You went to your local yarn shop and found a gorgeous new skein of yarn. It was too pretty to leave behind, but what now? How do you decide what to knit? Sure the yarn shop had good ideas, and you've looked on Ravelry to see what others have made; but you feel like you want to try something new.
A combo of following the call of the yarn, and listening to yourself will create wearable art you love. Take your yarn, needles, a pen, and a piece of paper and sit in your favorite spot in your home. Or if it is a nice day take it outside with you. Hold the yarn in your hands and ask yourself, 'what do you want to knit?'. If nothing comes to mind, have no fear you'll find your answer soon enough.
Try using this breathing technique to quiet your mind so you can listen to your intuition and knit your hearts desire. Put your yarn and notions down next to you and take a few deep breaths, even try closing your eyes. Inhale fully so your abdomen and lungs expand fully and when you feel like you can't fit anymore air in, exhale out your mouth until every last amount of air is released. Continue breathing deeply, but breath through your nose only. Relax your tongue away from the roof of your mouth. After at least three minutes of simply breathing (open your eyes if they are closed) and draw the first thing that comes to mind. You are not looking to create the next work of art to end up in the Whitney Museum, simply a rough sketch of something you could imagine knitting. By no means am I an artist, of the two of us at Ragline Knits, Kate is far more skilled in that regard! What I draw usually looks like a kindergartners homework. But how it looks is not important, having fun with it is what matters. If you can explore the idea of a poncho, eye pillow, or shawl on paper before you knit it, you will have a much better time turning that cake of yarn into what you want.
If you find that the drawing is not ideal for you, put down your items again and try counting your breath. Inhale counting slowing to 5 and then exhale counting slowing to 6. Continue with this breath letting the numbers be your focus. After a few minutes pick up your knitting and cast on ten to twenty stitches and knit. Try making a garter stitch swatch to start. As your knitting the yarn will take shape and you will see that maybe it needs a little stockinette stitch, ribbing, or a few yarn overs. Play with it and see what it becomes.
Once you have a small swatch, at least 4 inches of knitting, you may have a better idea of what you want it to become. Maybe it is saying it needs to be a scarf. Now you can narrow it down by going on Ravelry and picking out a scarf pattern, or design your own pattern based on your swatch. You can find a scarf you already own and measure it so you know the size you want to make your pattern.
I've been working with this wonderful recycled silk yarn from Darn Good Yarn and when I first got it I wasn't sure what it would become. So I went through the process described above and found that I felt it would make a wonderful poncho. I tried out a few different stitches while swatching and fell in love with the idea of stockinette stitch and dropped stitches. The pattern is a work in progress as I am still test knitting, but soon I will share the finished knitting pattern.
Taking a few extra moments before starting a project can make it so you really love what you knit. Even taking three deep breaths to ground yourself can get your knitting mojo going.