I often find myself explaining my job (and hobby) to people who don’t knit. This year, Alexa and I have been thinking and writing about why we love knitting, and I’ve found myself really struggling to explain it!
In trying to figure out why I personally love knitting and spinning, I’ve come up against a bit of a black box. In his thought-provoking book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the way people love to wrap reasons around their impulses, to rationalize them, because we crave a logical story. We wanna answer the WHY question. But the thing is, it turns out that often these stories and excuses often don’t have any connection to the real drivers of our intuitive actions. The true reasons are squirrelled away in a different part of our mind, inside a black box, and we can’t look in.
So as I’m feeling stumped in my quest to understand my own love of this strange hobby, I’ll tell you a few of the 101 reasons NOT to knit…
Knitting is an EXPENSIVE hobby
I’m not kidding here. Well, OK, maybe I am, just a little! But when you tell somebody you knit, and they respond with a great story about how their Nana used to knit to save money, you know you’re in for a snoozer because THIS person does NOT knit. Yes, I know there are, in fact, lower-cost yarns. You can recycle yarns and by spinning your own, you can create luxury yarns at a lower cost. But our friend the non-knitter’s eyes will pop right out of their head if you told them how much you spent on the small-batch-artisanal, local-organic, ethically hand-dyed yarn for the shawl you have casually wrapped around your neck. And that’s without counting the hours you spent in the knitting, which leads us to my next reason not to knit…
Knitting takes FOREVER
It would be much more efficient to go to a thrift shop and buy a second-hand jumper. Seriously. You could probably take a 10-hour bus ride to a city near you (or even to a neighbouring country), spend the day visiting several thrift shops, buy a sweater, take another 10-hour bus ride back home, and do all of this in less time (and for less money – see my previous point) than knitting that sweater yourself. Buuuuuuuut… I suspect the knitters in the audience would simply be contemplating how many knitting projects they’d take along for the bus ride, am I right?!
Hand knit garments don’t come out as polished as ready-mades
Please, feel free to argue this point until you are blue in the face. I know ya wanna!
Some experienced knitters really ‘nail’ the combination of pattern, yarn choice, and knit with skill that transforms their sweaters into works of art. But let’s be honest, the majority of us aren’t making items that are all THAT polished. At least not consistently. Honestly. Just scroll through the millions of projects we’ve listed on Ravelry, or visit your local knit night.
Knitting takes a lot of time to learn (at least the complex bits)
Sure, the basics can be learned in an afternoon, but then you want to knit a sweater that you really love, maybe with some colourwork or cables? Trust me, it takes some practice (maybe a decade?) to get to that perfect wardrobe staple you needed when you imagined totally transforming your life in a pastoral, foreign village with a handsome widower like Jude Law (yes, I’m talking about The Holiday). And at the end of that decade, I’ve ended up with wrinkles and a couple of bratty kids, and I don’t need Jude Law anymore… or maybe I do, even more than ever? Nah… my foreigner is plenty adorable…
Knitting doesn’t bring you sex appeal, respect, or status
Try it…really. Try picking somebody up using your epic knitting skills as a conversation starter. Try mentioning at a party that you’re a knitting instructor or that the hobby you just can’t get enough of is KNITTING. It never goes well for me. Nobody gets it, well…except for those rare few gems who do!
BLAH…who cares about why?
You’re probably reading this because you already really, really, like REALLY, love to knit, so please excuse the blathering nonsense of this post. You and I will just keep doing what we love, despite the 101 reasons why it doesn’t make much sense, at least to the rational mind.
The one answer I’ve come to is that I’m not likely to understand my own love, at least not with the help of logic, so I’d better stop wasting time and cast on something new!
What about you?
Can you contribute more reasons not to knit? Do you have your own reason-excuses to explain why you knit? Stories you’re not ready to let go of? Or are you one of those who’d prefer to argue my above points? Let ‘er rip!
Valerie St Jean
February 25, 2022 @ 5:17 am
Don’t knit, it can be so frustrating and even make you cry! I’ve made mistakes in patters or dropped stitches and not realized the issue until many hours of knitting later. I’ve had to rip out entire sweaters and start over, but ultimately it has only increased the sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and pride when it had been completed. It can be like an argument or disagreement with a friend, you’re so mad and swear you’ll never knit again. But then you want to fix it cause you love it and you want it to be better. You solve the problem, figure out where you went wrong, learn from it and realize you’ve grown and have become a better knitter.
Knitting is a very emotional relationship but so very worth it♥️❤️
February 25, 2022 @ 1:51 pm
I love the description of knitting as an emotional relationship. It sure can be!
February 24, 2022 @ 12:02 pm
Reason Not to Knit: Everyone you know (and strangers too) will tell you (meant to be a compliment I’m sure) you should Sell, Sell, Sell your work, and some of them can be annoyingly persistent about it even after you explain the well below ⬇️ poverty line wages one would earn for the time and materials invested. Also a discouraging reason not to post your accomplishments on your social media except for your dedicated knitting groups is the same or having people send you pictures of ridiculous things they want you to knit for them for nothing or maybe “I’ll even pay for the yarn”. Just NOT what a knitter wants to see.
February 3, 2022 @ 8:37 pm
The real question is, “why not knit?”
February 3, 2022 @ 8:56 am
Why not knit: yarn stash beyond reasonable life expectancy.
Attraction to all the pretty colours.
February 3, 2022 @ 7:08 am
I started kniting again when my first grandchild was expected. I look at that blanket now and cringe a bit at the mistakes. Everything I make is “unique” (code for not perfect!) but my grands don’t care. My mother was an amazing knitter and I have passed on all the kids clothes she knit to the new generation. They were well looked after and still look great.
February 3, 2022 @ 6:59 am
I volunteered to knit school cardigans for my granddaughter, her Mum, my non-knitter daughter replied with “no thank you, I don’t want her to look like one of the poor kids”! That was a good enough reason for me to stop knitting for them!!
February 3, 2022 @ 2:04 pm
What a response! A good reason to stop knitting for them indeed.
February 4, 2022 @ 7:47 am
Aw how sad! My daughter is nearly 40 and refuses to let go of a cardigan knitted by my mum for her when she was 3! My mum knitted school jumpers for my boys too. Xxx
February 3, 2022 @ 5:53 am
I knit because I enjoy the activity of it. I have a small circle of knitting friends and we get together when it’s safe outside or zoom to knit.
February 3, 2022 @ 4:28 am
Almost every night I need to ice my wrist because I am in pain from knitting and it keeps me from doing Things I should be doing like cleaning out drawers and making doctor’s appointments, blah, blah, blah… But it fills that creative need and mostly makes me happy and a bit obsessed.
February 3, 2022 @ 1:14 am
Knitting is rather addictive! :) It requires discipline, in order to stop and prioritize tasks…
But even discipline, is part of the lessons that knitting brings along.
Knitting has showed me that it is important to… Enjoy the process, make one loop at the time, be present, patient and wait for the big results, do a bit of effort every day, get rest. It can be applied in many aspects of our life. Every time I pick the needles I use the knitting time to remind myself with every loop those thoughts.
Happy knitting everyone 🌸
January 11, 2022 @ 12:32 pm
Why NOT knit? There isn’t enough time to knit through my stash so I should just give up. Why knit? It helps fill the minutes in between and during. It calms me, and like so many helps keeps me out of jail (especially in long lines, long meetings, some family gatherings). It’s something that I can do. I’m not particularly “creative” but when I watch a project develop, or finish something and it comes out pretty, I feel really good.
January 11, 2022 @ 1:50 am
I have always knitted. Why do I do it? I love making things and the feel of the yarn. It gives me satisfaction when I finish something. I can do other things at the same time, binge watch tv, read, listen to an audiobook or music and feel relaxed. I am doing something! I also crochet, which means that I can do something more fiddly and creative but cant read at the same time. I have to be careful who I give knitted items to. My brother in law, husband and one nephew love my socks!
January 10, 2022 @ 9:03 am
The downside to knitting is that almost none of my friends knit so it’s hard to find a close friend to chat about fibre and patterns with. The upside is that I am somewhat unique among my friends and most people are generally very appreciative of the handknits that I give them. Mind you, they’d probably be more appreciative if they knew how long it took to knit said gift!
January 10, 2022 @ 7:07 am
Sanity. I knit because it distracts the frenetic part of my brain so that the rest of that beloved organ can function clearly and efficiently..important for my day job (civil engineer). Also, it’s more socially acceptable to knit than to randomly slap people who have no sense.
January 11, 2022 @ 12:26 pm
I knit during Zoom meetings and some face to face. It gives me joy to know that I am being paid to knit!
January 14, 2022 @ 3:57 am
That last sentence made me laugh out loud, Angela!! Thanks for that. 😊
January 10, 2022 @ 7:04 am
I knit to feed my creative soul. I love to be productive and knitting and sewing serve both purposes. When we produce something we fell up our buckets and self-esteem. In our hectic and whirlwind lives, knitting allows me to sit and be relatively still. Rare in this world today.
January 7, 2022 @ 1:16 pm
Great article!! I knit while hubby is changing channels it’s a marriage saver and what spend on knitting is nothing compared to his fishing. Ups usually delivers something wonderful while he is away
January 7, 2022 @ 12:44 pm
Reason NOT TO knit: It is a very trial and error hobby. You might have the perfect pattern, all the skills you need and some gorgeous yarn, and after months of work, you put on that beautiful Alpaca work of art, only to discover that the wonderful sweater you were so proud of at 8 in the morning, is a saggy dress by noon! Because that is the nature of Alpaca yarn. My main reason TO knit? I was a single mom from day one of my child’s life. But I watched sales bins, and bought yarn from other people’s stashes, and at garage sales etc. And my son grew up in bitterly cold Canada, dressed elegantly in totally unique sweaters, hats etc, because he was special and unique. He never, ever knew that we were dirt poor!
January 7, 2022 @ 12:53 pm
I also have a really naughty reason TO KNIT. I am now heading towards my 70th birthday, and I teach MEN to knit. Gorgeous, muscular, handsome young me, some of them. And I often meet them in restaurants to show them how to correct a mistake, or learn something new. And every young girl, and even a few older gals in the place, STARE at us, trying to figure out what they are seeing. “IS this her grandson? Her boyfriend? Her LOVER? (GASP!)” And I smile enigmatically at them, sometimes even wave at them, thinking “Eat your heart out, because I have 100% of his attention right now.” I’m like the Betty White of the knitting world, and it is so much fun!
January 10, 2022 @ 8:59 am
February 3, 2022 @ 12:51 am
Best reason ever! Also, good for these men to learn how to knit.
January 7, 2022 @ 4:42 am
Knitting is just plain fun! If you want to, you can try something new with every garment you make. But one of the things I like best is that it turns non-productive TV watching, car passenger-ing, flying, sitting around, time productive. I binged that Netflix show AND I made a gorgeous cabled scarf. I flew to a vacation and I made a pair of socks! I listened to an audiobook and created a fair isle sweater! Magic!
January 6, 2022 @ 9:47 pm
I have a good reason TO knit!
I started knitting because I needed something (crafty) to keep my hands busy, that I didn’t associate with smoking, when I was quitting smoking.
Now I carry it even when my knit-jo is down, because it’s my security blanket
January 6, 2022 @ 5:07 pm
Another reason not to knit? Brain space! I spend so much time thinking about, planning, plotting and pondering my knitting that my brain would be wildly available if I stopped. Never mind, I am never going to stop so I will just have to fit things in there around that knitting content.
January 6, 2022 @ 2:24 pm
Why NOT to knit? Patterns aren’t the easiest to follow at times, you can’t fake it if you make a mistake, sometimes you have to completely rip it out if you do make a mistake, if you have been on medication for nerve pain that messes with your memory it’s hard to keep track of your counts…and that’s just me! But I love this post and your Scotsman IS adorable! 🙂
Alicia C Hathcock
January 6, 2022 @ 2:15 pm
I laughed & laughed while reading this! Yup to every point you made especially about it not bringing you respect or sexiness. How many times lately have I heard someone say that knitting is for old ladies as though it’s a craft you only aspire to once you’ve enrolled in Medicare. Or I think of the side eye I get from my non-shawl wearing sisters when they see my latest that perfectly matches my sweater. SIGH I love what I make & wear even if it’s not perfect. The joy of soft happy colored yarn sliding through my fingers as I ssk or the pride I feel when I’ve figured out how to do a new stitch is good for not only my aging brain, but my need for pretty aesthetics, too. And that is why I knit & will continue to do so. <3 Happy knitting!
January 6, 2022 @ 1:01 pm
On a more serious note, it does keep me from eating when I’m doing other things like watching tv. Can’t get oils on that yarn!
January 6, 2022 @ 1:00 pm
I knit so I don’t stab annoying people with my sharp sticks. :)
January 9, 2022 @ 2:15 pm
Yep. Totally get it.
January 6, 2022 @ 12:39 pm
All true but the heart wants what the heart wants…and the heart wants alpaca. Or cashmere. Or woolen spun rustic speckled handpainted…
January 6, 2022 @ 12:13 pm
I knit because, as a recent retiree, I needed a new goal to conquer. I knit to keep dementia at bay. I knit because I meet the best people. I knit to keep my family warm.
Natural State Knits/ Kay
February 3, 2022 @ 5:44 am
I knit because it just brings me joy. When I was a small child, my grandmother rocked me. I loved being rocked by her. She was the person I loved most in my young life. Knitting gives me that same peaceful all-is-safe, I-am-loved feeling. And at this mental-pause stage of life, it is just something I can do with excellence without much brain power.
January 6, 2022 @ 12:06 pm
I loved this article. People will say “you knit? How nice” but what they don’t understand is that it keeps my hands busy and my mind sharp. Also I just enjoy it. So that’s enough right?
January 6, 2022 @ 11:45 am
One of my friends started knitting Sanquar gloves as they were the most complicated and challenging form of knitting she could find. While not that masochistic I do enjoy a challenge. Learning something new keeps the aged brain from fossilising. Knitting endless granny squares may be for some, but if forced into it can also be used to practise shadow knitting or other technique. Besides if I don’t fill some shelves with lovely knitting books my husband will just buy more books than ever.
January 6, 2022 @ 11:42 am
Thank you for your honesty. It brought joy to my heart . Friends don’t understand why I enjoy knitting and weaving. I have tried to explain, but it was of no use. I am thankful for the fibre community out there. 💖
January 6, 2022 @ 10:29 am
You can apply your ideas to almost any “hands on” artform. Be it slow, medium or a little faster model.
Why do I for example take paper (in the main), tear/cut it up, stick/stitch it back down paper…sometimes make it ready to hang or make another handmade book/other.
And yes I can knit and spin but nowadays my hand disabilities make it too hard…
January 6, 2022 @ 9:04 am
I knew my hubby was a keeper when we were dating, and one night, after supper and over a film, he asked why I never picked up the knitting when he was there. He really didn’t mind if I did whilst we were curled up with a good film and a glass of wine. 16 years later he still wears everything I’ve ever knitted for him, only wears handmade socks, and can pick yarn like a champ.
January 6, 2022 @ 8:56 am
I’ve always been interested in crafting with fibers and fabric. I never could get the hang of knitting and crocheting. I have a hard time visualizing the dance from verbal instructions and couldn’t find someone to show me that was patient. I found a lady at work who is passionate about knitting who offered to teach me then ran out of patience. But she talked me into some expensive yarn and circular needles which sat, forlorn for a couple of years. When I had Covid a year ago and was trapped in my home I ran across them and thought, why not try to finish this? What else are you doing? I found a LOT of really knowledgeable and patient teachers on YouTube and I was off. I’ve come to knitting late in life and find I have less need to justify my newfound love for it to myself or anyone else. It’s expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s time consuming, but I can do multiple things I love and knit, like listening to books and music. I get to work with colors in ways that I can see, as my eyesight is becoming progressively worse. I revel in the various textures of the yarn and enjoy figuring out appealing ways to combine those visual and touchable textures into something that brings me joy, and joy to the people I give what I make. But, my number one reason for knitting is that when I’m working on something for someone else, it gives me an opportunity to remember why I love those people, or am grateful for them and why they are beautiful to me and hope that by making this thing for them that they can see how much they mean to me.
January 6, 2022 @ 8:19 am
I was waiting for my partner at the doctor’s office a couple of weeks ago and a woman across from me admired my pullover (jumper for UK). When I showed her my socks she absolutely refused to believe that I knitted them and she was a knitter! Why did I bother knitting a pair of intricately stitched socks? BECAUSE i CAN!!!
January 6, 2022 @ 7:45 am
I only knit for those I love – or for babies.
Sometimes for the babies it turns out that my Bounce blanket is the only hand-knitted garment they have, so that’s a good feeling. My son’s best friend just sent photo of child#2 wrapped in a Bounce blanket knitted for child#1. First thing he was wrapped in. How good is that?
For those I love it’s great when they tell you they’re wearing my knitting – so today my adult daughter is wearing the dress I knitted for her a decade ago (Debbie Bliss pattern, Fair Isle yoke).
Sometimes it makes me laugh – grandson decided to wear all his knitted items from me – scarf, hat, mittens and all in one striped suit at once…..
I have just knitted a hat and mitten set for a dear friend with a serious health problem. Her husband said “she is smitten with the mittens”.
Perhaps also because I can always spot a hand-knitted item. My sister knitted a sweater for my son, it went through a few children we knew then I saw it on an unknown child – his mum had bought it at a school clothes sale. Still looking good years later.
January 6, 2022 @ 7:12 am
Another reason to not knit: Storage space. Bins, shelves, drawers, closets, whole rooms taken up my well-intentioned skeins of yarn.
But why knit: Because to others, it’s magic. Being able to make beautiful creations out of string is amazing. Because we are creatures designed by the most creative of creators to share in the joy and beauty of creation. We can’t help it. We are compelled. It’s why artists paint, musicians compose, quilters quilt, writers write.
February 24, 2022 @ 12:11 pm
Amazingly well said! All true:) My Craft Office is bursting at the seams so to speak.
January 6, 2022 @ 6:51 am
I love knitting because it calms me & almost makes me feel so much better! Love your article!
January 6, 2022 @ 6:32 am
Love this article. I’m sure the folks at Bob Evans restaurant were wondering what was I reading that was so funny. Thanks for the morning pick me up.
I’ve been knitting so long I can’t remember a time when I wasnt or didnt know how. I may have even been born/hatched with needles in my hands wondering where the next yarn crawl was. My mom knitted her suits. SUITS. We’re talking a jacket and a mid calf skirt in boucle on probably size 1 needles. All my dolls had diaper sets and bonnets. And my Barbie & Ken dolls had knitted things. Its in my blood.
I’m also a machine knitter. Now thats also a hard conversation starter. Everyone looks at me like I’m cheating. Oh well. Each to their own.
January 6, 2022 @ 6:31 am
I’d have to say, I agree with all of your points. Especially the last point, who cares? I will admit though, I enjoy hearing why others love to knit. Proof maybe, that I’m not totally nuts?
January 6, 2022 @ 6:18 am
I had to put my knitting aside because of an arthritis flare up so I can’t hold the needles without causing pain. In the meantime I am bored silly.
January 6, 2022 @ 5:05 pm
Oh, I am sorry! I hope your arthritis settles back down so you can get back to it.