How sticking to your knitting will get you stuck: idiom usage

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Pivot on your toes Pic by David Hoffman -unsplash

There was not enough wool to buy for all the crochet hours I would need to fill during the slumpy ‘non-work’ hours of lockdown. For one thing, I only bought enough for three weeks.

The other thing is that I did not expect my speed of crocheting to accelerate in the way that it did. But due to the shortage of wool, I have limited myself to two rows a day in the hope that the reduced output will see me through until wool shops will open, hopefully in the next two weeks and I will be able to replenish my supplies.

My intention all the while is to ‘stick to my knitting’. This idiom suggests sticking to what you’re good at and never stepping away from what you know.


However,  a word that has come into the language of late is ‘pivot’.  Here, there and everywhere, we see the word pivot. It’s time to pivot. You must pivot to survive. Pivot your business. Pivot your ideas about schooling. Pivot your exercise routine.

This idea is directly opposite to ‘sticking to your knitting’ and does indeed seem to be the only way to endure the pressures and dynamic changes that Covid 19 has delivered upon us.

New direction

Pivot: Collins Dictionary defines pivot, the verb: If something pivots, it balances or turns on a central point.

Wiktionary gives the most useful assistance about the verb here:

  1. (intransitive) To turnon an exact spot.
  2. (businessslang) To change the direction of one’s business, usually in response to market
  3. (US,politics) To shift a political candidate‘s messaging during a general election to reflect plans and values more moderate than those advocated during the primary.

It is Wiktionary’s second definition that we are most concerned with here.

For all us, whether freelancers, business owners, employees or retirees,  we all must pivot due to the ‘market insights’ – let’s call those indefinite lockdown and Covid 19 impacts – sticking to our knitting just won’t do. We must be like ballerinas and have the flexibility to turn on our tiptoes in another direction, a new direction, pivoting away from what we are used to and towards something new.

Throw away your knitting needles, my friends.

On the horns of a dilemma: origin of idioms

Through the eye of the needle: biblical idioms

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