Knitting for Runners


Before you get too excited, this post will not be a pattern for these:

Though, don’t they just knock your socks off? Especially the price-tag!

Last Tuesday, when I blogged about my hat-gauge dilemma, I got a sweet reply on Twitter from @Smircher:

@undermeoxter I’ve read your post but I’m afraid it’s in an incomprehensible language. 😉

It brought home to me that my range of followers on Twitter is wider than knitting. Since running is what Smircher and I have in common, I wondered how one might explain a knitting issue in running terms.

Choose your race:

For starters, you could relate projects to race distances: so marathon-length projects could be large afghans / throws or intricate garments – anything that would take at least a month to do and involved a few kilometres of yarn. An average jumper or pair of socks for a man would equate to a 10k run; while a Woman’s hat would be 5k. Baby clothes are the 1k training runs you’d do to keep in shape.

Set your pace:

As with running, knitters range widely in speed and dexterity. We can’t all be professional athletes. As evidenced by the Flora mini-marathon, there will be those who complete the route in 35mins and most who are happy to walk it (some even stopping for a fag and a pint along the way!)
I’m similar in my approaches to both knitting and running: happy to do the odd 10k/ jumper and have huge admiration for those who regularly complete marathons/ afghans.

Choose footwear wisely:


All runners would agree that, after fitness, footwear has an impact on pace. All runners would like to get their hands on (or feet into) a pair of 10-league boots. Similarly, none would chose to run 10k in high-heels. In knitting terms footwear relates to yarn-weight. A thin, lace-weight yarn is dainty and fine like high-heels; whereas the 10-league boots of the yarn-world are called “Super-Bulky”.

My Peaseblossom top (left) was done in lace-weight and, like completing a 10k in heels, it took me a marathon-esque amount of time.

A cowl at normal running pace might take a few days but using a Super-bulky yarn, like Rowan Big Wool, I made one in a day (Leaving On The Edge cowl on the right).

Get into your stride:

All other things being equal – fitness & footwear – a runner’s race is affected by the length of their stride: how many steps does it take them to cover the distance. For knitters, this is known as their “tension” where steps are known as stitches.

If you’re still with me, we finally get to the crux of the issue I was having with the too-small hat. Because I had chosen a thinner yarn than the pattern was written for it was as though I tried to run (knit) my 5k (hat) in a pair of flip-flops instead of runners. My stride (tension) was shorter: it took me 23 steps (stitches) to cover a 100m (4 inches) instead of 17 as expected.


Since I had failed to take additional steps (add stitches), on every lap (round) I ran (knit) I wasn’t going the distance (literally).
If you want to carry the metaphor further you can imagine me taking a wee detour past the water-jump on every lap.
Eventually, I did the calculation and figured out the number of additional stitches I needed to get me around the course. When I realised my 5k/hat would need 10k/jumper quantity stitches, I opted to kick-off the flip-flops and give myself a proper run at it.

– Written using BlogPress on my iPhone

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5 Responses to “Knitting for Runners”

  1. Alifeofherown Says:

    Excellent analogy! V entertaining from a knitter’s perspective!

  2. Sinéad Says:

    What a clever post! I enjoyed that. The hat is looking better now too. 🙂

  3. The Smircher Says:

    Zoiks, I feel immortalised in yarn and running laces now! Great post, even wool-luddites like me are getting it now.

  4. crafty blog update 12th-25th June 2011 « Irish Knitting & Crochet Says:

    […] Under me oxter finishes Leafing it; has a stalled hat; finds a deserted hotel; translates knitting for runners […]

  5. karl Says:

    Very clever and witty post! I like it!


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