Knitting + Resistance

I've been reading Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art, and I'm digesting it a little bit at a time because it gives me a lot to think about. In a way, it's a book about Resistance and how it manifests in our lives, holding us back from accomplishing the things that matter to us most. 

It may seem weird to the Muggles, but our hobby matters an awful lot to us knitters. And so sometimes, we experience Resistance in our favorite activity. 

Resistance, according to Pressfield, shows up whenever we engage in "any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity." It's that weird thing that happens when there's a thing you want or need to do and you know it would be so good for you to do, but you keep putting it off, for seemingly no understandable reason. 

What is the longest amount of time you've left a  sock  waiting for just a bind off?

What is the longest amount of time you've left a sock waiting for just a bind off?

I love knitting, but there are parts of knitting that I love more than the others. My favorite part is the sit-on-the-couch-and-just-knit part.

And I know my projects can totally derail when I come have to do things like: 

  • move from knitting a sock foot to starting a heel

  • having to switch to a different yarn or needle, thus getting up to find said item

  • having to try on the sock or sweater to verify length

  • switching from ribbing to a stitch pattern

  • switching from stitch pattern to ribbing if I need to find smaller needles

  • needing to dig out stitch markers

  • realizing that at this spot in the project, I could arrange it really nicely for a picture, but my camera is in the other room

  • needing to dig out my cable needle

  • doing a technique that I have to look up to remind myself how to do (Kitchener stitch, every time, no matter how many times I do it)

  • having to count stitches

  • weaving in ends

(That's a whole lot of what we have to do to finish a project...who knew knitting is so fraught with peril?!)

The plain rows just go plain fast compared to how long I can get hung up on the  cabled rows...

The plain rows just go plain fast compared to how long I can get hung up on the cabled rows...

Basically, anything that necessitates my having to stop the mindless knitting part and having to get up or perhaps think a bit can cause a halt in progress. What I'm doing is having a hard time overcoming inertia

Resistance is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, harder to kick than crack cocaine.
— S. Pressfield, The War of Art

I can't be the only one who has let a project sit idle for weeks because I just can't bring myself to look up the Kitchener instructions (again,) despite feeling that Kitchener stitch is actually pretty fun and knowing that I enjoy watching it come together so cleverly. 

There have to be other knitters experiencing this...right?

These mitts . They patiently waited for weeks before I got around to the tubular bind off.

These mitts. They patiently waited for weeks before I got around to the tubular bind off.

In physics, an outside force has to compel an object out of inertia. (And into the next state of inertia, I guess?) Understanding that I'm having trouble fighting inertia helped me figure out a way to do better.

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.
— S. Pressfield, The War of Art

So here's my trick. I actually came up with it myself as I was writing my dissertation, but it turns out that Ernest Hemingway actually stole my idea and wrote it down first. 

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.
— E. Hemingway

I try to never leave off a project at a logical stopping point.  Because that means that it must be picked up at a starting point.  Momentum has been stopped. In writing, I try to never leave off at the end of a chapter, because it's hard to start the next session writing the beginning of another chapter. I'd rather stop before I finish the chapter, with a note on where I was headed next, or get the next chapter started, just a little, so I don't pick up with a blank page.

If, before stopping knitting for the day, I go find those smaller needles, or do that first iteration of Kitchener stitch, then the next time I pick up the project, I'm starting up in the middle of an action, not beginning a new action. The lazier version of this would be to stop knitting before getting to the Resistance spot so that I can get into a knitting groove before having to start the new action.

Trying out a new heel can halt all progress on a sock. It's easier to just use  old favorites .

Trying out a new heel can halt all progress on a sock. It's easier to just use old favorites.

Do you have a trick to help you overcome knitting inertia? Because this is one of those times when we can extrapolate our knitting lessons to the rest of life, and if we can find a hack to help us finish those unwoven ends, I bet we can tackle anything.