I recently took up knitting. I’m always one to try various creative, crafty pursuits — knitting, jewelry making, painting — anything that allows me to flex my creative muscle, work with colour, and enjoy a tangible finished product afterwards. If it’s beautiful, all the better.
As a child, I dabbled in knitting, too. My Scottish grandmother knitted a lot: strange doily-like neck wraps, scarves and hats, but I remember the utilitarian slippers most. My Mom made those slippers and that’s how we learned. My sister and I learned to knit by making the slippers that my maternal family could knit with their eyes closed.
So, back to modern times, and I’m trying to knit again. Only now my tastes are much more discerning. I want to knit scarves with modern colour combinations and fancy ribbing. I want to make hats that fit just so.
My approach to this pursuit? I drop by the local knitting store, pick up some wool and needles and download a free pattern online. And I’m all set. Away I go.
When I encounter a problem, I simply Google it, watch a YouTube video, and, of course, I have Amazon deliver me a dictionary of 400 knitting stitches. Every source I consult tells me that I should spend the time knitting a swatch of 4” x 4” first to check my knitting gauge against the pattern. If I knit tighter or looser than the gauge of the pattern, I’ll need to adjust the pattern accordingly to ensure the final product is the size I want it to be.
But do I knit a single swatch? No, of course not! I need to create right now. I need to finish the hat. I want to wear the scarf tomorrow.
I’m surprised when I finish the hat and it sits on my head like a watermelon rind that I scooped the insides out of. There’s no stretching to the perfect fit, a snug warmth. I’m devastated. I invested so much time on it.
My a-ha moment? Well, I regularly advise clients and business partners to take the time to understand their audience, the root of their business challenge, or the opportunity before them, before diving head long into developing creative ad campaigns, PR strategies, or blasting off email sales pitches. If you don’t take the time upfront to identify the need or test the likelihood of a communications strategy’s success, even the most inventive prose will be wasted.
In communications, as in knitting, take the time to understand the environment, obtain an outside view or an expert opinion first, and when it comes time for creativity, you’ll be much more likely to achieve what you set out to do.