On knitting deadlines

Flax Light Sweater
Keri’s Snuggly Sweater

I’m a pretty consistent knitter, I always have a project or two going and am happy to pick them up whenever I have a free moment. Enter this month: the final month of Camp Loopy 2019. After careful consideration, I select a simple sweater pattern (Flax light) and selected a yarn that my friend who is very deserving of a hand-knit sweater would enjoy (Cascade Heritage). Let’s take a moment to let those decisions sink in. I decided I was going to knit an adult size sweater in a fingering weight in about a month. Less than that, when you factor in I started the project 5 days late and that I haven’t actually gotten in a lot of knitting this month.

When you have a deadline, suddenly everything is more exciting. I’ve lined up time with good friends to go for long runs and to paint my house. I’ve carefully considered how I want to warp my loom. I started a book that I found in a free book pile. I played video games with a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while. I taught someone how to knit and drove so that they could knit on the way to our plans for the day. I’ve been looking at things to embroider or sew. I’ve considered complicated baking recipes — anything other than sitting down and working on the sweater. A sweater that I was very interested in making when I originally began the project, so what happened?

The deadline. All of my problems surround a single date: August 31st, 2019. It’s looming over me, casting a dark shadow over my creativity. If not for the deadline, I would pick up a different project or craft for a little bit. If not for the deadline, I would put the sweater in a bag and not worry about it for a few days or weeks. If not for the deadline I would be daydreaming about projects that I want to start or how the sweater will look when it’s finished. The dark shadow of this deadline has effectively stomped on my inspiration.

While this sounds dramatic, I think there is a lot of truth to this discovery. For starters, even though I’ve been thinking about alternative crafts, I haven’t had any desire to start one. No desire to warp my loom or cut fabric pieces to sew something. My current embroidery project has been left untouched since the month began. There the deadline waits. There the sweater sits.

It will be a beautiful sweater. I know it will be. I will finish it when I finish it, but I think until the deadline passes and I’ve been forced to give up the deadline I will struggle to find inspiration in the world around me.

This makes me sad, for deadlines offer a persistent source of inspiration death. Birthdays, Holidays, Babies being born — all things are beautiful and exciting and excellent reasons to make something. All are inspiring and fantastic reasons to create, yet all create a deadline that the crafter must race towards. Faster and faster until the project is no longer for fun. They may begin fun, they may end fun, but there is always a moment in the process where my mood turns dark and resentful. Where I wonder if I have taken on too much. Where I swear to myself that I won’t do another challenge again.

But then, perhaps in true human fashion, the pain fades and I forget the pressure of a deadline. I find myself pushed to creativity and inspiration by a challenge or an opportunity to give someone a gift. I enter into the process refreshed and optimistic, questioning why I ever thought the deadline had the potential to bring death to my inspiration. Someday I will learn, maybe. Until then, I will continue to crank out baby sweaters to surprise new parents. I will agonize over my holiday knitting list. I will announce that I’m not doing Camp Loopy ever again, knowing that I probably will next summer. Perhaps someday I will learn, perhaps I never will. Until then, I will continue to knit this sweater as fast as I can. After all, I have a deadline coming up.

2 thoughts on “On knitting deadlines

  1. Kit Dunsmore

    Some people thrive with deadlines, and some don’t. It’s important to know if/when they work for you and use them (or not) as appropriate.


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