The Art of the Finished Project

Written by Mary Ann Gebhardt for Knitter's Pride 


Knitters know the excitement of walking into a yarn store, drawn in by the textures and colors. Then, you see a display of knitting needles, cases, crochet hooks, knitting magazines, and finished knitted samples. These displays are great at enticing us to start a new knitting project, but how can we stay motivated to finish the projects that we start? Let's explore the art of the finished project.



First, it is important to choose a project that will keep us motivated and excited: something that is not too difficult, and yet it can keep our attention. Most importantly, the project must offer joy as we knit. For example, a cowl is much less of an undertaking than a sweater.  A cowl has less shaping than mittens, gloves, or socks. It can be knitted in the round with circular needles, which is perfect for meditation or car trips. 


If there is an expensive yarn that you have been yearning to knit with that might be too costly for a sweater, a cowl is usually a one- or two-skein project. If you ever wanted to design a pattern, a cowl is a great project to start with. If all this writing about cowls speaks to you, click here for a free cowl pattern.



Instead of a cowl, you might be excited and ready to knit a sweater. I recommend bringing mindfulness to your sweater, too. Invest a little time each day as you would with your meditation practice. Break the project down into manageable pieces so you do not get overwhelmed. For example, try telling yourself, “Today, I’ll knit part of the front,” or “Today, I'll knit the cuffs of the sleeves.” Stay on track with a few rows each day.


If it's a complicated stitch pattern, invest in a Knitting Pattern Holder, which will fold up and keep your place. Use knitting accessories to keep track of your stitches and rows. Knitting offers us an opportunity to be present. I've learned that I’m that person that gets things done by force instead of enjoying the process—not only in knitting, but in many aspects of my life. So I remind myself that I don't need to wear this today, rather I want to enjoy each row. With compassion, we can learn about ourselves through the art of knitting.


What should you do if there are unfinished projects that no longer hold your interest or bring you joy? Re-purpose the yarn by ripping it out and placing the yarn neatly in a basket. Allow a new project to bring that yarn to life. Release judgment, and feel excited about letting go of that unfinished project. Somehow for me, having new skeins ready for the next project feels much better. The unfinished projects are there to teach us what we don’t want, so we can pick a better project for ourselves next time.



"Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun." ~ Christina Rossetti