Knitting with an Attention Disorder

For Attention DisorderFor Attention Disorder Sufferers: You Can Knit!

Most people use a pattern when they knit. I’m not sure whether I can’t or I just won’t knit with a pattern.  I say that I’m not sure because no one has ever held a gun over my head and said, “Your life or some well knitted puffy slippers using this here pattern!”  The problem is that when I look at the list of instructions the lines seem to be duplicating in length and in complexity as I scan the document. I immediately feel overwhelmed and after the second or third line well, everything is a blur. Even if I start it seems almost impossible to finish. I start to think about other issues and ideas and off I go to another project without cleaning up the mess I made getting all the supplies for the first one.

Do I have ADD?..I don’t want to talk about it. Time is ticking and I might loose your attention, or my own. Let’s talk knitting and how I’ve done it even when it’s difficult to focus; for what ever the impeding reason.

I devised a formula that helps me. I’m not a medical professional of any sort – and this may not be of any help to you or for who ever you are reading this article. But if one person can knit because I shared this information then it was worth it. So here it is…

My Fab Five Formula: I use Video Tutorials, Simple Project Instructions instead of Patterns , Coins to Count, Looms Instead of Needles and I Change the Colors of the Pegs on my Looms depending on the project.

Let me explain each in detail:

Videos instead of Patterns:

I find that I retain and absorb more information by looking at moving objects, this includes people  The person teaching the lesson is in motion, talking (to me) and creating. I can see the project progress  layer by layer right before my eyes. I don’t have to imagine it.  I’m not looking down at a monochromatic page, a stall, stagnant object that I have to focus on.

I can be a step-by-step copy cat, following every command on demand. If necessary I can pause my teacher and force him or her to repeat the process  many times over. I can let the whole project go and come back next winter or not at all. No one will get mad. The pressure is off.

Is there pressure in reading and following a pattern, you ask. Pressure doesn’t have to be actual for me to feel it. Certain tasks give me a sense of anxiousness just because I feel that I’m capable of starting but possibly not finishing. In fact given this scenario the odds are I won’t start or I will delay it for as long as I can.


Simple Instructions:

While researching loom knitting projects I found so many that just seemed like the impossible dream. Even some video tutorials would sometimes loose me when the instructions seemed endless or the instructor would mention to many different stitches, I couldn’t keep up.

I learned to look for written patterns that have a short list of instructions – I don’t bother to use that pattern, I just want to find out what the items are, like baby booties, then I go looking for a video that will teach me how to make those simple items. I adjust the instructions to fit my method. My purpose is to get a base knowledge and then tweak it.

In doing this exercise I have figured out how to make other loom knitting projects on my own with out help. My own creations. One of those projects is The Ball Dolly.  I worked her out in my own head after watching a couple of videos about loom knitting hats. This was odd for me since I have a hard time getting a good image of something in my head. That’s why I don’t rearrange furniture or pick-out new wall color I leave that to my husband with the color deficiency issue.

One thing for sure,  creating The Ball Dolly was encouraging and it gave me confidence that I could do it again… and I have.


Coins Instead of Writing:

When it was time to make the Baby Booties project for this site I needed 2 of the exact same thing so I couldn’t just eyeball my project and decide I had knitted enough.  Oh noooooo… it was time to count. I knew that if I had to put the work down and  write a line or an X or what ever I was either going to get bored or frustrated.

I knew the project needed 9 complete rows for the front of the foot and 7 incomplete rows for the heel. My solution, I got 9 pennies and 7 dimes. Every time I finished a row I pulled a coin off my stack. I didn’t count. Mid-way through that project my daughter “had to” tell me something . When I turned back to my project I didn’t need to count lines on a paper or go back to the pattern to find out how many lines I needed for the heel. I just needed to know that I still had dimes left. I didn’t even need to know how many dimes I had left because that information wasn’t necessary.


Looms Instead of Needles

I had tried to crochet as a little girl and had managed to make a big weird shaped square I called a blanket. That was as far as I got. I couldn’t even imagine anything else. It had taken me for ever and I wasn’t happy with the end result.

I discovered looms a few years ago at a Joann’s Fabric demonstration. I didn’t see the girl start or finish but I got enough information to get me hooked. Since then I have made so many hats I can’t even count. I have taught many people the ease of knitting with a loom. It’s is the closest thing to fail-proof you’ll ever get. I can knit while I listen to music, watch TV, or talk with my family.

Change Pegs on Looms


If I have a project that only needs say 8 pegs on the loom then I change the color of the 8th peg. That way every time I need to stop and reverse I don’t need to count my pegs, when I see the one with a different color I know it’s time to reverse .

I bought the Knifty Knitter replacement pegs to help me with this technique. I didn’t want to break down a good loom just to change colors.  They have worked out really well I must say.

Special Note:  I Celebrate Who I Am

Very often I hear people say “I can’t finish a project or I keep 2 or 3 unfinished projects. I do too. This is what I have done to accommodate this element of my person. I made room in my closet for my unfinished projects and gave myself the artistic freedom to wonder into new adventures. Just knowing that I don’t HAVE TO finish means that I am more likely to come back and do just that, finish it, just not right now. But if make a final decision that I won’t ,  I come to terms with that fact and act accordingly.    I brake the project down and use the material for something else. No guilt. Before I know it in my quest to reuse those materials because I’m also a hoarder , I’ll create something new I had not thought of before.

I Know this because if i had nit made a mistake with one of my loom knit hats i would have never created my Flat Hat Flower. this was a “Mistake”.  I have learned that God doesn’t make mistakes. I’m like this for a reason.. I will celebrate who I am.

These five practices have made it possible for me to make many loom knit treasures for friends, family and charity. It’s the reason I started this website.  To help people who find it difficult to follow complicated patterns a place to find projects they can complete, enjoy and share. I thank God for this opportunity and I hope not to let him or you down in my endevours.


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Comments: 24

  1. Cheryl December 3, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you Denise. I was very touched by your article. You truly walk in Gods blessings. Stay blessed my friend.

    • Denise Canela December 4, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Amen and Amen – Hugs Cheyrl

  2. Dawn September 19, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    This is true. I have ADHD and I eventually was able to knit a hat! Still, it’s hard because I’m always forgetting where I put my scissors.

    • Denise Canela September 23, 2016 at 12:34 am

      I can sooooooo relate – but listen – when you find the scissors – DON’T RUN WITH THEM 🙂

  3. Toni January 13, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    I don’t even TRY to read the instructions (on the labels of yarn) anymore… though I love your videos’ and I do read over the pdf’s you add to your video’s\sites. It helps get me a little more ‘grounded’ I guess. I’m awful about starting one project and not finishing before I move to the next… I do other crafts as well…. I have a camo wreath in my closet i started for my bff’s late wedding gift…and another I’ve half started to put on my father\brother’s gravesite… it can be challenging!

    So I really (as I’m sure we all do!) Appreciate the time, work and effort you put into these videos, your site & facebook page!! Thanks SO MUCH!! <3 <3 <3

    • Denise Canela January 17, 2016 at 12:13 am

      Thanks for the Thanks Toni – things have gotten a bit better for him since a wrote this post several years ago. A lot of prayers, My sons has helped me and I’m starting a new book shortly to help train my brain more… Your Brain at Work 🙂

  4. Shelly November 28, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I have to stop right now and write you a note thanking you for all the time and love you put into your website and patterns. If I don’t write right now…I’ll forget and never get back to it LOL! I can certainly identify with all that you’ve said, and have a sneaking suspicion that I probably have a smidgen of AD issues. My problem is that I compulsively research a project…because I there might be a better one on the next webpage…and then never get around to actually starting it because I’m afraid it won’t be done well enough (note that I didn’t say perfect….working really hard to stop thinking like that)! And I tend to bite off more than I can chew when I finally DO get started. So THANKS! Thanks for helping me to learn from you…not just knitting patterns, but learning to give myself permission to not finish something and live through it! You are a blessing!

    • Denise Canela November 29, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      Shelly – we’re mind twins! I laughed soooo much as I saw myself in your description you. YES I research things to death. I have to stop – pray – and walk away. I get compulsive about something and then neglect that same thing I was so compulsive about. It’s crazy – but I know I am the way I’m suppose to be. I’ve had to learn to work with what I have.

      A BIG HUG for you Shelly. THANK you for taking the time to write me this comment – You have blessed me Friend ! 🙂

  5. Stacie August 5, 2015 at 5:52 am

    I am 31 years old, taught myself to loom knit about 8 months ago with YouTube videos, I cannot read patterns and I do have ADHD combination type! I have also made my own pattern for Easter baskets. After watching a few different videos I came up with my own pattern and they both turned out great and I got a ton of compliments on them. I am very proud of them. I love loom knitting! I tried knitting with needles and crocheting and I just don’t get it. Finally, I have an afghan started on my KB Afghan loom, a sock on my sock loom, and two hats on two different sized round looms lol. I will finish them sooner or later. I am also the mother to two ADHD kids and working on my Masters degree in Counseling and Human Development. I am busy and usually running around having no idea what is going on lol. Thanks for this post. Makes me feel good I am not the only person out there loom knitting like me.

    • Denise Canela August 6, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      Needless to say that I totally understand Stacie … and Congrats on your choice of careers – how awesome !

  6. canis January 31, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    knitting instructions could be typed in Cyrillic and they’d be just as impossible to decipher. Who the hell invented a separate language for knitting anyway?! you could type in a mess of numbers and letters at random and some savant would knit something with it.

    • Denise Canela February 1, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      My daughter and I laughed sooooo much with this comment. I hear you Canis – loud and clear. Patterns are painful for me – I have to walk that path daily and I have the scars to show for it.

  7. Rose Parker October 24, 2013 at 7:10 am

    My current difficulty is with a simple vest pattern. There’s a point where increases in the front are at the opening, then they throw in that deal-breaker ” at the same time, increase also on the underarm side”. I’ve tried writing the increases out for each row, but it’s not coming out correctly. Can anyone help me? I really want to progress past hats and scarves.

    • Denise Cenela October 24, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      Hi Rose,
      Can you give me a link to the pattern?

  8. Grammykt January 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I am forever counting stitches on the needle. I have to write every pattern out row by row, and if distracted I say”just let me finish this row.” Even my Yorkie knows what that means:)
    On a recent road trip I was knitting dolls, and had cryptic codes on note pads. Sometimes the notes were left in the rooms once I had finished. To a person who doesn’t knit, my notes are intimidating at best. Row 11. P1, p2tog, p13,(p2tog,p2)4x p2tog,p13, p2tog, p1. My ADD brother saw my knitting notes and said “what the heck is all of that weird code about?” They are just my knitting notes. They are complicated but simple for me. It’s my way of keeping track of what I’m doing.

    • MissionBoundCreations January 6, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      In order to do Anything in life we have to work out what systems work best for us as individuals. God made us all with our own flavor. One size doesn’t fit all… Some sizes only fit some people and that’s great.

  9. Jodie January 5, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    I bought a rectangular 10 in knitting board about 4 months ago. I have created 2 scarfs with it. But now I want to make a hat. I’ve been searching on youtube for videos to help me do that with my loom, but discovered that so many were made with the circular looms. So I went back to the website for the loom I have and found a hat to make. But was instantly put off by the instruction list/pattern.

    Somehow I clicked on one of your videos and was instantly struck by how easy you made it look. Then I went to the website you listed and after reading the intro article I found that I resonated with the experience you had. I hate counting rows, stitches, etc. That doesn’t work for me. I LOVE your use of coins and will totally use that technique!

    I wanted knitting to be fun and easy……and so far, what the video I watched and the info I’ve read makes me want to knit, more so than anything I’ve seen thus far.

    Thanks for sharing your tips!!!!

    • MissionBoundCreations January 6, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Thank you Jodie.. You’ve made me smile today. Your kind words are like flowers… good for the soul.

  10. jacqui January 3, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Sorry this is such a big post and once I get going it’s hard to stop. I Also have ADD. I have just read your post and am going to try these methods on for size. I seem to be able to make small things like hats, mittens/mitts and small toys. As of this time I am unable to complete a larger project. I get bored and totally lose all interest in those projects. I don’t mind making (actually I love making) charity hats and gloves, newborn and preemie and I have now added a bunch of little gnomes in the bags. I keep at it and there are also times when I get overwhelmed by my small projects. I bring my knitting and crochet everywhere I go, except church, and even then I can’t sit still.

    • MissionBoundCreations January 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      I think it’s Awesome that you have a hard time stopping once you get started. I do too. We have important things to say. I also get bored with projects. That’s ok. I put it down and don’t give it another thought. Giving myself permission to not finish helps me come back to the project later instead of complete abandonment. I’m going to update my post about this. It’s ok that we have 2, 5, 10 unfinished projects. That’s the way we are. I made closet space for it.. If I tell myself it’s ok.. I’m more likly to come back to it later.

  11. moncler jacken January 2, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Thanks for the great Post very COOL!!!

  12. Hermes Belt January 2, 2013 at 1:04 am

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  13. Arlene January 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. Now I understand why my granddaughter, who has ADHD, can knit so well without a pattern, and while watching TV.

  14. Vangie January 1, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I am 64 and have wondered lately if I have ADD…these hints seem to be ones to help me. Thank you.

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