That seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Why would I knit something I don’t want to? Or something I don’t need? I’m more of a process knitter than a product knitter, so sometimes I knit for the love of doing it, or to learn something new that I’m curious about. Or to find out what a yarn looks or feels like knitted up. Even then, I usually want to make it useful. Swatches can be connected into blankets, bags, and so forth.
Each of us is an individual, with our own lifestyle and needs. I don’t have to knit something just because others are knitting it. I can admire what someone else makes without making or acquiring it myself. While there’s a larger knitting community out there — thankfully — and we’re social creatures, we don’t have to do everything the crowd does. It can be easy to admire and think I want to knit something that everyone else seems to be knitting, or learn a technicque that everyone else seems to be learning.
I have my own needs, only some of them budgetary. While I have financial limits to my knitting, there are also the limits of my attention, time, energy, even mental capacity, as well as limits to what knitted articles I need in my life, whether as garments, accessories, home decorations, or to give as gifts. If I spent all my time on sweaters, I’d have no time for my other activities like writing, blogging, reading, enjoying my yard, cooking, or playing with or cuddling my cats.
And I would never wear them all. I don’t need an endless supply of sweaters, in fact I don’t need many at all. I live in Southern California, a mild climate. We don’t have a season that can be called winter. I work at home, so I don’t interact with people in person as much as when I worked in an office. While it’s nice to have clothing that I can wear out in public, to shop, or to gatherings, for the most part I live in tee-shirts, and stretch pants or shorts.
needs nice-to-haves for knitted objects:
- one to three cardigans, with various length sleeves
- one to three pullovers for cooler weather
- a few short-sleeved tops for warmer weather
- wool socks for cooler weather
- cotton blend summer socks
- several shawls, smaller ones just to warm my shoulders
- cat blankets — we can always use a couple more and they’re a fun way to try new techniques
But how many sweaters do I really need to knit? My one cardigan that I currently use is wearing out, so I decided a while back that I need two or three new cardies. The old one is black, and even black doesn’t go with everything, so maybe two or three different colors would be nice, and I’m planning those. But for now, one new long-sleeved cardigan will be plenty. Maybe one with elbow- to 3/4-sleeves, which would be easier to wear around the house so I don’t have to constantly push up the sleeves. I already have those two needs planned for. I don’t need every single wonderful cardigan that exists out there in pattern land.
I love seeing all the wonderful sweaters people are sharing glimpses of, without thinking I need to make them. Just seeing it all makes me happy. I’m so glad people share photos or videos of what they make. I’m thrilled that Ravelry exists.
These thoughts have been running through my mind lately as I’ve enjoyed visiting my favorite yarny places online. There’s so much, sometimes it can be easy to forget that I don’t need most of it myself. I don’t have to make everything I love, or learn every technique I like the looks of. So I was happy to see this video from Tayler Earl at Wool Needles Hands, about (not) trying new techniques. I love learning new things, but I also like what I learn to be of current use to me.
I don’t know if there area any techniques I’m actually scared to try, but I have to really want to try something, for a reason, even if it’s just that it’s so pretty. But I also have to have the time and attention to devote to a more demanding technique. So, for instance, brioche is probably going to wait until I want to take a little brioche vacation from everything else. Same with Shetland lace in any very fine gauge yarn.
I try new techniques as I have time for, or need, and some of them, well … I have wanted to get better at stranded colorwork, but I think the reason I haven’t is that I don’t really need anything made that way. How often would I wear a stranded sweater? Double-thickness wool? I made a vest once that was stranded and steeked, but I never wore it. It was so bulky. But then I was a new knitter, when I made it, and I used an inappropriate yarn. I would approach it way differently today.
For now, I can live without stranded colorwork, for the most part. I did make an intarsia cardigan that I wore a lot, years ago. I’d like to improve my intarsia skills, so maybe I’ll practice them on something. I may try my hand at stranded colorwork on some mittens or hats to give as gifts, or I may make some small pouches or eyeglass cases for myself. But now I’m thinking about my recent sweater plans, and they do include learning more about top-down construction. The knitting trends I followed from my first knitting days tended toward bottom-up and pieced construction for sweaters. I even made a side-to-side knit vest. But I haven’t made a sweater top-down, and that’s what I’m planning to do next, try a few top-down patterns. Among those I might want to include one with a stranded colorwork yoke. That’s not out of the realm of possibility, so I can’t write off honing my colorwork skills on sweaters entirely.
But maybe one reason we put off learning things sometimes is that we fear failure, or maybe don’t fear it so much as avoid it. When I make a mistake, I have a tendency to berate myself, and of course I avoid that feeling. But then I’ve taken on challenges and worried not a bit about my mistakes if I really wanted the end product. I learned how to do better and kept going. Failure is a natural aspect of learning, right? It’s necessary to any success. We try, fail, determine what we did wrong, try again, until we succeed. If babies didn’t allow themselves to fail at all, they’d never learn to walk, talk, or feed themselves. So I think there are times when I need to come to terms with my approach to and feelings about failure and success, with knitting or anything else, and maybe assess how much I really want the outcome instead. If the outcome or product is important enough to me, those little momentary failures along the way to success are not going to stop me. On the other hand, if I enjoy the process, then the outcome is just a bonus, and I do love to learn new things.
So, learning new knitting techniques is a matter, for me, of what I have time, attention, and other resources for right now, what I want to get out of learning that new technique, and how much I want the product. What I don’t want to learn right now, I might want to learn later. And I just saw this beautiful shawl pattern that incorporates brioche, so my mind can change, and that’s okay too.
I found a nice discussion of success in the video linked below, from CounselorSue – Creativity & Living Life. Food for thought.