When you are a beginner knitter or do it as a hobby, it can be difficult to pick and plan a project. There are many things you need to consider: How big is the project? Do I have time for this project? Do I have the skill level for that project? Do I pick an easier project which I know I can manage or do I pick a project that needs more time and effort but builds up my confidence once finished? No matter what you decide to choose, there are some steps you should follow. And some things you have to consider.
Firstly, picking a project can be difficult. If I have orders for something specific, it is easy. The client gives me their wish and I just knit. But when I decide to knit just for fun, for just a sake of having a hobby, it becomes more complicated.
I always have several WIP (work in progress) projects in my knitting basket, so I can always pick something that suits my current mood. I find knitting hats easy. At the moment I have two WIP hats in the basket. For more complicated hats, I knit lace, but with easy ones there is usually no pattern at all.
For projects that I want to knit to improve my skill level, I find patterns that are more complicated and larger in size – cardigans, knee-height socks, shawls etc.
I find it easier to pick something that someone needs, and this keeps the knitting motivation level higher. I knit sweaters for birthdays and Christmas gifts. This helps to decide what to knit, but also gives you the motivation to finish it on time for the gifting event.
Secondly, resources are important. Always pick quality yarn and needles for your bigger projects. You do not want the yarn or the needles to break while you knit. Believe me; it is difficult to find a runaway stitch, much easier is to invest into good equipment. I can knit for about four hours straight, but to do that I need to have yarn that feels great between fingers and needles that are comfortable to hold. You do not want your hands and fingers start to hurt because of low quality needles. If you are not sure which yarn and needles to pick, talk to your local yarn shop employee, they are usually knitters themselves and have good pointers to give.
Resources are not only the yarn and needles, but also skill level and time. Time is a valuable thing, people rarely have it to spare. This is the reason I find time to knit while I do other things. Watching series, movies or just TV, my hands are free to knit and I kill two birds with one stone. You can also knit while reading, but this is already a higher level, as you need to turn the pages and follow your stitches at the same time. It does not matter if you knit while doing something else, or just find time to knit; it is important to plan your time in a way that you manage to finish your project before the deadline.
Thirdly, write everything down! When it is a difficult project and you need to stop knitting in the middle of the row, write down where you left off. Otherwise you will need to measure, count and follow the pattern with a finger, to remember where you left off.
If you choose a different type of yarn or needles, which are not recommended in your pattern, do the calculations on a paper. Write down the amount of stitches this yarn and needles in this stitch have in 10×10 cm. And adapt the pattern to your specifications. Always have the original pattern next to your calculated numbers; you may need to recalculate depending how tight you knit.
Fourthly, if you hit a wall – ask for help. If you found the pattern online, write in the comment section. You can join communities of knitters online, there are websites, there are forums, even Facebook pages, that have people who are more than willing to help you understand parts of your pattern. And sometimes, telling someone about the problem or issue you are having, is helping you to figure it out by yourself. I am a member of Mustrimaailm forum, my questions about patterns, yarns and needles have always been answered which is helpful, as I know that I still have a lot to learn about knitting.
And finally, keep yourself motivated. For me the deadlines help, I never want to miss a deadline, I have set for myself. That is the reason why I started to knit my Christmas presents already in April.
Keep track of your progress, it helps. Some projects can be endless, I know. Especially with shawls that start with a 2 stitch row and end with a 450 stitch row. How does keeping track of your progress help? Easy! It shows you how much you have already done and how little there is still to do. WIP blog posts help, especially if they are with a photograph. Also several knitting communities online have “report you progress” sections where you update your progress every week.
You might think that this blog post is helpful only to knitters, but no, when you really look at it, all the points that I have talked about, can be applied to any field of hobby or work. Firstly, always plan your projects carefully, make a detailed plan of what you want to achieve. Secondly, do not be afraid to push yourself and select projects slightly above your skill level, this is what helps you to learn and grow. Thirdly, resources are the key to success. If you are not confident in some of the fields in your project, ask for help or put together a team that compliments one another. And finally, report your progress during your project; either to your colleagues or your boss. If this is not needed in your field, do it for yourself. It keeps you motivated and points out some tiny details that you might have missed when working on the big picture of the project.