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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  • Reply Barbara December 16, 2015 at 5:25 am

    I love you oodles, I think you were 5 years old when I put those needles in your hand.

  • Reply Karin December 16, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Spot on recommendations all! I’ve been knitting and crocheting since I was four or five and I’m still learning. I love that you referred to yourself as an athlete as I’ve often said that I’m a gold-medallist when it comes to sticks and string (‘specially in the hoarding of string!) And yes, take your knitting everywhere! Aside from the fact that it is my Vallium, I never have any ‘wasted’ time. Doctor running late? NP – that’s ten more rounds!

  • Reply Jeanette Bruffett December 16, 2015 at 6:04 am

    haha!!! great list and oh so true….all of it. and yes socks ARE fun!

  • Reply woolythymes December 16, 2015 at 6:35 am

    I LOVE this post!!!! And the best (BEST) part about knitting is….not matter how many years you have been knitting (in my case I’m sure more years than you have been alive!! eep?!?) you continue to learn new things along the journey. One I love more and more every day!!!

  • Reply Alina December 16, 2015 at 6:46 am

    What a great knitting essay! Knitting gave me the greatest lesson – if I want to learn something, I will be able too sooner or later!

  • Reply Donna December 16, 2015 at 7:01 am

    You have learned some good lessons. I love how your knitting monogamy flew out the window pretty quickly!

  • Reply Tania December 16, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Oh this has made me beam from ear to ear. Just brilliant, you write so well. I totally think knitting lessons equate to The Lessons of Life! I’m a new knitter and i’m catching up on the lessons I wish I’d learnt when I was a pup rather than an old dog!

  • Reply olivia December 16, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Oh I agree with so many of these! I’ve had some disasters over the years.

  • Reply Karen December 16, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Enjoyed your post today linked to Small Things. Bookmarked for future reference and following.

  • Reply Sandrine December 16, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Hi !
    I thank You for sharing all your projects, your tips, your difficulties.
    I’m following your blog since some time ago, and I really appreciate your positivity and “enjoyement” about knitting.


  • Reply Tamera L December 16, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    I can especially relate to “Don’t Panic,” and “Things Break.” I’m looking forward to your adventures in 2016!

  • Reply caffeinegirl December 16, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    This is such a fun and interesting list. I especially loved “don’t panic.” I’m teaching some students to embroider and this is the main lesson. Needlework has so many lessons that apply to life!

  • Reply FogKnits December 16, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    Great list 🙂

  • Reply Sarah December 17, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Laughed out loud over this! I so agree about practice… keep practicing, my fellow athlete!

  • Reply Andi December 17, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Wonderful lessons learned! This list did make me chuckle. 🙂

  • Reply pumpkin sunrise December 18, 2015 at 9:04 am

    beautiful life knitting lessons 🙂

  • Reply Elizabeth December 19, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Haha, these are good lessons! I always knit during toddler bathtime, but I sit just outside the door to avoid the splashing of two little boys!

  • Reply Lisa December 28, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    I’m a new reader, but will be back. I love your blog. This post really hits home for me. As a knitter of almost 8 years, I am still learning new things daily. I got much faster at knitting this year due to a brief spell of no job, plus learned a great deal about sizing (although I made my stuff TOO BIG). And I completely agree about yarns that don’t stretch. They are such a pain.
    Until next time!

  • Reply collyermum January 4, 2016 at 4:24 am

    This was my first time at your blog. Will definitely be reading more! Thanks for a great post 🙂

  • Reply Katie February 5, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    So glad to discover that I’m not the only one who worries about yarn thieves stealing my knitting out of my car. All great knitting lessons, though.

  • Reply Lorena February 11, 2016 at 5:04 am

    I could not stop reading your tips I laughed so much glad to know that I’m not the only wierd knitter, my knitting goes everywhere with me, it’s my security unfinished blanket.

  • Reply Irene Beyaert August 8, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    You could have titled your blog “Purls of Wisdom”!

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