In preparing for this year’s installment of my “by the numbers” series, I glanced at last year’s post and read the phrase, “2019 was, in many ways, a garbage fire year” which, as you can well imagine, sounds utterly ridiculous in retrospect.

It’s hard to think of strong enough adjectives to describe how terrible 2020 was, and, of course, the awfulness that made the year so epically bad is far from over—COVID-19 still claims an absurdly high number of lives every day. We have a few vaccines approved now, yes, and the roll-out has been the furthest thing from smooth. And then there was the news that a new variant of the virus has reared its head, this one even more contagious.

Our lives got derailed, all over the world at almost the same time.

The political situation in the United States has been in a downward spiral since even before Trump (Mitch McConnell did a great job of blocking anything that was supported by President Obama, after all), but the ineptitude of the government response to the virus has made its impact infinitely worse. The November election gave us something to be hopeful about, but sanity returning to the White House doesn’t fix things overnight.

2020 also brought the most widespread “we just can’t take it anymore” reaction to police brutality and murder of Black people in this country, with protests popping up nationwide. Here in Oregon, there were even federal plainclothes “law enforcement” officials pulling BLM protesters off Portland streets and into unmarked vans.

Last year was the dumpster fire of all dumpster fires.

Knitting has been, for me, a source of anxiety relief since I started—and since my anxiety and depression kicked into high gear in 2020, I was even more thankful for a way to refocus. By day, I’m usually a freelance travel writer. And, since travel essentially stopped due to the virus, so did my work. I ended up having more “free” time on my hands than I’ve had since summers during high school.

Most of my knitting plans for the year got chucked out the window early on, but it was so easy to just start another project… And another… And another… Until I found one that helped me keep the demons at bay.

And I got a lot of knitting done, y’all. A lot.

Here’s the annual stat recap:

Hours spent knitting per day: This number went up, thanks to the aforementioned additional “free” time, so I’d guestimate 6+ hours on average.

Bins of yarn under my desk: 5 (same as last year!); each with cedar in the bottom and locking lids; yarn separated by color.

2020 Ravelry Challenge number: 30

2020 projects completed: 60

  • sweaters—11, including 2 baby sweaters, 1 sample knit, and 1 tank top
  • sweater adjustments—2, in which I lengthened the sleeves on two sweaters I knit in years past
  • socks—7 pairs, including two pairs of baby socks and one pair of slipper socks
  • neckwear—11, including a cowl for a smol dog
  • hats—26, including 16 for the #WarmTheLine project (counted as one project in Rav), a sample knit, and a baby hat
  • ear warmers—3
  • blankets—partial work on 2 (group efforts for which I made a few squares)
  • mitts—4 pairs
  • candleholder cozies—3
  • holiday decor—6, including three knitted pumpkins (counted as one project in Rav), two stuffed hearts (also counted as one project), and 1 xmas stocking*

Since I couldn’t actually hug, y’know, anyone outside my household, I started what I called the “knitted hugs” project. I sent cryptic messages to friends asking about their favorite colors to wear, and then I’d knit something for them. It turned out to be a fun way to use some of the skeins of yarn I’ve bought over the years that I thought were pretty… But for which I had nothing in mind. I sent out 20 knitted hugs packages last year, and I’m continuing that project into 2021. I might just keep it going forever.

Despite all the Truly AwfulTM of 2020, there were some knitting highlights.

  • I published two patterns for sale on Ravelry, LoveKnitting, and Payhip.
  • I started knitting some lace patterns—and enjoying it. After a series of problems with a lace pattern I tried early in my knitting life, I never thought I’d be comfortable with lace. Now, however, while it’s still not exactly mindless knitting, I’m definitely enjoying the process (and results) a lot. I’ve surprised myself by even contemplating adding lace to a pattern design eventually.
  • I finished my first major brioche project, a sample knit for my favorite local yarn dyer. It was a huge learning experience, and I’m so happy with how it turned out—as well as my new comfort with brioche.
  • I ramped up my pattern design process. Since I had so much more time when I wasn’t working, I figured I might as well. I’ve got four patterns in various stages of development now, and a few more in my head.
  • I started an unexpected design collaboration with a fellow writer and secular Jew. She had dreamed up a dreidel sweater, and I brought the design to life. And then we came up with a few other Jewy sweater designs, so who knows where that will lead.

I’m basically opposed to setting any goals at all right now, since everything is so fraught and uncertain, but I’m definitely inspired to work on my own designs (I even added two books about designing knit patterns to my library)—including learning how to design sweaters. I’d like to invest in tech editing at some point, if I can afford it. Until then, I’m learning as much as I can about grading my own patterns.

I swear, if I had had any inkling of how much math is involved in knitting, I might have picked up a different hobby altogether…

* No partridge in a pear tree last year. Sorry.

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