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Dear Kay,

I can’t believe how much knitting is coming out of me these days. I am out of my mind, beside myself, knitting my fool head off.

I’ve figured out how to knit almost constantly. You’d think I’d have analyzed this a long time ago, but recent observation has revealed some things that have upped my output in recent days.

Here’s how.

Strategy No. 1: Three Projects, Minimum

We have long argued that there is a knitting project for every mood. Here are three categories that I typically have going at the same time:

Brainiac Knitting: When you’re feeling like a freakin’ genius.

Calgon Take Me Away Knitting: When you feel like a brain-fogged, end-of-the-week survivor and just want to let go.

Deadline Knitting: When you have a very specific thing you want to make, often for a specific person.

When you have projects to match your every mood, there’s never a time when knitting isn’t a plausible thing to be doing. You never think: Ohmahgah I can’t deal with brioche today. You think: I’ll make that hat. At least I can do that.

Strategy No. 2: Ubiquity

Strategically locate knitting projects throughout your circle of daily life. I’m not saying that a person needs a project in every single room of the house, but—OK I am totally saying that. And if you’re not stowing a Bento Bag with a pair of socks in your car, what do I have to do to explain this to you?

Basically, if you can stick your arm out without hitting a knitting project, you’re low on knitting.

Recent proof of how well this works.

Den Project: Brioche. This is the room without a teevee, which is a good thing when you’re trying to learn two-color brioche.

I am so competent now. Bristol Ivy’s Nesting Wrap has become a project I will make again—and I’m not sure I would have said that back when I cast on. It seemed hard, frankly. I had to pay attention. Thrilling!

Kitchen Project: Easy Hat

Waiting for the pasta to boil? Waiting for a recalcitrant teenager to wander in for a potato? You may get only one row done, but hey—a hat is maybe sixty rows. Do the math! Get yourself a hat going in the kitchen. This is Hunter Hammersen’s Circumvolute, a whale of a pattern that jumped out of Twitter and into my soul. The yarn? Megan Ingman’s splendid Lichen and Lace Superwash Worsted.

TV Room Project: Hadley Pullover

This is the classic, round-and-round-we-go knitting that has accompanied many a binge. Véronik Avery’s Hadley Pullover is a highly motivating pattern.

May your slivers of time be filled with glorious, gorgeous gorges of knitting.




  • Anne, you’re so right. Although I knit in the same place, I discovered my brainiac knitting has to be done early in the day. TV night knitting is reserved for mindless garter.

  • I work with a frustratingly slow content management system at work. I wonder if I could fit knitting into the times I wait for things to load?!

    • I’m a big believer in at work downtime knitting. I worked on a pair of socks during a go live last August. Just one of the things that helped not only keep me sane but awake in the wee hours of the morning.

    • After halfway joking about it for weeks, I finally brought a little washcloth pattern into work when our impossible online system became even more slow after a server meltdown. Bringing that in, of course, seemed to help speed up the download and upload times occasionally, but the project remains at hand!

    • Definitely!!!!

  • Ann, this is a well-timed essay for me. I am experimenting with monogamous knitting. With size1 needles. And K1P1 cable. In navy blue. For a boring watch cap. That requires a magnifying glass and/or sunlight.

    No wonder I feel stalled.

    Time for a visit to hedgehog fibres for one of those neon skeins. That hat looks perfect with the speckles!

    • Use a rechargeable headlamp that has an elastic band. Great for dark colored yarn no matter the size needle.

  • Ann, are you inside my head reading my mind? That is a wonderful explanation of why I’m a multi-project-at-one-time knitter. It is also why I’m perceived as a slower knitter. (“You’re STILL working on that project?”) Nevertheless, the multi tasking not only works for me, it makes it more comfortable to learn new techniques because you can take a mental break from the Ph.D. project and pick up the easy project. This way, I’m always moving forward.

  • I have similar categories, though mine might be described a bit differently. Car trip knitting! (Small, for easy stashing on the lap, something that doesn’t require looking at a pattern.) Netflix knitting! (NOT two-color fisherman’s rib. Trust me. Two times I’ve had to rip back.) Knit night knitting! (Something I can keep track of while yakking and drinking wine.) And Hubbo is off Playing Golf knitting (I can count stitches in peace, pay attention to what I’m doing knitting.)

  • I am in love with all of your projects. Not so much my own. It is okay. I can start more. I love kittiing up projects. it is my most favorite part. Leave me with lots of loose ends and lovely knitting bags with partially made items. We need startitis therapy. Surely I am not alone?

  • Totally have a sock in a bento bag in the car! Ambah’s MKAL in the living room. Currrently for TV time I’ve got another Alabama Chanin skirt-in-progress. Keeping mum about the other two project bags loitering about…

  • It seems to me that Hadley has reached the point in which chart reading is necessary and it is time her her/it to move into the room with no TV…which means you need to start another project asap so you will have a good TV project.

    At the moment I have just three projects going, and two require a lot of concentration so, of course, it is the third which is getting all the love. I usually try to stop myself at four because I do, perversely enjoy the occasional sense of completion.

  • I am usually one-project-at-a-time or I’ll lose track. I am on my last front of a sweater but getting that “oh no” more chart reading so maybe I can switch gears as I love your hat and specked yarn that creates patterns on its own.

  • This is pretty much what I do…3 projects going at once. My one for the tv is St. Brigid, which has been upgraded to tv knitting (after casting on 2 years ago, first time doing a charted design–I let it go for a long time and was happily surprised to find it was much easier, hence the upgrade to tv knitting). I just ripped out and re-started Storm Mountain, which will be my reading knitting. I recently bought the most amazing, gorgeous hand dyed silk that I’m going to do a two color brioche with…when I get the 2nd color. And every now and then everything stops for a little must-do-now project (like when my 5 year old grandson said “Nanna, you should make me some mittens.” Well, of course I should!)

  • Great post, Ann. You have read my mind. Now I need to sew up some knitting bags, to discretely hold the projects in the various rooms. And I think I need to add the wool for that to one of those bags. Knit on!

  • I like to think that everyone has a “sock in progress” in their car…yes?!?

  • I’m so envious! I love ALL your projects. I used to have 2 going, easy social & another. Alas, for social knitting it seems no project is truly easy enough to avoid some frogging…. But I’ve slipped & slumped. I wanna be you! Or at least finish one UFO this calendar year. I really thought your one sock KAL would do the trick. Alas. Can you tell I’m still mad at myself about it? Also why do I suddey seem like some artiste [sic] in search of her muse when it comes to knitting? Cuz one thing that is known furh surah [double sic] is I ain’t no artiste, not even close on my very best day.

    I had no idea 2 color brioche required attention. That definitely moves it up in my queue. Thanks!

    (Idea for knitting discussion question: cable needle: Pro or con?
    Personally I can’t decide).

    • I’ll go pretty far to avoid a cable needle. Never had much luck with it–lose it all the time, hard to get my rhythm going. That hat actually calls for one, but I got around it by doing that pinch-the-base-of-the-stitch-and-let-it-dangle thing. It made things go 100% faster.

  • You forgot the accompanying UFO’s, which may someday find themselves as working projects again:
    1. The Neverending Scarf/Afghan/Men’s Size 14 Sock — enough said.
    2. The Impossibly Fiddly Thing — 15 colors in Fair Isle lace, knitted from a 22-page chart.
    3. The Cursed Thing — the yarn just won’t behave. The math doesn’t add up. The beads keep rolling down the stairs. You’ve looked at the illustration in the pattern, and it screams “American Bandstand,” circa 1980. That fluorescent yarn color hurts your eyes, even in the dark.
    4. That Other Cursed Thing — The yarn you absolutely hate, but feel you must use for this project. The color that makes you want to vomit, yet it is what the recipient requested (i.e., your rich in-law’s request for something the color of mildew). Super bulky yarn on size 000000 needles. With nupps. And bobbles. It smells of moth balls.
    5. Oh, THAT Thing — Whatever it is, it’s in a bag from a store that closed decades ago.
    6. The Knitting Equivalent of the Thing That Lives at the Back of the Fridge. The One that Moves. And Has Fur. And Eyes. And Fangs.

    • Thank you for this wonderful laugh. “color of mildew”, oh, I know that color!

    • Great list, and after having this in my pile for about ten years I’ve just finished a #8. The I’m Never Going to Finish This So You Can Have It. – i.e. the friend’s UFO!

    • Thank you so much for the laugh! Especially the request for something made with yarn the color of mildew. I SO get that!!!

  • How to knit more? Win the lottery so I can quit work! If I’m lucky I knit 2 hours a week. Every night when I come home from work I wish that I had enough energy to pick up needles but once I have fed myself, husband, and the animals, my brain is mush, I have no energy, and it’s all I can do but sit in front of the TV for a catatonic hour before it’s bedtime. The best I can do is read a knitting blog (yours) or two while lying in bed before I slip to the other side of consciousness. I enjoy every word and wish I lived your life. Then when the weekend is here there are so many chores to do, you know, so that I can then trudge through the next week of the working world. I’m jealous of all you full-time knitters who somehow never have housework to do. Keep writing about it! It is my dream and I love reading that at least somebody gets to live it. It brings a smile to my face and a sense of peace in my soul to read your words.

    • I completely agree with you! I dream of knitting daily, but that’s usually as far as I get.
      The good news is that I’ll be retiring and THEN maybe I can actually knot!

    • Two words–once-a-month cleaning-lady. (I don’t count hyphens) Once a month, a nice lady comes to our house for 2 hours to dust flat surfaces, clean the bathroom and kitchen (not deep clean, what I would be doing if I wasn’t working/writing/grandson wrangling/knitting), and runs the vacuum. It costs us $50 and is worth every penny. The Health Dept. doesn’t lurk outside the door and Old Cesspool doesn’t grab our ankles when we sit on the “throne.”

      Two more words–crockpot & microwave. (Not counting the ampersand either) Find recipes you like that make about three nights’ main course servings for your family, make two of them (this is the secret) over a weekend, cook up a bale of rice/noodles/potatoes (if they’re not in the crockpot already), lay in a couple bags o’ salad, then you can alternate them through the work week so you’re not in a coma after supper and can add a row or two to a WIP. It’s a form of “Investment Cooking,” as in investing in your sanity so you have time to knit.

      • Two more words: instant pot!

      • All good suggestions!! Thanks for your reply!

    • I have found the secret to having weekend knitting time is not caring if my bathroom is a tad gross or if there’s a light layer of dust on my shelves. I recognize that not all are willing to make that sacrifice. Also, I have embraced leftovers-as-dinner so I don’t have to cook every night.

      • My house is definitely not white glove clean and I don’t care. Leftovers are the best and I definitely eat them. I guess I’m just feeling extra overwhelmed with my work schedule ever since the end of 2016 and knitting helps center me but I just can’t fit much in right now. I’ll survive. Thanks for your feedback!

        • I found I was treating my knitting time as dessert. I couldn’t knit until I had finished every little thing that had to be done. Enough of that!

  • I am a firm believer in your knitting strategy. It’s especially useful if you travel regularly. Always having a project bag with in-progress socks, and one with a hat or baby sweater means that when I’m running out the door for a doctor’s appointment or to catch a flight, I never have to think about what to bring to knit. There’s always an appropriate work in progress in an easy-to-grab bag. Having another more complicated project like a lace scarf or sweater for at-home knitting keeps me from getting bored with small and/or simple projects. I haven’t tried bringing my small, simple projects into the kitchen for entertainment while waiting for water to boil, but you’ve inspired me to try.

  • For some reason your strategy makes me think of this Winston Churchill speech, if you substitute the word “knit” for “fight.” “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” (No disrespect to the speech intended. I love it!)

    • Having knit many a time on a beach, on a dock, in a field, and on a hill, I think you’ve found thé perfect sentiment. And i like to think Churchill respected sturdy handknits.

    • Excellent. I love that speech, too, both the original and your version.

  • Love this post. And thank you for the motivation to work on the larger challenging project currently languishing on the needles…my Grandfather Cardigan. I have obligation socks on the needles and a lovely Shawl, but now it’s time to get cracking on the sweater!

    • “…obligation socks…” This is an excellent description, will remember this next time I start thinking of a project as a chore!

  • You’ve really got some momentum there, Ann!
    I love everything about this post. And I once carried a sock project bag into my office and back home again every day for months. Never knit a stitch at the office. Nary a one. But had the opportunity arisen, I was READY.
    Instead, I would get home, change clothes, do the barn chores with the dog, come in and pour a glass of wine…and knit. With cats. It was my transition zone.

  • Good advice! Although I do have that one project in a room I rarely go in…maybe some day it will be done.

  • The two-color brioche…. the bane of my life….but I’m determined to get it!

    • Me, too. It’s on my list for this year and the sooner the better.

  • Great strategies! Just reading the headlines were all the permission I needed to buy two new patterns this week (the twigs and ravello), AND I finished a pair of socks (my mindless knitting), AND I have six inches left on the sleeves of a top-down raglan. Keep up the enabling!

  • I’m definitely a strategy one kind of gal – but I LOVE the idea of a hat in the kitchen! Genius!

  • This has been a minor game changer for me. I already had the requisite three projects, but the comment about reaching out your arm and not hitting a project spoke to me. I immediately bagged up a dishcloth in progress for the laundry room and started a hat to sit in front of the kitchen toaster. The guest bedroom is still without a project, maybe a scarf. I’m sure there will be a reason to go in there at some point.

    The toaster hat is nearly finished and the dishcloth 1/4 done…I’ve been trying to fit in knitting this hat for a year – who knew it could be finished in spare minutes waiting for toast and tea. I’m loving it – thank you!

  • I just returned from my first cruise (15day). I took only 1 project that was 1/2 finished (exploration station-2 yarns (not 4). I finished it w/ 5 days left of my cruise. Never will I go on any trip w/o taking at least 2 projects. Idle hands are a waste of time. Thanks to the knitting ladies I met on Island Princess cruise.

  • This was an eye opening and reaffirming article! As a newish knitter, I had thought knitting several projects at one time would stress me out and worried I wouldn’t complete them, but lately I have noticed the natural evolution of my knitting is trending towards concurrent knitted projects as I get faster and want projects for different situations just as you mentioned!! Like knit club project vs quiet PhD. My only trouble is I need to be sure I don’t have projects that require the same needle sizes!

  • You are a genius with a marvelous sense of humor. I am taking your advice and forwarding this to my addicted friends!!

  • Yes Three minimum and those three. Unfortunately the brain concentration is always the last, and then after a break I have to spend so much time relearning.

  • You have obviously been in my living room. And my car. With me on the plane today. Possibly at my bedside. Today I finished the latest pair of Duffers for my daughter in law, which I started at the airport this morning. Another take along project for myself will be done before the night is over. This week is dedicated to my Shakerag Top after that.

  • Encouraging message!! Thank you. I thought that knitting on four projects was a foolish approach…but i’m delighted to read that it is just a different approach to the knitting journey!!

  • Yes, yes, and YES! I have only two projects right now (Harry Potter Mittens for a customer) and my ever-present car project (currently socks on a size 0 needle). I was feeling simultaneously virtuous and bereft that I only have two WIPs. This is the push I craved to start that sweater I’ve been waiting to cast on!

  • I have had ALL of my poor neglected projects stashed away while adjusting to being a gran. I may be coming out of my shell and will have to allocated my projects accordingly. Thanks for the wise instructions.

  • Ann, you make my day! No matter what you say! The only thing better than your daily essays would be walking out my door, seeing you standing there and strolling down to our local coffee shop, project bags under our arms! But I’ll have to settle for you as my virtual friend and count myself very, very lucky!

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