Can knitting and minimalism co-exist? This is a question I’ve been pondering lately and probably a little bit more with the start of a new year when hopes of organization and stash down abound.
Minimalism is a hot topic these days. Heck, there is a new tiny house show on tv every week now. I think my path to minimalism (although I did not know there was a name for it) started with my work at our church rummage sales (see any of my Annual Rummage Sale posts and you will understand :) ) The amount of stuff that we receive each year never ceases to overwhelm me. It makes me cut back on what I’m consuming because I’m convinced there is just too much stuff in the world.
A friend started sharing posts written by the Minimalists and they really struck a chord. This came at the same time that I was reading articles about wearing a “uniform”, capsule wardrobes and Kon Mari. I’m not an exact rules follower and from what I heard about Kon Mari (I have not actually read the book) it was a bit too extreme for me so I started looking for other ways to declutter and cut back.
Last January, I found the 365 Declutter Calendar. The calendar breaks down decluttering into 365 daily 15 minute sessions and it covers the entire home. They e-mail you a monthly calendar and I would put it up on my refrigerator. I have a small house and only one person so many of the missions did not apply to me and my home but I would usually take some time on the weekend and work through that week’s missions. It really helped clear out a bunch of stuff I was not using. And, I do love that I don’t spend hours searching through drawers to find something. I don’t find myself shoving a new item into an already crowded drawer, cabinet, etc. I trimmed back on my holiday decorations so it takes me much less time to put them up and take them down. I found this to be very successful for me and so I decided to take another step.
My next step was to work on a capsule wardrobe. My ultimate goal is to find a uniform but that will require purchasing clothes that I don’t need right now so I will phase that in. I’m on my second season and I’m loving it. So, basically a capsule wardrobe involves choosing a limited number of items for each season. I went through all my clothes and got rid of everything that did not fit correctly, I did like or I just did not wear for whatever reason. Now, all of my clothes fit in my wardrobe in my spare bedroom so no more trips up and down to the attic to change out wardrobes for the seasons. That alone is a huge benefit!
The other thing I love about it is not having as many choices each morning. I think I always thought I needed more choices but there were many a morning I was late to work because I could not decide what to wear. And, that was because I would stare at what was there and think “I don’t like the way that fits” or “I don’t like the way that feels”. I’ve shaved many minutes off my morning routine. And, this makes sense – when I travel I pack light and I have limited choices and I’m fine with it. If you want to read more about capsule wardrobes I’ve found Project 333 very helpful in getting started. I don’t strictly adhere to the rules but I have around the right number of items in my closet each season. Being a lawyer, we always work in the gray area so I have 33ish items.
The one thing I exclude from both my decluttering and my minimalism goals is yarn and my hand knit wardrobe items. My yarn and my hand knit wardrobe items bring me so much joy that they cannot possibly be included. But, can I apply some of the principles to my knitting? Yes, probably.
Which leads me to 2016 Goal #3 – Mittens. I have a lot of cowls and scarves, I love cowls but I only have one neck. In this case, it is lucky that I live in the Great Lakes and it’s fall/winter for about 9 months of the year. Most of the year requires a cowl (there’s even a day here and there in our 3 months of spring/summer where a cowl is your best friend) I have a few shawls and I do try and wear them but I have problems with styling and keeping them on but I’m making an effort. This winter I’ve been knitting hats, but again, only one head. I’ve also really made progress on my sock drawer and I do find those useful but I’m not always in the mood to knit socks so I definitely need other projects on the needles.
I get to the point where I ask myself “what is the point of knitting another cowl?” Even if I really, really love it. The Yarniad just released four new patterns yesterday that I’m drooling over but am really feeling the “too many cowls syndrome”. Plus, Goal #2 (finish all the things) in which there is a cowl, 2 shawls and a wrap waiting to be finished.
So, what’s a knitter to do? Well, I looked around to decide what I really need and will try to knit more purposefully. And what I need is mittens. I adorn myself with beautiful hand knit scarves and hats and put on manufactured mittens. I took advantage of Tin Can Knits very generous offers during the 12 days of Christmas and plan on casting on the Antler Mittens just as soon as I finish one of the UFOs.
I know I’m not the only one that is thinking about this issue. We were talking about it at knitting on Thursday. I wore one of my new cowls and when I walked in, it caused quite the stir. My friend, A, immediately went on a yarn search and my friend, L, was not too far behind. L eventually talked herself off the ledge and part of her reasoning was she just did not need another thing to wear around her neck.
Gift knitting and commissioned pieces also allow me to continue to knit without adding to my personal collection. It’s true that you can’t really make money knitting for others. The way I look at it is someone is paying for the yarn and I’m earning a few extra dollars that I can use for yarn for me. If I’m going to be spending my time doing it either way, it’s nice to get a little something for it at the end of the day.
My conclusion is that knitting and minimalism can co-exist. And, maybe we each apply it in our own way. My plan is to knit things I really need in my life and continue knitting for others in a way that brings me joy. Do you incorporate minimalism into your knitting? If so, I’d be happy to hear about it!