It’s been some time since I found myself craving control, and turning to minimalism as a way to recalibrate when life was throwing me all sorts of curve balls that I was finding it difficult to handle. When I couldn’t control the circumstances (and spoiler alert, you never can), I instead took control of everything around me. I de-cluttered all of my possessions and replaced the things that were dragging me down (read: brown furniture) to carve out loads of white space which physically made my chest feel lighter and had a significant impact on my mental health. That exercise taught me that creating space where there was none before is one of the most liberating things I can do when I feel like I’m drowning, and I’ve refused to let that space be filled up again since.
But what I also learned during that time, was how much I connect with simplicity in pretty much everything. I learnt that my colour palette for all things in life spans the spectrum from white to grey to black and nowhere else. I learnt that I like things to be plain, and I only want as much as I need, and that excess is something that I’m put off by.
That last point was the one that really carried over into my knitting, and had me struggling for a little while. It’s difficult to be inspired by minimalism and a drive to have only what you need, and also be a creator who wants to dream up and make all sorts of different things. Initially, I thought that the two weren’t compatible, and that maybe knitting wasn’t something that I would continue to prioritise, but I allowed myself some time to work through those feelings and I began to understand how knitting can work alongside minimalism, and also how it can sometimes be exempt from it.
While I’ve never been the kind of person to break rules in the traditional sense, almost always doing as I was told and playing things pretty safe, I’ve also learnt that I’ve got a rebellious streak in me. I hate labels, and the idea that people should be defined by things that are really just one pillar in a whole host of supports that hold up who they are. I also like to make up my own rules when the traditional ones don’t work, and particularly when those traditional rules are founded in the expectations of others. This is all just a roundabout way of saying that, while I’m inspired by minimalism, I a) wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, and b) will only ever do minimalism my way, which means allowing myself as much excess as I want when it comes to knitting as a hobby and a business, because living with less is absolutely not worth it at the expense of living creatively.
And so now I knit and create as much as I want to, but I do it in a considered way. Knowing so much about myself and what I like allows me to really focus my creative energy on things that will fit with my lifestyle and aesthetic. That means saying no to a lot of things that spark interest but don’t feel like me, and also taking time to mull ideas over before getting started on them. I really believe in the test of time, and if I still want to create something a few weeks, or even months, down the line, I know that it’s an idea to keep.
As well as my approach to knitting, minimalism also inspires the aesthetics of my knits. I already touched on colour, but I’ve found that I like minimalism in texture, too, which is why you might notice that the majority of my designs are knit in stocking stitch. For me, there’s something about fussier stitch patterns that I find off-putting, particularly in garments, but you will find me taking a foray into garter or moss stitch every once in a while. Stocking stitch, though, will always remain my number one.
And stocking stitch also makes the physical action of knitting more simple. I love to tune out with the repetition of knit stitch after knit stitch, purl stitch after purl stitch, repeating until the end of the row. That minimal movement is one of the things that I love most about knitting. The fact that my hands can take care of it without having to call my mind into action is why I get to switch off when I’m knitting, to watch something or to read something, to have a conversation with a friend, or to unpick the thoughts I’m having in that moment. The mindlessness of that minimal process is what allows knitting to be healing for me, as well as creative.
I’ve also taken inspiration from minimalism when it comes to my yarn stash. For the most part, I have one clear rule that I live by: Only buy yarn once you’ve decided what you’re going to make with it. This one is a gamechanger, and one that I wish I’d stuck to more firmly last year as I now have a whole load of yarn stored away, with no plans for what to do with it. There are a couple things that present themselves to me when I have a big yarn stash, and unfortunately they fall more towards the negative side than the positive one.
The first is the pressure to create something with what’s there. This is an approach I’ve taken a lot of times with knitting, coming up with an idea to use what I have, because I feel like I need to knit it up, and more often that not (in fact, maybe even always) I’ve not loved what has come out of it.
The second is the idea of waste. I’ve done a lot across various different aspects of my life to reduce the amount of waste I create, and having a whole lot of yarn sat in boxes really brings that idea home for me. There’s the waste of materials, if I use them to create something I don’t love, or don’t use them at all, and there’s the waste of the money that I spent on them in the first place.
These two things have acted as good motivation for me lately though, really encouraging me to live by that rule I set myself, and not hoard yarn when it hasn’t got a purpose.
All in all, minimalism has been a huge inspiration in what I knit, the way I knit, and the way I approach knitting a business. It’s helped me to hone my design aesthetic, and it’s taught me how to make the craft work for me, and I’m really excited to see how it continues to inspire me in the future. What inspires your knitting? I’d love to get the conversation going in the comments below.