Social Knitting…

Packing for our Thanksgiving trip to Phoenix this year was a bit of a challenge. Knitting time was sure to happen at the same time as visiting so I needed a very simple project or two, but currently only had projects in progress that required thinking every now and then. I had to come up with a couple of new projects.

I decided to bring some handspun yarn to make another simple garter stitch hat and I pulled out a linen/mohair yarn that I had gotten for a shawl project. The hat was done within a couple of days and I then started on the shawl.

It seemed simple enough. Cast on 85 stitches. No shaping. A simple eyelet pattern. It was mostly stockinette stitch with two evenly spaced lace pattern rows. It’s interesting how long it can take to get even a simple pattern like this memorized to the point where I can talk and knit, without looking like I’m paying more attention to my knitting than the person I’m talking to.

Even with a simple pattern, it can be challenging to count the stitches on the lace pattern rows and still pay full attention to your conversation. Once the pattern becomes second nature, that tends to no longer be an issue. There were a few times where I had to choose between focusing on a good conversation and counting stitches on my lace pattern row. I typically chose the conversation and let my needles rest for a bit.

The best social knitting for me is something in garter stitch or stockinette stitch, or a pattern that repeats every few rows that doesn’t require counting. Cable stitch patterns can be good projects for conversation, because you can visually see where you are in the pattern without having to count. I generally avoid patterns with shaping for social situations, unless it’s socks. Making a basic pair of socks is pretty easy to do without a hiccup, because I’ve made so many of them.

Some people might wonder why I need to knit at all while I’m visiting with people. Well, it’s a knitter-thing. Writer’s write. Knitter’s knit. That’s just the way it is. I’m going to start looking at my projects-in-progress a bit differently now and make sure that I always have a social knitting project on hand for just these situations.

When I was in Wisconsin visiting my daughter a couple of months ago, we saw a finished Reading Shawl that would be a perfect social knitting project. It was a straight-forward rectangle with a fold-over edge to create a warmer neckline and hand pockets, and was a simple block stitch – an 8 stitch repeat over four rows. I think it’s time to get that project on my needles.

-Jenne Hiigel


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