auld land syne mitts and an experiment

Friday, January 24, 2014

So, let's chat.

I'm curious to know how your brain functions when you are knitting.  Are you focused on your knitting and find it easy to sit and knit and do nothing else?  Or do you stop at every thought and act upon it?  

Last week, after finishing my first mitt, I was leafing through the book and noticed the "knitted gifts planning guide" which gives an estimate of how long a project should take.  These mitts are in the category of "4 hours or less". 

4 hours or less!  No.  Way.  It took me all week to make one mitt.  There is no way possible that it would have taken one mitt 2 hours.  No.  Way.  
So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and challenge that estimated time calculation.  
I gathered everything I needed, including tea and excluding my phone, purposely leaving it in the other room.  I sat down at the kitchen table and cast on for the second mitt.  

To say this was painful is an understatement.  It was torture.   The voices in my head started.  "Oh, I need to text Shelly."  "Hmm.  Who's teaching tomorrow's yoga class?"  "What year was Beetoven born?" "Who just text me?"  "I want to look at instagram."  "How many minutes per day should I be practicing piano?" "What is the balance in my checking account?" "I should really be calling mom."  "Oh shoot, I should have put those clothes in the dryer."  "When is Andrew's basketball game?"  "I want to check my email."  "I wonder if those boots are on sale."  "I should order those long johns for Charlie."  "Do I have an extra yogurt in the refrigerator for Libby's smoothie?" 

OH!!!!  It went on and on.  I wanted to pick up my phone a hundred times.  I wanted to pop up and do things a hundred times.  It was exactly like when I meditate and have to constantly bring myself back.  Over and over I had to bring myself back to my needles.  Listen to the sound. Watch the pattern unfold.  
But, I did it.  And from start to finish that mitt took two hours.  Including the time spent sewing in the label into the inside of a mitt.  
A gift for a friend.
Knit in 4 hours or less.

Pattern:  Auld Lang Syne Mitts, 50 knitted gifts for year-round giving
Yarn:  Stash
Needle:  5 and 6 dpn

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113 comments

  1. such a perfect description of life as i know it!!! monkey brain!!! which i think is so hard to turn off!! beautiful mitts!

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  2. I'm the same way - a million things can distract me. So when I sit down to knit, I pick a goal (two round, a pattern repeat, etc.) and force myself to reach that goal before going to do anything else. Once I have, I flake off and do whatever my brain was bugging me to do, then come back and set a new goal.
    I also find putting on a good movie helps keep the distractions to a minimum.

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  3. I'm a member of the same club, Leslie -
    the only way I can "power knit" is to do it in front of the tv or while listening to a podcast or two. Otherwise - our torture just as you say.
    The mitts are lovely - lucky friend!

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  4. I usually knit in front of the tv/ipad (watching a tv show not surfing) so I'm only focused on 2 things - knitting and the show. Sometimes the show wins out and there's very little knitting, sometimes knitting wins out and I have no idea what happened in the show. I think that's why I prefer mindless knitting where I can actually do both!

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  5. What a great post! I think this explains exactly why I never seem to make much progress on my knittng-- I'm always too distracted by phone, tv, etc. Perhaps this weekend I will try the same experiment!
    The mitts turned out lovely.

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  6. Ha! I love it…that's exactly how I knit…up and down, on and off. Your mitts are beautiful as is your heart!

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  7. Oh, how I relate to your "voices in my head" paragraph...

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  8. That's an interesting experiment! I listen to audiobooks or watch TV while I knit, it helps me focus.

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  9. It is nearly impossible for a woman to find 2+2 hours of complete dedication to a project, without life interrupting. Congrats on the 2 hour wonder! Does the second one get easier to focus with?? Or maybe harder as more things poke at you?!?!?

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  10. The mitts look great. What a lucky friend. I was thinking about meditation too as it is exactly how my brain tries to avoid the shutting off.

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  11. Anonymous1/24/2014

    Because of that darn full time job, my knitting pretty much happens only in the evening, and usually in front of the TV, when every other task is done. Once I finally get some knitting time, though, I'm loathe to interrupt it for anything, so I'm pretty single minded about it. The complication of the pattern dictates what I can watch without losing focus - there are inevitably times I need to track backward through whatever show or movie I'm watching when I realize that I have heard a word or seen a single scene in quite a while . . .

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  12. Ha ha!! Yes, might take 4 hours if you have 4 hours to sit and do nothing but knit and can bear to stay there and just knit! Well done you for not being distracted by anything else. I prefer to go at my own pace with things and get them done in my timescale!! xx

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  13. Well they are just gorgeous. I don't knit continuously unless I'm the passenger in our car. I stop and start a ton of times in an evening.

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  14. What a lovely essay on the modern experience! How often do we "multitask" and get so little done?

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  15. I hate that question, "How long did it take you to knit that?" Who cares...just knit and knit and it'll get done. Great post, a fun read. And lovely mitts...lucky friend.

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  16. love it! Nope, no way can I just sit and focus on knitting - knitting is what my hands do while my monkey brain goes, in between I do little things, too. But it was awesome to read about your ability to focus for two hours and finish that second mitt!

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  17. Oh How I relate! Love the Mitts. Where did you get your label.

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  18. Lisa Fischer1/26/2014

    OMGosh. I am SO impressed with this. And jealous.

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  19. When did you start taking piano lessons???
    xoxoxo M

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  20. I miss you..your beautiful knits, your beautiful words, beautiful you. I have the opposite problem. By the time I get all that "other stuff" finished, I don't have time to knit! good for you for sticking with it and abandoning your phone for two hours. what a lovely gift. xo

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  21. Turner1/27/2014

    That is so interesting!

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  22. I laugh at those estimates too! I just thought I was THE SLOWEST knitter on the planet but you're right. I knit a couple of rows and then admire my work and then maybe make a cup of tea, come back and knit a couple of rows and on and on.

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  23. Awesome experiment! I totally sympathise with those thoughts, my brain works the same way!

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  24. This is exactly what happens to me. I love your description of how the mind is constantly switching gears! So typical of busy moms! I am just trying to knit accessories these days. Especially hats, they seem to keep my attention. Bravo for finishing your mitt without any interruption!

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  25. i know this so well! i haven't picked up my knitting in a couple of months because i need to separate the sleeves from the body of kate's sweater and i know it is going to take full concentration. i'm used to knitting while talking to other parents and waiting for kids. so right now, i'm back to my one needlepoint project for on the go crafting.
    cute mitts!

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  26. I'm worse than a dog when it comes to knitting... squirrel!!

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  27. Maureen1/30/2014

    Many Americans, myself included, have the attention span of a flea! I fight with myself to read or knit during the day because I instantly think of the laundry that needs to be done, the bathrooms that need to be cleaned, and the errands that need to be run, etc., etc., etc.
    Many parents complain that their children have far too much homework that takes them hours to complete. They have the same problem we do - homework is interrupted by a million and one things and 30 minutes quickly become 3 hours!

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  28. I would have commented earlier but I was too busy noticing squirrels. My mind works similarly. Plus I really love being connected to people and now with texting etc. when I think of someone, it's hard for me not to stop and let them know. And then there is all of the normal noise in my head...squirrel...that distracts me. You are definitely a friend of mine!

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  29. A great outcome. I knit best to an audio book with my girls out of the room.

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  31. Just recently found your blog! Those are the same thoughts that go through my head too -- I really have to concentrate on blocking things out when I really need to get something knit up! And what pretty mitts those are - love the pattern.

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  32. Loved this post. I can sit and knit for hours with a good movie on. Full disclosure, I don't own a cell phone. TMI: I'm 40, not 82. And must add, I find it discouraging to teach knitting to people who constantly check their phones! I'm going to post a link to this post on my LYS Fb!!

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