Why knitting? And where do your inspirations come from?

Hi all. Every now and then, I ponder broader questions related to knitting. These questions could easily be applied to any other creative, artistic activity....How do people get inspiration for their next knitting project? How do people stay motivated to keep on knitting? Why do people knit in the first place?...Why choose knitting in particular? Why not weaving, painting, writing, dancing or working on crossword puzzles? What inspires one to knit? The colors and textures of the yarns at the local yarn shop? The challenge in learning a new stitch pattern? A love of fiber in general? An impulse to make functional items such as hats and mittens to keep warm in the winter months? What really keeps you casting on a row of stitches for your next project?....Lots of questions....I am still trying to answer some of these....Happy knitting ( or doing the creative thing you do )......Cullen


bobinthebul's picture

For me it originally had to do with the ability to make something unique for myself that I couldn't buy. It's still a major factor - to know that the scarf or socks I'm wearing are one of a kind in the world, and an expression of my own taste.

It's that same aspect of it that makes me love to give knitted items as gifts. Giving something that I've planned and created is more interesting than looking for something on store shelves and settling for something that I hope the recipient will like. Of course if I knit something that's really fugly, it could also not please, but I choose my recipients pretty carefully!

I also appreciate the time involved, just like watching a plant grow and develop, a knit piece starts as a row of loops, gradually grows and takes shape. Especially when you are using patterned yarn, you never know exactly how it's going to turn out.

I will admit to being a yarn freak; just like a go to the nursery and buy a plant and then wander around the garden searching for a place to plant it, I can definitely see a skein of yarn and buy it because I know I'll love working with it. (Since I do lots of socks, this isn't a big deal...it would be different if I were buying 15 skeins at a time for "some sweater I might make down the line"!)

ronhuber's picture

I learned to knit as a youngster and it was to make useful articles like socks and mitts. Everyone in the family knitted including grandmothers and grandfathers. I stopped knitting for years and then when I took up cross country skiing I knit my own stockings since I couldn't find any made from wool. As an adult I was amazed that I could still do it and the fact that I produced something for myself was rather satisfying. At that time I was into furniture making and had a basement full of tools. This new endeavour could be done anywhere and with five needles and some yarn. I still would rather knit useful articles like socks, mitts, and sweaters. I do knit lace but really it is more decorative than useful. Of all the lace triangular shawls that have been knitted, I have never seen one being worn. That is not to say we shouldn't be knitting them as they are beautiful and challenging. And it gives us satisfaction to create something so intricate. If I had a good friend who asked me to knit a lace shawl, I would do so. However, if I had a friend who said he needed a pair of heavy socks to go hunting, I would be as happy as a pig in @$#%.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I've done many of the things you mention: weaving, painting, crossword puzzles, etc. However, knitting is one of the constants - except for several years in college - since I first learned how. I love the challenges of making colors and stitches work for me in an item that is very portable - that is to say, Socks. I do knit other items but socks always offer a new learning experience for me, even if they are the "Plain Vanilla/ Everyday" pairs that I work on. Learning new ways to do them [and gather inspiration from] is what keeps me intrigued. Then there is the colors themselves, combined with the tactile feel of the yarn and needles as I work at the art of knitting. It all comes together in a way that is hard to describe, but very essential to me.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Asplund's picture

One of the most compelling things about knitting to me is that it is possible to create such complicated things with such simple tools. The tactile aspect is equally attractive: I simply love seeing and feeling what I create take shape in my hands, knowing that every single stitch is hand made. There's a strong emotional/social aspect too: connecting with other people, like my grandmother who taught me how to knit, people I knit for, discussing projects with fellow knitters etc. I think those are the three most important reasons why I got and still am addicted to knitting.

When it comes to inspiration for projects the yarn itself is often my starting point: I want to use it to its best advantage. I also often find inspiration in people: what kind of sweater or shawl do I think X would look great in and like to wear?

My favourite project is always what I'm going to knit next!


JRob's picture

I have always been artistic. While on a business trip in Fort Walton Beach, FL my meeting finished earlier then expected. I had about 6 hours before my flight and while walking along an street in an artistic area I passed a knitting/yarn shop that had hand made custom needles displayed in their window. I was captivated with their beauty and craftsmanship. The had a great tactile quality and feel. I ended up buying several pairs to place in a vase on a credenza in my entry foyer. They reminded me of my grandmother. She was a fabulous knitter and I still have several things she made for me and my son's before she passed away. While there the owner asked if I knitted and was curious I did not since I was so interested in the needles. She offered me a free two hour knitting class. I took her up on the offer, bought some Rowan Yarn and 2 Rowen Pattern Books and never looked back. It has been a great craft to take on my frequent business trips and a great way to pass countless hours in motel rooms in the evenings. It sure beats wasted time watching tv. I agree with the previous comments above.


michaelpthompson's picture

My babysitter taught me when I was six or sever years old. I've let it languish a few times, but I keep picking it back up. I like to be multitasking and productive and I like being able to give gifts that I made myself.

As for other pursuits, I am also a musician and I paint, write and brew my own beer, among other things. I just like being creative.

"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."

mr.cullen's picture

Hi. I have enjoyed reading all of your responses to my many questions. Your stories provide interesting, and varied personal perspectives and viewpoints on the art, craft, and deeply creative outlet called knitting. Thanks for sharing. Happy knitting to all wherever you find yourself....Cullen.

scottly's picture

Wow, what a great thread! For some reason I've been missing it all week.

Most of my young adult life I considered myself an artist. I graduated from art school, have created a somewhat interesting body of work and used to go back and forth to my easel or drawing board. Then one day I decided the last thing the world needed was another original painting or drawing by yours truly and pretty much simultaneiously I realized that I was a craftsman, not an artist at all. My paintings are glib and a bit decorative but what always motivated me to create them was the process. The way different paints were applied by certain brushes or how different toothed paper effected graphite, chalk or ink. All sorts of things fascinated me a lot more then a finished piece or the content of that piece.

Knitting found me years ago in college but crochet was my first love and was taught to me by my mother when I was 8 or 9. But knitting is perfect for me and my quest for engaging process. I used crochet a lot in art school but I never really developed my knitting until my latest self-revelation. Also, it's only been recently that this incredible variety of fibers have been available. I have to add that I quit smoking around the same time. It's all added up to Scott the knitting fool. I must say prefer being a craftsman to artist - it's less self involved and much more humble. I love giving my knitting to others. My freinds quite understand my abandonment of the "atistic" in favor of fine craftsmenship. Recently I gifted a freind with some knitting for her birthday and someone at the gathering commented that they were work of art - I immediatly thought "No, they're a pair of socks, the Pietà is work of art." I must say they were a lovely pair of socks.

In addition to knitting I garden and watch birds with great fervor.

I thought you might like to know that I am in the process of finishing my MSc thesis on this very subject! I'm an occupational therapy student and am interested in why men knit, which is why I'm here, and what it means to them. I interviewed 3 lovely gentleman about their knitting experiences, and once I know I've passed, I'd love to share my findings with you. The extended literature review alone would probably make interesting reading (or just be stuff you already know) for some of you.

Best wishes