Does knitting a large project make your eyes glaze over? Here are some tips for addressing knitting boredom with large projects
“[What] bothers me a little, is that I make the same patterns over and over. In part because I know them by heart and in part because they are easy. I’d like to learn some new techniques and try some different types of yarns but I have so much in my stash, I feel awkward buying yarn. I haven’t had any one comment on this so it may be there’s enough variety no one has noticed.”
“Commitment…I have begun many projects but then I lose the enthusiasm to complete. I enjoy and respect the craft (still fairly new to me) but I often get bored and frustrated when a project does not finish within the timeline I am expecting (or is it that I am expecting perfection in my projects and am disappointed in myself).”
“Finding projects that lead to a sense of accomplishment.”
“Boredom with large project, need smaller projects to finish quickly for sense of accomplishment.”
“Moving on. I keep doing patterns I love (which are many) but new things never turn out according to what I want, so I keep doing the same things.”
Each of the preceding statements, offered in response to the question “what do you struggle with most in your knitting life?”, points to the same issue: boredom.
I feel like boredom can be a dirty secret in the world of knitting. After all, knitting is supposed to be our hobby. If you’re bored with your hobby, where does that leave you?
Reading over some of the comments from my survey from earlier this year, I could see two distinct kinds of knitting boredom:
One: boredom with knitting lengthy projects that require a significant investment in time (not to mention yarn!).
Two: boredom with knitting simple, quick projects.
I’ll confess right away that I have definitely struggled with knitting boredom, and with both kinds! They’re almost equal and opposite types of boredom, but they can definitely strike the same knitter.
In fact, fighting one type of boredom often can lead to the other type. It can be a vicious cycle.
Today, let’s discuss the first type of knitting boredom, the type that can strike with a lengthy project. Next time, we’ll discuss the second type.
Why Isn’t My Project Growing Any Larger?!
Having knitted many blankets, a couple of cardigans, several pairs of socks, and yes, my husband’s sweater that I’m still plugging away at (we may be celebrating our 50th anniversary by the time I’m finished!), I am very well acquainted with large-project boredom.
I wish I could remember whether it was Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) or Franklin Habit who observed the peculiar growth pattern of a large knitting project.
To wit, you can take the following steps:
A) Measure the length of a sweater in progress.
B) Knit the sweater for an hour.
C) Measure the length of the sweater again.
And still wind up with…
D) The exact same measurement you found in A).
I don’t know why this happens, but I’ve definitely experienced it! I’m convinced that part of the reason my husband’s sweater hibernated for so long is because it refused to measure anything but 5 inches for weeks at a time.
(I just measured the sweater with a bit of trepidation. I genuinely worried I could fall back into the trap. I’m happy to report it now, at least, measures 12 1/2 inches. Progress!)
Anyway, all of this is to say that the trouble with large projects is that progress can be slow. Especially if we don’t have a lot of time to knit. And slow progress can lead to boredom.
Addressing Large-Project Fatigue
Are you in the midst of knitting a large project? Do you feel bored with it? If so, many remedies exist. Here are my own personal suggestions for how to address knitting boredom with a large project.
1. Identify the boredom’s source. Boredom doesn’t have to be inevitable with a large project. Consider why your current project is boring you. Is it just because it’s taking a long time? Or is it because you find the actual project boring?
There is a difference. You can still get through a large project even if you feel bored with its time commitment occasionally. But if you find a project you’re working on intrinsically boring, you might want to reconsider the project.
Here’s what I mean. Perhaps when you first began to work on an all-one-color garter stitch afghan, it seemed like a pleasant way to pass the time. But now you’re sick of the color and you’re sick to DEATH of garter stitch.
Assuming you haven’t already knitted half the project or more, maybe it’s time to reconsider your project. Maybe you need stripes. Maybe you need to alternate another stitch pattern — like seed stitch or slipped stitches, for instance — with your straight garter stitch. Or maybe you need to reconsider the entire idea of garter stitch and look for something more interesting.
Or, here’s a thought: maybe your problem is that the project is too complex. Does your project require intense stitch counting? It might be the counting that’s boring you. Perhaps then it’s time to consider simplifying.
If you’re quite certain that you’re bored with your project’s high level of commitment and not the pattern itself, read on.
2. Combine knitting with another form of entertainment. Movies, TV shows, podcasts, music, and audiobooks were all made for knitters and you’ll never convince me otherwise. If you’re tired of knitting a certain project because it’s taking so long, you may just need a little extra stimulation.
Rent a stack of movies (or, better still, check them out from the library) and watch while you knit. Find your favorite TV show on Netflix or Hulu and settle down for a binge. Lose yourself in your favorite artist’s music, or your favorite genre of music, on YouTube or Spotify or Pandora or Amazon Prime Music or iHeartRadio.
Use a podcast app and find topics that interest you. Check out OverDrive’s huge selection of audiobooks and settle in for listening and knitting.
There’s never been a better time to be a knitter requiring just a little more entertainment to get through a lengthy project!
3. Take a break. As long as you’re not knitting this project for a deadline looming closely, why not take a break? I sometimes make myself promises to knit something else after, say, a certain number of inches or a certain amount of time spent on my large project. C’mon, Nicole. One more inch and you can work on those adorable fingerless gloves. This works amazingly well.
Or I’ll spend all of one day on a large project, and then the next day I’ll spend on smaller things. That works well too.
Have I missed any great ideas on addressing the knitting boredom of a large knitting project? Leave your own ideas in the comments.
Next time, we’ll address boredom with knitting quick, simple projects! Tell me which kind of knitting boredom is more likely to hit you.