We all have our secrets. Everyone’s hiding something. I know you’ve all got project bags stuffed in the back of a cupboard somewhere. I’m not the only one. We all natter on about the projects we have on the needles, those we’re busy knitting. But we rarely talk about those projects we’re not knitting. We don’t often admit to KAB – Knitting Avoidance Behaviour.

As an example – about 2 years ago I was doing a KAL on Ravelry. It was for the Fire edition of the Nurturing Fibres Elements club, and I was using the Flame colourway – lovely long gradients of red, orange and yellow. I was knitting a cowl using sections of charcoal in between the flickering flames.


Flickers peeking through the charcoal

Flickers of the Fire colourway peeking through the charcoal

While I was knitting the cowl, the first flicker started out yellow, the second orange, the third, fourth, fifth and sixth were red. And I really wanted it to get through one more orange and yellow flicker before I finished. It looked like it was getting close to the end but there was no orange yet in sight.

The pattern instructions were to knit to a total of 11 inches, and my guess was that I had an inch or less left to go. But when I eyeballed it, it looked like I needed to knit another 3 inches before I could get another orange and yellow flicker.

My project on the KAL didn’t go very well, and after a particularly frustrating day, I made a confession on the KAL thread, about one of my personal flaws that affects my knitting.

I avoid things that make me anxious

I’m the person that when my library books are 2 weeks overdue, I’m so mortified and overcome by shame, it takes me another 6 weeks before I pluck up the courage to actually go and return them. To tell you the truth, I probably have library books from the 90s hidden around somewhere. I haven’t signed up for a library since around 2001, which is a good thing, because these days with technology I bet I’d be blacklisted all over town

Of course the obvious solution would be to go back 2 flickers and just cheat a little, do a join closer to the orange, and cut out a little red. But that would mean going back, and I’d done a lot of backwards and forwards already.

So I stopped knitting.

It sat on my dressing table just freaking me out, while I averted my eyes every time I walked past. Finally, one morning, after 2 weeks of KAB, I picked it up and pretended I didn’t have a problem with it.

I knitted 3 rows.

I took a deep breath, and finally did what I had been avoiding: I measured it.

It was about 7.5 – 8 inches. So, about 3 more inches to go. My anxiety was totally unfounded. I wasted 2 weeks of knitting time, because I was too afraid to pick up a tape measure.

That one worked out ok in the end – but sometimes there is a very good reason for avoiding dealing with a project.

Remember the perfect yarn that inspired the hunt for the perfect pattern? Then when I found the perfect pattern I had to find a different yarn – that one? Well, I eventually did find the right pattern for it, so I started knitting it in June last year. I expected to be finished by the beginning of August and have some time to wear it in winter.

But I got tendonitis in my wrist from the honeycomb stitch front and I had to take a break, so it took a little longer than expected. I finished the body and got on to the sleeves before I faced the reality that it was, unfortunately, quite unflattering. A-line shapes really don’t do me any favours, and I’m not sure why I thought this one would work out well.

So I stopped knitting.

I put it in my knitting basket in the corner, and gave it plenty of room every time walked past so I didn’t have to get too close and accidentally catch a glimpse of it.

It was early summer before I accepted that the only solution was to frog it, and reknit it with some waist shaping. So I plucked up all my courage, took the project bag out of the knitting basket and put it riiiiiiiiiiight at the back of my cupboard.

That way I didn’t have to walk around it every day and feel the rising panic when I thought about having to undo all my hard work. I rationalized this by telling myself that next winter was faaaaaar away and there was plenty of time to redeem the project before I needed to wear it.


Before frogging

Before frogging

This year when the nights started getting a bit chilly in May, I finally decided to face my fear. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t make another mistake when reknitting it, so I painstakingly shaped and pinned the pullover to find the perfect fit and I spent about 3 days crunching all the numbers and making detailed notes of my planned modifications to rescue the piece.

Then I looked at my failed pullover, pinned to fit me perfectly, and glanced at my very detailed notes and amended project plan. I had calculated that I needed to rip right back until just about 5 cm below the underarm – not for the faint-hearted. My stomach lurched at the thought of what needed to be done.

So I folded it back up, pricking myself on about 7 pins, and shoved it riiiiiiiiiiight to the back of the cupboard. Again.

In July, I finally felt brave enough to frog it. I tried to reduce the anxiety of it by keeping my eyes tightly shut while ripping it all out. It didn’t help things – I had been alternating skeins, and they kept getting twisted. So after the trauma of that process, I needed a little while to recover.

Back to the back of the cupboard. Again.

Finally, a few weeks ago – 14 months after starting the project – I was ready to conquer the beast. I promised myself to start knitting, and finish this pullover once and for all. I got off to a great start and knitted about 5 rounds in one short spell that evening.

I was congratulating myself the next day,, and feeling re-inspired, picked it up to carry on. But when I looked at the needles, I suddenly got a terrible sinking feeling.

Somehow the needle looked a little bit too small to be a 4mm.

Having learnt from my mistakes, and that sometimes things are not as bad as they seem, I didn’t put it back in the cupboard and wait for two weeks before getting out my knitting gauge. I checked the needle size then and there, only to get the answer I really didn’t want: it was a 3,5mm.

I tried to be optimistic and convince myself that perhaps I made a mistake on my Ravelry page and I wasn’t supposed to be using a 4mm. The tension of the last few rows didn’t look any different, so maybe I went down a size and didn’t update the project page. But I double-checked all my notes and calculations, which were all based on a gauge of 4mm.

I boldly shook off a year’s worth of KAB, only to use the wrong needle size.

Sigh.  I am going to have to find a way to avoid KAB, because next winter is only 9 months away.

About Beth Burke

So much yarn. So many patterns. So. Little. Time.