At the top of the year

It’s the top of another new year, knitter friends, and so I decided to collect up the bits of advice that are the things I usually tell – or want to tell – to knitters, especially those who might be a bit newer to the craft and still struggling along. If you’ve taken a class with me or interacted with me in an extended fashion in any knitterly setting, you’ve probably heard me saying some of these things.

Some of these things are also, it bears mentioning, advice I have to remind myself of at times. We’re all works in progress, after all.

Happy New Year!

July12-swatches

First and always, keep knitting.
You will keep getting better.

Respect your mistakes.
They are trying to teach you something new, usually when you are trying very hard not to learn something new.

Knit from where you are now.
Try hard to be honest about the skills you have, and the successes you have had with them. Recognize what you don’t know how to do (yet) and let your future projects build up your skills as well as add to them. There’s lots you can do, even if there’s lots you don’t know yet.

Celebrate your accomplishments.
Knitting is filled with infinite small victories, many of them only acknowledged quietly to ourselves, and many others not at all. It feels good to feel good about making something.

Have your own goals.
Take an inventory of the things you don’t know how to do yet but would like to be able to do. The only scorecard of knitting skills you need to be observing is the one that gets you working on the projects you want. Don’t bother with cables if you don’t want to make them. Learn beaded lace knitting if it’s the only skill standing in between you and the finished project you really really wish you had. You get to decide.

Knit with colours that you love.
Our yarn choices are many and our knitting time is limited, and there is no reason to make things in colours that don’t bring you joy to knit and wear.

Recognize why you knit, and for whom.
Allow yourself to stop knitting on projects that don’t match those reasons.

Recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed.
When a project feels like too much for you to handle or that everything is too confusing, put it down and go back to it when you are ready – at some point, you will be, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. This is knitting world and there is no schedule.

Feb19-AirportKnitting

Knit for the body you have.
Take your measurements, or have a trusted friend help you take them. Body measurements have no relation to retail sizes, and in knitting world you get to knit for the you that exists in the reality of physical space, with yarn quantities being your only limitation. Knit for the size and shape you are now, and for the fit that brings you comfort. If your size or style preferences change in the future, you can also change your knitting to reflect that when you need to.

Modify patterns.
Change the length, make it a pullover instead of a cardigan, change the gauge, combine one size for the bottom with another size for the top if that’s what’s going to fit you best. Modify the shit out of that pattern if it helps you get the results you want, because you’re the only one with your body and your brain and these things will always make you smarter than whatever pattern you are working from. The pattern is the entry point, and can be made as dynamic as you want.

Occasionally, allow yourself to struggle.
Let yourself sit with a project while you figure out how to do it. Try things out and see if it works. Not everything is going to be easy, but the hard things are usually worth finishing.

Knit the garments you want.
Acknowledge the kinds of things you truly enjoy knitting. The rest of your wardrobe can still be found at the mall.

Remember that nobody is perfect.
Even if they seem like it on the internet. (Especially if they seem like it on the internet). Everyone has their own struggles – even in knitting world – and what some people make look easy, may seem impossible to others. Do your thing. You can create things with your own two hands and some skill, and this is not a small thing. You are a different knitter from the one you were when you started, and from the one you will be a few years from now.

 

Do you have any knitting-related New Year’s resolutions? I haven’t thought of any yet for myself, but I’m still pondering – other than to keep knitting more, and to find something new to try. Which I think is a good place to begin!

Happy New Year, knitter friends!

 

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67 Comments

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67 responses to “At the top of the year

  1. twistedsticks

    Great advice. Happy New Year and good health and happiness to you!!

  2. Thank you for writing this post. I needed to read this today. And happy new year!

  3. Cleio

    It’s the recognising why I knit that I need to keep reminding myself about most of all. It’s so easy to get frustrated with something that’s not working out to the point where knitting is no longer relaxing. A challenge is fine, not wanting to knit anymore because a project is just annoying is not.

    Thanks for reminding me that it’s okay to occasionally just to give up on a project.

  4. Oh, I love this! And a dance teacher, I mentally substituted the word dance, etc and it is advice that crosses genres. I don’t have any advice, you said it all very well. The only thing that holds me back from trying the projects I would like to do (I would love to knit myself some sweaters) is the price of the yarn. If only there was advice for that! Happy New Year to you!

  5. Marianne

    Advice that I really needed today, have been struggling with decision after being gifted several online classes and the yarns that go with them. I am being pushed to take 2 of the more advanced classes, but I keep going back to a learn to crochet class. Thank you for inspiring me to take the class that will truly teach me a totally new craft!!! (I”m a lefty, knit right handed but the single hook has my hands totally confused, LOL)
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

  6. Thank you for these thoughts… I am going to share them with my knitting daughters, friends and re-read them for myself…HNY!

  7. Caitlyn M.

    My favorite piece of advice here is “Knit the garments you want.” Right now I really want a couple of handknit sweaters, but I keep sabotaging myself by buying single skeins and then lamenting the fact that I can’t afford a sweater quantity of yarn. If I want a sweater, then darn it all I need to forego the instant(ish) gratification and save up for it!

    The piece of advice I’d add is “Make peace with your stash.” If it’s big and you love it, great! Keep on knitting that baby. If it’s big and it stresses you out, make a plan to sell, swap, or donate the stuff that doesn’t excite you anymore. If it’s small and it makes you sad, figure out a savings plan, recycle thrift store finds, or find a someone looking to sell or donate unwanted yarn. And if you’re stash is like mine–small or nonexistent–and you’re pretty okay with it, don’t let knitting world make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. It’s not about whether your stash is big or small, it’s about how much you love that yarn.

  8. I quite agree, Caitlyn! Everybody has their own yarn stash to suit their own needs and it’s okay if it’s big or small, as long as it has the yarn you like :)

  9. Marie Claude from OH so cold Quebec right now!

    I have a new year resolution for 2014 and it´s to knit for myself! My family keeps me busy knitting for everyone and I never have time to knit myself. So I am almost done with the last project for my daugther and hop to my favorite yarn shop to treat myself with some gorgeous yarn for my future favorite sweater!

  10. Glenna, this is a great post, and I too agree with Caitlyn. My stash is large enough now that it’s starting to stress me out. I love almost all of it, so I am making plans to knit mostly from stash this year to at least reduce it somewhat.

  11. Meredith MC

    I love this post! I always look forward to reading your blog and seeing your gorgeous and inspiring projects.
    My knitting resolutions- I have been avoiding intarsia and double knitting. This is the year, even if the projects are small.
    A tip for would be sweater knitters- To afford sweater quantities of yarn, look at Craftsy sales and yarn.com sales. I’ve gotten bags of Cascade 220 for a song!
    Happy knitting 2014!

  12. Does anyone have any advice on purchasing the beautiful yarns needed to knit a beautiful sweater without busting a very small budget? Maybe it is just in Canada that nice wool is so costly? I am not very experienced…I see beautiful wool yarns in knit shops and cheaper synthetic yarns at big box stores. Any shopping advice would be great!

  13. These are wonderful pieces of advice!

  14. maura

    i’m a fairly new knitter. that’s some darn good advice! at first i thought it was just so obvious it didn’t need to be stated but on 2nd reading- i made a file and saved it.
    thank you and happy new year

  15. Marie Roche

    Your comments are so true, we need to remind ourselves of them.
    Thank you

  16. That’s great advice I was looking through pictures of things that I’ve knit over the last 8 years. I didn’t realize how much my skills have developed. I’m challenging myself to try a bunch of new to me things this year.

  17. I have an answer for Marianne. I show lefties how to crochet by telling them to sit down facing me and then having them mirror every thing I do. It works like a charm!!! Find someone who crochets and try it!
    My knitting resolution for 2014 is to start my Christmas knitting a whole lot sooner! ;-)

  18. ladjm

    Great advice!! Have copied them into my “knitting notebook” so they’re always handy! Happy New Year! x

  19. Monique

    Thank you for those reminders. I’m currently working on one of your patterns–Jurisfiction Cardigan. I’ve discovered that while I enjoy the symmetrical cables of the arms, I don’t think I can possibly do the asymmetrical ones on the body. It’s just too much for where I am today. So, I spent New Years Day looking for something to substitute and found a lace pattern repeat that I think will look lovely with the cables. Might change the, what do you call it, ease(?) and hence the size, but I’m okay with that. Still learning and loving knitting;-)
    Regards,
    Monique

  20. Annette

    Happy New Year!

  21. Wonderful post, especially for the newbie knitter and even folks like me that need to be reminded! Happy New Year,
    Sheila

    http://sheilazachariae.blogspot.com/2013/12/yarny-goodness.html

  22. Linda

    Two things your posts brought to mind for me… how I giggle now when I’m doing a knitting stitch or pattern that I thought was so hard to do (when I first started to knit) – thinking I’ll never be able to do this. Well, I am now! And I will slowly learn more and more. Second one – knit what you want to knit. I love to knit scarves. That is about all I knit (there are a kazillion patterns out there for them – never get bored). I do knit shawls now and then too. I’ve had people over the years tell me that I SHOULD knit something else – sweaters for one…. Well, I like to wear sweaters, but have no desire to knit one! I used to be embarrassed when someone in the yarn shop said – so what will you knit with that lovely yarn? Uh, a scarf… And I would often get “oh”…. And then, you really should branch out. Well, guess what! I’m going to sit here and quietly enjoy knitting my scarves….. and be happy!

    Linda in VA

  23. Perfect advise for not just the beginner, but the intermediate and advanced knitter as well.

  24. I wish I’d had this advice when I first started out! A great post.

  25. Amanda

    Great thoughts for a new year . I need to finish one project before starting another x

  26. Claudia

    Excellent advice…thank you! I always try to have a few knitting goals at the start of a new year; either a particular pattern or a new skill (after-thought heel in 2014).

  27. All such good advice! Loved this so much I shared it on my Facebook page. Hope your 2014 brings many blessings and new discoveries.

  28. Thank you so very much for your advice! These reminders are invaluable to this newish knitter.

    Happy New Year to you!

  29. CJ

    A wonderful and useful post. You’ve inspired me to try something a little trickier and to try and build up a few more skills.

  30. I’m a newish knitter and an experienced sewist/ quilter. This is great advice all around, for both crafts and skill levels. With knitting I have to often remind myself to not be so critical of where I’m beginning at and to enjoy the process of learning. With sewing it’s more about fine-tuning the projects that I spend time on by being more thoughtful about what actually gives me a sense of accomplishment and joy in making. Thanks for sharing this wise advice!

  31. Diane

    The top of the year to you, Glenn’s. I love your advice and I wish you were not so far away. I would love to have you as my teacher. Attitude and idea’s together with a great glass if wine makes for great fun and knitting, a raging fire can also help when it is as cold as it is right now. Thanks again for your terrific blog.
    Diane

  32. Lisa R-R

    Best wishes for 2014! Here’s to health and happiness and plenty of knitting time.
    Lots to think about in this post and the comments.
    I do need to remember to knit for myself. I only buy yarn now for a specific project at the same time as I keep working on knitting down my stash.
    Thanks for your blog!

  33. I want to come up with some of my own designs/patterns for knitting as I’ve never done that before. My goal is to design three knitted items this year and offer at least one up on Ravelry for others to use.

  34. Thank you – that is all so validating! There are a number of techniques I’ve never learned (liked beaded knitting) because there’s nothing I want that is beaded and it’s nice to hear that’s ok :) I also like the reminder to knit what we like to knit and buy the rest at the mall. I once spent a good 15 minutes staring at a sweater in H&M thinking about how I’d replicate it and could I find yarn in that color, etc, before realizing I should just pay the stupid $18 or whatever and just buy the damn thing that was right in front of me.

  35. Knit with yarn that FEELS good to you. Don’t say “I’m only a beginner I’ll get good yarn when I’m better at it”. You’re going to spend time with this yarn don’t shortchange yourself.

  36. You are a wise woman! Lots of good advice. There is nothing better than picking up a pattern that was once challenging for you and now being able to knit it easily….that happened to me recently with a couple of lace patterns.

  37. This is great advice for life!Towards the end of 2013 I somehow let go of the stress caused by projects that take years, and worrying about things I “can’t” do (will I ever make a jumper that fits right?!) – I just don’t care any more! Things will get done when they’re done. I’ll try again and learn new things. http://handmadebyhan.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/what-now/

  38. Awesome advice! My knitting-related resolution is to knit more often. I think it’s an achievable goal!

  39. Debbie VanDerMolen

    It is not a resolution, but I want to learn to knit brioche this year.

  40. Robin McKay

    Hi Glenna Suggestion re price of yarn. You can ask for gift cards for a yarn stores or tell people what yarn you want and how many you need. Maybe even suggest that you can knit something for that person, and you and that person go together and pick out the yarn. Or have a yarn exchange party with other knitters, everyone brings in the yarn that they want to exchange and hopefully their is something for everyone, it reduces your stash as well. Well- knit on knitters!! Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2014 16:26:47 +0000 To: robinmmckay@hotmail.com

  41. Lovely pieces of advice and very useful. My New Year’s knitting resolution is to use those balls of yarn in my stache before they take over the house!

  42. Reblogged this on Knitted Dreams Crocheted Desires and commented:
    So well put. I couldn’t add anything!

  43. Excellent advice. In particular — one I’ve had huge trouble with — “Knit for the body you have”. I really must follow your advice. :-)

  44. What a great post! I especially like your advice about knitting for the body you have now. I’ve noticed that a lot of knitters avoid making sweaters (and knit shawls and socks instead) because they think they won’t look good in a sweater. Everyone can look great in a handknitted sweater. And I like the advice to give yourself permission to stop working on projects you don’t love. Knitting is supposed to give us pleasure, in the process as well as in the finished products.

  45. Thanx for this post ! I’ll try to keep it all well in mind :)
    As for resolutions; I want to knit more. And more. And improve my skills. Thus knit more, hihi..

  46. Hey Glenna, happy 2014. I resolve to forgive myself for unfinished projects…and to use up my stash. NO, REALLY! :)

  47. Deirdre Coleman

    The piece of advice about knitting what you like to knit and the rest of your wardrobe can still be found at the mall really hit home for me. I immediately went to my Ravelry que and got rid of the pieces that I liked but knew I wouldn’t like knitting … and it felt great to weed those things out! Thank you. It seemed like the littlest, most obvious thing, but it really helped me to reevaluate WHAT I like to knit, and then, going along with the advice about goals, what skills within those parameters I would like to hone further, with permission to leave the rest.

  48. jack

    Thank you so much for this post. It really has started my day off in a positive direction.

  49. Sindy

    I have been knitting for 55 years–still need to remember this advice.

  50. TinaOR

    I so love this post! What great advice you have been given, and thank you for passing it onto us. It really made me think about ripping the blanket I started last week and gifting the yarn to someone else. It’s already been a jumper that was way to big to wear (didn’t measure myself!) and I’ve really not enjoyed trying to turn it into something else. It’s not bad to not use it – someone else will love it! Thanks. I don’t feel guilty at all now! So true that knitting time is precious and you should only knit what you enjoy (unless you are being paid to do it …….)

  51. Great post! I have already learned some of these knitting truths as I am knitting my first cardigan. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  52. Reblogged this on lydia in stitches and commented:
    I love this blog post so much. It’s full of advice that every knitter needs. So glad I read it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  53. I love every piece of advice on the list. My favorite one is to knit what you enjoy knitting and get your other clothes at the mall. I have found such delight in knitting Aran sweaters over the years even the boxy ones. I am glad to be able to make them a bit more fitted now that I have learned how, but I still adore each and every one of the others because of the awesome experiences I had knitting them. The memories will be cherished for a lifetime, but I can’t really say that about some of my more stylish-looking knitted garments. I like wearing those garments, but I don’t have vivid memories of making any of them.

  54. Excellent advice! P.S. Love the colour of the jumper you are wearing :-)

  55. Chelsea

    Great advice! Thanks for putting it into so many words. Happy New Year!

  56. The Knitwit

    Thanks for the reminders!

  57. Pingback: The Sun

  58. michael

    that was lovely and refreshing! perfect way to begin the Knitting New Year! :)

  59. What a wonderful article. A lot of these suggestions can be used for much more than knitting! Thank you, and Happy New Year!

  60. Shelley

    Excellent advice. I’m presently knitting a baby layette, on commission. Something I haven’t really enjoyed. My artist cousin put it best, commission work is trying to see the other person’s vision. That and the time constraint has taken the fun out of my fun thing. I’m looking forward to putting my sticks and string to better use.

  61. Mary Alyce

    Those who have trouble with buying a sweater’s worth of yarn: look to Elann. They ship to both the U.S, and Canada, and the prices can be excellent. If it’s shipped to Canada, they take it over the border to Canada, so you don;t have the hassle with excise and duty. (You still have to pay gst though.) Get on their mailing list, and be ready with your yarn weights and quantities when the sale starts. Many times there are limited quantities of some colours, and so on.

  62. I would really really like to give it a go, found this website selling ethical angora http://ethicalangora.com/shop/page/2?sessid=r1YWF8fuq0tmETbLeYmoU97zjeNILAzaENuFvnEOpQpeSVFAVENxu269Rnzxofkg&shop_param= And was wondering what an expert like you thinks… Do you think I could manage a scarf? ( I am a complete beginner)

  63. Hillary

    I just have to write and say… I started knitting the squall mittens yesterday with the Sweet Georgia yarn and I am so absolutely in love with everything! I got the same color as in the picture because it is my favorite, and the yarn looks so delicious I could eat it. Thank you for a beautiful pattern!!

  64. Really enjoyed reading this! Knitting makes me happy in so many ways, thanks for all the reminders as to why I knit. Have a happy knitty 2014!

  65. PurrlGurrl

    Just now catching up on all the blogs I haven’t been able to read because of holiday folderol. I have printed this out and posted it in my knitting space. Words for any knitter to live by.

  66. My resolution is to use up my sock yarn after I finish a baby blanket I am working on!! And of course I just ordered another skein of sock yarn. Help me, I can’t help it!!