Stop doing things that drain the joy out of knitting. The less we do of these, the more joyful our knitting is and the better off we are as knitters.
You’ve spent weeks knitting the perfect sweater, but when you try it on it hangs shapelessly off your shoulders and ends half-way to your knees. It was supposed to be a fitted, cropped sweater. It still might be, if you give it to an 8 foot tall, overweight woman. Yikes!
You are knitting away and you discover a very obvious mistake three rows down. You throw your knitting across the room and as the needles clatter against the wall, you call yourself names you would never call someone else. Ouch!
These things and others drain the joy out of knitting. The less we do of them, the better off we are as knitters.
Stop Doing Lists are all the rage in the productivity world. To read more about them see, The Stop Doing List: More Time, More Profit, More Freedom by Matt Malouf (2017).
“One of the ways to break through your fears is to run at them as hard and as fast as you can.”
— Matt Malouf
In a nutshell, the theory behind the STOP DOING list is to stop doing the things that are preventing you from going where you want to go. Instead of only focusing on the things that you CAN do to move forward, spend a bit of time understanding the things that you are already doing that may be preventing you from moving as quickly as you can.
You can apply this concept to any aspect of your life, including your knitting. These are some of the things that I see knitters, including myself, doing all the time. They serve no purpose and only damage our knitting confidence.
- STOP saying “I could never do THAT!”
When you see an amazing piece of knitting, don’t say “I could never do THAT”.
You CAN do THAT! Either now or down the road once you have built up your skill set and confidence. If it is something amazing that you want to do, try saying or asking,
“I am going to try that!” or
“What skills do I need to acquire to do that?” or
“How can I learn to do that?”
And then get ready to feel the joy of learning a new skill. All my patterns have accompanying videos to help you learn the skills you need for the pattern.
- STOP beating yourself up about making mistakes.
We ALL make mistakes, all the time.
I make at least ten mistakes a day. I don’t know a single knitter (though they may exist) who doesn’t make knitting mistakes at least once in a knitting day! Sometimes it’s something small, like forgetting a yarn over (super easy fix) or dropping a stitch (also an easy fix) and sometimes it is something big, like making an entire sweater even though you didn’t really like the fabric of the gauge swatch (yup, I’ve done THAT).
The absolutely fabulous thing about knitting is that it is all fixable. You can add a yarn over on the next row. You can drop down a bunch of rows to pick up that dropped stitch. And yes, you can even rip out the entire sweater and start over (or like me you can put it in time-out and leave it there for years and keep meaning to frog it).
You are going to make mistakes. Accept it. More importantly, accept yourself. After all, “to err is human, to forgive divine” (Alexander Pope). If you want to achieve knitting Nirvana, forgive yourself!
- STOP saving that special yarn for the “perfect” project
You know that special yarn that you bought or received as a gift. The one that every time you think about using, no matter how special the project, you decide the this project just isn’t special enough.
Stop doing that!
While it is definitely important to match your yarn with your project, if you keep doing that with that special yarn, you may find that you never use that skein. Sort of like the family that never uses its good china because it is only for really special occasions. Eventually, the china is passed on to the next generation, virtually unused and the next generation, either does the same thing or uses it for everyday or worse yet, gives it to a thrift store and some University students use it to eat pizza and play exploding Frisbee.
Use your special yarn! Experience the joy of working with it. Experience the memories it evokes, experience the magic of turning that yarn into something even more special, a finished project.
And while you are waiting to use that extra special yarn (because we can’t knit all the projects right now), display it somewhere where you can see it and smile every time you do.
- STOP only knitting for other people
Knitting for other people can be so very rewarding. It feels great to create something magnificent to give to a friend, family member, acquaintance or for charity.
However, sometimes you just need to knit for yourself.
I am astounded when I meet knitters who are constantly knitting, but never have something hand knit for themselves.
Knitting for yourself and wearing your knitted items is vital. When you knit for yourself, even occasionally, you are affirming your own self-worth. When you wear your knitted projects, you remind yourself of the joy that knitting brings, the warmth, the comfort, the sheer delight!
When you only knit for others, you rob yourself of that joy. Fill your own knitting cup so that you can re-spark that joy in all the projects you knit for others. Try it, even with a small project and see if you don’t feel just a little better even when you then knit for others.
- STOP feeling unappreciated!
You spend many hours and much money knitting a fabulous gift for someone you care for, you give them their gift and it goes over like a lead balloon. They may tell you outright that they don’t appreciate it, but more often, they graciously accept your gift, never to be used or seen again.
BEFORE you invest your time and yarn in a hand knit garment, check out the recipient’s wardrobe if you can: does the person wear knitwear, doe they care for their clothes as they would need to care for a hand knit, what colours do they wear, would the knitted item fit into their lifestyle, their colour palette, their wardrobe.
Better yet, ASK the recipient ahead of time if the gift you are intending to make would be something that they would like, would care for and would appreciate. Perhaps, even let them choose the yarn and pattern, or narrow the choices to things you would want to knit and give the recipient a choice of those.
- STOP jumping into projects without being prepared.
It is so exciting to start a new project. Believe me, I know.
Sometimes, in getting to the knitting we skip crucial steps like swatching, or we swatch but skip blocking the swatch, or we don’t read the instructions through from beginning to end and get to the end of the project and discover that had we read a them we would have done something quite different at the beginning and now you have to frog or compensate some way.
Take a few minutes to read the instructions thoroughly (but don’t worry if some of the instructions don’t make sense during that reading, often knitting instructions make much more sense when you are doing rather than when you are reading). This will help you understand what to expect and to be prepared.
Do a swatch. This gives you important information about not only the gauge, but about the fabric that you are creating, about the stitch patterns and any unfamiliarity techniques used for it.
Block your swatch. Your swatch will be fairly useless as a gauge and fabric characteristic swatch if you don’t block it. Some fibres and some. Stitches pattern are completely transformed during blocking.
Make sure you have everything you need. It is so frustrated to be partway through a project and then realize that you have to put it on hold because you don’t have something and have to wait until it arrives.
- STOP wishing you were a better knitter.
Instead, focus on honing the skills you have and on learning new skills with every project.
- STOP worrying about if you are doing it right.
If your knitting looks like it should, if it moves and behaves like it should, if you like it, if it isn’t hurting your hands or other body parts, you are doing it right.
I am not saying that you should not be trying to improve your knitting (if you want to do that), but I am saying that you will enjoy your knitting more if you stop stressing about whether you are doing it right.
There are no knitting police.
- STOP stressing over the parts of knitting that you don’t enjoy.
You can either avoid doing these tasks (to a large extent) or you can choose to embrace them.
Many of these things can be avoided:
— if you hate to sew pieces together, make seamless garments;
— if you hate Kitchener stitch, make toe-up socks;
— if you hate weaving in ends, use weave them in as you go
— if you hate ribbing, change the edge of your item to a rolled hem or something else (if it still work well)
Otherwise, embrace these things and learn to love them. Learn everything you can about a technique you hate and you may find ways to make it work for you and to make it more enjoyable.