How to Find Time to Knit — and Finish More Projects!

So many knitting projects, so little time! Sometimes when I look around at all the bins of yarn I have, I feel a little overwhelmed. Will I ever work my way through this stash? How will I find time to knit all this?

A few months ago, I faced the reality of having to pack up all that yarn and move it. When I went through it, I found incomplete projects from years and years ago just hanging out in plastic bags. I decided then and there that I would make a plan and figure out how to find time to knit.

Here are a few of the ways I find time to knit and to actually complete projects. I hope they’ll help you work your way through those projects you dream of knitting!

Knitting to-do list

My knitting to-do list, the short version

1. Stop buying new yarn.

I know it’s hard. Oh, man, do I know. But new yarn is distracting. New yarn makes us ditch the projects we’ve been working on and move on to others. Tell yourself that new yarn is going to be a reward for when you complete a project. Now that’s motivation.

2. Make a list of the projects you want to tackle.

Originally I was using a small dry-erase board to list all the projects I wanted to make, but two things happened: 1) I was embarrassed that my guests saw the list and 2) The list was too long to fit on the board. I ended up adding most of the list to an app on my phone. (See that list pictured at the top of the post? That’s just part of my list of projects. I erased the others for the photo because I was embarrassed.)

3. Frog the projects you’re not into.

Back in the late 90s, I was knitting up shrugs like a mad woman. Over a decade later, I don’t feel the need to own more than one shrug. So when I find a shrug in my stash that I never finished, I just frog it. That yarn deserves to be turned into something else.

Knitting know-how: “Frog” is a terms knitters use to describe the act of ripping a project or row of stitches.

4. Join a class, knit-along, or stitch group.

Other knitters are a great source of motivation. The gals at my stitch group always remember the projects I work on — “Whatever happened to that dress you were knitting, Ashley?” Ummm… — and seeing the projects they complete inspires me to complete mine.

If you simply can’t seem to find time to knit, join a knitting class where you can set aside a few hours a week to learning a new skill. Of course, Craftsy has a whole slew of knitting classes to choose from, and the best part is that you can work at your own pace.

Knit-alongs are great for motivation, too. Knit-alongs break projects into steps, making it easy to track your progress.

5. Hold yourself accountable to friends.

Like stitch groups, friends are super helpful for keeping you in line, especially when you ask them to. Share your WIPs with friends and ask them to check in on you.

6. Devote just one hour each day to knitting.

When do you feel the need to knit? I like to knit just before bed. It helps me wind down, and keeps me away from electronics. I know some knitters who like to devote part of their lunch hour to knitting for stress relief in the middle of the day. You could even devote commuting time to knitting. The important thing is that you set aside time. Before you know it, you’ll be finished with that sweater or Christmas present.

Do you have any tips for completing knitting projects or just setting aside time to knit?

Discussion
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45 Responses to “How to Find Time to Knit — and Finish More Projects!”
  1. Rup
    Rup

    Knit easy projects while watching TV… . I knit for charity, and don’t mind making the same thing again and again…. all of my knitting is done while watching TV.

    Reply
  2. Bev
    Bev

    I have 2 lovely sweaters pattern and yarn that I purchased from Craftsy but I have knit other items but both patterns have provisional stitches at the beginning and I cannot figure out how to do this type of pattern. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
  3. Sheri Love
    Sheri Love

    I personally do better with small realistic goals so when I’m working on a project and feeling motivation slipping away I set small goals. For example, I’m going to knit one inch of this shawl or project every night this week and I’ll have it
    almost done! It seems to work for me. I don’t beat myself up if life happens and I don’t meet the daily goal but I do see progress on the project.

    Reply
  4. Carol
    Carol

    I am so glad that I opened this email today. I have a giant stash of yarn that I’ve ignored for years. I’m going to find out if I can donate the yarn/projects to thrift shops in the area who might be interested in selling the stash. They donate their profits to various churches and charities. This will definitely keep me motivated to get the job done. Thanks everyone for your fantastic suggestions

    Reply
  5. Melinda Moon
    Melinda Moon

    I would add to these ideas, to donate some of your yarn to someone who knits for charities. I have been fortunate to have yarn given to me. I knit for cancer, homeless, preemies, nursing homes, Knitted Knockers and the donated yarn has made a difference for me and for those who receive my knitted items.

    Reply
  6. Diane
    Diane

    I feel like each of you are relaying my faults. I too love purchasing yarns. My stash gives me away. I think I want to learn new stitches and then my projects take a back seat. I am working on brioche. The basic principle is easy to learn. Now trying to put to a two color pattern with increasing and decrease. Taking longer than it should and my projects are setting waiting. I have been known to go through my stash and sort out what is left from a project or that I no longer am interested in knitting and putting in a box or bag. I then take to a lady who knits and sells her items in her home to defer some expenses. Win win for sure I will work on your suggestions. I have lately stopped new purchases. Easy with covid as cannot go anywhere

    Reply
  7. Pat
    Pat

    Some great ideas — especially for a fellow yarn addict. 2 suggestions: I did an inventory of the yarn I have and printed the list. It was a bit shocking so no more purchases until some of it comes off the list. Second thought is to use television time to work on simple projects. A number of the programs don’t require constant viewing to keep up and enjoy.

    Reply
  8. Jane Carona
    Jane Carona

    I like to knit while listening to audiobooks. I don’t like to just sit and listen, it’s a waste of time, so knitting gives me something to do with my hands, and keeps me from falling asleep while listening to a book. I also take my knitting to meetings (used to be in person meetings, but now I take it to Zoom meetings, and hold my project up to my webcam to show the others what I’m doing.

    Reply
  9. valerie
    valerie

    great ideas, especially the before-bed knitting – far more relaxing than using that time to answer emails, etc – i have a number of works-in-progress that i’m still interested in completing but there are others where my interest has waned – just like quilt projects that have lost their appeal, i bag up the no-longer-wanted “incompletes” & the yarns/fabrics & notions purchased for the project – i also include the pattern, marked where i left off – these bags are then donated to senior centers, goodwill, art co-ops, women’s shelters, & so on – the donations make me feel as if i’ve done something good – then there’s the added bonus of removing whatever stress the “incompletes” may have been causing – total win/win in my book!

    Reply
  10. Cathy
    Cathy

    When knitting for others, select the project,
    pattern and yarn, yourself. I learned a valuable lesson the hard way, by allowing the gift recipient too much “say” in the item I was making! I disliked the pattern, the yarn, the designer, everything!
    The garment moved along at a snail’s pace because of the design. In short, I disliked the project immensely! I made a commitment and bought the yarns, but could not finish it! Yet, refusing to work on anything else. Eventually, the day arrived and I could move forward!
    Never again will I allow someone complete control of a garment that I commit to complete. LIKE what you are making! It will increase your odds bigtime!

    Reply
  11. Kathleen
    Kathleen

    I store my yarn in large storage bags hanging on my coat rack. In the corner of my living room, it is also a conversation piece. Unfortunately I have several unfinished projects in plastic bags and keep meaning to finish them. When I travel with someone else driving I find I can knit much better. Now that I’m a senior citizen I don’t travel with anyone so there’s less knitting. Also the brass coat rack holds a lot of yarn plus some of my bags holding knitting accessories. I don’t mind knitting in a group if that is all we do. I found that when someone tries to combine a study group as also a knitting group it’s not the same. That’s my idea only of course. Thank you for the ideas, plan to keep this.

    Reply
  12. Mary
    Mary

    Thank you so much for tip #1 – stop buying new yarn. I’m a yarn addict, seriously. I have two whole rooms in my upper story with the floors literally covered with bags of yarn. I have a problem, lol. Now I will follow your advice to wait until I finish something to buy new yarn! Wonder what teeny-weeny little projects I can do, lol?!!

    Reply
    • Teresa Glaser
      Teresa Glaser

      Go through your yarn and take an empty box. Just pitch into the box any ball or skein that YOU KNOW YOU WILL NEVER REALLY USE. . BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. AFTER YOU HAVE GONE THROUGH THE YARN TAKE THE BOX THAT IS NOW FULL OF YARNS YOU DONT LIKE OR SEE YOURSELF KNITTING FROM AND GIVE THRM TO A SENIOR CENTER, a church knitting/crochet group/youth center girl scouts etc. they’ll be thrilled!

      Reply
  13. Jeanne
    Jeanne

    Thank you. I feel so much better about myself and have a bit of motivation after reading all of your wonderful and encouraging responses. Tomorrow starts a new day.

    Reply
  14. Elissa Hughes
    Elissa Hughes

    Embellish accomplishments- keeping a knitting journal with pictures of projects and make it like scrapbooking with stamps, memories ie when & where you got yarn etc. Make it fun too!

    Reply
  15. Anneke
    Anneke

    Years ago, as a teenager, I was working on at least 6 sweaters. After discussing getting new yarn for another sweater, my Mom promised me to buy it for me. But I had to finish each of the WIP’s I had before I got it. She told me I would have more satisfaction of my work when I finish a project before starting a new one. I finished all the projects and together we bought new yarn. I did learn that lesson and I still have only 1 knitting project at a time. Now if only I can buy new yarn after I finish my projects…
    BTW I mostly knit socks now and I don’t mind knitting the second. I know my next project will be a new pair anyway, so no “second sock syndrome” for me.

    Reply
    • Mimi
      Mimi

      I try to set daily and weekly goals for my projects. Often it is a very small one such as: complete one row of the intricate lace shawl today or pick up the stitches for a sleeve. I find that as I accomplish each little step, it propels me forward and before I know it, I’m finished. Stitch by stitch, row by row that’s the way the knitting goes.

      Reply
  16. Nancy Spoolman
    Nancy Spoolman

    I am the same. I have a box full of ziplock bags with my “started” crochet projects. A couple weeks ago I bought some long boxes that I can catalog all my patterns in. (I have patterns in several 3-ring binders, but finding the one I needed was a chore. Too often I would start the same pattern in a different yarn and not finish it, forgetting I had the other stashed.) I use those page protectors for my patterns so that it protects the printed pattern and I can add a colored tab or whatever.

    I thought that I could arrange my patterns in the box, grouped by category, using cardboard dividers. (Sweaters, shawls, hats, afghans, etc.) Then I will put a printed spreadsheet in the back of the pattern, with a tab sticking out, of those I’ve already started one. It will tell the box it is located in, and what yarn and color I am using. That way, I can easily find the one to complete. I hope to start this this week since I’m laid up.

    I also have a difficult time in not buying yarn! I have shelves in a closet FULL of yarn! Plus more boxes of yarn under the desk in my office. Sometimes a certain project requires you use a particular yarn. (Or is that just an excuse?) My problem is, I look at patterns all the time and can’t help it! (Especially if they are from side to side, which I love as I hate sewing them together, too!

    Nancy S.

    Reply
  17. Gail
    Gail

    I find that I can knit for a couple of hours before bed while I wind down after a tiring day at work
    Lately I was trying to organize my WIPs and found a cowl that was more than half way done
    So I pulled it out and finished it in just a couple of days and even added a crocheted edge to make a neater finish
    I felt so good after completing the project
    So I let my little knitting group know and we decided that this year we will work on our unfinished projects and I find that quite exciting
    I have so many unfinished projects and some will be frogged…
    So it’s going to be an exciting year….. let’s see what we succeed in doing!!!

    Reply
  18. Betty
    Betty

    Discipline is my hang-up. Thank you for the ideas and just in time to start my new year.

    Reply
  19. Rhonda
    Rhonda

    I love knitting but hate sewing garments up to complete them. I have 5 childs cardigans waiting for me to complete.
    This appears to be a family “thing”, my mother did some beautiful work but she hated the sewing up & one of my sisters is the same. At least I won’t hand this to my daughter, she refused to learn, said knitting was for “old ladies”

    Reply
    • DeniseMarie Seckinger
      DeniseMarie Seckinger

      Maybe there is someone you know that likes to sew things together? Or, check with your local yarn shop. Hopefully they are reasonably priced or they know of someone that does it from their own held classes. I myself learned from how-to books, and, today there are plenty of u-tube classes or yearn sites with lessons to learn from…..it really isn’t hard and is very self rewarding to complete your project. yourself.

      Reply
    • Crystal Austin
      Crystal Austin

      Ah, such youthful disdain! We will all be ‘old ladies’ eventually (unless the other alternative overtakes us, or we happen to be one of those rare and very welcome species, a knitting man). Old ladies knit because they have more time. When I was younger I was so busy with children that I didn’t have time to knit. But I learned to knit as a child, and always had something on the needless – even if it did sometimes take several years to finish them, between nappies and school runs.

      Reply
    • Janet
      Janet

      I’m exactly the same – luv to knit a project but hate the sewing up part. Does anyone like the sewing up ? X

      Reply
    • Laura Grams
      Laura Grams

      There is a resurgence of young folks knitting! We host volunteers at our farm during the summers and I teach new knitters each year. Some really love it and I know they will be knitters. Others are already knitters and learn new skills. I definitely teach them to use “Mrs. Youtube” to help them learn.

      Reply
  20. Lynne Horton
    Lynne Horton

    Our senior center has a schedule of Zoom classes where we talk about Health and wellness, current events, celebrate birthdays, share recipes or whatever comes to mind. I find it easy to knit while enjoying these social events.

    Reply
  21. Michelle
    Michelle

    I carry a small project in my purse at all times. Do, if I’m in public transportation or need to wait for anything, I’m always ready with something to do.

    Reply
    • Crystal Austin
      Crystal Austin

      Yes, small projects for taking out (doctor’s waiting rooms, buses, if I ever get to be a passenger in a car…), larger ones (or the larger end of ones that started small) for evenings at home, in front of the TV.

      Reply
  22. Donna Shipley
    Donna Shipley

    Our neighborhood had a group (Chicks with Sticks) before the virus hit. They met once a week and brought there projects to the founder’s house. The each brought their projects to work on or came to visit if they were between projects. The founder always had coffee/tea and goodies… It was just a couple of hours but it was fun, relaxing and a great way to meet the neighbors. The founder has moved away and I doubt we’ll ever meet again, but it was still a good idea.

    Reply
  23. Liz
    Liz

    I have a partly finished child’s sweater that is about 18 years old. It is cotton yarn and I would like to rip it apart and use the yarn for a baby blanket. Can I do that and do I need to do anything special with the yarn before I start?

    Reply
    • Pam Tannura
      Pam Tannura

      rip out the yarn. It’s cotton. Put it in luke warm water to soak the kinks out. Blot in bath towel and hang in a “skein” from a plastic hanger to dry. Beat it a little when it’s dry to lessen the stiffness.

      Reply
      • Carol
        Carol

        I do what Pam above but instead of blotting it I allow it to drip dry on hanger with weight on bottom to keep it taught

        Reply
  24. Janette Beddoe
    Janette Beddoe

    The list idea is good and I have started one. Frogging is a good idea too. One of my biggest issues is finishing the second glove or mitt etc. I have no good system and lack the discipline to make notes.
    It would be good to see others style for staying on track with socks etc.

    Reply
    • Trish
      Trish

      I’ve found that to make sure I complete the second sock in a pair I make sure to cast it on and knit the ribbing at least. This is usually the most ‘boring’ part of the sock for me so making sure I have that on the needles and at least mostly finished I tend to complete the pair more often this way. I’ve Also learned that if I found the first sock not really holding my interest to just give up on it and knit a second sock that may not match, but at least I enjoyed knitting it! My daughter likes Mia-matched socks anyway!

      Reply
      • Barbara Kay
        Barbara Kay

        Try learning to do 2 at once. I never even tried one at a time because I knew the second would never get done.

        Reply
      • Laura Grams
        Laura Grams

        A friend who loves to knit socks knits each stage of each on 2 sets of dpn’s, so she is finishing each stage of each as she goes along– helps get them both done and helps with keeping them the same– no forgetting.

        Reply
    • Michelle
      Michelle

      I’ve learned to do two at a time (I got books from the library about it). It’s wonderful to have them done at the same time, and, as an added bonus, they end up exactly the same length.

      Reply
    • Barbara Kay
      Barbara Kay

      Try learning to do 2 at once. I never even tried one at a time because I knew the second would never get done.

      Reply
    • Teckla Buller
      Teckla Buller

      Learning to knit socks is on my list. I know I will never, never finish a second sock so I started by learning the Magic Loop, now I have a book that teaches how to knit 2 at a time, either toe up of toe down. If I do them both at the same time, they will both get finished and the other plus is that my knitting will be more consistent throughout both socks. Win, win, in my book!

      Reply
    • Margaret Henderson
      Margaret Henderson

      Learn to say NO . I find that I cannot say no even when I know that taking on another project will cause me stress and take away the enjoyment I get from knitting . I also find it relaxing to knit before going to bed rather than just watching tv . Not being able to go out because of the virus has left me with enough time to sort through yarn and patterns that I’ve collected over the years . I also made up bags with patterns and the yarn to complete them that I don’t want to knit and handed them in to charity shops so that someone can make them . I used to go along to a knitting group before COVID but found it quite restrictive – we all had to knit the same thing . When this is over , I’ll look for another group that has a little more flexibility – I don’t mind doing som KAL ‘s fir charity but sometimes I want to do my own thing but would like company while I’m doing it . Hope you all keep knitting and stay safe 🥰❤️🥰

      Reply