Even Mindless Knitting Requires Thinking

I’ve made good progress on my “mindless” knitting project. I’ve only got one sleeve to go. Unfortunately, I’ve hit a point where I must make an important decision, one that could have some serious consequences, and it’s reminded me that even when I follow someone else’s pattern, mindless knitting usually requires some thinking.

One thing I love about this sweater: you construct it as your knitting!
One thing I love about this sweater: you construct it as your knitting!
First sleeve... looking good!
First sleeve… looking good!

The first time I made this sweater, I matched the striping on the two sleeves. With so much color and pattern in the fabric, imposing order keeps the finished clothing from appearing chaotic.

The first time I made this pattern, I used different yarns to make the stripes, and I knit the sleeves to match.
The first time I made this pattern, I used different yarns to make the stripes, and I knit the sleeves to match.

I started the first sleeve with every intention of making them match this time as well. Despite my doubled yarn and overlapping colors, it’s not that hard to get the stripes to match. I’ve already done it on the top of the sweater without any trouble. So the technical aspects of matching sleeves is not an obstacle.

Close up of the yoke shows that my striping matches (mostly).
Close up of the yoke shows that my striping matches (mostly).

The problem? I may run out of some colors of yarn before the second sleeve is completed. Of course, running out of yarn is one of my goals. I’m using yarn leftover from another project and want to use up as much of it as I can.

However, if I start the sleeves matching and then run out of needed colors, I’m afraid it will be obvious to the point of distracting that the top of one sleeve is different from the other. As I see it, these are my three options:

1) Go for matching sleeves and put up with it if I have to alter the striping. My fear is that I’ll get the sleeve done, decide it doesn’t work, and have to try again with either choice 2 or 3.

2) Intentionally make the second sleeve different from the first. I’m pretty sure I have enough yarn to make the second sleeve, just not sure I have enough to make it with identical stripes.

3) Match the sleeves and buy more yarn if I run out of needed colors. This is actually an option since the yarn I’m using is still in production, but it defeats two purposes if I succumb. I’ll have to do more thinking to figure out the exact colors I need, and I’ll wind up with more yarn, when I was trying to get rid of it.

So my lovely mindless knitting project requires me to think after all. I knew I had some thinking to do — I’ve had to do math throughout to adjust for my gauge, which is not identical to the pattern — but for some reason it’s this sort of decision that makes me stop and sometimes put a project away for months. And that’s a fourth option of course: take a break. However, I’ve made good progress with this sweater and would like to finish it up before it gets to warm to knit.

Do you run into unexpected decision points when you are trying to knit mindlessly? What would you do in my shoes?


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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

6 thoughts on “Even Mindless Knitting Requires Thinking”

  1. Another option is to undo the first sleeve, then knit both of them at the same time with two balls of the same color. Then they would match.

    Or, undo the first sleeve, weigh each color, then make two balls the same weight. There would be the same amount available for each sleeve.

    More work (time) but no new yarn to buy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. You think like me. Only I’m doing it the other way around: making the matching sleeve, figuring I’ll buy more yarn if I absolutely positively have to.


    1. Asymmetry attracts attention, something I prefer not to do. You’ll know I’ve gotten brave when I start wearing asymmetrical stuff without any qualms. 🙂


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