When reading about Sarah’s sewing machine, I was struck by the comparison between sewing and knitting. I am a sometimes sewer, a so-so sewer, a sewer of squares anyway and the occasional Halloween costume. It’s really a practical thing; I love nice fabrics and refuse, absolutely refuse to spend a fortune on curtains made by someone else. I guess it’s kind of the way I’ll spend a bit of my yarn budget on cashmere but would never buy a $300 cashmere sweater.
The thing about sewing is that it’s not really all about the sewing machine. If I had to estimate the percent of time actually spent pushing the petal compared to time in preparation and finishing I would say it’s about 25%. There are yardage calculations, finding necessary fusing, ribbon or matching thread colors, reading the pattern, ironing the pattern paper, cutting the pattern out, ironing the fabric, clearing the kitchen table so you have room to work, laying out the pattern, pinning the pattern to the fabric, cutting the fabric, more pinning, winding the bobbin, ironing the seams, sewing the seams flat, trimming seams, fitting, hemming and button sewing. I use the iron at least twice as long as I use the sewing machine.
As knitters we seem to have endless patience when it comes to knitting but give us a bit of finishing and it’s all over. How we suffer through those few hours of steaming or blocking, sewing in ends and seaming all the time bemoaning the time spent not knitting our next project. What percent of time do you think is spent in knitting vs. prep and finishing … 90%? More? Although we all know better, many of us resent knitting even the stingiest of swatches firm in our belief that swatching is really important for other knitters.
Non-knitters assume knitters must be extremely patient, but surprisingly, that may not be the case. When knitting in public just this week, a woman commented to me that she would love to knit but lacked the patience. My response back was that I thought it might just be the opposite. I lacked the patience to sit with nothing to do in many of life’s waiting moments. That knitting filled a void in time and gave me an outlet for physical and mental energy. The comparison to sewing only strengthens this theory. While we're willing to spend both time and energy on our creations we quickly lose interest in the non-knitting aspects of our craft. Do sewers make better knitters because they approach the project timeline differently?
What if we were willing to spend as much time off the needles, in pre- and post-knitting, as we were on the needle? How might the quality of our finished projects improve? Would we, however, get less joy out of creating them resulting in a higher number of UFOs?
So what do you think? Are you patient or does your knitting mask a restless spirit?