Moving From Amateur to Professional Knitter

Swatching for a new design project
Swatching for a new design project

You may or may not think of knitting as a creative outlet. For me it is. Knitting is the part of me that brings meaning, challenge and joy to my life. Creativity is in all of us. A result of being in what is called “creative flow” is professionalism; becoming really good at what you do. We’re all capable of coming up with original ideas and turning them into outstanding work in any field. In the end, you decide what knitting means to you. You may be happy right where you are, knitting to relax or making the occasional garment, but what if your desire is to move beyond the amateur stage. The following are signs of a pro.

Signs of a Pro

  1. You love knitting so much you can always find the time to do it. Loving what you do is enjoying the process. When you’re in the zone or creative flow, you’re focused on the process of knitting. So much so you lose track of time and ignore distractions. This is the creative process at its best, doing it no matter what.
  2. Be a sponge. You want to learn new things and absorb as much information and influences from outstanding creators in your field. Even though I’m an experienced knitter, there are still things I need to try like the magic loop, and working with steeks. You can’t expect to produce great work without the knowledge of the past experts in your field.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. Any artist will tell you lots of ideas and research mean nothing without doing something with those ideas. The musician who practices six hours a day in preparation for a concert. The painter who copies the masters to understand technique. The knitter whose made so many sweaters from other sources, that she finally designs a project from scratch. You’ll never reach perfection, but practice will get you close. In order to do something well, you need to experiment, try new things, and challenge yourself. This effort becomes a good habit that you’ll repeat over and over.
  4. Knitting is incredibly forgiving. Don’t be afraid to rip back your work and start over. Unlike sewing, knitting has the unique quality of being able to start over without ruining the fabric. The goal is the best final project, and it’s not a big deal if you have to start over; only a loss of time.
  5. Join a knitting community. Every creative needs some feedback to become really good. Take classes, go to trade shows, join online communities, knit samples for designers, write patterns, or teach. The things you can achieve with your skills are immense.
  6. Take care of your hands, neck, and shoulders. There are many health benefits to knitting, because of its meditative qualities. But it is a repetitive activity, and over doing it can cause issues like carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritic wrists that may prevent you from doing what you love. There are times when I have knitted far too long to meet deadlines, and suffered bouts of carpal tunnel. The worst episode was tingly fingers for a few months. Don’t let this scare you off; it’s important to take regular breaks and stretch your hands, neck, and shoulders. The neck and shoulders are common areas to hold a lot of tension from leaning over your work.

If you want to move from being an amateur to a professional: love what you do, try new things, challenge yourself, practice, engage with other knitters, and take care of your body so you can spend your valuable time on what you love most. May your knitting journey be a long one.