Knitting: A Labor of Love, or a Love of Labor?

If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!

Slogans like these are everywhere these days, encouraging the alignment of work with passion and the pursuit of fulfilling work. The core of such messages is ultimately inspiring and useful, but I see a danger, for makers in particular, of associating the word “work” with something inherently negative. This Labor Day, let’s talk about the hard work that goes along with doing what you love.

Even working in a field you love, using and growing your skills alongside like-minded humans who inspire and challenge you, sometimes work is just…work. Deadlines, high stakes, and the expectations of others make even the most rewarding of work feel occasionally laborious. Ask anyone who works for a non-profit…or anyone who works here at Interweave!

Is “Women’s Work” Really “Work?”

For makers, the line between work and pleasure has always been especially fuzzy. Needlework, weaving, and spinning have traditionally been called “women’s work,” emphasis on the “work.” Having busy hands was seen as a virtue, simply because the herculean task of producing textiles for an entire family required daily labor.

Some of the inherent joy of these activities was certainly marred by the high stakes of clothing a household. Deadlines loomed in the form of a new baby or the onset of winter, teenage daughters wanted to look pretty, and husbands tore holes in brand new shirts . . . actually, that all sounds pretty familiar to the struggles of modern makers!

Hobbies Can Be Work, Too!

Today, very few of us are actually responsible for keeping an entire household in clothing, household linens, and blankets. We are able to pick and choose our projects based on what excites us, and we are more able to tap into the incredible meditative and healing powers of these arts.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t work, especially if you support yourself and your family, in whole or in part, by working in the industry. Even for hobbyists, knitting is work sometimes.

Knitting on a deadline, whether professional or personal, can definitely take some of the pleasure out of stitching. Knitting a gift or an item for sale, especially for a non-knitter, can also add stress. Even learning a challenging new technique can make your beloved craft feel like work.

But, when it’s a labor of love, work is a good thing!

Embark on a Labor of Love!

As we move into Fall and peak knitting season, how will you be working to move your craft forward?

Interweave is here to help! In honor of Labor Day, we’re giving you 40% off books, magazines, patterns, DVD/video downloads, and more through 9/5/2017, with the coupon code LOVE40.

Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Make a Big Project for a Loved One

It’s the perfect time to get started on a larger project to give to a loved one during the holidays. I myself am hard at work on the Santa Fe Turquoise Trail Scarf for my mom. I’m a little less than halfway through now, and I’m feeling very confident that I’ll be done by the holidays. The rest of my holiday knitting . . . well, we’ll see about that.


If you’re looking to get a jump on your holiday knitting, check out Garter Stitch Revival for fast projects that put knitting’s simplest stitch to work! Also, don’t forget to check out Interweave Knits Holiday 2016 for tons of ideas for beginner, intermediate, and advanced knitters.

Try a Challenging Stitch Pattern

Some occasions call for easy stitch patterns you can rip through without even looking. But with more work, there is often a greater reward, especially when it comes to a tricky stitch pattern. This fall, give entrelac a try, commit to finally learn brioche, or try out Indian Cross Stitch!

Learn a New Technique

Learning a new technique is hard work, but it’s definitely the fun kind! This fall, will you become a short-row master? Will you tackle the task of grafting? Or maybe you’ll make your first sweater! I’d recommend starting out with Kristen TenDyke’s No-Sew Knits so you aren’t learning too many skills at once.

Try Spinning Your Own Yarn

This is an item on my own personal challenge list for the Fall. No less than five people have offered to teach me to spin, and I’ve been a total chicken about it. If you, like me, have not yet delved into the serene meditation that is spinning your own yarn, let Kate Larson be your guide!

Consider Making Knitting Your Side (or Main) Hustle

Work is valuable in and of itself, but I think we can all agree, it’s best when you get paid for it. Lisa Shroyer recently wrote an excellent blog post about ways to earn extra income through knitting. If you’re looking for a side hustle, one of those three options might tickle your fancy. Don’t forget to also keep your eye on the Interweave careers page.


If you’re more interested in selling finished projects, check out Robyn Spady’s classic on-demand webinar, The Business of Being a Fiber Artist. She’ll help you understand what kind of products to make and how much to charge for them based on demand, as well as walking you through the various stages of starting your own business. Robyn is a professional weaver, but her lessons translate across all fiber arts.

What labors of love are you planning to undertake this fall in your knitting? Let me know in the comments!

Yours In Stitches,

What Will Be Your Labor of Love this Fall?



  1. Valerie L at 10:40 am September 4, 2017

    Our son and his wife welcomed their first baby and our first grandchild into the world in June only to have her four short days. Due to the wires and monitors they are hooked up to, babies in the NICU can usually only wear hats, booties and diapers. I was hoping to knit our baby Zelda a wardrobe of beanies, but never had that opportunity. As a thank you to the caring NICU staff at UCLA, I am currently knitting preemie beanies for other babies in the NICU so they don’t have to wear the generic hospital hats. Each comes with a “Zelda Magic” label. It has been a slow and laborious labor of love as I am not real skilled with dpn’s and the small size needles make my hands ache if I’m at it too long. It has been fun and rewarding, though, as it fuels my need to knit and lends itself to much creativity, plus a chance to give back to those who gave so much to us.

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