A new year, like a new ball of yarn, is always so full of promise and potential. What shall we make of it? Something for ourselves? Something for others? Can we find a way to do both?
I suppose all that potential is partially responsible for the urge to make New Year’s Resolutions. We want to make sure we don’t waste this opportunity. Unlike knitting, it’s hard to swatch a year. Ha! You really do have to jump in and hope for the best.
Alas, as we all know, most New Year’s Resolutions end up broken or forgotten by the end of January. Instead of helping us improve, they make us feel worse when we beat ourselves up over breaking them.
For this reason I keep my New Year’s Resolutions vague with things like “I’ll be a better person.” Besides, I think every day is a new opportunity to improve!
While I don’t go for the big, common resolutions like “loose weight and exercise more” I can get behind knitting and yarn related resolutions. After all, knitting is what I do for fun and relaxation and I already believe that every project is a chance to learn something new.
Since general resolutions tend to be similar I wondered if Knitting Resolutions were as well. To find out I started reading through the New Year Knitting Resolutions thread on Ravelry.
Sure enough, the same resolutions kept popping up.
“I will only knit projects that touch my heart with yarns that bless my hands!”–Dogs5 on Ravelry
One was already on my own list: To finish projects.
Goodness knows we all have enough UFOs (UnFinished Objects) too keep us busy.
But if they have been unfinished for a while it might be time to let them go. Sort through them and really look at them with an honest eye. Why did you stop? Did you make a mistake you need help correcting? Is the sweater knit and just needs to be sewn together? Did you realize it is something you’ll never use? Are you no longer in love with the yarn? Was the break all you needed to return to this project and finish it?
Life is too short to knit projects you don’t love. Clear those UFOs out of your knitting basket and free yourself from the stress they are causing. If you aren’t going to finish it, give it to someone who will. If you need help head to your local yarn store to get it. While you’re there, see if they offer finishing services and pay someone to seam up that sweater.
You’ll recognize blue sock at the top of this post as a pair I started before Christmas using Indulgence 6 ply in a Distrato colorway. I’m pleased to announce the first sock is finished. On to the second sock!
A second one was to either learn to knit socks or knit more socks.
I applaud this goal. I love knitting socks. They are useful and, being small, easy to finish. I want to knit more socks this year.
If you have also made this resolution, we have a free Online Supersocke Pattern on our website you can download. It is in a chart form and covers 14 sizes(!). You find your foot size across the top, then plug the numbers in the column into the written directions.
By using inspiring yarn for your socks you’ll be motivated to finish them. The Supersocke Silk yarn from OnLine is a good choice. This yarn is a blend of 55% Merino Wool, 20% Silk, and 25% Nylon. The wool is soft, the silk gives it shine, and the nylon gives it strength. In addition to 24 solid colors there are seven self-patterning colors. There is nothing quite as fun as watching the stripes develop as you knit.
Another idea is to start with bulky slipper socks like these Lounge Socks from the Ella Rae Luxury Knits book. The bulky weight allows you to work through the elements involved in knitting a sock faster than you would with fingering weight yarn. Once you are familiar with all the steps you can cast on for light weight socks with confidence.
A third one was to learn Fair Isle or color work.
This is another good one. I love knitting intarsia projects, but my Fair Isle skills aren’t so hot. Like most people I have trouble keeping the tension even.
For a skill like this, where lots of practice is key, I think a small project like the Fair Isle Boot Toppers from the Juniper Moon Farm Chadwick book would be a good place to start.
The small size is not a big commitment in time and if things start going wrong you can move on to the next one quickly.
Since Chadwick comes in 202 yard balls you can get more than one pair of Boot Toppers out of the required amount. But another idea is to pair it with the ever popular Sluggy Bonnet. (Psst! You can download the Sluggy Bonnet pattern free from the Juniper Moon Farm blog!) Another great pattern for trying your hand at Fair Isle. This pattern is on my list and I just need to clear the needles and cast on already!
A final resolution was to knit a sweater.
I’ve knit several sweaters. But if there is a project I’m going to drop the ball on it’s a sweater. I won’t lie, they are a big time commitment. You really have to love both the yarn and the pattern to see a sweater through to completion.
My problems are in perseverance and finishing. Like many knitters I know sewing those seams just slays me. Of course, once I sit down and do it I have a great sense of accomplishment.
The people on Ravelry were running the gamut from making their first sweater ever to making their first sweater for themselves.
If you are debating your first sweater ever, I would suggest starting with a baby sweater, like the free patterns for these cute cardigans using Baby Milk yarn. This yummy yarn is a blend of 63% Extrafine Merino, 30% Milk Fiber, and 7% Cashmere. Don’t let the thin suggested gauge put you off, in the pattern the yarn is held doubled so the patterns move along quickly.
The advantage of starting with a baby sweater, even if you don’t have a baby in your life, is you quickly move through all the shaping elements you will encounter in an adult sweater. This is a good way to build your confidence and get yourself familiar with what to expect.
With a baby sweater under your belt you can confidently head to your local yarn store and select a sweater for yourself.
Take Care of Your Tools
A resolution I didn’t see on Ravelry, which I feel is very important, is to take care of your hands. They are, after all, your most important knitting tool!
Spend a few minutes a day making sure your fingernails are smooth and snag free. It’s hard to get a smooth knitting rhythm going if hangnails keep grabbing your yarn.
By the same principle, use a nice moisturizer to keep your skin soft. Have you ever noticed that the same yarn can feel wonderful one day and slightly rough the next? The yarn hasn’t changed, but your hands might have.
And, most importantly, remember to stop and stretch your fingers, hands, and wrists regularly. Flex your fingers a few times to warm them up before you start. Then put your knitting down periodically to flex them again. Since I like to knit while watching TV I find that commercial breaks are a good reminder to take a knitting break as well.
Remember, it will be hard to meet your knitting goals if you are sidelined with a hand injury!
What knitting resolutions have you set for yourself this year? Tell us in the comments here on the blog, or share on our Facebook wall.
Happy Knit Year!