How to Stay Focused on Long Knitting Projects
Guest Post | 3 min read time
Lydia Morrow is here to share her top tips for managing motivation, and how to make sure you continue to love crafting.
How to stay focused on long knitting projects
In my opinion, the hardest thing about knitting, is actually finishing a project. Funnily enough, I didn’t have this problem with crochet, but the smaller stitches, slower speed, and more complex techniques that I usually encounter in my knitting projects, really have me battling to stay focused lately! Throw in a little bit of neurodivergent brain function, and the lowered attention span we seem to all be suffering from in the post-lockdown world, and I’m spending a heck of a lot of time staring at a jumper with only one sleeve thinking, "I mean, could a one-sleeved jumper be a look?"
Lately though, I’ve been slowly but surely pulling together a bit of a system to help me hold on to my shattered motivation, and - big surprise - it mostly involves getting to know myself better, and learning what helps me keep my creative energy flowing! So if you, like me, feel a bit like your brain says no every time you want to finish something, here are a few tips!
It’s really easy for me to impulsively get excited about a whole slew of future projects while I’m neck deep in a current knit. I think that excited energy is a really positive thing, but it can also sometimes lead to starting projects I don’t actually want to finish because I haven’t given them enough thought.
My first stop to rein in the impulsivity, without losing my momentum, is to pick up my sketchbook and start really planning my knits. Thinking seriously about pattern, techniques, colours, and yarns, helps me feel like I’ve scratched a bit of my new project itch before I even start. It means I really know what my vision is for the piece, and I'll be much less likely to question it mid-way through making.
Once I’ve got all my ideas formalised in my sketchbook, I’ve learned it’s actually a great idea for me personally to have multiple projects going on at once! I know, that seems a little counter-intuitive right? The more I’ve learned how my brain ticks, the more I’ve realised that pushing myself beyond my attention span is just torturing myself for no reason. To stay excited about my work, I need to be able to take breaks and re-gain the spark that got me excited about the piece in the first place, instead of punishing myself by forcing it and ending up hating the project. So, if you feel yourself waning in the middle of a knit, it is absolutely okay to put it away for a little while, and the likelihood is that when you return to it later you’ll be freshly delighted!
The way that I have found it possible to manage multiple projects, is to make sure I reach at least one small, self-directed ‘goal’ on each piece before I put it away to work on another one. Sometimes it’s finishing a sleeve, others it’s getting a certain number of rows or repeats done, and sometimes it’s figuring out how to get 30% done so I know I only have to do it 2 more times. These little goals make me push myself just enough that I have some closure and pride every time I take a break on a piece, instead of feeling like I’ve failed. Then when I revisit it, I usually feel less intimidated because I’m not picking up in the middle of something, I’m picking up from a natural stopping place.
It’s okay to struggle to finish things, and it’s more than okay to take time off (yes, even from projects you are excited about!), and that doesn’t mean you won’t ever finish them! I hope these little tips will help you find the momentum you need, or at least inspire you to go figure out the things that make your individual brain retain its love for knitting!
About Lydia Morrow
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