May 11, 2011

Sneak Knitting: The Art of Artful, Productive Trickery

“When you get your paycheck, just cash it first, spend what you want, and then give the money to your husband. That way he’ll never miss any of it.”

This was some unsolicited advice given to me once by a very good friend of mine. It was well-meant, almost entirely a joke and very revealing of her personality; words like creative, intelligent and mischievous come to mind.

She has an incredible way about her that enables her to accomplish absolutely anything. She works full time, bakes and cooks for her family of four, is very involved with church events, keeps an astonishingly beautiful garden, knits, sews and always has time for her friends. She never misses a step. It truly is as though she has a time machine in her basement, which I am sure she has carved out beneath her two-story house with a spoon in her spare time. I am also sure that this fantasy basement is well-decorated.

Sometimes, as I mentioned above, my friend (don’t worry, Joanie, I won’t throw you under the bus by mentioning your name…oops.) drops little pearls of wisdom to us lesser beings. She speaks of eeking out money and time through creative thinking and stellar time management. Here is one important example for our purposes today.

Joanie is a great reader. She is voracious in appetite and unsurpassed in speed. Enjoying all sorts of novels, she somehow finds time to finish several each month on top of everything else. Just yesterday she shared with me that she has just finished Jane Eyre (we are reading that one “together” and I am on chapter 20 out of 38) plus two more books. Seriously?

How is this possible?

Sneak reading.

That’s what she calls it. She speaks of sneaking a peek at her story du jour while cooking, while at her kids’ sporting events, and while in the bathroom. Sort of.

She says she locks herself in the bathroom under the guise of actually using it, when in reality she is reading as fast as she can, striving for the completion of more stories in limited time with the same vigor a marathon runner might employ while striving for a faster racing time. (Joanie also runs marathons, but I digress…)

When her husband knocks on the door, she finally comes out of her den of iniquitous deceit. Never before he knocks, but when, and only when, he begins to wonder where she is. This affords her up to several minutes—even 30 to 40—of sprint reading. It is in this way she completes book after book while us mere mortals lag behind.

How does this apply to knitting, you may ask? Or perhaps you already see where this is going.

Yes, we can consider using this same principle—in theory at first, at least—to complete more knitting projects in less time. Just think of the possibilities for problem solving.

Take your family and friends, for example. Did they line up to “order” projects once they learned you were knitting? As though you could just whip out a sweater for them in an afternoon or an afghan for their Auntie Mavis in just a few days? Perhaps they even said, “Well, I would pay you, of course,” not realizing the extensive hours a large bedspread or aran sweater would require? That even $50 might only work out to pennies an hour, depending on the project? (Of course, you probably did them for free, because that’s what we seem to do!)

How about the upcoming Sock Summit? A lot of the classes have prerequisites or requirements of preparation in advance. As for me, I have homework: I need to make several types of heels and toes and knit up several swatches of my choosing from stitch dictionaries before my class. First problem for me of course, will be the choosing of anything—that alone might take me a week or two.

Solution for these problems and more? Let’s explore this idea of “Sneak Knitting.”

As I see it, the foundations of this concept require a Rosie the Riveter approach: We Can DO It!!  A can-do attitude is the basis for any success in Sneak Knitting. You must believe that the idea will work, that you have the creativity, cunning and ingenuity to pull it off. You need to be driven (aren’t you already? You’re a knitter), a little crazy and willing to work hard.

Second, consider your own life situation. Take me, for example, I work four days a week, have a home with four children still living in it, a husband, too many hobbies (as we have already established), and minimal time to myself.

In order to write the blog entry for today, I have experimented a bit for myself over the past few weeks. Here are my findings.

I have committed Sneak Knitting while:

  • Gardening
  • Giving the baby a bath (I’m alone—just sit on the toilet or floor, voila!)
  • Cooking (waiting for biscuits? How about a sock on the side?)
  • Mowing the grass (mower noise definitely makes folks believe you are working)
  • Writing this blog (see days with extra typo’s)
  • At work—need a break? How about knitting instead of/in conjunction with eating? Or try Joanie’s bathroom trick.
  • Watching a guy flick with your husband (he will look at the TV, you check out your cables)
  • At the movies (easy—it’s dark. Knit by Braille will be another lesson)
  • While at Starbucks (Duh. But your coffee gets cold—be careful!!)
  • Painting my daughter’s room (everyone just thought I was slow)

More experimental ones that haven’t been successful for me (or anyone) yet could include:
  • While running or walking
  • While driving
  • While applying makeup
  • While applying makeup and driving
  • While having a fight with your spouse (not recommended)
  • While breastfeeding twins
  • While skiing, playing volleyball or soccer or other sports—may be a bad idea. Have a whole team of soccer playing knitters? You might get Vlad Dracul’s Forest of the Impaled. Pretty quiet game.

The point of all of this is that with a little creativity and a little Lucille Ball-esque mischief, you can potentially accomplish a lot of work.

Here is my most recent Sneak Knitting project:

It started out small. But after giving Amy a few baths and checking out a few guy movies....

The scarf is calling "Starry Evening" and can be found at under the spring 2010 newletter or in free patterns. I used Berroco Seduce for this one and added some beads that I found on clearance at the fabric store during a Sneak Shopping trip. 

The project is half way done, now. Just need a few doctor's appointments or trips to the park and before I know it, I can move on to those homework heels!

Give Sneak Knitting a shot! Be safe, be sure and know that "You Can DO It!"


serenewaves said...

I love the sneak knitting (or whatever hobby you'd like) idea! I've been doing something similar for years but this sparks an all new creativity streak! When I need a break at work, I head to the bathroom. I go in, shut & lock the door then use my phone to play a round of words with friends or check facebook. When the "smokers" go out to smoke, I'm gonna start going to my car to knit! I'll still participate in smoker conversation but be knitting instead of destroying my lungs :) When the kids are driving me crazy I can go upstairs and shut the bedroom door and knit or read for a few minutes. They'll come find me when they need me. I'm all in for sneak knitting!

The Knitting Muse said...

This is hilarious!! I think we've found an answer to the age old problem of moms getting no time to themselves!! You know, I've also heard of mothers putting themselves in timeout instead of their kids. They "lock" themselves in a closet or bedroom--I guess it works pretty well from what I've been told. It freaks the kids out and they behave. Now, add knitting...what a fun timeout!