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Turning 'shoulds' into "coulds"

Recently, I ran an IG poll about finishing techniques, and I received a few DMs that made me feel like folks were overwhelmed - maybe like I was implying there was one right way to do things, or they felt like they weren't measuring up.

Three favorite books - Deborah Newton's Finishing School, Amy Herzog's Ultimate Sweater Book, and Ysolda's Litle Red in the City.
Fave books for upgrading my finish and fit technique.

I have a voice in my head that tells me the same thing, a jumbled ruckus of 'shoulds', colliding with each other from all aspects of my life. I try to remind myself:

"Stop shoulding all over yourself!"

Here's the thing. If we spend all our time agonizing over what we 'should' be doing, we're not offering ourselves much compassion, we're buying into the idea that there's 'one right way' to do things, and we're sucking the creativity out of our lives. Alternative? Start parking those shoulds on a Could List. If it's not keeping the lights on (literally or emotionally), it is 100% negotiable and you get to decide whether it's important to you - and you get to change your mind whenever you want.

With a Could List, you can dip into that list whenever you have a few minutes and see what resonates. What serves you today? What's going to help you reach your goals and also energize you? What's languishing on this list and maybe something you can let go of entirely without guilt?

Professional coulds

As a small business with some amazing peer mentors, there is a constant influx of things I could be doing. Posting every day. Creating pins. Journal prompts. Planning content. Improving SEO. Creating video content. Forget printing money, someone start printing time!

Putting all these goodies right onto the Could List created a lot of freedom - now I can observe the river of great ideas and take my time choosing which ones are right for me on any given day. I used to feel guilty for not doing every single thing. I even used to feel guilty for not having a plan to stick to every day, every week. Now I can give myself credit for making an informed choice that's guided by intuition. I'm responding to my changing life, day by day, instead of treating myself and my business as something static and inorganic.

Human coulds

As a human, whew: the weeds in the sidewalk, those veggie recipes I've been meaning to research, the additional educational content I feel like my 4-year-old would absolutely sponge up. Shouldn't I be meditating and nourishing my gut biome and handwriting some letters? Should I confess to you my terrible car slob habits? Having these things on the Could List gives me the chance to take a breather and engage in some 'medium living.'

Now, when someone suggests something they think would really help me, I can say, 'thanks, I'll put it on the menu!'.

Your resources are finite (and incredibly valuable)

I used to buy into this idea that I just needed to manage my time better, but my Could List helped me reframe that. When you say it this way - "I honestly don't have enough time for everything I could choose to do"- it sounds obvious. Why have we been criticizing ourselves so much for not doing everything in the whole wide world?

Seeing all my Coulds in one bucket helps me realize that I can't max out every Could in every category, and helps me make informed and prioritized decisions. If I'm going to dig deep into SEO after bedtime, maybe this is a night when I plop a pre-cut veggie tray on the table after daycare pickup. If I'm going to research a recipe and cook from scratch, it's a good night to let go of planning six months of content!

A rust, clay and sand shawl on long knitting needles, with a rich texture.
"I should finish this before the MKAL ends in 8 days.." and I could, if I wasn't going to sleep!

So what about knitting?

I think a lot of us already have a Could List for knitting! Probably because there are fewer 'shoulds', this is more intuitive. We have favorites on IG and a queue on Ravelry, and all those patterns and all that stash. Maybe we make a plan for what we want to make each season, but it's subject to change without guilt. Can you adapt this easy-going and inspired way of creating knits to creating the rest of your life?

But I do think that there's a lot of shoulding when it comes to knitting that we don't talk about. We should swatch. We should drop back and uncross that cable. We should add project notes. We should buy organic or we should buy budget or we should shop small or we should shop our stash. But because knitting is a hobby, we aren't in the practice of reminding ourselves "not to should all over ourselves" because we aren't expecting shoulds to pop up in our leisure activities!

Aaaand back to finishing techniques!

So anyway, here's what I want to say about finishing techniques. We all get to choose, for every single project, exactly which things on the technique menu feel right for the project.

If you're someone who's curious about new finishing techniques, you can put some of these ideas on your Could List. If you're happy with your current finishing technique, that's perfect! And if you're someone who never swatches, never blocks, and just tucks your ends in? That is absolutely wonderful. We could choose to do an endless amount of things with our time and creative energy, and if you're doing things you love that energize you, you are doing things perfectly, exactly, right.

A knitting swatch with deep ribbing and cable texture.
If you're not blocking and you're happy, that's just fine (clap clap!)

Go Further

Curious about those finishing techniques? Read some tips on my Instagram Post and then check out the highlight on my profile for some great ideas from other knitters.

What is 'medium living'? Well, I can't quite manage slow living. But I can handle zooming in until it feels darn close! I'm here for cloth napkins with freezer pizza, handknits styled with your fave shorts from Target, and only weeding the garden patch you can see from the window.

Digging that swatch? It's from Herbalist, learn more here!

On the recommendations of two experts in the field, Boann and Heather, I recently picked up a copy of June Hemmons Hiatt's book The Principles of Knitting. It is 736 pages and weighs almost 5 pounds. I got my copy for $36 on a certain website I won't name, and you can also get a signed copy from the author with shipping included at the link above for $65. This book is a TROVE of knowledge and I am only a few dozen pages in and can't believe how comprehensive it is.

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