For all of the potential health benefits of knitting, finding (and staying in) your fiber flow isn’t always as easy as we we’d like to think.
There are those dropped stitches, after all. Backward cables. Gauge issues. Color choices. Sizing and ease worries.
Isn’t knitting supposed to be fun?
YES, my friend. It sure is.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in working with tens of thousands of knitters over the last five years, it’s that many of us take our knitting much too seriously.
As we dip our toes into a new year – and a new decade – I’m sharing my best advice for finding your fiber flow and embracing the unexpected.
- Gauge swatching isn’t supposed to hurt your feelings. Knitting a gauge swatch (or tension square) gives you the information you need to make a sweater that fits. But if you don’t get gauge the first time (or the third), don’t panic. Knitting a swatch is just knitting (and we like knitting, remember?). Before you throw your knitting needles out the window, read this: What to do When You Can’t Get Gauge. Whatever you do, don’t take it personally. Not being able to get gauge isn’t a sign of failure. With so many different types of yarn, knitting styles and types of needles, it’s inevitable that we all get slightly different results (even with the exact same tools). Like handwriting, knitting tension is a unique thing. If you haven’t gotten gauge yet, it just means you need to keep experimenting until you do; it doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. Don’t take your gauge personally.
- You’re the boss of your project. You bought the yarn (or it was given to you), you are doing the work, you are calling the shots. Yes, there are certain rules that help ensure better results (swatching is one of them), but ultimately – you are the expert on you. Any time you have to rely on someone else to point you to an answer is time you’re not spending in fiber flow. Should you use pink or blue? Should you go up a size or down a size? Should you add length to the sleeves? So many of these questions are just personal preference, and you know what you like more than anyone. Should you add an extra inch to the body? I don’t know, should you? You get to decide.
- Try it and see. Do you want to know the single fastest way to becoming a proficient knitter? Try things out to see if they work. If you reach a point in the pattern that seems a bit unclear, go with your gut. “I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s asking me to do this….” Okay, cool. Try that, then. You don’t need validation or permission from anyone to take the next step and see if it works. If it doesn’t, then you might need to back up a bit in your project and try something else. But learning to trust yourself and go with your instincts will make you a better, braver, and more proficient knitter. Your knitting will not explode if you go with your best guess and see if it works. Better still – the more you “try and see”, the better knitter you’ll become.
- Run toward mistakes – not away from them. There are a lot of serious consequences that can come from making wrong decisions in life, but no one has ever died from having an extra stitch on row 37 – or misreading a lace chart. The more mistakes you make as a knitter, the faster you learn – and the better you get at fixing your knitting. Not only that, but when you realize that you – yes you – can fix your own knitting mistakes, the less you’ll worry about making more. The sooner you get over your fear of mistakes, the sooner you can find your fiber flow and embrace the lessons along the way.
- Surrender. We use pointy sticks to make individual stitches that become a fabric – that slowly evolve into something useful and beautiful. As with life, there are many unknowns, but I believe that as we surrender to the experience, embrace the process and allow for the unexpected, we not only become more confident knitters, but we find our flow in the gentle movement of making. Rather than striving for perfect, strive for flow.