Friday, May 11, 2007


Over the last few months I have found a few blogs talking about knitting competitions. Knit a shawl over a weekend and things like that. Yes, I know we are in a competitive world and we always want to knit prettier, better than others. We are always comparing ourselves with Fair Isle knitters that had to knit to make a living and to Russian knitters who’s food on the plate depended/depends on how many shawls they could knit to sell.
Is knitting faster really what we are after? Are we trying to preserve a beautiful craft and unearth patterns from the past to avoid loosing them altogether? Are we encouraging amazing designers or our era like Mim, Norah, Sharon, Valerie and others that do such amazing work? Are we trying to tell the world that we exist as a community? Are we trying to help the finances of those that make real efforts to supply the yarn that we use and the fibers and tools that we love and need? Or are we trying to end up with carpal tunnel syndrome or permanent tendon damage just to demonstrate that we can knit faster than others regardless of the final result?
I have thought about this for several days, and the conclusion I have come to is that my attitude towards these silly competitions is a combination of the love I have for my fiber crafts, the desire to get others involved so they can also enjoy the wonderful hours that I get from it and the physician in me, or maybe it is just a “wiser” attitude towards life that age brings.
You would not believe how many muscles we have in our hands, tiny little ones each one with a specific function. As with other muscles in the human body, they have to be trained, exercised and cared for. Straining your hands to knit at a speed that they are not used to will only cause pain and damage, permanent or not. Would you go out to run a marathon without the proper training? More likely not.
Doing things like this will only make people turn away from what is a wonderful relaxing and joyful “hobby”. Those of you that do it for a living will more than likely knit faster, more evenly and “better” what ever better might mean here. Would you risk your hands?
So let’s get real, this is not a speed competition. If we do want to make a competition out of it, let’s do it on color, technique, finishing, overall on quality.
I knit faster than many people I know, but I have been doing it for more years than I care to admit and still I would never risk my hands. Let's enjoy what there is to enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Hi Laritza,
How true. Thanks for this wonderful article.
All the best, Irene (Vienna)

Lankakomero said...

I also agree with you! Nice text!

Jane said...

Dear Laritza,

Wonderful blog post. I enjoy knitting lace and I love the fact that there are so many more beautiful patterns and yarns/fibers available now. It's terrific tha there are people blogging out there and sharing what they knit and their thoughts about it all. If I compete, it's with myself so I can try new and different things. I wouldn't want to lose the joy of all this wonderful knitting so I hope everyone else can find something good from the knitting experience.

Leigh said...

Excellent post! My feelings exactly. I'll be the first to admit that I'm slow at producing anything. I just want to enjoy what I'm doing and to a good job while I'm at it.

Sissy said...

Well said, Laritza! Love your blog!

Spike said...

Hmmmm. And here I am, playing devil's advocate.

See, I find the knitting games to be a useful tool for setting priorities. We all know knitters who lament that they never have anything made just for them, because they're busy knitting for family, for charity, for sale. The shoemaker's children go barefoot, after all.

But when you decide to join the Knitting Olympics, and choose a project you've been MEANING to get to SOMETIME, you make the commitment in your heart to cast on and try to finish the item by a certain date.

Not necessarily to be the fastest, laciest, most Astounding Knitter of All Time, but to give yourself focus and permission. Focus on the project, because you committed to making this piece at this time. Permission to turn down other encroachments on your time, and the ability to say, "Not now, I'm knitting for Wales." People understand competitions and sports. They'll give you room if you're training for a marathon ("I can't have dinner/host your brother/go out to the movies--I'm training," and the other nods sagely, although searching for the remote control is the most exercise they see on a daily basis.)

Your points about the amazing, delicate instruments our hands are, and how we take them for granted are well-founded and eloquently put. However, there's more to the knititng competitions than just the chance to win a ball of yarn.


jackie said...

I am a slow knitter. And when I do knit for an extended period of time, I find that I do get pains in certain parts of my hands. So I stop for a while. And seeing as all of the knitting I do is for me, this relaxed attitude to knitting doesn't bother me a bit. It shouldn't bother anyone else either. Although I have to admit that I will push my self a little more when those 4 month socks get near the toe!

Bev said...

I so agree with your comments. People lose sight of the art and the craftmanship involved with beautiful hand knits. I am fast too (as well as totally compulsive) but the idea of knitting something crappy just to get it done for a contest, deadline or competition is abhorent to me, as well as a waste of effort. I appreciate all your messages on multiple lists, even though I am not as vocal. Bev