I have been a knitter for almost nine years. It started as a hobby I wanted to learn to make cute baby hats for my new son, and as a way to let some creativity flow while I was at home with a baby. I never thought I would come to love it as much as I do, and I definitely never thought it would teach me some life lessons. But that’s exactly what happened!
Here are five unexpected life lessons I learned from knitting:
1. Little actions over time can add up to an impressive final product. Every knitting project is made up of hundreds, sometimes thousands of individual stitches. I don’t always (or ever, really) have time to sit down and knit a whole project from start to finish. But if I knit a few stitches here and there, maybe for a whole evening or maybe for five minutes while I wait for coffee to brew, eventually I will have a finished product. The same is true of any task. If you can just keep chipping away at it, over time you will be finished, even if it feels like you barely got anything done sometimes.
2. Break it down. When something feels impossible, keep in mind that it can always be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps. All knitting, even the most elaborate lace shawl or cabled sweater, is produced from simply knowing how to do a few basic knitting stitches. Once you have those stitches mastered, you can move on to implementing them for a whole row, and then a whole section, and pretty soon you have a finished product! All it took was completing the smaller pieces in a way that wasn’t as intimidating.
3. Don’t stop before your work is done. If you spend hours and hours knitting a sweater, but then can’t find the last hour to seam all the pieces together, then you haven’t really made a sweater. Don’t stop working until the job is done or you won’t have a finished, usable product to show for all your hard work.
4. Make the important things a priority. When people find out that I knit they often ask how I find time for it with four kids and a job, or comment that they wish they had time for a hobby like that. I used to just smile and shrug, but I’ve come to realize that I have time to knit because I make time to knit. I helps me relax, feel productive, and unleash some creativity. Now I tell curious onlookers that I make the time. I have recently tried replacing the phrase, “I don’t have time for that” with “That is not a priority for me.” You don’t like knitting and that’s why you don’t make time for it? Great! But when it applies to things that are actually important, like relationships or another hobby that does nurture you, it can be eye-opening to reframe your thoughts about it that way.
5. Have fun! Sometimes I find myself plugging away on a knitting project that is boring me to tears. Then I remember that this is supposed to be something fun and if it’s not fun then something needs to change. Sometimes I start a new project, sometimes I remind myself why I am knitting this particular item, and sometimes I just need to take a break for a while. But if things in life aren’t feeling fun, maybe it’s time to shake it up a bit! Or maybe it’s time to take up knitting.
Sarah Magney is an Association Management Specialist with TeamTRI. She is currently working on knitting a life-size replica of the Mona Lisa, maybe.