Knitting Self-Help: Here’s My Secret

Can you relate to any of these?

  • Do you ever avoid a project because of a technique you’re unsure about?
  • Do you ever let a WIP linger in fiber purgatory for far too long because you can’t decide whether or not to frog it?
  • Do you struggle with stash organization?
  • Do you ever avoid finishing a project because you’re dreading seaming it together? (By the way, this is why I design seamless knitwear. I don’t love seams, either.)
  • Do you have yarn in your stash that you’ve been saving “for someday” but it’s now been there for more than a few years and you’re starting to wonder if you’ll ever find the right pattern to go with it?

The truth is, there’s always something we are unsure about with our knitting, or are just flat-out avoiding because it’s not our favorite thing. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been that person?

So here’s the secret:

Do one thing that moves you forward, and do it right now.

Here are some examples:

  1. If there’s a knitting technique that has been holding you back — let’s say, for example, that you have an intense dread of picking up button bands — take the time ASAP to research that skill and get some practice (or join me for a class – we’ll conquer that fear in no time).
  2. If just one thing stands between you and a finished product (like seams, for example), tackle that one thing as soon as you can so you can and keep going. If there are multiple things standing in your way, pick the one you can do now and do it. Tackle the next one tomorrow.
  3. Maybe you have a basket of yarn that you know you don’t like (and won’t use) but you’re having trouble getting rid of it. Every time you walk by it or start to tidy up your knitting space, you see the basket and feel bad that you haven’t dealt with it yet. What stands between you and that basket going bye-bye? Pick it up and walk it out to your car. The next time you get into your car, commit to drop it off to a friend, a thrift store, a senior center, a homeless shelter, anywhere that it might be able to put it to good use. You’ll never miss it, I promise, and the person who receives it will be blessed by your generosity.
  4. If there’s a pair of needles in your knitting bag that you dread using because they snag on the yarn or the cord comes loose, send them on their way. It’s hard to part with needles, I know (especially if they are spendy ones). I have the same trouble; but when I start knitting with a set of needles and realize they’re the wonky ones, I end up frustrated and have to swap them out anyway. Why not save the headache and just eliminate them up front when you know they’re not up to par? The one thing – taking them out of rotation immediately – will save you time and struggle later.
  5. If your stash is a little bit out of control, make a commitment to put just one thing in order every time you walk into the room.
  6. If you can’t finish a project because you have one skein left that needs to be wound into a cake… friend, wind that darn skein and get back to knitting.
  7. That fancy shmancy skein of yarn you’ve been holding onto for too long? Wind it up and cast on. Knit a swatch. Get it in your hands and let it tell you what it wants to be.
  8. Been thinking about starting a knitting group? Make a list of who you’ll invite. Pick a location. Set a date. Do one thing to get you closer to making it happen.

The idea — whether it’s to do with life or knitting — is that paying attention to things as they come across our radar, and taking care of them as they occur, is a gift to our future selves. How many times do we hold ourselves back over just one little thing? The best part is this: once you take that first step, the other steps come more easily. AND you don’t have to worry about what comes after that first step just yet. When the time comes for the next step, you’ll tackle that one, too.

It feels soooo good to get started.

Not only can just one thing move you forward, but just one thing can also keep you stuck. Here’s what I mean: If I put one thing on my desk that doesn’t belong there, the second and third things aren’t far behind. Before I know it, there are forty things on my desk that shouldn’t be there.  The same goes for that basket of yarn I’ve been meaning to give away. The more times I walk past it, the longer it takes up space in my studio AND in my brain.

The point is this: How many times do we delay a task because we don’t feel prepared for it, aren’t looking forward to it, or just plain feel like we don’t have time for it? We don’t realize how much energy we spend thinking about the thing we’re not doing. Right? That wonky knitting needle, for example. I struggled with that darn thing more than a handful of times, had to transfer stitches to another needle, and cursed under my breath about it, but the truth is – it was a bigger problem because I didn’t deal with it properly the first time.

We don’t realize how much energy we spend thinking about the thing we’re not doing.

Start right now with just one thing.

It sounds overly simplistic, but it works. I’ve been trying this technique on nearly everything in my life, and I’m telling you – it’s kind of amazing how efficient it is. Each little thing tackled now gets me a step closer to seeing a project completed.

Maybe your one thing is a project that you’re not in love with anymore, but can’t bear to frog it. It’s taunting you, you feel guilty and you’re avoiding it. Even if you put a lot of time into the project so far, life is too short to knit something you’re not happy with. Frog it, rewind the yarn and knit something else. I dare you. Just do it.

Do just one thing.

You’ll be glad you did.


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