On Deadline Knitting

Lately I feel like my knitting is all a bit on top of me. From the stash to the projects. There’s too much of it. Some people I know love having a heap of projects on the go but I describe myself as an obsessive finisher. I need to finish things regularly or else I feel like it’s all a bit out of control and pointless.

Does that sound like I over think it? I’m sure it does. It’s only knitting after all, right? It shouldn’t be a chore, and it isn’t, but I need a certain amount of momentum in my creative life, a certain amount of feeling like I’m being productive, otherwise tedium sets in. I suppose it’s a Protestant Work Ethic meets Creative Living kind of problem. It’s why I respond so well to deadlines. Give me a point not too far away on the horizon and suddenly the wheels start turning a lot faster, or, in this case, the needles start working faster.

Deadline knitting is easy to sort out when you’ve got a birthday gift to finish or a baby’s imminent arrival to strive for, but what about when it’s just for yourself? How do you apply deadlines to that?

For me, I just pick a point and stick to it. For instance, in just over four weeks, I start my first ever period of Long Service Leave. It blows me away that I’ve been working for the Government long enough to have accrued Long Service Leave. How on earth did that happen? It wasn’t supposed to be like this. But it is what it is and I do my best to just get on with it.

In four weeks, I’ll have five weeks’ leave to do with more or less as I please. There are some big jobs lined up (kitchen cupboards! A cluttered garage! Garden beds!) but there are also going to be long stretches of good stuff. So that’s my deadline. Knitting projects that are weighing me down with the utter endlessness of it all will be finished so that I can plan some great projects to begin. Two of the projects weighing me down are serious long haul projects. One of them I’ve never shown before.

First, the Featherweight cardigan in baby blue Patons Dreamtime 4ply. This is baby wool but after I procured a huge bag of it from Wangaratta Woollen Mills last year I knew it was going to be a Featherweight. I have a much loved pale blue lightweight cardigan I’ve been wearing for years and I saw my chance to replicate it. But oh how I’m bored.


It wasn’t until I tried it on this morning that I realised how far I’ve come. It’s much longer than I realised, thanks in part to being too tired to knit anything else at night and a day trip to Sydney on the weekend where I worked in it for about six hours straight, there and back.

The only thing that’s keeping me going with this is knowing that it’ll be a lovely, soft, everyday kind of cardigan when it’s done and I know I’ll love it. But someone throttle me next time I say I want to make another one?

A note on boring knitting: in truth I actually love a good solid run of plain knitting. It’s great for car knitting, for working on when watching TV shows that require attention or for just plain tiredness when you want your hands to be busy but your brain isn’t engaged. It’s just the thing. But the problem occurs when you don’t actually work on it. Boring knitting is only useful when it comes out of the bag you stuffed it into in a fit of boredom one day, otherwise, it’s just an albatross.

Here’s my other slightly less boring but generally tedious project. I’m up to the border on the Shetland Tea Shawl. Don’t get me wrong. It’s lovely and I think the border is stunning but good grief could it be any slower?


For me, it’s not an easy to memorise chart, even though it’s only 17 stitches across. It’s frustratingly challenging. Just irregular enough to mean I have to watch it constantly and there are nearly 600 stitches in the last row. It’s painful but I’m determined to get it off the needles by Easter.

I think I’ve got my work cut out for me.



27 thoughts on “On Deadline Knitting

  1. Completely understand what you mean about not having too many projects on on the needles. At the moment I have just one project on the go and I’m completely happy with that. I can see the progress, and I don’t have that nagging feeling of needing to work on the other projects. Not sure I’ll be able to maintain a ‘one project at a time’ policy for too long though.

    Your Featherweight is looking good, despite it’s boringness! That blue really suits you Bells.

  2. Pingback: Yarn Along:: Slow is Good « Peaceful Knitter

  3. That cardi is going to be so good. I am feeling the same with my knits as I have so many big knits on the go and just keep starting more! It makes me feel bad so I really need to start finishing some.

  4. That featherweight is going to look so good on you. I think I am a bit too in love with boring knitting – almost all my projects lately have been real ‘zombie knitting’. But then work has been making me into a zombie, so probably its appropriate. I wonder if the Europeans have LSL – clearly the Americans don’t tend to. We do have pretty good work conditions.

  5. The border on the shawl is very pretty as is the colour.. just think how good it’s going to feel when it’s done 😉 The featherweight is virtually done looking at that and it fits.. even better !

    Your post has only reminded me of all the wip’s I have that I to want to finish because I feel just like you about them..grrr

  6. oh my goodness – the border isn’t “lovely”; it’s GORGEOUS!! would you look at those colours and that pattern together??

    featherweight will be a stunner, too…hang in there!

  7. The FW looks great & it’s almost done ! I don’t like having too many Wips as I am also an obsessive finisher. However, I do have 2-3 projects at one time so that I have some variety – like a pair of socks, a garment & a lace project.

  8. I feel the same way about needing to see progress in my knitting. In fact, actually, if I haven’t touched a piece of knitting in two or three weeks, it’s a pretty good bet that it will *never* be finished; I need momentum.

  9. That’s a nice cardigan. I’ve got a bag of that wool and no idea what to do with it. I’ll watch with interest.

    And wow, 5 weeks paid leave in a row? How nice:) Enjoy it!

  10. Featherweight is perfect! I find books on tape a wonderful aid for plain stockinettte. And publicly declaring a self-imposed deadlline makes it much more real.

    Long leave? You mean they pay you to stay away from work for five consecutive weeks? You realize that you are freaking spoiled, don’t you? My husband has worked at the same place for 22 years and even though he has earned five weeks of vacation, they won’t let him take more than two weeks off at a time.

  11. I’ve never heard of Long Leave. Does everyone get one? Is a paid time off? It sounds wonderful. How often do you get one?

    I don’t like too many wips. I feel out of control (and control is an issue for me)

  12. I too start my 1st ever long service leave in just 3 weeks (18th April) that means I have spent over 10 years in a call centre and can have 45 days leave to enjoy gardening and tackling my list of Pretty as a Peacock and getting orders done as well. Sadly I have to work hard to make more money as my bank balance wont allow me to do any of the original ideas that means no trip away unless I knit the workload for the costs.

  13. I am awed by anyone who can soldier through 2 featherweight sweaters. Wish I could get through one as the finished product sounds heavenly!

    As you know, I did some knitting deadline work last week. It was cool to have an excuse to knit at any moment, but I generally don’t like knitting on deadline.

    I’m glad to hear that government employees are appreciated somewhere! I’m sure your five weeks will be filled with your usual creativity!

  14. oh how lovely to have that leave to look forward to! i don’t like having too many projects on the go, and get great satisfaction from completing a project. i think that many of the most usefully wearable projects are often the most tedious – bring on the audio books i say! and your tea shawl is so nearly finished (and totally gorgeous)! those knitted on borders to seem to go nowhere fast at first, the best way to deal with it i think is to be very zen and in the moment and just keep going without expecting it to be over soon (mind you, i haven’t done anything as big as that)!

  15. That cardi is already gorgeous! I can’t wait to see how it looks when it’s finished. I’ve occasionally thought about knitting a Featherweight, but I simply don’t have the stamina for an adult-sized cardi in 4ply – you’re a better woman than I!

    I have a self-imposed deadline – I want to have at least two new garments for Bendigo this year. One down, and I’m swatching for the second. Now that the weather is finally cooling down, the work should go quicker (aaaaand with those words I’ve just guaranteed a three-week heatwave!).

  16. I like a good deadline, it makes me want to meet it. I’m not like Douglas Adams – he said something along the lines of hearing the whoosh of deadlines as they fly by!! 4ply, plain stocking stitch, can be soul destroying, but it looks so nice. Those dastardly edgings, they mess with your mind.
    LSL!! how wonderful!! Hooray for all the things you will be able to do!!

  17. Slightly off comment – have you ever thought which colour looks good with every skin-tone and hair colouring? Well, I think it is that blue. To take your mind of the boring knitting, try and sit next to 30 strangers with different colouring and ask them to hold your ball of wool for a minute and see if you agree.

  18. Tea shawl is so lovely! Gorgeous colour!!

    I am good with deadlines for others but hopeless with things for myself – although the lure of new projects for LSL would no doubt provide a very compelling incentive. Huge yay for LSL!

  19. I’m so with you, on both counts. Stockinette sweaters can be just PERFECT for knitting on certain occasions… (and they are usually the ones you wear the most, too!) but why do they take sooooo long? And lace patterns without memorizable repeats can seem interminable, too… I’ve been trying to get better about plugging away toward finish lines… but anyway. FIVE WEEKS!? That is wonderful – can’t wait to read about how you’ll be enjoying them!

  20. I think I am much the same way, in that I need a regular parade of accomplishemnts in my creative life. Beginnings are exciting and finshing up is exhilerating; it’s the in-between that can sometimes be such a drag!

  21. The deadline thing is interesting. I’m interested in your thought that they are somewhat harder to apply when they’re just about yourself. For example, I can knit socks to meet publicly declared personal sock club deadlines, even though they are really quite arbitrary. But finish the jacket I started three winters ago? No way. There are always other things with somewhat external deadlines in the queue before it.

    Enjoy your long service leave. That we have access to it seems almost unbelievable in today’s world of broken employment service and contract employment.

  22. That border is lovely! I’ve never done a knitted on border; it’s on my list of things to learn to do this year. That and steeking…

    Maybe your cardi needs a lacy border somewhere?

  23. The sweater is going to be beautiful when it’s done. It’s why I have two Lily Cardigans, but I did wonder about the wisdom of making the first in yarn that required US size 4s, when I had about two minutes’ knitting time every third day. Good Lord, that sweater took forever, but I wear it all the time, so much that I willingly made another one–but in worsted weight. 😉 You’ll love it when it’s done, though, you’re absolutely right on that!

    Five weeks! It’s going to fly, you know. It seems like a nice thing at the outset, when I read of these leaves you Aussies get, but I wonder, will it be terribly hard to go back afterwards? Oh to be independently wealthy!

  24. I realised last month that I can’t cope with too many projects on the needles.

    I attended an Orenburg lace workshop with Galina Khmeleva on the weekend and really want to put my new-found knowledge to work – but not until I have finished at least one project on the needles!

    I haven’t knitted a “sweater” size project for years. When I did, I always had some kind of subtle pattern happening to relieve the monotony of stocking stitch. That’s also why the blankets I make are knitted in one piece but in a lot of colours. At least sewing in ends is therapeutic (for me).

  25. ah yes, the paradox of the deadline. funny how that works isnt it? but i think you’re right about approaches to large projects. even though ive got a few WIPs, ive decided to focus on the ones that are higher priority, things im going to need to wear rather than just enjoy the look of. so cardigans and socks are high on the list now. the STS looks amazing in that colour, but i hear you on the border. thankfully girasoles was only 6 stitches across and easy to remember, but lord, 600 stitches. kill me now. its going to be so worth it you know.

  26. Hi Bells,
    I think the border of the tea shawl looks just exquisite and the cardi looks very soft and beautiful. I did knit a cardi for one of my girls last year that felt like it would never end. It became such a chore that I had to commit myself to working only on it until it was finished. I was so relieved when it was finally finished, I vowed to never work another striped garment in plain knitting again.
    Enjoy your long-service leave! Time for lots of knitting and gardening!:-)

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