It Isn’t Selfish, It’s Just Knitting

I always see Knit alongs and suggestions for projects in January that are labeled as “selfish” knitting. Meaning, knitting that you’re doing for yourself can be seen as selfish. I’ve said it myself because that’s what it has been called, but I’ve decided I don’t like that adjective. It’s just knitting.

I realized years ago that knitting is a skill I learned and I learned it to make things for myself. I didn’t learn it so I could become a sweater factory for my friends. I didn’t learn it just so a friend’s baby could have a hand knit blanket. I learned how to knit (despite my mother telling me I didn’t need to spend money on another hobby) because I wanted to take my time to learn that skill. Just like I’ve taken cooking classes or driving lessons and I don’t get asked on demand to braise short ribs (although I’m really good at it). And whether I chose to give my knitting as a gift is generous of me, but I’m not required to knit anything for anyone. Let me say that again, whether I chose to give my knitting as a gift is generous of me, but I’m not required to knit anything for anyone.

Morning Meditation

A few years ago I decided to no longer put pressure on myself to make Christmas knits. The deadlines, the money, the pressure to make something for x amount of family members or friends took all the joy out of it. So sometimes I knit a sweater and my sister gets it in August. Or sometimes I’ve got the time and my Mom gets something for her birthday. Or sometimes when someone asks me to make them something I just say no. I’ve been told I’m mean when I say no to someone asking me to knit them something. I’m not being mean, I’m being honest. Whether it’s something I’m not interested in, don’t have the time or energy to do…whatever my reasoning is, I get to choose how to spend my time. Even if someone gets upset and then says, “but I’ll pay you,” again, I didn’t ask to do that for you, so if I say no, let’s just accept that I said no.

I know it’s the beginning of the holiday season and everyone is about giving and gifts. So give yourself the gift of not feeling guilty if you don’t want to knit gifts, or you just want to knit for yourself. That isn’t a selfish act. Knitting is a gift that we give ourselves and sometimes to others. It’s a skill not everyone has and I am so happy that I decided to learn.

104 Replies to “It Isn’t Selfish, It’s Just Knitting”

  1. Yes! I knit for me and for my daughters and two of my grands, who truly appreciate my sweaters And socks. And that’s it. I knit might for my delight. That idea of “selfish” knitting is trying to lay guilt on the knitter. Well said!

  2. I can’t believe I just happened on to this this morning. I have been sitting here feeling so guilty because I’m not going to be able to finish a pair of socks in time for a gift that is needed for Dec 7th. I’ve been telling myself that if I hadn’t taken time to work on a shawl for myself the socks would have already been finished. But I had also been working on a baby sweater that caused me quite a bit of trouble was also needed for the 7th. . So much time wasted and so much pressure on my shoulders. And yes,the fun goes right out of the project with deadlines to meet. Thank you for the advice. I will be using it. Have a lovely day and enjoy your projects.

  3. I second, third and fourth this. Please do not feel guilty about not knitting other people things this holiday season…or any other season of the year.

  4. Yes!!! I’m with you. I wanted to explore knitting and enjoy it for the process. I give gifts of my completed items spontaneously, when a particular piece ‘speaks to me’ about someone. And there is more pleasure in that than simply knitting under time or promise deadlines. (I had more than enough of that in my working life!)

  5. I decided this years ago when I knit a sweater for my toddler niece and NEVER saw her in it! That was 20 years ago so now I knit for myself and maybe give something away if I feel the person is “knit worthy”. No guilt AT ALL!

  6. A standing ovation over here. Knitting gifts show up when they show up, and I started a sweater for myself just last week (i.e. deep in ‘gift knitting’ season).

  7. I love this – thank you for saying what is so true!

  8. I never accept money for gift knitting, as either I knit out of love and it is a gift, or I don’t knit for others. I often join the Yarniacs podcast group in their January 1 self-indulgent knitting, although ALL my knitting for me is self-indulgent. I have 200 sweaters that I knit, so I don’t NEED any more, but I love to knit, so when I do, it is truly self-indulgent.

  9. Oh my gosh thank you so much for this !! May I copy/paste when someone asks me to make something ?! My mother in law would hint broadly and loudly in front of people that oh! Cousin Jane lived the quilt you made for Lily (my daughter). I bet she’d LOVE one …in full hearing of Jane and her mother. I just smile and say nothing and now that family cohort has stopped hinting…mostly. I am sure I have been labeled selfish but honestly I don’t care. My knitting / sewing / making is an extension of who I am as a creative person and I will not be forced to share!!

  10. Totally love this post. Thank you. Very well said. Very true. Have a great holiday. Knit on with love – for yourself!
    Jane Noble

  11. Oh my gosh this is so true of any craft. I agreed to crochet a deagon for my son’s best friend and hate every minute! I should have just said no but I got excited at the idea that someone likes what I make and agreed. Never ever ever again!!!!

  12. Such a timely post for me! A couple of weeks ago, a neighbor asked me if I could recreate the pattern of the sweater he was wearing and knit one for him with added pockets. I said no, I couldn’t. I explained that I’m fiercely protective of my knitting time and that I only knit things that bring me joy in the moment. He hasn’t spoken to me since! I was feeling a bit badly about it, but no more. Thank you!! 🙂

  13. Yes….. absolutely… everything you said!

  14. Thank you for this reminder. Gonna get all political here and mention that women’s time is OUR TIME. We are so often asked to give, give, give of ourselves, that a common default is to feel that anything we do that may be enjoyable should be done in service to others, including supporting our families with it! Does a man feel that his time spent on his fantasy football team, or fishing, or even knitting, is selfish? HE DOES NOT! Do what you love, for you, guilt free!!

  15. I totally agree. And I now no longer feel that I am a selfish person for saying no.
    Thank you for your blog

  16. I agree that we knit for different reasons and should not feel guilty for turning down requests. For me, it is an expression of creativity and crafting, and I do it to make myself creatively happy. I knit for certain people I love and I knit for myself. I very occasionally knit for charity, but for charity volunteering, I prefer to tutor students in challenged schools, and I hold infants in the NICU at my local hospital. Knitting is for my own personal joy.

  17. I love this Dana! Learning to say no and not wasting energy feeling guilty about it are important skills to learn. We’d all be so much happier. Saying yes when you want to, equally so!

  18. Well said! I might occasionally offer to knit something for someone, because I know that I’ll enjoy making that particular item and I’ll get pleasure from them using it, but don’t ask me to do something specific. I’ll choose what I knit!

  19. I totally agree and you said it beautifully! I love all of your sweaters.

  20. Yes yes yes! Can non-knitters see this!! I get so frustrated when people want me to knit for them, and say “i’ll pay you”. I just think, would you ask anyone else (men) who has XYZ hobby and if you did, i’m sure you would expect to pay more for, say carpentry, then knitting, even if it took the same amount of time and material costs. Sing it from the mountains Dana, we knit for ourselves and it’s not selfish!!

  21. I honestly don’t knit well enough or fast enough to have the demands for my projects from others (for instance, my consignment agent, whom I supplied with handmade jewelry for 10 years). My knitting skill and philosophy is KISS (keep it simple, stupid) and like you, Dana, I like to play with color more than complex patterns. So, I embark on projects first for myself, and if they don’t quite fit, my sister might be the beneficiary, or if I’m churning out cowls and scarves, almost anybody but me will be the recipient, including that consignment agent. So I feel no guilt. Life is too short.

  22. Loved this post. My mom used to knit baby sweaters for craft fairs, one years a women asked Mom to knit a mother/daughter matching sweaters. My mom did not like knitting adult sweaters, but did so reluctantly. Needless to say the woman changed her mind and my Mom was stuck with the pair.
    So she never knitted for me, I taught myself. When I get asked to knit a sweater, I tell them $500 up front. I don’t get asked again! Not selfish, just not interested in knitting for others.

  23. Absolutely true! (and, I do like knitting for others… but only those I know will value the item and understand the work that went into it)

  24. Tell us more about those braised short ribs?!😋

    But yes, you’re right. Almost every knitter who has knit in public or let anyone know gets those, “can you knit me a …?” question. I love some of the responses here. I’ve mostly just taken to laughing as if the person has said the funniest thing ever.

  25. Yes yes yes! And also I am so tired of people asking “who is that for” when I’m working on a project. Really? Can’t I just be creative for the art of it? If they see someone sketching or painting do they ask who is it for? I doubt it. And my husband, argh. If someone compliments my hand knit shawl, Mark will turn to me, in front of them, and tell me I should give it to them. Uh no. No, that’s not how it works. I think we need more knitter/crafter education to the general public!

  26. I’ve never heard this saying before but totally agtre.and it explains why I always feel guilty about knitting something for myself x

  27. I try to make sure I have a couple of projects going at once, including something for myself. I’d be miserable otherwise! Although I am notorious for finishing a project for myself and deciding I don’t like it haha

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