Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sprints and Marathons

In my humble opinion, there are generally two types of projects-and I am quite convinced that this applies to more than one category of craft.  There are sprints and there are marathons.  Sprints are the projects that are quick and relatively easy to complete, or the project is so absolutely engrossing that you can't possibly consider doing anything else (and I mean anything, including housework, feeding your children, or any other mundane task that dares to interfere with the current obsession).  And then there are marathons.  These are the projects which seem simple enough at first, but take forever and then some to complete.  You know what I'm talking about.

For me sprints are socks made out of self-striping yarn.  I have a pattern in my head for these, a very simple ribbing for the cuff and then stockinette for the rest of it except for the heel flap.  Call me simple, but I just love seeing how the next color in the sequence will knit up, even if I'm on the fifth repeat of the striping pattern.  I just can't help myself.  A sprint can also be the modular cardigan that I made years ago that required about 37 colors of yarn (really, more like 18).  I would stay up to 3:00 a.m. just to see how the next color would play out compared to everything that came before it.  (This is not a good thing when you have toddlers or a job.  Learn vicariously.)  Because I spent so many compulsively sleepless nights on it, that sweater was done in a flash.  A sprint can also be some quickie cowl or fingerless mitts that strike your fancy & would make a great addition to your Christmas stash of knitted gifts AND it only takes a few hours to pull off.  In my case, those items are not something that suit my personal taste, but I know someone who would love to have it.  Sprints.  We love them because they are fast, they fulfill some flight of instant gratification fancy, and then they are done so we can focus on something serious.

That brings us to marathons.  My apologies for being repetitive, but you know what I'm talking about.    Marathons are the projects that just seem to take forever to reach the half way point, let alone get finished.  I envy people who run actual marathons: by and large, they are done with theirs within a 24-hour period.  In the knitting world, this would indeed be considered a sprint.  I once had a sweater on the needles that had been around longer than I had been married, and I had been married for 14 years at that point.  And the  only reason it was as far along as it was, was because I had had jury duty about 10 years before that. (I'm pretty sure Strunk & White would have issues with that last sentence.  I must have been absent that day.)  In more recent history of my knitting career, I offer the Bateaux Mouches scarf and Zick Zag Scarf as further proof.

Please, please understand that in no way do I want to do either pattern or designer any kind of disservice.  I love these patterns.  The items are jaw-droppingly gorgeous.    All I am saying is that these patterns took me eons to complete.  And to be really honest, I have yet to complete my Zick Zag Scarf.  I started the Bateaux Mouches scarf because I see a therapist weekly and I like to keep my hands busy, and it's garter stitch, so no thinking involved.  I had no idea that it would take so long to complete.  And it's not as if I only worked on it during my therapy sessions.  Turns out that thing is HUGE.  By the end, when you have a zillion stitches on the needle, I could not even get through one row during the hour-long therapy session, and I'm not a slow knitter.

As for the Zick Zag Scarf, it turns out that counting to 5 is much, much harder than I thought it was, because the pattern requires the knitter to knit 5 stitches & then either increase or decrease. I can't tell you how many rows I have had to frog because I failed to count to 5 and then perform the next required task correctly, but only five rows back.   That, combined with the fact that it calls for a total of four balls of yarn and when I had finished two, I measured the length of it by holding the last finished row at the back of my neck only to discover that it was too short for me (I'm tall & like to wrap my scarfs twice around my neck) so I had to buy two more balls of yarn.  I am currently almost done with the first four balls.  I optimistically hope to be wearing this a year from now.

Did I mention that the Bateaux Mouches is knit in laceweight and the Zick Zag is in fingering weight?  These are not marathons, they are Ultra Marathons. (Look it up; it's a thing.)

I suppose there is an argument for the middle-distance type of project and that it is entirely valid and that I have probably knit more projects in this category than in any other.  These are the projects you knit pleasantly enough and they are done in a reasonable amount of time with relatively few surprises.  To me they are exactly how I like my trips by airplane to be: uneventful, predictable, and nobody got hurt.  But, let's face facts, it is the sprints and marathons that we tend to remember.