It’s that fresh crisp restart to the year that I love most about this time of year. And I know the reality of 2021 isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Here in the US, as a country, we are broken and the world is still battling the Covid-19 Pandemic. But here at FDF I am taking it one day at a time. Sometimes one hour at a time. Yet I am more committed than ever to use these long, cold winter days for reflecting and refining our practices; revisiting all the things I want to accomplish and maybe how I can better do it.
Making is one of those things many of use want to really hone in on how we can better our practice, getting the most out of the time, money, and energy we spending creating. So many people seem able to quickly finish projects and whip out out the next one. For some, this can be an overwhelming challenge. How do I know the pattern will fit? What color is right? My WIP stack is growing and I need to knit faster. And so of course the question arises: how can I make the most of my knitting?
Again, we are here to break down some of our tips and tricks.
Wouldn’t that be nice? With a growing business and growing kids, I seem to find less and less of this each year.
But when I talked to some of my most prolific knitting friends I found that they didn’t actually have more free time than me. They just knit whenever they have a few extra minutes. Waiting in the bank line, lunch breaks, or riding the train to work. Those little spurts of knitting, 5 to 30 minutes a day, five or six times throughout the week, add up significantly! Of course we all want hours of uninterrupted knitting time, but try adding in those few extra minutes each day to see how it changes your WIP progress.
The other tip for knitting time comes from my Instagram buddy, @pppeonies. When I asked Bailey how she gets so much knitting done she said she actually calculates how long it will take her to finish portions of her project.
I timed myself knitting 1 row of my Recollect Cowl, which took 4 minutes; there are 36 rows in each section, so uninterrupted I could knit one section in 2.4 hours, give or take how my hands are feeling. Having 2.5 sections left, it will take me about 6 hours to finish knitting the cowl. So my goal is to find a half hour of quite time each day to work on this, finishing easily by the end of the month!
In my experience, finding the right pattern, yarn, and colors usually takes just as long as making the project does. It can also be the most creatively rewarding part.
If you're on the search for the right pattern, Ravelry is your biggest friend. Using those filters is key!
If you are worried about fit or construction, spend some time looking through other makers' projects. A lot of designers include a #hashtag to the project page, and you can use this to see what others have created on Instagram. This can help you narrow in on what you want your project to look like.
The next piece of this is the actual construction. Ask yourself: is this in my skill level? Taking on a project that is too challenging can put you right into a knitting funk.
Say you're dying to knit a colorwork sweater but you haven't tried colorwork. Or a sweater. Jumping right in might not give you the results you were dreaming of. Or you might be thinking you’ll never be a good enough knitter to do something like that.
But reaching your goals is totally attainable if you start out with some small, skill builder projects. Starting with a mosaic cowl, then a colorwork hat, next try knitting a basic raglan pullover (even it is a baby size) to wrap your head around sweater construction.
It’s so easy to get intimidated or overzealous with starting new projects. The biggest piece of advice is ease in with confidence!
You can always reach out to us with color help, we are happy to assist. But we want you to be equally inspired to explore your own colors too!
If you need to find color inspiration or fall in love with color, start taking photos of colors you see in nature or in your everyday life. You will start seeing those colors everywhere and it can transcend into your styling.
If you're stuck between a few different choices try closing your eyes and imagine going into your closet. What are you pulling out that you know you will wear with confidence, that you love, and that will make you feel radiant?
Often when I am going through this dreamy closet anecdote with customers they say, ‘’But Candice, I want to get outside of my box!" And I always cringe slightly inside. Of all the times when you want to jump outside of your box, spending a significant amount of dollars and hours knitting a sweater might not be one of them.
Regardless, I am all for creative freedom. So instead of knitting an entire sweater in hot pink when you only wear grey, start by adding just a touch of your ‘out of the box’ color. It could be in the yoke of your color work, the edges of the collar, or marled on the ribbing. Just a touch to see how that color makes you feel long term. Who knows, you could have a closet full of hot pink before you know it!
WIPs (Works In Progress)
Oh WIPs. How many of you there are.
I will say, this part of the ‘making the most of your knitting’ is the most challenging. I know people feel differently about WIPs; some are monogamous knitters, working on only one project at at time, while others are hiding projects from 2012 under the stairs.
But the WIPs bring me down. Too many and I am paralyzed, not able to finish a damn thing. Too little, I get bored and still not able to finish a damn thing. 'Round and 'round we go!
I took this one to the streets and asked my Instagram friends for some WIP advice. We got over 80 answers from makers and these were the common things shared.
1. Keep your WIPs under control in the first place (easier said than done). Keeping 3 WIPs seems manageable to most knitters, 2 larger projects and 1 smaller.
2. If your WIP isn't brining you joy, FROG* it guilt free! Free up that beautiful yarn for another project you'll love.
3. Go on a finishing spree! Prioritize things that are closest to binding off. If your WIP pile is pretty high, finish 2 before you can start another one.
4. Knit your sleeves before you knit the body of a sweater, so you don't find yourself on an extended stay at Sleeve Island.
5. When in doubt, hide it deeper into the closest or find a very good friend to help you out.
*FROGGING is a term used to rip out your knitting.
If you have been struggling with your knitting mojo, hopefully some of this helps! My plan is to go through this stack of WIPs above (plus the 4 more projects I have at home), set some goals and deadlines. I even picked out a stunning palette for a sweet new sweater when I reach my goals!
How do you make the most of your knitting? Any tips and tricks to share? We would love to hear from you!