Do you create knitting goals for yourself, or does it sound like too much work? (“I just knit for fun!”)
I recently asked this question on Instagram, and I got a few replies where people said that they didn’t create goals because they didn’t want to feel guilty if they didn’t meet them.
But, here’s the thing… Your goals are your own. If they are not working for you anymore, you can change them. If your priorities change, you can change your goals. No guilt involved!
Then why have goals if you just change them, you ask?
It’s about sorting out your priorities and making real progress toward the things that are important to you. As with life, things that are important to you can change.
But first let’s ask:
Do you need knitting goals right now?
Some reasons why you might want to have goals in your knitting:
You’re a list maker and you know how list making benefits you.
You have deadlines to meet – such as with test knitting or gift knitting.
You want to make knitting more of a priority in your life.
However, there are times where you probably don’t want to think about what you’re knitting, and you are just knitting for comfort. In times of high stress, such as big life changes, or in times of grief, you may reach for your knitting as a distraction or to sooth yourself, but usually it takes a backseat to whatever else is going on in your life, as it should.
For example, last year I did not make any goals for the last several months of the year. On top of the global pandemic, I had upsetting things going on in my personal life that were completely stressing me out. I knit, but I wasn’t really focused on anything. I just knit whatever, whenever. By the time January rolled around this year, I was ready to make some monthly goals again and think more about what I wanted to accomplish.
So now that you know if making some goals is the right thing for you to do right now, let’s talk about how to accomplish what you want with your knitting!
Creating Your Knitting Goals
It’s likely that you already have some knitting goals in your head, even if you haven’t written them down anywhere. For example: I want to knit my first sweater. I want to use more of my stash. I want to make hats for my family for the holidays.
So let’s talk about how to set three types of goals: yearly, monthly, and weekly.
1. Yearly Knitting Goals
I’ve seen many people set knitting goals at the beginning of the year, something akin to setting New Year’s Resolutions. It can be nice to take stock of where you are at, and what you want to accomplish in the coming year.
But it’s not for everyone. Perhaps you’re not entirely sure what you want to accomplish beyond your current WIP (work in progress.) Maybe you just know you’ll never stick to a list that you make in January. (This would be me.)
So I’m going to tell you that for me, I don’t usually focus on the yearly knitting goals as much, because they are likely to be completely different a few months down the road. However, it can be a good time to take stock of where you are at in your knitting.
There are two components to focus on:
Your top 1-3 goals for the year
Set these or not. Keep the number small if you do.
Before 2020 started, I wrote my intentions for the year down. I prefer pen and paper for myself, but go ahead and do it digitally if that works best for you. Here were mine:
Did I make any of my goals? I sure did! I did finish one cardigan during 2020, and I did knit 12 pairs of Felici socks…actually I knit 13 pairs. (Felici is a self-striping sock yarn sold by Knitpicks.) The other two goals? Nah. They became not important.
Project Brain Dump: A list of all the things you can think of that you really want to make
This might be the most helpful. For me, it is a list that is entirely too long to be reasonable, but it helps me to be able to SEE it all written down. Again, I like to write it down on paper, as the thoughts flow out of my head, but other people might use a Ravelry queue to keep up with something like this.
Now again, I’m going to show you the list that I put together before 2020 started. You might laugh because it may seem a bit ridiculous. (In fact, I would be disappointed if you didn’t laugh a bit.)
You will see that I put a few notes in purple when I did cast something on, but you will also see that I made no notes on it after the chaos started in March. I did knit more of the things on the list, I just didn’t update it.
I actually usually do these project brain dumps randomly, whenever I have so many ideas in my head that I can’t contain them all. You may want to do something like this every 3 or 6 months if it suits you.
I will confess something: I haven’t done another one of these large lists since. I still want to knit some of the things on there, and I know there’s more to add.
So what about 2021?
I was still too stressed out when this year started to think about knitting goals. I do still have one major knitting related goal that has been floating around my head all year that I am working on. And I will probably redo my Project Brain Dump at some point in the coming months.
But instead of yearly knitting goals, what I have actually been focusing on this year, and what I usually focus on, is monthly knitting goals.
2. Monthly Knitting Goals
I feel that monthly knitting goals are the most beneficial to getting things done.
I love writing down my monthly knitting goals at the beginning of every month. Because I have so many things I want to work on, it helps calm the chaos in my head if I write down 5-7 things that are my priorities that month.
The trick is, if you write down 5-7 things that you want to accomplish that month, only expect to get 2-3 of them done.
First, this will allow you not to be overwhelmed.
Second, it gives you some leeway. If one of those knitting projects really grabs your attention, you can focus on it instead of the others. It also allows for impulsive cast ons. (I am a big fan of impulsive cast ons!) And then of course I add those impulsive starts to my list for the month, and then check them off!
(Pro tip: To feel good about getting something done, add it to the list after you’ve already done it, and then you get to check it off right away!)
Here are a couple examples of my monthly knitting goals:
So after I made the big brain dump last year, I had a rather productive January. You can see that sometimes a knitting goal doesn’t even have to be finishing a project; it can be just working on a project. Sometimes I need to add blocking a project to the list, since I have a tendency to procrastinate that. Make your goals work for you.
Two months later, in March 2020, I had copied two of the goals that I did not complete in January… and I still didn’t complete them in March. That’s okay. Sometimes that happens. Be lenient with yourself. As you know, March was a crazy month, and less productive as well.
And here are my current knitting goals for this month:
So far I haven’t completed any of them yet this month! But there’s still time.
(Also, I never intended to take any of these pictures of my planners – my lists were meant to be functional and for my eyes only, not pretty and to be shared. Consider it a raw, behind-the-scenes look.)
3. Weekly Knitting Goals
Weekly knitting goals would be something that is very focused, perhaps relating to only 1-2 projects. It could be something like 1) Finish sock WIP, 2) Start hat.
Probably the best use of weekly goals would be to break up a larger project into more manageable sections. For example, if you’re finishing a sweater and dreading knitting the sleeves, you could say that this week you’re going to finish the first sleeve, and next week you’ll knit as much of the second sleeve as you can.
I have to admit, most of the time, I don’t make weekly goals, but if I do, they live mostly in my head. However, if you use a planner, you could put them in there each week, if you find that idea helpful.
Revising Your Goals
So in the last section, you probably already noticed that every time I talk about creating goals, is also a chance to revise them. You can think of the monthly knitting goals as a revision of your yearly goals, and the weekly goals as a revision of your monthly goals.
But what I wanted to talk about is how things change. Let’s say that this month, you wrote down 5 things that you wanted to accomplish, knowing that you would probably not complete all 5, and that’s okay. Let’s say you completed 3 of them. So next month when you are figuring out what you want to do, look back at the 2 things you did not complete. Are they still a priority? If so, add them to your new list. If not…don’t add them.
Yes, this is okay. You don’t have to follow through with every thing you set out for yourself to do. Or maybe you still want to follow through, but not right away. Wait until it’s the right time.
Completing Your Goals
Now is the fun part! If you’re a list maker like me, then you already know you love how it feels when you check something off your list.
It has other benefits though. As you pay more attention to just how much knitting you can get done in a month or a week, you’ll be able to give yourself more realistic time frames for finishing projects.
And hopefully after organizing your goals, you’re able to make knitting as much of a priority in your life as you want it to be, while focusing on the things you want to accomplish the most!
I’d love to hear if setting goals for your knitting gives you the productivity that you’re hoping to see from it!