Monday, November 18, 2013
When Knitting is Like Weight Loss
I've been working on my most challenging project to date for nearly two months now. As I was stitching away on it the other evening, I began to realize that the way I've been approaching knitting this sweater was similar to my experiences with losing weight, which made me understand why I'm not wearing a completed sweater right now.
Here's the deal: I haven't been knitting on this sweater like I should. I'll admit, it's mentally challenging to work on something where you don't see quick change, unlike a hat or a mitten. It's something I need to do every day, whether I'm in the mood or not, because I know that eventually I'll look at it and be astounded by the progress I've made. But I have to admit that after the initial thrill of starting the sweater, and making it through the first few parts that turned yarn into the beginnings of a garment, it's become a bit of a slog. Round and round and round and round of knitting the body; it's a double seed stitch, which means I'm changing every stitch, so I can't just go on auto-pilot and mindlessly knit because sure enough, I'll get off track and all the time I put into it will be wasted, as I'll have to undo back to where I made the mistake.
And if I set it aside to do something more fun, guess how much progress I've made when I come back to it? None. Which makes me think, gee, if I'd only spent a little more time on this I'd be so much further along by now. The end result - having a finished sweater - depends entirely on me. No magical elves are going to make this happen, no amount of wishing from me will complete it; I have to put in the effort in order to finish this sweater.
Once I realized this, I saw so clearly the weight-loss/dieting correlation. Knowing how hard it was for me to commit to losing weight that last time makes me see why I keep setting this sweater aside for quicker, easier projects. I wanted an easy reward (quick hat = 5 pounds lost); I was willing to jump in and start the process, but my interest flagged once I reached the point of simply putting in the work, day after day, without another reward appearing. Sure, looming far, far in the distance was the promise of losing a lot of weight, or ending up with a beautifully-knit finished sweater, but right now? I wanted to do something where I could see the results if not immediately, well, pretty darn soon.
I don't think it's wrong to want instant gratification in both weight-loss and in knitting, but it is a bit illogical. There's a reason why things take a while to complete and a big part of that is appreciation for all of the hard work put in along the way. And I'm going to try and remember that as I knit on this sweater, every day, even when I really don't feel like it.