Of Knitting Mojo, Lost and Found
By Lee Ann Dalton
We’ve all been there: knitter meets wool, knitter falls in love, knitter yells at everyone to “shut up, I’m counting,” knitter insists on “just one more row,” and it feels like the passion for the craft will always be that intense. Patterns pile up so fast in our Ravelry libraries that we can’t tell which ones we bought and which ones we just put there because someday we might buy them. They fill up folders on the computer, the cellphone, and the tablet, and let’s not talk about the boxes of loose patterns and knitting magazines stashed in you-name-the-weird-storage-area-no-one-will-ever-find (possibly including you, clever knitter, which is enormously frustrating but oh, so true).
And then, the romance was gone. For some of us, it left slowly, or at least it felt like it, because if you’re still downloading patterns, you’re still kind of knitting, right? Some of us even continued to knit through the loss of mojo, though it felt more like just making something that needed to be made, rather than the thing one would most like to be doing, given the choice.
A Fickle Thing
For my buddy Rachel Debasitis, who is not only a knitter but also an accomplished spinner, the knitting mojo leaves the building when extreme stress takes over her life. Her job requires her to put in a sixty-hour workweek, so if life changes hit at the same time, she completely loses the desire to knit, and ends up dorking around online. Worry about getting stuff done ends up consuming the rest of her energy, and she says it’s kind of ridiculous that the mojo leaves, because knitting relieves her stress. She’s been able to recognize this pattern, though, and can often head it off at the pass by switching projects or by spinning more, which inevitably makes her want to do something with the resulting yarn. She also gets a bit of a boost by finding a project she knows is just not working for her and ripping it out. Admitting something’s not ever going to be what she wants makes her think about what she does want out of a project, which gets her back into the swing of project planning and brings back the urge to knit.
Another wonderful knitter is novelist Rachael Herron, whose writing began with stories (both fictional and not) about her own knitting. Her loss of knitting mojo is a seasonal thing: it goes out the window as soon as the summer heat kicks in. She says, “I know that with the heat, I’ll never, ever want to touch my needles again. I mourn the loss of knitting a little bit, but I’m mostly okay with it. Then that first crisp fall day arrives with its scent of wood smoke and dying leaves, and my fingers start to itch with the need for a new project.” Rachael doesn’t see any harm in letting the knitting drop for a while, because her knitting mojo always comes back.
If it’s just your knitting mojo that’s gone, take a look at how the rest of your life is going. Are you everything to everyone but yourself? Are you going through a big change in your personal or professional life that has you reeling? Has every single electrical device that costs over a grand blown a crucial, death-dealing gasket all at the same time, making Mercury in retrograde look like a leisurely walk down Easy Street? (My hand is up on that one.) When the manure hits the spreader, my friends, sometimes it’s hard to do the one thing for yourself that might ease your stress, so I do the next best thing: I pattern-surf. Not the ones I already have, mind you, because obviously none of them are sparking me when my mojo is missing in action: I go for the Pinterest panacea, the boards that look like a million bucks (with a much better fashion sense than I currently have); the ones who keep up on the latest indie designers and dyers. And I pin patterns like crazy. Then—and this is key—I pull out all my yarn. I fondle it, I stare at it, I marvel at its beauty. And then, at least one skein of it starts to kind of hang around on my desk, talking to me. Suddenly, I find myself realizing that someone in my life has cold hands and probably needs mitts. Mitts are easy. Mitts are fast. Who can’t make a simple pair of mitts? I can make mitts. I can do this. Suddenly, I’m knitting something that’s almost instant gratification and I’m really kind of digging it.
Getting Your Groove Back
Phew. That’s a relief, isn’t it? The knitting will still be there when we want it again, so why fret? And I do believe my friend Franklin is giving me permission to take up sheep-shearing in the meantime. That’s a creative outlet, right? Here, hold my coffee—I’ll be right back, needles and yarn in hand, but in the meantime, I need to find me a decent set of clippers and a near-sighted sheep farmer. Wish me luck.
Lee Ann Dalton is a knitting columnist, fiction writer, poet, editor, runner, mountaineer, and aspiring naturalist. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter, and is not at liberty to say how many cats she really has.