Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Knitter's Block

I am tied to my desk chair this morning which seems to be the only way I'm ever going to get organized. I have not picked up a needle yet (which I usually do while waiting for coffee to brew), bound and determined not to lose track of time once again and blow through the morning without doing paperwork. While searching on my computer, I saw this Knitter's Block piece stored in my "Yarns" folder. Now I know I personally saved it (no one else would) but I haven't the faintest idea where I found it or who wrote it. My apologies to its thoughtful author for printing it here without credit, but this is too good not to share.

When the Needles are Silent: Surviving Knitter's Block
Nearly every knitter has experienced a slump at one time or another. Knitting slumps can be a result of stressful circumstances, over-involvement in other activities, or simply a lack of inspiration for whatever reason. For many, stressful moments inspire a rush of knitting activity. Others find that stress stifles all desire to knit whatsoever.

If you're experiencing knitter's block, the most important thing to remember is that this, too, shall pass. While you're waiting, here are a few techniques that may help you kick-start the knitting process once again.

Sort Your Stash: Go through your yarn stash, pull out any yarns that don't inspire you, and either give them away, sell them, or place them in storage out of sight. If you're uninspired, the last thing you need is a dusty stash filled with good but unfulfilled intentions.

Whip Your WIPs Into Shape: Do the same thing with all your current works in progress (WIPs). Take them out from their hiding places and try to be as realistic as possible. Will you really ever finish them? Does the mere idea of looking at them send dread down your spine? Do you like the yarn but dislike how it's turning out?

Sometimes the circumstances surrounding an unfinished project can hinder your ability to finish it, especially if they bring up painful memories. For example, I was simply unable to return to a baby sweater I was knitting when my grandfather died.

Don't Be Afraid to Recycle: If any of these apply to your projects, it's time to do some recycling. Grit your teeth, rip out the yarn, and save it for something else. If you'll never be able to look at the yarn without thinking of the failed project, see if anyone else would either like the unfinished project or the yarn. If you can't quite declare the projects dead, you can still pack them up and get them out of your sight.

Hit the Books: Treat yourself to an afternoon of browsing any old knitting magazines and pattern books you haven't used lately. Slumps can often occur if you've been repeating the same type of project and not challenging your knitting skills. It's possible that your mind has moved on from your previous projects, and looking at new designs will open up the floodgates of inspiration.

Dump the Discipline: Slumps can also occur if you're stuck knee-deep in an intricate, complicated project, especially if you've tried to discipline yourself by saying, "I can't do anything else until I finish this." Nonsense! Pick a quick-knitting project so you can experience the gratification of a finished project. I can't count the number of bulky sweaters that have gotten me out of slumps.

Teach Yourself Something New: Find a knitting technique book and pick something that has always intrigued you. Is it entrelac? Fair isle? Or perhaps simply different cables? Try the techniques on small swatches without assigning them to a brand new project. Just getting the yarn in your hands again and discovering something new can kick-start your creativity. Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns and Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns contain endless assortments of great new stitches and techniques to try.

Broaden Your Yarn Horizons: Try new yarns.

Break Loose from Obligation: Are you bogged down by a long list of gifts you intended to knit for other people? Sometimes this sense of obligation can suck the fun out of knitting. Take a break and do something for yourself -- perhaps a pair of soft booties, a small pillow (this is also a great way to try new stitches), or a quick sweater. Trust me, the world won't come to an end if your gifts never get made.

Take it Easy: Most important of all, be gentle on yourself. If none of these techniques inspires you, don't push it. Nothing can sap your creativity like forced knitting. Just relax, try to engage in other activities you enjoy, and trust that your knitting muse will return when it's ready.


  1. I have always referred to bead block, and I think all the same principles apply. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow...this can be applied to knitting, quilting, painting...any of our myriad passions, can't it? Thanks for this post, I will link to it in my blog later today!

    Debby McC/Quiltnbee