After a super busy December, I’m really excited to be back here on the blog and looking ahead to 2018!
For knitters, the New Year can be a great time to reflect on your projects from the last year. What were your favourite pieces, techniques or patterns? And which would you really rather not do again?
Most importantly, it can give you a chance to work out what makes you happiest in your knitting. For example, do you prefer the comfort and ease of a familiar, simple pattern or do you crave a challenge? Do you enjoy knitting more for the process or for the end product? Do you savour the spontaneity of going from one pattern to another without much forethought or do you crave a more orderly schedule?
Sometimes the answers to these questions change each year. For example, in 2017, I enjoyed learning new techniques and experimenting with colour in several mystery shawl knit alongs (see more about MKALs here). In 2018, however, I’ve decided to skip the mysteries and instead have more control over the exact style and colours of my finished pieces so they make the most of my yarn stash and fit gaps in my wardrobe.
Once you have considered what will make you happy with your knitting, you can start to make plans based on these priorities.
It is at this point that we may realise that we need to accommodate quite contradictory desires- e.g. realising that we need to build in a balance of both taxing and more relaxed projects, or pieces that will take a long time to complete and some others that give more immediate gratification.
We may also come to the realisation that our intended projects really won’t fulfil our overall priorities- e.g. lace and cabled projects, while fun and producing a beautiful end result, are perhaps not best for knitters who have prioritised easy, tv knitting they can do at the end of the day.
How to succeed in your plans
To help you succeed in your knitting plans, I thought I would share some of my own strategies in approaching some of the main resolutions made by knitters – to be more productive, to knit from stash and to go beyond the familiar and learn new techniques. There is, of course, no one, right way to approach your knitting, but I hope the following may help you achieve your aims this year!
(By the way, I am in no way affiliated with Ravelry.com, I am just a huge fan – as the frequent references to the site show!)
3 Knitting Resolutions and how to achieve them
Resolution 1: Be more productive!
Make pattern plans: The fantastic knitting and crochet website Ravelry.com (here) not only has a massive database of patterns to choose from, but also great options for planning your knitting. If you enjoy making detailed goals, you can use the queue facility to list the specific patterns you plan to make (see above). Alternatively, if you feel constrained by a long ‘to do’ list, you can pick more general goals – e.g. knit a cosy winter sweater or socks with fancy heels – and then make a bundle of patterns for this goal, from which you can pick a pattern at a later date. (See examples of bundles below.)
Track your progress: Ravelry also has a new goal function that can be accessed through your projects page (see below). Here you can set an aim of pieces to knit within the year and Ravelry automatically keeps track of your progress by linking to planned projects, works in progress and completed pieces. See more information about how to set up this facility, plus FAQs at Ravelry homepage at Ravelry.com.
Podcast and Social media knit alongs– Many podcasters run year-long knit alongs (kals) that encourage participants to knit a certain type and/or number of items, e.g. knitted Christmas ornaments, Harry Potter themed garments, sweaters for your wardrobe. One particularly popular example is the Box o Socks kal hosted by Kristen from the Yarngasm podcast, in which participants knit at least 12 pairs of socks during the year- see the Instagram hashtags #boxosoxkal or #boxosoxkal2018, the Yarngasm Ravelry group (here), or Kristen’s website (here). On Instagram, you can also share your goals for the year and gain support from other makers, for example, in the hashtag #2018makenine.
Old, unfinished projects?: If you have old projects that you want to get off the needles, you may find the Stash Dash knit along hosted by the Knit Girlll podcasters gives you an extra boost. The popular knit along takes place from about mid May to mid July and encourages you to complete your WIPs (works in progress) and use up stash yarn. Your progress is measured in the meterage/yardage of yarn that you knit, crochet orr spin, with about 5 targets ranging from 1,000 to 10,000m. See their group at Ravelry (here), or website (here).
Pattern clubs: Some designers also run pattern clubs in which patterns are published throughout the year or over a few months. Knitting these patterns as they are released can be a great way to achieve your goals of e.g. knitting 3 shawls or 6 pairs of socks in a year. Helen Stewart hosted a very popular Shawl Society kal in 2016 and 2017, and this year will be running a sock pattern kal- Sock Society #1. Intended for adventurous beginners to intermediate knitters, the kal begins in early February, with participants receiving 6 botanically-inspired, pretty sock patterns every other month, ending in December 2018. For more details, see Ravelry (here) or Helen’s website (here).
Resolution 2: Knit from stash!
Catalogue your collection: if you aim to knit from your yarn stash, it is handy to have a clear record of exactly what you have to choose from. This can involve a fairly simple rummage through your collection, or you can use the facility offered by Ravelry.com to catalogue your yarn and books in detail.
Keep track of your progress: Whether you are going ‘cold sheep’ and knitting only from stash, going on a yarn diet and buying less yarn, or simply wish to see your progress, it can be helpful to keep a record of your incoming and outgoing yarn. Ravelry’s stash facility means that you can enter details about yardage/meterage and, if you select a stash yarn for a new project, it will automatically subtract any yarn used from your stash.
Ideas for knitting from stash: Ravelry is also a fantastic resource if you’re trying to knit from your stash yarn- simply enter the name of a yarn in the general search box and the listing for the yarn will not only provide full details about its weight, gauge, yardage/meterage but will also give you ‘Pattern ideas’ that show the most common patterns knitted by ravelers using the yarn (-you can even specify the quantity of yarn you have available).
Help from an expert: The online teaching platform, Craftsy has a couple of classes designed to help you when knitting from stash- Clara Parkes presents Stashbusting: Make the Most of the Yarns You Have – see website (here), while Sally Melville hosts a similar class, Stashbusting Secrets for Sweater Knitting & More – see (here).
Community support: You can find inspiration and support in stash knitting by looking through Instagram hashtags #stashbusting and #coldsheep, or searching in Ravelry groups.
Resolution 3: Go beyond the familiar and learn new techniques!
Online classes and inspiration: Online teaching platforms, such as Craftsy, have multiple classes devoted to specific knitting skills, from improving finishing techniques to more advanced cables, lace and colourwork. Free videos on youtube can also be a fantastic resource to introduce you to new techniques, sometimes providing in-depth explanations and examples- e.g. Very Pink Knits (here) provides very clear tutorials that cover a wide range of techniques, as well as guidance for specific patterns which can often be applied to other projects.
Technique books: there are a vast array of techniques and styles of knitting to explore, but if you’re not sure where to start, you might like to have a look at A Year of Techniques by Jen Arnall-Culliford, which provides 12 patterns and tutorials designed to introduce you to new skills, e.g. helical stripes, intarsia, steeks and short rows. See more at Ravelry (here).
Expanding your pattern horizons: Ravelry can, again, be very handy if you want to find patterns that will extend your skills or provide an alternative approach: in the advanced pattern search, you can focus on patterns that use specific styles of construction, regional styles, design elements, even specific types of heel or toe for socks.
Over to you:
Do you enjoy making knitting plans for the new year? What are your aims this year? What are your tips for achieving your knitting goals?