I admit, I'm really putting this in here because I am several posts behind, and will otherwise never catch up. However, I'm going to go ahead and add the category of "questions about knitting/answers about knitting/random things about knitting" to my blog, so that even if there isn't a picture of knitting to be found on a given day, I'll at least have some content. (Maybe that'll keep me from getting behind, too — if I don't feel like I must have a photo, I'm more likely to post on a day when there's been no real knitting progress.)
Today's chatter is going to be on the topic of "Questions That Make Me Crazy", and it's the major one, the big one, the one most people are likely to ask at some point:
How long did it take you to make that?
This question makes me crazy on two levels. One, I know it's a way for people to gauge the effort required to do something, because if it takes longer to do something, it must be more difficult (and therefore more worthy of respect and praise, because in the Puritan work-ethic culture of the United States, tenacity and the willingness to see something through are highly-valued traits).
Two, I don't know how long it took me.
Knitting is not like World of Warcraft. You can't just type /knit at the end of a project and have it tell you just how long, down to the second, you've spent on that project. If you want to know in that kind of detail, you need to have a stopwatch and a journal handy. I'm sure there are some knitters out there in the world who knit that way, with a stopwatch keeping track of every moment they spend knitting, but I'm sure not one of them!
The best I can do is say, "Oh, probably two weeks of hard work," where by "hard work", I don't mean "sitting on the couch while watching TV after Grant gets home from work." I mean twelve to fifteen hours of knitting. Per day. I'm estimating that the sweater I knit probably took me 168 hours to knit — the equivalent of spending a week straight doing nothing but knitting, not even sleeping.
One of the FiberTrends "Felt Flock" sheep probably takes me 18 hours to make. A pair of socks, maybe 40 hours. And sure, I go through knitting binges where I sit down with a new TV series ("new" meaning "I've never watched it before and thus have seven DVD sets to go through") and I really do knit for fourteen hours a day. But I don't do that every day, week, or month. (Okay, maybe once or twice a month.)
So how long does it take me in human terms? I don't know. I might have cast something on in March only to finish it in August. Maybe I cast something on and was so consumed with love for it that I knit nothing else and took this project to the movies; maybe it took a week. I might have cast on a year or two ago and finished up the project because I thought, hey, I'd like to get those needles back! Or maybe I've been working on it every time I go out to eat, but I don't go out to eat so much anymore, so last year it might've taken six weeks… and this year it takes six months.
I fit knitting into pockets of time everywhere. If I'm waiting for the bus (and the weather's nice), I'm knitting. If I'm on the bus, I'm knitting. If I'm out to dinner, I knit. If I'm watching TV, a movie, a sports event, I'm knitting. I knit while waiting in line at the grocery store, while waiting for Grant to come pick me up somewhere, and if I drank coffee, I'd knit while having a cup of coffee in the morning. Or something. If I can knit while I do it, I knit. My hands are seldom idle.
But I hate the idea of time as a measure of something's value. I hate it because I've had knitting projects I thought were glorious that only took a little bit of time, and I've had knitting projects that I suffered through for weeks on end in order to finish. I've also had knitting projects that took no time at all that I wouldn't want to knit again for anything, and knitting projects that took months that I'd knit again in a heartbeat. The fact that something took a long time doesn't make it great, and the fact that something took barely any time doesn't make it "no big deal". And, especially, the fact that something may have taken me a week or less — or a day or less — doesn't mean I'll whip one out for anybody for any reason.
I've had an awful lot of requests for Rainbow Pride Sheep. People like them; they're cute, and they take little yarn and practically no time; I can have one knit, felted, stuffed, and drying in a day. But I knit fourteen of those sheep in just over two weeks; I am done with Rainbow Pride Sheep, or any other kind of sheep, unless it's for me and I happen to feel like knitting a sheep that day.
Yes, I love sheep. I love the pattern. I love the felting. I love everything about it. But imagine if you had your favorite book in your hands. Okay? Now read that one book fourteen times. In a row. Without getting to read so much as a blog post or a newspaper article before you have to start that same book again. You don't even get to read a magazine in the bathroom; you have to take that book with you. (Um, no, I didn't knit in the bathroom, but work with me here; I'm making a comparison.) You might love that book every bit as much after the fourteenth read, but boy howdy, you'll be ready to read something else when you're done reading it for the fourteenth time, and if someone offers you money to read it again? You'll probably say, "No, thanks" — especially if you can do without the money.
I wish knitting did have a built-in WoW-style /played (rather, /knit) counter. I wish I could look back on all my projects and see how long it took me to knit them. But I know me: carrying a stopwatch around, and remembering to use it every time, is beyond my capabilities. :)