Lunch hours taken: 3/5
Rating: Creative, absorbing, addictive
Knitting has taken over my life. I can’t sleep properly because every time I wake up I think “I could knit right now” and then stay awake thinking about how I could be knitting, but should be sleeping (this is usually at around 3am in the morning). The same goes for waking hours: any minutes spent waiting for delayed trains or sitting in meetings that have overrun, all I can think is, “I could have knitted 5 rows just now”. Time has never been so easily quantified.
Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed this one! An additional joy has been that two of my colleagues also joined in, so we started a sort of mini, lunchtime knitting club in the office. All of us were either complete or very-near-to-complete beginners, so the first day was spent with us all sitting around an iPad watching a tutorial on youtube, trying to get to grips with casting on. It took us all a few goes, especially when we realised that – having proudly and successfully got all our stitches on the needle – we’d done it upside down and had no wool to carry on with, because the yarn was at the bottom of the needle rather than the top:
Initial hitches aside, once I got going, I really got going. I’d chosen a 10mm needle and some chunky merino wool from Rowan, so the scarf started to grow pretty quickly. Watching this happen has to be one of the most satisfying and exciting feelings in the world. The sense of ownership and achievement is dizzying. However, as I’ve found with most of these challenges, it was unrealistic to expect to be able to take a proper lunch break every day and by the end of the week I had only taken 3, with my scarf being far from finished (it was about a fifth of the way there).
This isn’t a huge issue, as I wanted to knit at home during the evenings and weekends anyway (one of my colleagues also knitted on her commute, although we discussed the disadvantages of becoming “that crazy lady who knits on the train” – there’s always one). But in terms of whether or not it’s possible to knit an entire scarf during just one week of lunch breaks, the answer is probably “no” – although now I’ve got one under my belt, who knows. I’ve worked out, in total, it’s taken me about 6-7 hours to knit the entire scarf (plus the initial 30 minutes I spent working out how to get started). So two weeks of lunches, perhaps?
What this has highlighted again for me, though, is that the benefit of actually doing something with your lunch break isn’t just about the ‘here and now’ in terms of taking some time out in the middle of the day, but about how it effects the rest of your week and month – perhaps even your life. What I’ve found most liberating through doing this over the last year has been that all my frustrations about things I’ve always wanted to do, but have never had the time to (e.g. learning a language, learning to knit, visiting iconic landmarks) have evaporated. I’ve now done over 30 things on my bucket list without even compromising the amount of time I spend with friends and family. As with most big tasks, I was putting off all these things because I imagined that I’d need to take a week off work to go and do a language course, or dedicate a Sunday afternoon to drawing. But once you realise you can use your lunch breaks to do these things, spread out across several 30-60 minute chunks, everything you’d previously viewed as a barrier (work, friends, family, errands, chores) ceases to be so, because you fit neatly around them. I was discussing this with a friend recently, who wants to set up her own business but can’t work out how to fit the planning needed around her 9-5 job and a busy social and family life. Without trying to sound too self-congratulatory on the blog (but no doubt failing), I pointed out that she had over 20 hours a month of time that she wasn’t using (her lunch breaks). Over the course of a year, that’s around 240 hours – more than enough time to get the business plan written.
Back to knitting, though, just to mention a few other observations around doing this as a group activity. First, there’s the obvious one which was that we all bonded over it. Even though my team are already pretty close with each other, sitting around a table producing our own creations brought an entirely new and more intimate aspect to our relationships. I don’t know if it’s the fact that, although we could still speak, we were focused on the knitting so conversation became less direct and more spontaneous; or that we were engaged in a personal activity, rather than a professional one; or that we were working with natural materials – wood and wool – which brought a peacefulness and homeliness with them; but we were all smiling throughout. Even the colleagues who didn’t join in with the knitting were smiling as they watched us! It’s bizarre, but there was something almost nostalgic about it.
Even now, several weeks later, we are still talking about knitting – asking each other how we are getting on, discussing future projects and musing over the possibility of branching out into new stitches or types of garment. As a lunchtime activity, I would say it is up there in the top three; the only slight drawback being that it’s REALLY hard to put the needles down and go back to work.