A while ago a non-knitting friend surprised me by asking "how many stitches knitting projects require"? I was probably taken aback since the usual question is "how long did it take". I didn't have a good answer at the time.
I did a little Internet searching and came up with this quote from the Yarn Harlot.
“ It is a peculiarity of knitters that they chronically underestimate the amount of time it takes to knit something. Birthday on Saturday? No problem. Socks are small. Never mind that the average sock knit out of sock-weight yarn contains about 17,000 stitches. Never mind that you need two of them. (That's 34,000 stitches, for anybody keeping track.) Socks are only physically small. By stitch count, they are immense.”
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
I was recently doing one of the many checks and rechecks I do on a pattern before it goes for tech editing. I was using an excel sheet, set up with formulas, to calculate the numbers. I realized if I added in more rows, I could get the total number of stitches the shawl required. The result was 25,442. Wow, even less than a pair of socks, for a triangle shawl that is 32 inches (81 cm) at center point and 64 inches (162.5 cm) across top edge.That larger needle and looser gauge really makes a difference. Yet at the same time, it took me way longer to knit than a pair of socks would. I always knew that somehow knitting has the ability to warp the space-time continuum.