I don't remember if I ever told you this, but once upon a time I used to be a runner. 10K races mostly, but I used to put in my time every day, rain or shine, winter or summer.
Yeah, it was a *very* long time ago. I stopped running the races when I started having hip problems (can you say bad training regime? I know that now. Heck, I knew it then, but then I was a crazy runner). I stopped running completely about five years ago, when it hurt more afterwards than I was happy with. Probably still the bad training habits, but age wasn't in my favour, either.
However, I never, ever stopped dreaming of running a marathon. I ran with people who did it -- Boston, New York, Paris, London. I thought that maybe, one day, I'd have the drive, the ambition, the patience, and the common sense to do it. And oddly enough, when I sat down to make My List of things I wanted to do with the rest of my life, running the Paris marathon went on it.
So did finishing Princess.
But I didn't realize until yesterday how closely related those two dreams were.
Because knitting Princess is, I think, the knitter's equivalent of running a marathon. Just as a marathon is the longest run a runner might ever undertake, so, too, is Princess one of the longest projects a knitter might contemplate. Just like a marathon, which requires a sensible training regime, so, too, does Princess. It's important to swatch (really. I know, I know, I didn't, but I should have, and I'm going to hope I don't pay for that in the end). It's important to knit practice pieces of some of the stitch elements (I did do that, with the edging pattern. Does that count as a swatch?)
It's important to keep knitting, every day, steadily, but it's also important not to do too much, for fear of injury. Both to yourself, and the knitting. Recovery time is important, not only for your body, but for your mind. I don't know about you, but I don't find Princess difficult per se -- as you've said, it's all knits and purls and yarn overs, nothing we haven't done before -- but I do find it a bit tiring to work on. Each row is currently taking me about two hours. I find I have to watch the chart carefully, both for the row I'm working on, and to make sure that my pattern is lining up with what's come before it. I'm not putting a lifeline in, because I'm concerned that it might actually cut the yarn, but I have put markers between the repeats. That said, each repeat is 78 sts, and there's not much repetition or rhythm in them, at least for me. Then I stop to count the stitches before I move on to the next repeat.
Before I knit a row, I knit a repeat "virtually" -- that is, I read the chart, I look at where things fall on my knitting, I count it out on the stitches before I start working them. I'm doing this because I did, in fact, make a mistake at the beginning of the forth row, had to rip out the repeat, botched the ripping back, ripped back the end of the third row and reset everything. It's just easier on me if I do it my way, and think it all through a little bit before I start knitting.
Sometimes, if I've knit a bit too much on it, I hit The Wall. That's what happened last night, and why I should have stopped knitting after the third row. I've learned my lesson now, and will set the knitting aside at the first sign of fatigue.
And just as some marathon runners use assistive devices (to help with pacing and checking heart rate and whatnot), so, too, am I using a few little items to help me out:
First, there's the chart -- I took the one provided and had it enlarged. It's huge, but I can clearly see it now. What you can't see is that it's sitting on the back of one of my cookie sheets, which I grabbed from the cupboard Saturday night. The yellow things are magnets that are just holding the chart steady.
The ruler is sitting above the row currently being worked. I just don't like seeing the next row on, I find it distracting.
The pale yellow stuff is a transparent highlighting tape -- quilters use it to mark lines and shapes on rulers, and I wonder if it works better on that surface than on my chart. It's advertised as "low-tack", but it's just a little too low-tack for my liking, and after three rows doesn't want to stick any more. It's a little too expensive to use if it doesn't last longer than that, in my opinion, but I really do like it -- it's easy to apply, easy to use, not messy, highlights the line I'm working on quite nicely -- in fact, it highlights the row I'm working on as well as the previous one, which I rather like. That makes it easier for me to watch that I'm lining things up properly. I'll see how it goes though, because now that I'm on row 4, I'm constantly poking at the tape to stick it down, because the chart isn't clear through it unless it is.
Yes, I did write "Row 4". I'm about half way along -- because of the weather today, I ended up at home this morning, so decided to push a little further ahead while the light was good and I was feeling fresh. I don't know if I'll ever run the Paris marathon. However, I can see now that I will finish the Princess marathon.
A long time from now, mind you. But I'll get there.