50 For 50: Why Knitting is Just Like Writing

Post #4 of 50 posts for my 50th year.

That's Quite A Yarn.

Do you think it’s coincidence that “storytelling” is sometimes referred to as “spinning a yarn?” I don’t think so.

I have noticed that I get a lot more knitting done when I have writer’s block. Well, it’s not really writer’s block per se, but rather a severe case of writer’s procrastination. And I happen to have a touch of it right now. So it’s no surprise that I started knitting a sweater this week.

I am knitting a “raglan” sweater. This means it’s knit from the top down, in one continuous piece, as opposed to knitting the front, the back, and then the sleeves, and piecing it all together at the end. I am too lazy for that, and I know that if I had to spend time sewing things together after knitting a bunch of weird shapes which can’t, by themselves, even be recognized as parts of a sweater…yeah, I am not going to do that. I love the process of knitting, and very often don’t finish things, yet I need more instant gratification. Which a raglan sweater provides.

So right now I am knitting the yoke of the sweater, and soon I will make some space for the sleeves – putting those stitches onto some scrap yarn, to pick up later. And then I’ll keep knitting down the body of the sweater. Then back to the sleeves, and finally the ribbed edges of the sleeves, neck, and body.

Some people don’t think I will finish my sweater.

Of course, some people don’t think I’ll finish this next book, either.

I don’t intend to finish either my sweater or my book just to prove anyone wrong, but it will be a nice benefit.

Sometimes when I’m knitting, I think oh dear, I really should be writing, I am a terrible person for sitting here knitting and watching an episode of “Bones” on Amazon Prime.

But really, is there much difference between knitting and writing a book?

Yes, I know I can’t sell thousands of copies of my sweater. And sure, I know I can’t wear a book (very easily, anyway). But putting something together, stitch by stitch or word by word, until it starts to take a shape that you recognize? Yes, that is very similar.

On occasion, I’ll get to a point in the writing process where I can’t quite see what’s next. Or, the steps to get to the next place are a little tedious, and I get restless.

That’s when I pull out a knitting project. And I tend to choose projects that aren’t all that complex—so that I can easily see where it’s going.

I will allow myself plenty of time to work on this sweater, and enjoy the miraculous results from following a pattern and knitting one simple stitch at a time, in a particular order. And I will keep reminding myself that writing a book works the same way. One word at a time, until you start to see the shape it takes.

And on the bright side, it’s much easier to “frog” parts of your novel, than it is your WIP sweater.

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