREE. I am just hoping to get through eight so that I can do that Fassett blanket. Yours is an inspiration.

  • Bravo! The blanket is spectacular. No ability to concentrate here either. I’ve gathered the cotton stash to make a batch of Lobby dishcloths. Then I may have to try to attack the sock yarn stash!

  • I’m starting a new batch project today…crocheting mask mates. I don’t sew, but I do crochet, and there is a need for these.

    Also, the Kelley is cute, but I’ll channel GoldIlocks and say it’s too small, the original is too big, but the 39 stitch Kay is perfect! ❤️

  • I wish I liked the ball band dishcloth, but they don’t move me. so every few days I start another leaf washcloth. now those I love.

    • Doesn’t move me either. A leaf dishcloth? Could you point me in the direction please?

  • Batch knitting is definitely me right now too! I’ve knit 2 pairs of woodland loafers in a week, and I’m thinking of making more. It’sa fantastic pattern for keeping me interested but none of it is difficult. I’m in love!!

    • I just have to ask – is your picture Larry the Cucumber as the Dread Pirate Roberts?

  • Oh dear friends…I have so much empathy for this post but I’m having the reverse response. I am unable to read, clean, cook, etc. No focus whatsoever. I usually read 1 – 2 books a week. I have completed 1 in the last month. Miserable…HOWEVER, the one thing that I am able to focus on is my Kaffe Fassett blanket. It’s amazing. I started it in March…like the 13th? I knit on it nightly (sometimes during the day as well). When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, I plan what pattern I want to do next. I think about fun colors. I live in Illinois…I was working on the checkerboard pattern when our governor made the stay at home order. The checkerboard section is quite tight and I was going to undo it…but then I decided that it was real. If it doesn’t ‘block out’ I will point to that place and explain where my mind was.

    I truly think that the blanket has been the only thing keeping me sane. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for shipping out tons of yarn after the tornado! This will pass, and when it does, I’ll have one heck of a blanket!!

  • Ballband dishcloths over here as well! Although funny part, I’ve doubled the length to make them dish towels! But now I want to try this fun size version as well!

  • After trying and failing to get through the bodice of my Love Note sweater, I went to the comfort of the ballbands. As you know! So good and it’s just the start. For a very interesting reason having to do with yoga, I have about 30-40 large cones of soy and bamboo and cotton sox yarn so this is just gonna keep happening!

  • This does make me feel better. At the beginning of the March Mayhem, I fell in love with the Oban Cardigan. It was just the beginning of all “this”. I ordered some fabulous yarn from a local yarn dyer (KatsRiversideStudio…check her out….her yarn is fabulous…I chose the colour graphite). It arrived, I was thrilled, and I dived right in. But, I can’t see to get at it…all I have managed is the swatch. For me it’s not dishcloths, it’s Newfie mitts. It’s seems to be all I am capable of. For now, I am just very happy that “my” Oban Cardigan was the pattern that came out on top. Keep doing what you’re doing….I spend a lot of time wandering around the MDK site….

  • Everything said here truly resonates and reflects my sentiments exactly. I knitted a small bunny toy because it was small, doable, and smile worthy. I have started several sweaters and then something stops me in my tracks. Finally found a keeper that is also keeping my attention…so maybe this is “the one.” It’s interesting how this has affected the collective psyche!!

  • I have Christened it social distancing brain fog, I cannot concentrate on any thing very much, I could sort out my stashes, not just yarn but fabric and cross stitch, but oh dear, YAWN, I am with you all. big virtual hugs to all me fellow knitters, sewers etc.

  • Wonderful blanket! Glad the dishclothes are working for you. I can’t focus either-also can’t knit due to tendonitis. Bah humbug! Oh, well. Better times ahead.

  • And here I thought it was me. Recovering from shoulder surgery (did you have any idea how much knitting and crocheting involves the shoulder?), I thought I’d start with a ballband — which went fine, but hurt some. So I tried the lipsy washcloth, which is just a bit more complicated (each “row” is actually two rows? huh?). Oops: frog city. So I’m back to the ballband…and I LOVE the idea of keeping it going into a towel! Thank you! Maybe I can stay focused long enough this time….

  • I thought I was the only one with brain fog. I have started a sock three times and can’t get much past the ribbing. But, I am on my fourth Ballband in two days. I have also made a small quilt with a Quilt a long with Southwind Inspirations. And a bunch of masks in progress.

  • Your blanket is beautiful.

  • I might be the brainfog winner today. I’ve started a pair of “Spiderman socks” for my grandson FIVE times. First three attempts at making the spiderweb with stranded knitting. Then my non-knitter husband suggested (ironically) that I make them plain and paint the spiderweb onto them with fabric paint; this gave me the idea to duplicate stitch the spiderweb on later. I’m on my second try with that (first try was way too big), and somewhat past the afterthought heel. Fingers crossed.

  • Haven’t knit in a few days. I blame Passover prep, and sewing masks.
    The mask production is batch sewing, I suppose …
    Zizzen Pesach. Managed soup chicken, but no brisket. These nights sure are different, indeed.

  • Your blanket is magnificent! Bravo!

  • Yes, THIS! It’s not just me! I finished a quick, bright pink Smriti for a friend’s mom she can’t visit in assisted living, and since all I can do is K2, P2 on my parallelogram scarf. I’m never one to work one project consistently, I have to switch back and forth when I get bored. I am loving my perfectly yummy, squishy Wildwood Shawl I started but when I picked it up, the idea of counting where I left off and refreshing my mind of the really easy repeat was just too much. Back to K2, P2, increase one end, decrease the other . . .

    Hang in there, knitters! Knitting is still happening, however we need it. Meanwhile, there’s a squirrel in the tree outside my window . . .

  • I really miss my knitting group, but this quarantine has pushed me to discover that “knitting camaraderie” comes in many different forms….so now I’m finding a “virtual kinship” here.

    At a time that I thought should have been so ideal for knitting up a storm, I too have suffered the lack of focus many of you are describing here. So thanks for taking the time to put this into words. Sometimes, just knowing that we’re not alone in our challenges, is almost as good as having a kick ass project going on the needles.

  • Beautiful! Well worth the effort. Have you considered a sweater with coins?

    • Oooh, what a delicious idea!!

  • I have been home since Sunday and have been working on a project for myself. It is from a class where I will be knitting different samples of lace, and it will turn out to be a stole. This is going to be for me. I rarely have made anything from myself, I start them and then put them aside. But at this strange time in the history of our country and the world, we are washing everything that comes into our homes. So although there are expected babies to knit for, I do not wish to make anything for anyone who might have questions. I will wait until we are in the clear, so to speak. So for me, I will not be questioning myself so I am knitting for myself and myself alone!! Quite revolutionary, and long overdue self care. That’s not to say that I would not put the shawl down to make a Kelly inspired dishcloth or two (the I cord edging is calling out my name), but it will have to be made for just ME!
    As EZ said, “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises”.


  • After three weeks of applied i-cord in a not-brown color we’ll call “burnt purple,” it is no wonder you’ve been drawn to small dishcloths in bright, sunny shades! (Throw and cloths look great, BTW.)

  • Am having the same problem. Think it’s because I’m not seeing my friends. Miss everyone even though I can text them or see the post on Facebook. Stay safe

  • Please send us the pattern for the little house on the chair! It would be so fun to knit a home as we stay at home.

  • Your blanket is glorious and thank you for answering my what ? I finished my Kaffe blanket yesterday and can’t decide what to start next. I have some cotton/ linen soo washcloth it is. A great palette cleanser before some cables or brioche

  • Your coin throw is beautiful. I totally get what everyone’s saying about concentration – I just started my mum’s Christmas shawl but, having given in and cleaned the house today, I’m struggling to muster up the motivation for the concentration needed.
    Anyone wants to see I’ve put a pic on my Instagram @ruthtothill and feel free to call me over to look at your Instagram too 🙂

  • Here’s another knitter in a fog but since I am there quite often it doesn’t really bother me too badly. Made a couple of colorful dish clothes and have another Main Squeeze on needles. I find that if I make my way through daily tasks by the formula of knit an inch, clean catboxes, knit an inch, clean kitchen, knit an inch, listen to a lecture on Athenian democracy…I actually accomplish a few goals. Now is such a great time for doing Great Courses like Daily Life in the Ancient World. The only downside is that though I love my husband dearly, having him underfoot is getting to be a little nuts. Oh, and the blanket is totally magnificent !

  • Yep. Put me in the can’t focus, can’t progress group. I finished the dress I made for my nephew’s baby, who is due in a month (I made the 6-9 month size to give myself leeway that I didn’t need in the end). I got out the lace weight and the needles for the shawl I want to knit for my future daughter-in-law for the wedding that we all hope can still happen. I stare at that yarn. I give myself pep-talks. It is the perfect time to do white knitting: my hands are very very clean and dry. I stare at the yarn some more. Well, if I can’t focus on that, washcloths are the answer. Everyone needs them. They do wear out. They do not need to be perfect?. Also, I bought a whole cone of Lily Sugar’n Cream. My go-to pattern is the almost lost washcloth. I like that it is round. It keeps its shape so much better than the square ones.
    And, just like everyone else, I LOVE the blanket. I especially love the I-Cord edging. Looks really nice.

  • Beautiful blanket! That turned out so well.

    Also distracted over here. Two projects on the needles: Stockinette sleeve island for my Love Note, and Minerva Entrelac KAL, which is tiny squares and triangles, each one a tiny victory FO.

    And a bunch of sewn face masks. That was rewarding!

    Some day I’ll have mental bandwidth for knit design again…

  • Oh Kay, your blanket takes my breath away. The border finishes it off perfectly! So worth the work and time. I’ve jumped on the Kay bandwagon for mini-ballbands. Four down, working on a 5th. They are the perfect size for wiping down a phone with some disinfectant spray. xo

  • That is an amazing blanket Kay. Nice work! I am thinking that i will do shawls/wraps for the duration. I have the Walk in the Park from Plucky Knitter going right now. I think that I will cast on the amazing Overlapping Patches Kaffe wrap from the cover of the most recent Vogue Knitting. I ordered all the felted Tweed required the day after i got the magazine.

  • Am working from home, so in my spare time I am catching up on knitting and crocheting American Girl doll clothes. Knitted a coat, beret, scarf. And matching mittens….with thumbs. I have maybe had too much in house time. And on I continue, now a swim suit coverup.

  • I’m the odd one out I guess 🙂 not doing dish cloths but I’m going to loads of socks I adore the blanket you made absolutely brilliant

  • Sooooo…I’m in healthcare, kind of distracted these days. We haven’t had the COVID surge yet where I am, but it’s sort of rolling toward us slowly— California locked down early and hard, and maybe it has helped? We are being lined up for our roles when it hits, of course. So I’m knitting the same hat pattern, a simple beanie, over and over again for the folks working in our clinic, and it’s a wonderful distraction from stressing out. Batch knitting for the win!

    • GM so glad you haven’t had a Covid19 surge yet. Wishing you good health when it hits. In the meantime, I’m sure your beanies are bringing smiles to your clinic coworkers.

  • Zero-point-zero attention span! YES!! I haven’t knit anything in probably 4 weeks
    Your Kaffe Coins blanket is absolutely stunning❤ A work of Art

  • I too have hit a knitting wall. Not sure what to make next. Completed a sweater, knitted knocker a day, caps ( to cover my hair) a lap blanket, a sweater for my daughter’s sick cat, masks. And I just don’t know what to do next. So I put knitting away. (Something I never do) and started tatting. I also made an emergency run and got screening supplies and only have 3 windows left.
    I had to walk away from knitting just to recharge.i’ll be back soon.
    Thanks for your articles.

  • So wonderful to know I’m not alone in my sudden dishcloth knitting. I’m still working in a nursing home right now so it feels like all I have the mental energy for. Sometimes I mix it up with a vanilla sock but once I get to the heel I’m sure that will be abandoned too.

  • Working more than full time (it feels like) from home, but at least I can knit during those zoom meetings. The camera on my laptop doesn’t connect to zoom, so I go wild. However, I was on a phone zoom the other day, where the camera does work. I was untangling some yarn and forgot I was visible. Someone asked if I was planning to hang myself…

  • I’m right there with you on the “zero-point-zero attention span” and “inability to focus on bigger items.” In fact, somewhere about mid-March I actually lost my knitting mojo altogether, for the first time since I was bit with the knitting bug in 2004! It was at about the same time that others were posting things like, “Time to read Proust…in the original!” And, “I’ve been meaning to brush up on my Sanskrit.” My goals at the time were to shower every day and keep up with the changing-by-the-minute news. I was even unable to indulge in my favorite daily MDK habit and only managed to vote in one round of the March Mayhem! (Insert super sad face here.) However, I have since returned to knitting and even managed to half-assedly design a historically-inspired collar for which I could find no pattern. It’s no Franklin Habit creation/revival, but I’m pleased to have worked out the math and proportions! I have yet to pick up the needles for my next project, though…

  • Wow, did this letter ever strike home! At the beginning of “Sheltering at Home”, I started in on a very complicated cabled Aran sweater for my husband. I was totally engrossed and it took my mind off of everything else while I was working on it. I got the entire front done in record time! As the days moved forward, however, the wheels came off. It became difficult to complete even one row of cables properly.

    I turned instead to simple projects that pre-virus would have been monotonous. I have found comfort in the simple rhythms of garter stitch and stockinette. A real gift from the universe was digging out my unfinished Superscript Shawl. It is the PERFECT pattern for this challenging time!
    The Raiz yarn itself is unbelievably soothing in my hands. I’m working on the surface embellishments now and they require just enough attention. I have to watch closely, but there’s no counting. It has been calming my soul like nothing else. It’s hard to believe, but I’m worried about running out of edging for applied I-cord!

    Thanks for your message.

  • Your Linoleum Dishcloth is the one I turn to when I don’t know what to do. It gives me an opportunity to play with color and make something useful. I think it’s time…

  • Do you have a pattern for the blanket? It’s spectacular!

  • I’ve been working on Mitt Mania, for colleagues (from the job I retired from at the end of 2019) and friends. 15 pairs of fingerless mitts, all using the same pattern (Handed, Yes, Fingered, No by Ellen M. Silva, Twinset Designs, available for free on Ravelry) plus 3 calorimetries (designed by Kathryn Schoendorf, on

    I might be ready to tackle a bigger project now.

  • I am trying to find your music suggestions