Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

Because there is only so much time


It struck me this morning as I sat and played with a colourwork design that there is only so much time to knit.

I’ve commonly read that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master craftsperson.  That’s the equivalent of three hours’ practice a day for 10 years.  According to that theory, I’m still a few years away from become a master!

Knitting has so many dimensions.  Lace. Cables. “Gansey”.  Fair isle.  Then there are all the many stitches in ‘ordinary’ knitting that need understanding (all a combination of knit and purl).  Not to mention mastering the intricacies of tension, garment design and general theory relating to knitting, yarn and fibre characteristics.  To become a knitting master – to have mastery over all these facets is going to take me a lifetime.  I know it.

I decided at the beginning of the year that to advance my goal of becoming a master knitter, every project I do must teach me something new.  If I didn’t learn something new, it would be hours wasted.  Knitting for me is as much about intellectual stimulation as it is relaxation.  The learning part is just as thrilling to me as that of finishing a new project and wearing it or seeing it being appreciated by its recipient.

So what does this mean for the fair isle piece I was playing with?  It means that I realised pretty quickly that I still need to learn a lot about designing colourwork.  I need more practice in colour theory before I go there.

It also means that although I want “to knit all the things” I will have to choose my projects carefully if I want to maximise my learning opportunities.

The past few days have seen me agonising over what to knit next.  It feels like I haven’t been knitting at all.  Although I must have been, because I have sore, plastered fingers to show for it…

The reason for the agonising is because I know that next winter, we’re going to freeze if I don’t get more knits done for the kids and I.  So the planning has to start now because I only have two hands and only so much time, and there are so many considerations to take into account.  Learning.  Function.  Beauty.  Design.  Taste (some people in this household are fussy.)  What I have in my ‘stash’ that matches with what I want to knit…

On a related note, did you know about the Ravelry queue feature that allows you to print out your queue so that you can match a pattern to yarn?  (I’ve only just discovered its useful potential).  Now I have a list that I can use to browse my wool collection to see what I have that matches with what I want to knit.  It would be easier if I had all my ‘stash’ on Ravelry of course… Still, the feature is very handy!

I’m off to do some ‘stash diving’ now.

I’ll leave you with some photos that I took on a recent beach walk which have me thinking:


Author: kiwiyarns

Welcome to my blog where I talk about knitting in New Zealand and the beautiful yarns you can find here.

11 thoughts on “Because there is only so much time

  1. Wow, 3 hours a day for 10 years? That’s a lot of practice time! I went to university to study music education so I understand what it means to practice a skill. I guess I never thought about applying it to any other craft or skill! It makes plenty of sense though. I hope you reach the goals you are striving for over these next few years. Your passion and determination are admirable!

  2. Beautiful photos!
    And a useful comment about the 10,000 hours. It’s a handy reminder that it takes time to become proficient at something – and i guess you would have to love your ‘subject’ to put in the hours!
    That’s a good measure of whether it is your passion. Thank you

  3. I feel similarly. I prefer to knit and learn at the same time. Although, I don’t think there is anything wrong with many of a similar project in order to master an idea. It would be very easy to not knit any fair isle items until you understand color theory. But color theory was a big part of my degree and I’ve found that sometimes you just have to knit. I learn more by just knitting and making notes than anything else. I have my fair share of “that wasn’t what I was going for”. Without mistakes, you can’t discover any happy accidents.
    You’re already designing knits. Not everyone gets there. I think you are doing a wonderful job in progressing in your knitting!

  4. In many ways, I wish we lived in the same town (let alone the same continent) because I feel we have such a kinship (and not just in our names and family history). Wouldn’t it be lovely to stop ’round each other’s houses and knit together? I very much hope to become a master knitter, something that I believe my mother is, and, like you, I feel that there is only so much time and physical energy that one has to hone one’s skills. I see it in my mother who is advancing in age — her mind is able to learn new tricks but her fingers and eyes get very tired. But I’m inspired by you and all those other amazing knitters who keep pushing themselves to learn more and get better. As for Ravelry, the possibilities seem almost endless. I do have my entire stash listed (alright, I admit I can be overly organized) but matching yarns to projects on my queue is such fun. Thanks for sharing your photos of the beach — as we approach autumn here, it’s lovely to see the ocean. xo

    • It would be amazing to live in the same town. 🙂 I’m so very grateful that blogging has given me the opportunity to “meet” so many fascinating people. As for your stash… hehe. I’m going to have to go and check it out now!

  5. I have just found your blog through Evelyn, Project: Stash, who commented, above. I share your same feelings and frustrations about the 10,000 mastery idea. 3 hours a day for 10 years, but I want to be a master, now! 😉 I think it’s great to realize that sometimes mastering a skill includes understanding the other factors that play with the skill, like how understanding color theory will help your work with your fair isle knitting.

    I often find that I get just so overwhelmed with my projects and I can’t complete them fast enough. A friend gave me some advice on Friday, after my most recent blog post, to make my to-do list on index cards, where I can add notes and shuffle them as I go, instead of having a static linear list.

    Also, some great, great advice that I received at Vogue Knitting Live in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. Try to make the distinction from the projects that enhance your portfolio, are specifically a part of your aesthetic, or what you’re trying to learn from the projects that distractions. We all have so many ideas, and I know that I can make anything. I’m sure you have the same feeling/problem. So often good ideas pop-up and they get added to the list of things to do/make, when really I should save the idea, but keep focused on my main goals. I don’t know if any of this is helpful, but I hope that it is.

    I am really looking forward to following your blog :), Thanks!

    • Having looked at your blog, I think you’re being very humble. You’ve demonstrated continuous improvement in your skills just in the few posts I did look at. I loved your modification of Owls – cute pointy ears!!

      Thank you for your sound advice. I was coming to that conclusion too last night – looking at my WIPs I’ve got one design number, one ‘boredom’ while you wait number, and one ‘just for me’ number on my needles. It is all about patience isn’t it?

  6. Great words, very poignant, and probably ring true for so many. I remember a music teacher who said of my love for playing different instruments, ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ it stung hard I can tell you. With everything I do I try to improve, but I guess that while I pursue lots of things, some other things are compromised. the decision for me is to what do I dedicate 3 hours a day!

    Your photos are stunning!

    • Thank you. 🙂 I had a quick look at your blog – wow, you paint and crochet so beautifully! Perhaps you may have been a ‘jack of all trades’ once (weren’t we all??) but I see someone who has spent a lot of time at her craft now. Good luck with your Year of Projects. They look totally do-able – go for it!

  7. Such determination! I have no doubt you will achieve your goals. Just remember to play along the way, too. That’s another way to learn. 🙂