Want to challenge yourself and take your hobby to the next level?
It’s natural to look for something new. We humans just love looking for the next new shiny thing we can get busy with. We want a bit of excitement so that we can be motivated again to pursue our hobbies or just add some variety to our activities. It’s just human nature to try to renew our motivation and interests.
Take your knitting to the next level
This similarly applies to knitting. Although knitting is often thought of as routine and “non-exciting”, looking for something new is also common here. We prefer the routine and the relaxing experience (especially the stability and certainty) of knitting, but we still crave for something new when it comes to what type of projects we take on.
Do you still remember when you’re just starting with the hobby? Your hands were still awkward when doing the stitches and perhaps you felt that you had no idea what you’re doing. Perhaps your mum or grandma guided you through the process (or an instructor guided you). And through time and with enough practice, your hands were getting faster and the movement became automatic and second nature to you.
Right now knitting a beanie or pair of socks is a breeze. You can complete a small knitting project even without your full attention. This is a result of gaining the required muscle memory to complete a task (this saves your brain some energy so that you can pay attention to somewhere else).
And as things get more stable and routine, your mind starts to wander off. This applies to many things such as your career, business and even retirement. For instance, in many modern jobs there’s often an exciting learning curve at the start. But that excitement and learning flattens out starting from 6 months and beyond. Everything becomes routine and often as we become introduced to the boredom, we look for more tasks and higher responsibilities (or we look for other jobs that may give us a fresh start). This also happens in business wherein first we have to learn the ins and outs (setting up the business, market research, dealing with suppliers and customers, gaining a competitive edge, stabilising the business). But as we get used to all that and as the business gets profitable, we now start to seek new opportunities. Perhaps selling more products or offering more services starts to make sense. It feels the perfect time to expand our comfort zones and explore where our best efforts can take us.
This also applies even in retirement. After all we’re always looking for something to keep ourselves occupied. Staying at the local cafe at the morning and taking a walk in the late afternoon every day won’t be enough. Sooner or later retirees try other things such as knitting, exercising or even starting a new business (which somehow defeats the purpose of retirement). Indeed, we always look for something new or we want to take things to the next level.
Knitting is not that different from most pursuits and endeavours. At the beginning the excitement is there as you learn how to stitch and as you explore the possibilities (a wide variety of patterns is available). The various colours of yarns and kinds of projects overwhelm many beginners. The possibilities are exciting and perhaps when you’re just a beginner you can’t wait to take on your first project.
But after knitting a few pairs of socks, beanies, home accessories and other “simple” and small projects, you begin to feel bored. It’s a healthy kind of boredom because you just want to explore further and know what’s beyond. Perhaps you also feel that it’s time to take it to the next level and take on more complex and intimidating projects.
Should you first focus on your knitting skill?
Just like any other skill, you get good at knitting by regularly doing it. Through the centuries humans still best learn through motion and repetition. If you knit daily (even if it’s just 30 minutes a day), in time you get good at it and you even make the motions automatic.
It’s likely you’ve noticed that already. But you feel like you’ve hit a wall and you must overcome it. In the past you might had tried going around that wall by having other pursuits and hobbies (perhaps you’ve tried outdoor hobbies). But knitting keeps pulling you in because the hobby actually becomes part of the routine. Also, you can do the hobby anytime and all the tools you need are just lying around. There’s not much “barrier” in performing an indoor hobby such as knitting. In contrast, other hobbies such as swimming, travelling and cooking require going outdoors or preparing lots of supplies and tools.
Because of the ease of knitting in terms of starting the hobby anywhere and anytime, this spells a huge opportunity for people who want to improve in their craft. Throughout the day you can surely find time to practice your craft and make most of the knitting motions automatic. Doing this daily or as often as possible is the only sure-fire way to improve your knitting skills.
When we say improvement this doesn’t always mean better speed or the ability to multi-task (perhaps knitting while talking on the phone). Improvement can also mean that the struggle is no longer there whenever you do the knitting. Remember the first time you tried to do the knit and purl stitches? The entire experience was uncomfortable and both your hands were in awkward movements and positions. Your mind wasn’t able to keep up with the instructions. But as with all other skills, you overcame the challenge because of sufficient practice.
Then you noticed that you were improving because the struggle and discomfort is not there anymore. Although there are times when you struggle following a pattern, you don’t get stuck anymore and the feeling is more about having another common challenge to overcome (instead of overcoming a seemingly impossible challenge).
Try more intimidating challenges
Often growth is impossible without the challenges. If things drift in the same way as before, expect more of the same. But if you pursue a new path, there’s a good chance that the outcome will follow suit.
This also applies to knitting. The only path for growth is change wherein you have to take on intimidating challenges. For instance, knitting a full adult jacket or blanket can be very intimidating because of the time commitment required. It also seems intimidating because you have to learn how to manage the project and complete it within a reasonable period. The good news is once you complete this level of project, it will be very hard to go back. And yes, it will feel like a major accomplishment because you’ve completed something big.
Handling intimidating projects that require a higher level of focus and commitment can be really satisfying. In addition, you will actually improve your focus which could be mentally therapeutic. This is in huge contrast with modern work and living wherein it’s almost impossible to focus on one particular task over extended periods of time. This then results to stressful lives wherein several things compete for our attention at all times.
Knitting is said to be very relaxing (although at times it’s stressful if you made a mistake or you got stuck). The required focus forces us to think of nothing else and pay attention to the motions instead. At first there’s the discomfort of course, but as you push forward the discomfort goes away. It becomes easier to focus and time flies more quickly.
It’s the perfect time now to take on more intimidating knitting patterns. Yes, from time to time you can still knit small socks and beanies. But if you want to expand your world and really learn about knitting, knitting a big sweater is the way to go.
It’s just another new beginning. There’s always more to knitting because there are virtually unlimited patterns to explore. Also, keep in mind that knitting is more about the experience than the accomplishment. It’s a good way to make time pass and practice your focus. But time spent knitting is always worthwhile because you keep yourself productive and you take a break from the busy and unpredictable world outside.