Writers: Stick to Your Knitting
I’ve been a knitter almost all my life. I made my first sweater when I was twelve and have kept a project on the go ever since. There’s a pair of needles, purple yarn, and a half-finished vest lying next to my couch as I type this.
1. If you make mistakes, even if they’re many rows back, you gotta rip out your work and start again. As comedian/knitter Tracy Ullman has said, a badly knit sweater is like a bad relationship. Better to fix it than to wear it in public and have to explain to your friends why you settled for something so obviously bad, or ugly.
– Don’t be afraid to use the delete key on your computer. (Or in a bad relationship, I guess.)
2. Some things just take time – you can’t fast-forward through a knitting project. You can’t “summarize-knit”, or “speed-knit”, or even “knit just the important parts”. You have to knit every stitch, thousands of them, one at a time, until the end.
– Don’t rush to finish your written work. It’s finished when it’s finished, and you’ll know when that is.
3. The finished product is only as good as the raw materials that go into it. Sure, you can buy cheap yarn that’s ratty, badly spun and full of knots. But your sweater will end up looking like a dog’s breakfast and you won’t want to wear it. (See point 1 re ugly relationships.)
– Do your research. Hone your craft. Edit, edit, edit.
4. Knit a sample swatch before you start the main project. It always pays to know how much you’ll have to knit, how tightly, the size of the needles you need, and the amount of yarn.
– You’re going to have to write multiple drafts of anything that you’ll expect a reader to want to read. Write small bits. Take a critical look at them. And use them as models for the larger work.
5. Last but not at all least. Don’t completely follow a pattern. I love to know that what I’ve made is slightly different from anything anyone else has ever made. Change the stitch design. Add a collar. Change the neckline or the length. Make it your own.
– And write whatever your little heart desires.