Ten Knitting Lessons I Learned This Year (The Hard Way, Of Course)

Ten knitting lessons I learned the hard way.

As Christmas inches closer, I am madly trying to finish up some socks. Meanwhile, I have been thinking about all the valuable knitting lessons I have stumbled upon this past year.

To learn about knitting is to learn about the universe. We are the astronomers of wool (and other fibers). We owe the world our exploration. Our dedication. Our obsession. These are the TOP TEN knitting lessons I learned this year:

Practice Makes Perfect

Knit. Often. Practice makes perfect. (Practice just leads to more mistakes.) Athletes practice their sport. Linguists practice their languages. Knitters must also practice to improve. This is what I tell myself when I am compulsively sneaking in a few rounds of something or other during toddler bathtime: I am a athlete knitter, and I am training. Lots of training will lead to better knitting. Already I have found this to be true. This year alone I have learned new skills and techniques: grafting, sock knitting, the secret to counting large numbers of stitches, and how to be mindful of my gauge, among other important lessons.

Don’t Panic

It’s going to be okay. Knitting disasters happen. Often. For example, I learned how not to jump off a bridge when the lace yoke you spent weeks knitting explodes mid-three needle bind off (hint: Xanax).

How to Seam a Sweater

Or, how (not) to seam a sweater (hint: maintain sobriety and avoid water).

Watch Out for Yarns That Don’t Stretch

I also learned that linen yarn, like cotton, hurts my hands. Knit slowly. Pace yourself. If you end up with aching, sore, inflamed wrists and hands, you will be screwed. For a long time. Avoid knitting injuries at all costs. Even if someone else has to do the dishes while you “rest.”

Knit Around (Yes, That is a Sexual Innuendo…)

All that business about knitting slow with linen led me, for the first time ever, to knit more than one project at a time. Yep. My knitting monogamy flew out the window. It was amazing how quickly I transformed from a knitter with One Project At a Time to a knitter with tops, socks, and shawls all on various needles at the same time. It basically took a week. Maybe less.

Think Before You Begin

I learned the hard way when knitting a top or sweater, carefully select the size before you begin. Otherwise, even if you block aggressively, it will turn out too small. Don’t pick the size you wish you were (small). Pick the size you really are (large, in my case).

Sometimes Things Break

Watch out for broken needles. It happens. Always have spares. Always. Would you own just one fork? Of course not. (This leads me to a brilliant thought: maybe I can relocate my silverware and instead store my double pointed needles and other CRITICALLY VALUABLE NOTIONS in the silverware sorter drawer? Now, where should I put the forks and spoons? Under the sink perhaps?)

Sock Knitting is Pretty Awesome. Try it!

I like to knit socks. Who knew!  And, all that grafting of the final 16 or so stitches finally enable me to memorize How to Graft without having to rewatch a You Tube video every single stinking time.

Always Keep Your Knitting in a Safe Place (Locked with a Dead Bolt)

Never leave your knitting in an unlocked vehicle. You will fret over knitting thieves (they’re out there!) and nearly die of anxiety as a result. Trust me. Actually, never leave your knitting anywhere. Always keep it with you next to your drivers license and house keys. You are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and don’t want to carry a lot of weight? Fine. But still take your knitting. Just find lighter knitting needles. Mail yourself yarn along the way. Do not leave your knitting in the car. Ever.

Old Yarn Tells A Good Story

Cherish old (heirloom) yarn, even if it is scratchy. There’s probably a good story behind it, and you can always find something to knit with itchy yarn.

I enjoy reflecting as the year comes to and end, and I am proud of myself for all that I have learned from others (that’s you!) and taught myself along the way. In just one year, my own knitting has improved so much. I can only imagine what the coming year will hold (hopefully fewer tears, more yarn, and lots of finished knits).

A girl can dream.


Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along and Frontier Dreams.  In between books (again!)


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