How long did that take you?

How many times do you get asked that question about your knitting?  I never have any idea how long a particular project takes me, especially because I knit while I am doing important things, such as trying to stay awake in a meeting, or watching the latest Netflix delivery.  Then, the other day I was looking at my cell phone for a calculator and discovered this feature:


I timed how long it took me to knit a pattern repeat on these socks –somewhere between 5 and 6 minutes.  Using that information, plus including the length of a meeting where I turned the heel, (minus time for donut eating and coffee drinking)  I estimate it took me about 5.5 hours to knit one sock in this stitch pattern.

Last week in my beginner knitting class, several people asked me the how- long -does- that- take -you question about the mate for that sock, and I finally had a answer.  I know that one of my students is a born knitter, because she just nodded and said,  “Cool, that’s just a few movies.”

The non-knitter response was equally entertaining.

A few days later I was sitting in my cube with one of the IT dudes who was installing some software, and while we were waiting he noticed my Eleanor Roosevelt knitting picture and asked me about it.  “I just don’t get knitting.” he said. “Not why people do it, but how it works.”

He described to me something he’d seen on a cable show –  Entrelac?  “Yeah, that was it.  Why wouldn’t you just make strips and weave them together instead of knitting little squares together?”  As he asked, he understood.  “Ooohhh, it would fall apart and you’d have to sew them all together anyway.”  Software still running.  “What’s the difference between a knit and a purl?”  I whipped out my current project from my so called briefcase.


After watching the demonstration and refusing to try it himself, I showed him the socks I was wearing.  He looked at them in shock and horror.  “But you would have to do that wrapping the needle thing thousands of times!”  (I wish I had been capable of some sort of binary humor.)

There my friends  is the difference between the knitter and the non-knitter.  Shock and horror, or  just a few movies will do it.

How do you answer the “how long did it take you to knit that” question?



10 responses to “How long did that take you?

  1. oh that is fun. i have often given it thought how long time a certain item has taken not weekwise but workhour wise. non knitters ask knitters to knit something for money and i could never get a decent payment i am convinced. hence i knit for my dearest friends and family and i never feel i have time enough.
    so i knit what i knit, and i love it. i will never really tire of it , i hope.

  2. I generally have an idea of about how much it takes per repeat for a smaller project, or per ball for a larger one. On a sock like Cookie A’s Twisted Flower, I’d multiply the time by half again. Add on a bit for tinking and other forgetful/careless things.

  3. I usual just say that I don’t keep track…

  4. Oh, man, great post! (And not unrelated to the one I put up today, actually.) I usually just say something about how it didn’t take all that long, and that it kept me from strangling my colleagues while I was at it (I am usually more politic about that part if I’m at work, and say something like: “three faculty meetings”; that actually generates some interest, since all other people have to show for those meetings are more gray hairs).

  5. 4 evenings per sock unless I’m using fat yarn and then it’s only 3. I also point out that I can do the whole shaft or foot of a standard ribbed sock during a long phone call (OK, I call home once a week and it usually turns into a very long call). 4 movies is a good answer too. I’ll have to use that one.

  6. Man, you guys are FAST. My current sock is taking me about 1.5 Doctor Who season box sets.

  7. Hm. I don’t get that question too often, those who know what I’m wearing is handknit are mostly knitters themselves.
    I have a gut feeling that a pair of socks are 12-15 hours and a shawl between 25 and 40, this is based on how much I get done on a flight or catamaran ferry trip.
    I haven’t knit in meetings or during talks yet, I’m afraid people will think I’m not paying attention..might dare trying that soon..

  8. Wow – you’re much faster than I am, I think, although I’ve never really kept track.

    I’m usually pretty evasive when people ask – I sometimes tell them 5-6 weeks if I only work on it while I’m on the bus to and from work, but they think that’s a staggeringly long time.

    I’m going to try the “just a few movies” answer and see how that works…

  9. I always say I don’t know. Because I usually don’t.

  10. I tell them I don’t keep track. Then I change the subject.

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