I’ve been a mystery knitter since the beginning. Granted, I didn’t intend to knit mystery projects, but most of my early knitting came from my grandmother’s notes scribbled on paper scraps. There were no pictures. I just had to trust that if I followed those notes, I would end up with what I set out to make.
[Psst… we’re on the cusp of the next Spring String Mystery Knitalong – check it out here.]
Mystery knitting is really just knitting without a picture, right? You have all the information you need to succeed – you just don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like. Sometimes not knowing is a gift – here’s why.
5 Reasons to Join a Mystery Knitalong
- Not knowing keeps you from overthinking.
Sometimes having too much information gets in the way of our creativity. I worked in a yarn shop for a few years, and I noticed that our shop samples inspired an interesting trend; our customers not only wanted to knit the garments they saw on the samples, but they wanted to knit them to match. They wanted THAT pattern, with THAT yarn, in THAT color – not that there’s anything wrong that. But wouldn’t you think – statistically – that some folks would at least want a different color? It’s far easier to rely on what you can see than it is to risk the unknown, but isn’t that a bit limiting? Sure, something different might not look as good. Something different might not work. But – some of our best surprises come from taking a chance and trying something new. When you don’t know for sure what the pattern looks like, your only option is to take a chance and see if it works.
- Mystery projects teach you to pay closer attention to the designer’s advice.
I want my knitting community to get great results and enjoy their experience as a maker, so I sprinkle helpful advice, tricks, and tips throughout my patterns. Yarn details, gauge, and advice about yarn selection are meant to make it easier to get ready for your project with confidence. Sometimes we’re so eager to get started that we may skip over some of these important pattern resources. What a bummer! In my experience, the lack of pattern photos for a mystery project mean that we’re more likely to pay attention to all the OTHER information the designer has provided – and this can be a big help.
- Not having all the information up front encourages you to rely on the pattern.
Have you ever been bebopping along in your knitting groove… you’re in a rhythm and you just kind of stop checking the pattern? I have. When we think we know what’s next, we might start filling in the blanks ourselves. When you knit a mystery project, you don’t have the luxury of knowing what’s next – which means you have to rely more heavily on the pattern instructions. Granted, you still might get into a groove, but you’re more likely to pause and get your bearings more often.
- Mystery knitting can make a project feel more exciting.
I love a good whodunit, don’t you? Knitting a mystery project can turn a regular project into a captivating experience. Is the design going to shift? Are we going to change colors soon? Will there be a new stitch pattern? WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? If you want to find out, you’ll have to keep knitting. (I’ve found that I tend to finish a mystery project a little faster than a regular one, because I’m excited to find out how it will look at the end.)
- Knitting a mystery project builds creative confidence.
Navigating the unknown – in any capacity – can be a little unsettling. How do you knit a project when you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like? You follow the pattern. You take the designer’s advice. And you give it your best shot. We creative folks are inspired by the visual aspects of our projects, but there’s so much more to the knitting experience than just the way it looks. Every project is an opportunity to stretch your skills, learn something new, and build confidence in new areas. Did you have fun? Did you learn something new? Did you try a new yarn or color combination? Mystery knitting can help us enjoy on all the other wonderful things about the creative experience. And in the end, you also have a lovely project. Better still, sometimes we self-select out of projects we think might be out of our skill range – even though, technically, we probably could have done it. Sometimes NOT knowing what you’re up against can give you the opportunity to try something that might have otherwise felt too intimidating to attempt.
Here are a few tips to help you have the best mystery knitting experience:
- Pay close attention to the designer’s yarn advice. If they say that contrast is important, then trust me – it is. When in doubt, more contrast is usually better.
- You can never go wrong with a classic color combination, or a neutral color + a pop of color (like cream and navy, or light grey and hot pink).
- Choose color combinations you already know and love. There’s no need to go completely off script when choosing colors for your mystery project. You may not know what the project looks like, but you know your favorite colors, right? If you knit something in colors you love, you’re more likely to enjoy the finished product.
- Don’t give up too soon. One of the biggest mistakes in mystery knitting is making a judgement about the project too soon. The entire purpose of mystery knitting is to surprise you a few times along the way, so if one section feels a bit boring or tedious, don’t worry – there will be twists and turns around the corner that may completely change how you feel about the project (not to mention how it looks).
Want to give it a try?
Check out my 2023 Spring String Mystery Knitalong – A Sheep Story. Grab the pattern here!
Here are examples of some of my past mystery knitalong designs: