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?

Author: Kit Dunsmore

Kit is a writer and an artist who adores living in Colorado. Whether she's hiking in the mountains or walking the prairies, she's always watching the wildlife in order to learn more about the natural world.

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

  2. I’d buy more yarn, match the sleeves, then knit it again to use up the extra yarn, then buy more yarn to match the sleeves….etc etc etc. That’s the fun of knitting…

    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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