Knitting Up a Storm

I’ve been knitting up a storm this winter. Chelsea, our production manager, is having twins this spring, so I’ve been doing a couple of baby blankets. I started with a very soft, fluffy white yarn, which I knitted on big needles. Then I trimmed each end with bunny tail yarn in mint, yellow, periwinkle and white. Gurgous!

One of my challenges is that I don’t like patterns. Yeah. Weird, eh? Since I primarily knit for the rest it gives my mind – it’s a little like meditation for me – complex patters (or even simple ones) mean I have to pay too close attention to what I’m doing. On set, where there’s always something to distract me, a pattern just won’t work. And at home, it’s too much like work following a pattern.

So my challenge is to knit in a pretty boring way and then “dress up” my knitting. I use a variety of yarns, and I mix my needle sizes for interesting patterns. Then I just knit and purl, knit and purl. I’m happy as a clam, and I’m never quite sure how something is going to turn out, so there’s a bit of mystery in play too. If I get a ways in and don’t like how it looks, I pull it out and start again. I’m in no rush. I’m knitting to be knitting and for no other reason.

I’ve done scarves, hats, mitts, socks (big chunky walk-around-the-house ones), headbands and new baby blankets. I’m a knitting machine! When I started the baby blankets I started with a yarn that I ended up not liking so I pulled it out, rolled it up and hit the store for something fluffier. When I saw the bunny tail I thought I could just weave it in. I tried three different ways, all of which didn’t work. I ended up crocheting it in and that worked like a dream.

I guess I love the puzzle as much as I love the actual knitting. And this is one area of my life – I’m usually very conservative – where I like to live dangerously!

I have some things I’d like to do in the future: A doggie coat for Maggie, my girlfriend’s mini-poodle; another pair of leg-warmers for Baby Girl; more hats, scarves and mitts. Eventually I’d like to work up to a pair of fingerless gloves. But to tell the truth, the finer yarn and multiple needles are extremely challenging, especially where the needles intersect. I just can’t seem to get a tight enough knit. I’ll keep trying and maybe I’ll have an aha!

In the meantime Imma stick with the knitting from which I derive soooo much pleasure.

Your turn: What do you do just to do it, for the sheer pleasure of the activity?

63 Responses to “Knitting Up a Storm”

  1. I like to read your blog & all the comments on it. I also love to knit although I can’t actually knit anything but scarfs & squares, which I’m one day hoping to turn into a blanket. I like to cook when in the mood & I love to curl up with a good book & get lost in the authors world.

  2. Hi, Gail, as a regular reader and hard-core knitter I am thrilled to see that you not only knit, but design ‘on the fly’. Just wondering if you’ve heard of Ravelry ( If not, you should definitely have a peek – it’s nirvana for knitters…

  3. Scrapbooking/cardmaking. I do it for the shear pleasure. It’s almost secondary that I get something useful out of it! I’ve been doing series lately of framed collages – family, friends, pets, etc – and now they hang in the homes and offices of friends, family and coworkers. Just the act of sitting down and assembling something calms me. And to channel all my energy into creating something does wonders for all the work-related stress I have going on at the moment. The concentration takes my mind of work puzzles and when I’m done crafting, my thinking is remarkably clearer and I’m relaxed. And then better situated to resolve the work-place issue(s).

    Cooking. I love to cook. I don’t follow recipes. Although I read cookbooks and read onine recipes and foodblogs vociferously! I mine them for all the ideas and techniques. I came home from work just wound up yesterday. And after 20 minutes of turning some pretty disparate leftovers (baked potato, grilled onions, 1 sausage) fresh produce in the fridge (spinach, zucchini, red pepper) and items in the pantry (jar of garlic, tiny bottle of apricot preserves, Chinese hot sauce), we had a great meal on the table and I felt like I had finally accomplished something of value! Work has been brutal lately so the tiny victory of one yummy meal erased a day of headaches! Now if I could just cook/bake for the sake of it .. no meals to put on the table, just food to eat anytime .. and a whole day in which to do it, I’d be in heaven!!

  4. Tai-Chi

    I love Tai-Chi I take courses and love it. It calms me. I enjoy it very much.

  5. I’ve never got the hang of knitting (one day…), but I do like doing needlepoint embroidery for the relaxation. I get kits, with the chart printed on the canvas, so it’s like paint-by-numbers only with needle and thread. Because I don’t have to count, I can talk or watch movies or just think at the same time. So much of my life is spent reading or writing it’s nice to have something that occupies my eyes but not the same part of my mind! It’s like weeding in a garden, very meditative, for me.

  6. I have been a long time fan of your show, and while I have never carried much debt and have used many of your tips to turn my yarn-addiction into a career designing and crocheting toys. I work from and while crocheting I often watch your shows and read your blog to keep my finances in check. Many my friends often express their wishes to be able to have a creative, self-employed career but cannot due to debt (and not being able to differentiate between needs and wants). My personal happiness with crocheting has taken away the shopping urge.

    Thank you for sharing your knitting story with us!

  7. I learned to knit at my mothers knee when I was very young. For the past 20+ years, I never got past making a scarf or a dishcloth. 2012 is the year that I committed to using up my yarn stash, and venture out of my comfort zone with my knitting. I knit because I enjoy it, and if a pattern or project I am working on stops being enjoyable, I stop working on it. I am making a few items without patterns, just my imagination to guide what the finished item will look like. The bonus with my joyful activity is that I actually make some useful items.

  8. Karaoke.

  9. I used to knit a lot, but haven’t done much lately. I used to knit sweaters in the round – they were so fast! I’ve got to get back to my yarn stash and get back at it. Now for pleasure, I love to read – anything that can make me put my life on hold and live through the main character. So nice to relax, especially before bed, in a good book. Ahhh!

  10. I LOVE to knit and crochet…I have always knit very much like you, without pattern, but this winter I decided to “up my game” and took a class…result….gorgeous cable knit sweater for my grandson, and it wasn’t to bad following the pattern, with a little help of course 🙂

    As far as knitting on 4 needles go, you don’t have too…google or youtube “magic loop” knitting technique, you’re gonna love it, much easier.


  11. First of all…when do you find time to breathe woman, let alone knit.
    What do I do … read, write, and sometimes, just once in a while, I TRY to knit. lol.

  12. I’m the same way- I like to knit in front of the TV and not think about it. I just knit simple straight lines and then I piece them all together afterwards. I knitt(ed?) my mom a huge blanket this way and it took me about 7 months or so.

  13. knit, knit cook
    cook, knit , knit

  14. I love to play soccer and hockey. I like to knit but haven’t went farther than a plain blanket, mittens or dishcloths. I have to learn to try things that I may not succeed at, it is hard to overcome.
    Last time I tried something new… I followed my daughter into the snowboard park and fell off a jump. Some teenage boys on the chair lift yelled something about being too old… I agree;)

  15. I recently started blogging, which I really enjoy! I can’t believe there are so many people out there that love talking about personal finance.

  16. I love to read.. my husband bought a Kobo for my birthday a year ago and I swear I’ve almost worn out the next page button.

    I love to knit as well, but the small, double pointed needles are some of my favourites! Great for little baby outfits, mostly because I don’t have the patience for anything bigger 🙂 This year for Christmas was lace snowflake ornaments. I like the lacy work so much I’m learning to crochet as well.

    The Lots of Love -Grandma’s Afgan baby blanket pattern is great – the pattern is only every fourth row, so for the other three rows I can read and knit!
    Deirdre is right, Ravelry is great here’s the blanket pattern =

  17. Gail, I have to second the person who recommended looking up Magic Loop. Circular knitting of any size on just one set of circular needles – no DPNs required. I’ve been knitting my whole life and I can do DPNs but love magic loop so much, just as easy as flat knitting. Have fun!

  18. Singing! I’m in a choir, and while I’m in rehearsal, hearing the voices around me, I forget about everything else that might be on my mind, and live in the moment. It’s so much fun and so relaxing. I went without singing in a group (I am constantly singing at home, in the car etc.) for years while in school, because I was too busy and couldn’t afford this hobby, but now I refuse to give it up again. Even though it’s rushed to go out one evening a week after working all day and missing my little man, I feel like it recharges my batteries to keep this up. Obviously, there’s no tangible gain from doing this, but it soothes my soul.

    I also love to cook. The meditative quality of chopping veggies calms me at the end of the day. Before my kiddo was born, I often spent much of Sunday making soups and dishes for the week. Now I’m lucky if I can get dinner on, as he wants to play (and I want to play with him), but sometimes if he takes a long nap on the weekend, I whip out the soup pot and get to chopping!

    My poor Nana tried to teach me to knit, needlepoint, crochet, smock, etc., but I was abysmally bad at it and had no patience to learn when I was young. I wish I had taken those lessons, as she made beautiful things, but I still think I had no talent for it, even if my patience has developed over the years. She was tone deaf though, so I suppose we had opposite talents 🙂

  19. When I have concentrated time to focus on a detailed book I read murder mysteries. When I know I’ll be interrupted or only have a few minutes I dive into travel guides for places we’re thinking of visiting.

    This year’s New Years resolution is to get rid of 5 items per day all year. Sadly, yes there are over 1800 pointless items in our house. I’m not normally a rabid organizer, and we’re absolutely not minimalists, which is of course how we got into our current situation. But, for one year I’ve committed to making a noticeable difference in the functioning of our household. I’m hoping that after the year is up, we’ll all have formed new habbits, and we’ll continue long after this “challenge”. When we head out on Saturdays to do our groceries and errands, it’s already become a habbit to ask if there are any bags or boxes ready to be dropped of for donation. Yay! This level of purging won’t be a lifelong event – we’ll eventually get to maintenance mode, but so far this is proving to be a very rewarding and strangely calming activity. I feel just a little freer everytime another load leaves the house.

  20. I knit! I make basic straight-knit throws with chunky yarn and BIG needles and dishcloths, mostly. My favourite dishcloth pattern (to knit and to use) has a simple, straightforward pattern that I’ve memorized, so I don’t have to think about it. I also like to crochet…I’m planning to make afghan throws for all three of my kids for Christmas. I’ll most likely straight-knit (in their favourite colours) the ones for my oldest and youngest, but I think a colourful Granny Square afghan (you know the ones, with the black borders and background) would suit my “middle” child perfectly (she’s a free spirit ;)). That’s my challenge through the summer…crocheting all those Granny Squares!

    I also love to read. And to be honest, I love me some mindless TV watching some nights after all the kiddies are in bed LOL (which works perfectly with the knitting ;))

  21. I started knitting for baby presents because i couldn’t bring a gift that they might have to return across the border. So I learned to knit a hooded baby blanket! Now I’ve picked a pattern that’s way too complicated for my friend’s wedding. I’ve been doing the cables for months now! Oh well!

    I love patterns, and it gives my pattern-based brain something to think about. But if anyone is ever looking for projects just to knit, there are 2 charities that look for stuff: Project Linus (blankets for kids in need or in crisis) and Project Snuggles (blankets for animal shelters.)

  22. I find knitting so relaxing. I learned to knit around the age of seven and still remember having to make my own mittens with some help from my mother to start the thumbs. Now I like all the fancy yarns available and I knit numerous gifts this past Christmas. Check out this site ( for great yarns.
    I also read a lot – newspapers, magazines, and two or three books a week.

  23. My Mom used to knit so many wonderful things for me. I loved them all ! Glad to know that her needles are continuing to create. Happy knitting, Gail !

  24. I am working on knitting currently. I use size 50 needles. so very big. but the afgans are so pretty. After I use up my stash of yarn. I plan on tackling all my other craft projects,and inish them up.

  25. I started lap dulcimer or mountain dulcimer just after Yule and I love it!
    I play music just for the fun of it and hour can go by unoticed drone aways in the reverberating sound of this beautiful instrument.

  26. I make various crafts… but mostly I make cards and felt ornaments.

    The cards are very relaxing because after I create a design, I just have to color it in and stay within the lines… reminds me of when times were simpler, and there was always time for juice and a nap.

    The felt ornaments are a little more difficult… I have cataracts in both eyes developing… so it’s not quite as relaxing as it used to be …. but seeing the finished product — there’s nothing like it.

    And last year I was even able to turn my craft into more than a hobby with – Nov/Dec got a little more ‘OMG’ crazy… then relaxing…. but I have a plan for this year…. 😀

  27. avatar financiallyfreeinbc Says:
    February 29, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I knit (scarves, dishcloths, cup cozies), read, cook, nap, watch tv…. Those are the things I do right now to relax!

  28. Making chocolates! I love doing it, making all the ingredients from scratch for the fillings, thinking up new and different flavours to try and making all the old familiar ones for those I love.
    Easter’s coming so I’m starting to get geared up for making some pretty cute bunnies and homemade marshmallow filled eggs.

  29. Another knitter here! If you can’t get your brain around magic loop, you can also substitute two circulars for those dreaded dpns! Each needle counts as 2 dons, and you only knit the stitches on each needle with the other end of that needle. It sounds complicated but it’s not, and it’s easier to manage than dons.

    I love to knit lace! It’s funny, but I am faster knitting a lace pattern than I am knitting plain stockinette. I love exensive yarn, but my stashing has slowed down since I left my job at my LYS. And of course, I only pay cash, and I have a budget. And knitting with finer yarn means I get more for my money, and complicated patterns can take longer. I’d rather knit a little less, and use nice yarn, than knit a lot of stuff I don’t enjoy.

    I also love to cook, and read. I have quite a cookbook collection. I am learning all I can about small-scale farming/homesteading, for when my husband and I are ready to buy our land and home. And I love doing cryptic crosswords.

  30. Aha i have recently taken up knitting and crocheting. After practicing my stitches (you can only make so many scarves) i signed up for a class to knit in the round with the double pointed needles to make a toque (to match some of my scarves)!! I love to read, knit, crochet and keep up with my finances.
    Thanks as always, Gail.

  31. Very Cool, I want t learn how to knit/crochet, even bought the Dummy books for each, & the knitting needles and crochet hooks, and yarn…..all I need to do now is LEARN!!!….someday soon 🙂

  32. Quilting is my get away. And I’m the same as Gail. I prefer it without a pattern. I just grab the scissors, a fabric – or a few – that I like and just starting doing. Some turn out great and into presents and others…..well, the camper, the sofa and the dog enjoy them. 🙂

  33. This post is very timely as I’m heading out after work tonight to purchase supplies to learn how to crochet!

    I also love kickboxing. Originally I started for the fitness aspect, but now I look forward to my weekly hour of punching things as a stress reliever.

  34. avatar angelfancy Says:
    February 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    I am with you Gail. I knit for the peace it gives my mind. I am one of those people that always has to be doing something and for me knitting and crocheting is it. Like you I am not much for a pattern, like right now I am crocheting tiny granny squares to patch them all together into one big blanket. The peace it gives me is amazing. I can get a good think on when I knit or crochet. It helps me hash out something that has/had been on my mind. And if you hit a good sale it is a pretty cheap hobby.

  35. avatar AnotherDawn Says:
    February 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t knit. I’ve never been a crafty sort of person, but I’ve always admired people who have that talent.

    What do I do for the sheer pleasure of doing it? Write. I love to write short stories, poems, etc. I’ve never been published, and I really have no desire to. I just like to put sentences together and see what comes out.

  36. I love to read ! I hit the library once a week with my daughter and we pick up stacks of books.(love them ’cause they’re free).
    I also really enjoy reading cookbooks and trying out new recipes.
    I used to knit tops all the time, but only knit tops without sleeves, because sleeves just take too long.
    I am also taking piano lessons (my one splurge) and love playing when the house is empty. It sounds pretty good too:)

  37. Hey, given all the knitters here, should we start a “we love Gail group” on Ravelry?

  38. Gail- Knit some legwarmers for little girls!! Believe it or not they are back in style! My Mom knit some really cute ones for my toddler last year, stripey ones, good for the cold winter days when you could use a bit extra warmth on the legs. Cute as gifts also. Can also knit matching scarves, etc.

  39. gardening and snowshoeing, (not at the same time , Lol unless you count houseplants!)

  40. Yoga. I found it or rather, it found me over a year and half ago, and I have never looked back. I absolutely love it, its’ fundamentals, its’ spirituality and it has such soothing qualities. I’m 58 and now am looking towards teacher training! Always embrace life, and it will do the same in return! Be well! Sandy

  41. I love the blankets Gail and the twins will too. So soft and beautiful – we’re so lucky that you love to knit!
    Thanks again!

  42. Kick Boxing. really relieves the stress of the day! no patterns required just energy

  43. Not a knitter, could never get the hang of it. Love spinning class, walking the dog as a family, and making chocolate chip cookies with my 4yr old, he likes punching the buttons on the mixer. My mom used to bake alot when we were kids, and only now looking back do I realize how special it was, and want to share that with him.

  44. avatar anonymous this time Says:
    February 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Okay, this will be really unpopular given the number of knitters on this site.

    First, I absolutely appreciate the huge amount of work that goes into a handmade item. I learned the basic stitch at 10, made one scarf and decided it wasn’t the hobby for me. Way too much work!

    Now to my comment – before you give a knitted item to someone else, try to find out if they actually like knitted items or want to deal with them. If they were raised right they’ll open the gift and make a huge fuss. I know I did when receiving items at baby showers. Trouble was I was certain that I couldn’t machine wash the baby spit and other nastiness out of those, so they have sat, never used in the kids keepsake boxes for over a decade. Sad but true. I feel horribly guilty about it. Maybe yarn now is much tougher stuff and can take stain removers and repeated machine washing, but being able to toss fleece blankets into the wash on a nearly daily basis was much easier to deal with in my sleep deprived state of mind. I couldn’t stand the thought of the knitter seeing their blanket looking all matted or stained from repeated use and machine washing and I certainly didn’t have time for a lot of hand washing with newborns. On the other hand I loved the sundresses, shorts, sweatsuits and PJs my MIL sewed for my kids – those were well worn.

    I’m not saying not to knit, just be certain it’s going to the right recipient after you’ve put in so much effort. Nobody wants to waste their talents and nobody should feel this guilty.

  45. I love to cross-stitch. Yes, it requires following patterns but like the knitters, I find it very relaxing! Only thing is, it takes a long time to complete a project – but once it’s done – what a rush! The birth announcements I did for my kids are framed and in their rooms.

    Yoga – love it! Have been trying power yoga!

    Baking/cooking – when I have the time. Especially when the kids help.

    Would love to learn how to sew and knit.

  46. I read for fun. Since I have 13 different animals in my home I obviously love being around them and there’s nothing better having 5 birds and a dog all hanging off you while you read a great book. I wish I had more time to read. I love photography as well and love to take shots of my pets and landscapes. I often walk the river valley in Edmonton and take shots of the diffent scenes I see for each season.

  47. Adult beginner ballet and hip-hop classes. I think I’ll always dance like a permanent beginner, but it’s fun to take a break from my usual routine and do something completely different.

  48. Susan,
    Do you sell your toys online anywhere?

  49. I love to sew quilts — scrap quilts out of blue jeans is my favorite now. I started quilting after finishing Univisersity & didn’t want to look at another test book so my Grandma showed me how to quilt. I’ve done about 30 quilts but never liked the finishing with the quilting & backing so now I do these jean quilts that are basically backwards (the seam is on the good side). I fray it by snipping the edges — this takes a little doing but I do it while watching TV. My daughter had twin girls in Sept/11 so I’ve made them each one with photos on every second square which are white jean material & the others are black jean scraps. No batting as the backing is flannette & they are very warm and soft.

  50. well…I haven’t had much time for most of this over the last few years but I love needlepoint/cross stitch and crochet. my mom tried many times to teach me…but knitting just hasn’t clicked for me. I also love to read, cook, bake and scrapbook…maybe one day I’ll be able to get back to those things for more than daily needs!

  51. I am a cross stitcher in spurts. I go like crazy for a few months the don’t for a year – then go again.

  52. anonymous this time- I hear what you are saying about not wanting to ruin something beautiful and handmade. But as someone who often gives and gets homemade gifts I would much rather use it and ruin it than not use it at all. So when the time comes, let your grandkids use the beautiful hand knit things. Chances are they will outgrow them before they have a chance to spoil them anyway.

    Knitters? What do you think?

  53. I like knitted items for babies – particularly socks. They’re quick to knit, there isn’t a large yarn investment, it’s pretty easy to find machine-washable yarn these days, and you won’t be heartbroken if the item goes unused or is damaged or is quickly outgrown.

    Also, make 3 socks per “pair”. Leaves a little room to lose one.

  54. Coloring mandalas is my mindless/fun/creative activity. I just have to choose colors and then can have a movie or music or even a book on tape as something to listen to. Once you’re done then you have some artwork to hang up. Coloring patterns are easy to find in inexpensive books or online, and I use gel pens which can add some shimmer if I want.

    P.S. Gail – our family had your chicken recipe on Monday and we all loved it! We had some wild rice and sautéed zucchini on the side. Definitely something different that we had not tried before and it has been added to our regular meal rotation. Thanks 🙂

  55. avatar AngelWings Says:
    March 1, 2012 at 8:21 am

    The one thing I do just for me? Just to relax? I do photography work! I’m an aspiring photographer, trying to get my business off the ground, but when I need me time, down time, time just to relax, I take my camera & I go on long walks or drive to further destinations, and photograph to my hearts content! I take nature shots, building shots, whatever I wish! It’s calming, fun, something I love AND an easy way to build up my portfolio! If I could take Pictures all day every day I’d be happy! I do that a lot with my daughter! We just play around while I snap pictures!

  56. Running! Most days a half hour to an hour with just me, my running shoes, my music, and the road. No one making demands, nothing that needs to be done except another km. I can zone out and just focus on one foot in front of the other. Plus, keeps me fit and in shape.

  57. To anonymous this time and Sylvia, I know the my hand knit items won’t always be liked, worn etc. When do you get a gift right 100% of the time?

    I do use machine-washable yarns most of the time (exception for that FANTASTIC cashmere I found). I’d hope that the recepient would use it and wreak it, or re-gift it to someone who might use it.


    She has so many beautiful and creative patterns, and many fingerless gloves to try out!

  59. avatar Margaret Says:
    March 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Gail, have you considered doing another series of Till Debt Do Us part?
    I think it would be great if you could come to Alberta. There are alot of people out here who could use help in managing their money. We are a rich province but a bunch of nuckle heads who’s spending is way out of control. Come and do an overhaul on our provincial spending, create a budget for our province. Get everyone involved.

  60. Loved to read that you are crazy about knitting too. I also love the Ravelry site like another poster mentioned. I love knitting for the relaxation. Lionbrand has a great dog coat that you could make for your friend’s dog and in going with the who debt free …the pattern is FREE and is super easy so you don’t have to think about what you are knitting (

    Anonymous: I always make my baby gifts with materials I know can be put through a zillion washings, get dribbled and spilled on because hey…they are for babies! The only time I make something super delicate is if I am specifically asked by Mommy-to-be for such a gift. I laughed when one of my co-workers told me her daughter still had the blanket that I made for her when she was born (she’s 10 now) but it is just pretty much a scrap left because she loved it *too* much. Knowing that the blanket was now just a little ragged scrap with stains made me feel great! 🙂

  61. avatar Heather Says:
    March 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    @ Anna… another runner… and no one is behind you yelling “hey mom”… because they cant keep up!!! lol nothing more freeing then running….

  62. I’m another knitter. I can’t sit and do nothing with my hands. For the past 3 years it’s been socks for my grown daughters and my son’s girlfriend. This year I’m going for sweaters for everyone. I also quilt but don’t have a lot of time for that lately.

    My other favorite pasttime is reading. Now if I can only find a way to knit while I”m reading I’ll be all set.

  63. In the last 2 months I’ve been knitting non-stop as well!

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