Take your usual knitting project. Unless it's bought as a gift for you, there are multiple stages to the decision process: Choice of pattern (+/- any modifications), yarn(s), timescale, accessories and so on (and some of these still apply even if said project was a gift). But not when you're knitting for someone else: Pattern and yarn were delivered to my door and the timescale was agreed over the phone. Obviously no modifications to the design were permitted – nor would any "features". Oh, the pressure.
Thankfully, the patterns were very simple, 'watch in front of the television' style knitting so I didn't have to be completely anti-social while "working". But even for these simple instructions, I found myself referring to my knitter's bible to check the basics: Is my usual method of "M1" acceptable? How about the way I join yarns? I'm quite happy to plead ignorance in the privacy of my own home but I don't want to look like an idiot in front of fellow knitters whom I respect. (I'm pleased to report that "Katherine’s usual" is, in fact, fine.) Then there were habits of the knitter for whom I was knitting. For example, I happen to know that she starts and finishes every purl row with a knit stitch – it helps with her finishing. This is not something that I regularly adopt but, needless to say, I'd be happy to do so if instructed. However, these were small projects, not – in my opinion – involving the mammoth task of, say, sewing up a coat where any additional little "helps" would be appreciated. All such potentially trivial considerations, I know, but this wasn't my knitting and I wanted to get it right.
On the other hand, some of the many "plus" sides to this adventure included not having to sew in any ends or block any of the finished pieces. Or, in fact, do any sewing. Nor were the remaining balls of yarn added to my stash as I returned them with the knitting (I accept that to some of you, this may not be viewed so keenly but hey, I'm drowning in yarn).
The timeline was also interesting: All of this knitting moved to the top of my priority list (yes, please ignore all that I said earlier about distractions). Admittedly, it was required urgently (publisher's deadlines and so forth) but I wonder if I would have treated it any differently if this hadn't been the case? Yes, okay, maybe if I had months to do it and an urgent deadline of my own (say a workshop or birthday) but otherwise, I suspect that my strategy would have been the same. There's something quite odd about having someone else's knitting hanging over you. I suppose there's also the potential for things to get lost (pattern instructions, yarn, even knitted pieces) and whilst it doesn't tend to happen all that often, you just know that it'll happen when all the above belong to someone else!
One final, unexpected result of this knitting is my sore wrist! Although I'm most definitely not among your most experienced of knitters, I am used to long hours and, all in all, I've not had to over-exert myself with this project (I've slept, stopped for meals with Husband and Son and even been out with friends), but nevertheless, my right-hand wrist / forearm aches. Not terribly – I can still knit (and type!) – but it's not something I usually suffer from. I wonder if it was the smaller-sized needles (but 3.25mm aren't tiny), that they were made of metal (but metal still appears regularly in my tool kit), that working with the density of the resulting fabric in some of the pieces was a bit of a struggle (e.g. for increasing into) or a combination of all of the above? Or maybe, just maybe, knitting for someone else just isn't as relaxing as knitting for yourself?