Start as Many New Knitting Projects as You Can

“Start as many new knitting projects as you can!” That’s my new motto, and I’m sticking to it. I’m not talking about mindlessly and indiscriminately knitting any old thing with any old yarn you can get your hands on; instead, I’m talking about choosing new projects wisely and for very specific beneficial reasons. Yet recognizing that creativity is fluid, I want to keep a steady stream of new experiences flowing with as many different kinds of projects as I can manage.

My old motto was “Finish as many projects as you can.” Although finishing projects was a functional goal, it wasn’t any fun. Don’t get me wrong: I like to finish things and wear them, use them, and give them as much as the next person. But as a primary goal, the focus on finishing brought forward momentum to a halt. With military precision I marched through my projects, all the while staving off the desire to start something new until I’d finished all the UFOs (unfinished objects) I had lurking about. I ignored the insistent need to create new and fresh ideas. In the process, I trampled all over my enthusiasm and enjoyment. Well, I finished . . . and I learned a valuable lesson. Then I traded up on my motto.

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What design? What yarn? What colors? These Big Three questions form the central force of knitting inspiration. Contemplating all the possibilities is the core thrill of a new knitting project: a design idea prompts a quest for the perfect yarn to bring the vision to life. A fabulous yarn calls your name. A gorgeous color in a wonderful fiber takes your breath away. The wheels of imagination turn. I want to capture that impetus, that forward drive, in all my knitting, so I’m moving forward with my new approach.

Join me in the freedom my new motto offers and realistically evaluate your knitting and yarn stash. You may have yarn to give away—to friends who need a boost, to kids learning how to knit, or to a local charity knitting group. Some projects in progress you will definitely complete, simply because you are still connected to the initial inspiration. Some projects started with fabulous yarn, but the design no longer holds interest; it’s time to ravel and reuse. And frankly, some projects deserve a decent burial, perhaps on the far side of the moon. You won’t finish the knitting, and you know it. What can be done?

First, with a mental flick of the wrist, get rid of the little gargoyle who sits on your shoulder chastising you in whispers for not finishing your knitting. Second, pretend that all your half-done knitting belongs to someone else and you have been given carte blanche to update or redirect the original vision. A large pullover or cardigan can be cut down and made into a pillow. A half-finished Fair Isle sweater can be lightly felted and sewn into a hat. Compactly felted pieces can become a bag or a tea cozy. In fact, felted knitted fabrics expand your horizons into a myriad of creative uses. Sew a fun fabric binding around a felted shape for placemats. Two layers, held wrong sides together, with a fabric binding can become a trivet or a potholder. How about oven mitts? Pattern books at your local fabric store are full of accessory ideas for these smaller pieces of partially completed knitting. If you are extremely frugal, sew small felted squares together in patchwork fashion, with seams showing decoratively, for a rug.

Throwing it in the corner won’t help. | Getty Images

Whatever you do, refuse to make yourself a hostage to the undone. Release yourself from the tyranny of a timetable whenever you can. Enjoy the creative flow of having many knitting projects going simultaneously, just as you enjoy a car ride without worrying about each individual moving part. My son purchased a classic car to restore, a 1971 Chevrolet Impala. The speedometer goes from 0 to 120 miles per hour in a panoramic display that uses up half the dashboard. I find I can place my knitting projects on a scale much like this speedometer. On the 10 mph end of the scale are the projects that have no time parameters, so I can relax and take as long as I want to finish them. On the 120 mph end of the scale is power knitting: a specific project with a specific deadline. Laying aside all else, I power through to the finish line and find doing so spectacularly exhilarating. Most knitting projects, of course, lie somewhere between a crawl and a drag race.

Knit anything and everything you want—and enjoy the scenery!


How many new knitting projects can you handle?

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