Tell me if this sounds familiar, you’re scrolling your favorite SM, you stop, you just found a GORGEOUS knitting pattern. You get the perfect yarn and off you go knitting and knitting! But wait, there’s something I skipped. Though, I can pretty safely bet your brain didn’t skip it. I know my brain definitely did not skip it. The knitting timeline.
You know, the imaginary timeline your brain made the moment it saw the pattern and decided this was a project you would have done by _____.
I am not a gambler by nature, oh no. BUT I would wager on this. The moment you saw the pattern you thought “I can knit that by _____.” And that was BEFORE you purchased the pattern. BEFORE you spent hours at the store searching for the “perfect” yarn. I know, you thought to yourself, “I’ll have this done by _____.”
How do I know this? Because… SAME! I almost always start a knitting project with an impossible idea of when it will be finished.
I get in this weird headspace where I seem to forget that I’m not a Shetland knitter that can knit 200 stitches per minute.
I also forget that technology glitches, and sometimes I have to haul my laptop out just to get the pattern. I forget, that while yes, I have tons of stash yarn, I won’t want to use ANY of it. Another delay: Going to the yarn store!
Sometimes, I get so excited about knitting something up. Instead of being practical here’s what I do…
“This looks easy. It’s gonna be a piece of cake! I KNOW I got this!”
Maybe I skim the instructions, assuming way too much. There I am, in a frenzy of knitting, high off my recent pattern and perfect yarn purchase, making so much progress, feeling so excited…. And then …. See the info graph. These thoughts start harmless, but it can quickly unravel to knitting despair.
If you’ve been there, knitters, can I get an amen?
We are SO busy! Knitting gives us creative outlet time. AND we can make something practical too! If we want. Either way you are making and that is fulfilling and brings us joy!
Understanding The Knitting Timeline Equation
Now I do not consciously think I’m following this knitting equation. No, no, no, of course not! I’m busy thinking how cool this FO is gonna be. How gorgeous and amazing and it’s going to be the BEST KNIT EVER!
So, for the love of knitting, let’s find a new mindful formula! A formula for success and guilt free knitting! A formula that sets us up not only to get that amazing FO we know we can get, but one that also sets us up for a relaxed and enjoyable knitting experience.
If you’re like me, you create mental timelines for each knitting project you cast on. These timelines are arbitrary to other people around you. But to you, and to me, they are REAL and non-negotiable. Let’s change our thinking around knitting timelines and improve our knitting experience all at once!
Identifying The REAL Problem with Knitting Timelines
The real problem with knitting timelines, is NOT that we set them. Don’t be silly! No, that’s good. Hello, goals? SMART goals? But here’s the thing, the A stands for attainable. And I’m betting, if you’re anything like me, your knitting goals are often a bit lofty…
And while yes, if all the stars aligned, and the skein of yarn you got had not one single tangle in it, and you didn’t miss a single stitch while knitting, and you got gauge without even doing a gauge swatch, and you had extra hours to knit. Then your timeline IS perfect!
Yarn though, no matter how perfect, LOVES to tangle! It loves to wrap around itself and form crazy complicated knots so that we are stuck trying to find where to begin so we can just wind it and start knitting.
I kinda doubt that you’re a Shetland knitter capable of knitting 200 stitches per minute, though if you are – please, please, please send me a video and teach me!
So, chances are, you overestimated the amount of time you would have to knit and underestimated how long it would take you TO knit.
And that my friends, is the REAL problem with our knitting timelines.
We are unreasonable. Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone! It’s fine for us to say it to ourselves and each other in hushed tones, but if people know we admit that, even sometimes we can be unreasonable… Well, let’s just say we do NOT want THAT word getting out. Amiright??
Classic Example of an Unreasonable Knitting Timeline
You decide you want to knit a hat for your niece or nephew on a Friday night around midnight. You think, “I will just get it all done this weekend!” But then, the craziest thing happens … LIFE. And the weekend is over. And maybe in your haste to GET IT DONE you mis-knit. And maybe you have to frog it. And now…
I am the worst KNITTER EVER! Why do I even pretend I know how to work string and two sticks! This is stupid. I am stupid. Life is ruined. I can never show my face around my niece/nephew again!
Whoa! Dramatic much?
Well, I am. Internally ONLY. Externally, that doesn’t come out, so let’s just keep this between us… We have so many secrets now!
After so many of these incidents I had to sit myself down. Have a stern discussion with myself. Give myself some of that grace I love to give to everyone, BUT me, AND, make a plan.
Ready to give yourself some grace and enjoy knitting more? Let’s walk through this together!
How to Set Reasonable Knitting Timelines
Step One: Look at Your Calendar
Girl, you got a calendar. I know you do! You’ve got everything in there. But this shiny new knitting project just popped up in your SM feed, and now it’s ALL you can think about. And you think you can knit it up in NO time.
WAIT!!! It WILL take time. You probably need to hit up the LYS to get the perfect yarn for such a gorgeous project! Right? I know, I know, we all have stash yarn, but this needs something SPECIAL! Am I right?
So be real. Look at your calendar. How much knitting time do you actually have? Not how much knitting time do you wish you had. Be honest with yourself and think about how much time you can truly dedicate to knitting THIS project.
Step Two: Think About Your Knitting Primary Objective
NO SHAME HERE! Just be real with yourself.
Are you wanting to knit this up as fast as you can because you just want to have an FO?
Do you want to knit this because it’s beautiful and you know who is getting it (hopefully you) and you are going to cherish it and wear it proudly?
Whatever your primary objective is, this must be taken into consideration. Because if you don’t really care, then knit it up. NO SHAME! Sometimes we just need that FO to know we CAN do it.
But if you want your FO to be precise and perfect, that needs to be a part of your timeline. You need time to read the instructions. Wind your yarn cake. Gather all the materials. Knit. Weave in ends. Block. See, when I used to make up my knitting timelines, I always skipped all the very things I just listed here other than knit. And sometimes, VERY RARELY ALMOST ALWAYS, I go to the store to get a different yarn that will be better.
Step Three: Create Your Knitting Timeline
I did not eliminate the imaginary timeline. I made it REAL! It already WAS real to me and you, now we get to put it in our calendar– what fun!!!
I am a person who likes to write things in my calendar and journal and have a plan in place. Mentally and literally. And I know you do too. It’s our secret organizer shame. We organize everything even our knitting timelines, even if we don’t write them down. Except now we can! Because we’re being reasonable and kind to ourselves – HOORAY!
Look at the knitted object you want to have done and then pick it apart into stages. For example, if it’s a hat:
First milestone: Swatch Gauge
Second milestone: Band/brim finished
Third milestone: Body of hat halfway done (or to a specific stitch pattern change, whatever)
Fourth milestone: Body of hat done
Fifth milestone: Crown complete
Sixth milestone: Finishing and blocking
Now thinking about the actual amount of time you have to knit, and how long it usually takes you to knit something like this up (take into consideration the yarn weight, lighter weight yarn = more stitches = more time).
Estimate when you think you can reach those milestones. Use your calendar and pick dates if you want. OR, you know those checklists that we love? Make one of those! Nothing better than checking off a checklist! It’s amazing. Euphoric really.
Imagine this: You knit to a milestone, snap a pic, check it off the list. And repeat until it’s done. I am SO excited! The thought of this brings me chills of happiness!! Oooh! That sounds sooo FUN!! I bet you need some new post-its for that, and a different color pen!
If you completed steps one through three you should have a very good idea of what a reasonable knitting timeline is. And now you can set a timeline that ensures success!
Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start!
Knitting Timeline Super Secret Cheat Code
If you just skimmed to the bottom of this list because you are busy and if you had the time to read all this, honestly, you would have been knitting. Well then, here’s my little secret shortcut:
Instead of all the soul searching, checklist making FUN in the steps above, take whatever mental timeline I have and add 1-6 weeks depending on the knitted item. A big blanket? I’ll add 8 weeks.
Why do we have to get that hat knit THIS weekend? What will happen if we don’t? Take a deep breath. Give yourself an extra week or more.
How I Learned to Set Reasonable Timelines
This is a lesson I learned with my husband. Not knitting. Who here has a handy hubby who thinks that they can install that new toilet in an hour, but then… LIFE. And it’s a whole weekend? I have been there so, so, so many times with my man, that I would hear his expected timeline, and in my head multiply it by 3 or 4. Budgets multiplied by 2.
This was soooo good for our marriage. Because I was never irritated or disappointed and he never felt like he was letting me down. Win-win.
Just like we don’t want to have a tense situation with our partners, we also don’t want to be tense with ourselves. I hate letting me down!
So again, it’s a win-win situation with me being the winner taking all. I win because I’m giving myself ample time. I win because I still can have a due date. I win because I am relaxed and happy.
When I started having timeline issues with my knitting, I first started with the Secret Cheat Code. And honestly, it’s a very good method. But sometimes my super organization nerdy self wants to write things down and plan every moment of the day. Also, it’s good to plan out your knitting time and space. At least for me, because if not, I have no attention span – ooooh! Shiny new knitting pattern!
We all can get this way with ourselves. We always hope for the best. We never think that we’re gonna get bronchitis or that the dishwasher is going to break or the dog get sick or Estevan’s gonna have a big project due Monday. But they DO! LIFE is always throwing us for loops.
Remember, with Ourselves, Always a Little Patience
One thing I know for sure, if you can be real with your objectives in your knitted item, you can be satisfied with the timelines you set AND the results. NO shame. NO guilt. Just good fun knitting.
So, remember knitters, with yourself AND your knitting, ALWAYS practice a little patience!
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