I know this will surprise you, but I’ve been thinking about knitting a lot lately.
(This could be because my actual for-pay work has been piling up on my desk. When that happens, I think
even more about knitting. It’s a self-defense thing. Stop judging me.)
Anyway. Today it occurred to me that there are basically two types of knitters in the world, as follows:
Type A knitters like to map everything out in advance. They figure out the yardage they’ll need, right down to the last centimetre (hello? Department of Mixed Metaphors?). Before starting a project, they knit up swatches and wash them and block them and measure them to make sure their predictions are right.
Type A knitters only buy yarn if they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will coordinate with everything else they ever wear. They avoid surprising colours like neon green.
And they only start projects they know they can finish in a reasonable amount of time—generally less than “a few years or so.”
If a Type A knitter starts out to knit, say, a top-down cardigan from a particular type of yarn that isn’t available any more, and they only have 7 balls when clearly they needed 9 (not that this is likely, see above note re. predictive skills), they either tear the whole thing apart as soon as the problem becomes apparent, or they put the unfortunate project away until they can procure more of the discontinued yarn in the exact colour and dye lot.
Type A knitters don’t just prefer to have their socks and mittens match perfectly (yea, even unto the exact number of rows in a stripe)—they require it, for their own happiness and knitting sanity.
Also, they disapprove of unexpected outcomes, like colours that flash or pool or create random zig-zaggy patterns.
In fact, they hate any form of yarny rebelliousness, and will sternly rip back any item that threatens to misbehave.
Type A knitters do not tolerate mistakes, and they brook no nonsense. If a yarn does not perform up to their exacting standards, they feel perfectly free to give it away, and then say bad things about it on the “Reviews” section in Ravelry.
Then there are the Type B knitters.
Type B knitters “think that yarn looks like it might be enough for a sweater, don’t you? If I knit it up in a lacy pattern and don’t make the sleeves too long?”
Type Bs know perfectly well that the two skeins of hand-painted yarn they bought were probably dyed on two different days, using different dyes, possibly even by two separate people who were drinking heavily at the time. They don’t care. They are happy to spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out how they could use both skeins to knit a single project, “because it’s pretty, and it deserves to become something nice.”
Type B knitters swatch not, neither do they block. They like to leave such things up to the Knitting Fates: How will this project turn out? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see! Knit on! It’ll all turn out okay in the end, and if it doesn’t, it’ll still have been fun! Wheeeee!
Type B knitters think colour variations like flashing, pooling, and weird zig-zagginess are “interesting” and “fascinating” and “fun to watch as they develop.” They like yarns that don’t quite act as they’re supposed to—those yarns aren’t misbehaving, they just need some understanding and love, and someone to appreciate their unique characters.
They hold their work up frequently, turning it this way and that in the light, just to admire the way the yarn does its own independent thing, whatever that might be.
If a project calls for, say, a DK-weight cotton/wool blend, Type B knitters feel perfectly justified in substituting a lace-weight mohair/silk, and making up the difference by adjusting the numbers on the charts. Maybe. Or maybe they just wing it, and see where they land.
Not to say that Type B knitters aren’t discriminating—they can be total yarn snobs, decrying acrylics as the Tool of the Devil. They can be absolutely besotted with anything labelled “Blue Faced Leicester” or “Mohair.” In fact, they accumulate huge quantities of their favourites, even though they have no idea if or when they’ll ever use it.
Type B knitters drag unsuspecting guests to admire their stash, shoving a skein of qiviut at them with a demented cackle, and whispering, “Just feel that—go on, feel it. Isn’t it amazing?”
So…now that I’ve spelled out the differences, I think you might already know which type I am, right?
- I have been known to laugh delightedly when my knitting does something unexpected and clever.
- I have used flagrantly inappropriate yarns for certain projects, or run out of yarn in the middle of a sweater and stuck something else in because I thought it looked “cool.”
- I blithely disregard the whole “matching stripes” thing.
- I never write down the alterations I make to a pattern, with the result that I rarely make two items exactly alike.
- I own enough yarn to keep my fingers busy for at least the next 30 years, but I have no idea exactly what I’ll eventually use it for—I just like the pretty colours, and it makes me happy to be surrounded by wool.
I used to think I was just kind of batty, but these days, I’ve started to come to terms with my Type B nature. Embrace it, even.
Now, I’m just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.
- Confessions of a Knitting Ninja: Horrible errors I have committed (afterthekidsleave.com)
- “Do I have to swatch?” (crazyknittinglady.wordpress.com)
- Grabbing the Interest of the Impatient Knitter (sweatyknitter.com)