Friday, 4 January 2013

The Joy of Knitting

Only in the last couple of years have I really fallen in love with knitting. My Mum first taught me as a child and I have to confess I wasn't very patient and, sorry Mum, kept getting a bit grumpy with the whole thing. But since then I've tried again a few times and I finally took off, fledging from the need to have Mum rescue my dropped stitches or count my rows for me.  I even taught my husband, while we were engaged, and he promptly launched into knitting himself a lovely beanie hat which he still wears now, years on. 

I just thought it would be fun to share some of the loveliness of knitting because despite it having a real revival recently, I know so many people who claim they can't knit. Fair enough if you don't want to know; my brother says he can't knit and though I know he could master it if he chose to, I understand that he would rather apply his limited spare time to other projects and skills he is already interested in like taking apart a motor bike or carving exquisite walking sticks.

But for those who are either a bit nervous about trying, or have tried and not succeeded yet, do give it a go! I bet when you were learning to ride your bike you didn't succeed without a few swerves and scrapes and falls but you kept at it and eventually it comes naturally.

Most knitting books (which you can borrow for free from your local library, plug plug) have a section on getting started with knitting, with nice clear diagrams. But the best way, if you have the luxury, is to sit down with a friend or relation for a while and let them show you in person. With a cup of tea. And don't expect to grasp it immediately. 


And once you are pootling along with it to some degree there is such a mesmerising choice of wool and needles and patterns.  

Knitting is such a cosy thing to do, whatever the season. And for those times when you sit there waiting for an appointment or someone to arrive you can pick up your project and knit a row or two and be happy in the fact that no time has been wasted and you're a few stitches closer to being able to wear your scarf or jumper. 

Anyhow, having just been given some lovely knitting books for Christmas from our dear fambly I have initiated an indulgent and joyous little knitting corner on the bookshelf in our lounge. It consists of all the knitting books I own, which isn't loads but they're all very nice, and whatever books I'm borrowing at the moment, and a few loose paper patterns I've invested in.

Next to that are a couple of small boxes, each with a current project inside, with all the relevant wool. And then a huge box for all our wool, unassigned to any project and full of possibility. I like having this in the lounge; if I kept it in the studio I'd probably bung it haphazardly somewhere out of the way and never get round to doing much with it.

Andy also has his own knitting bag so he can take knitting out to people's houses if he feels like it. 

I've finally tackled a fully grown adult garment, making a big chunky jumper for my Mum for Christmas and a lovely cardigan for Andy's Mum, which was a team effort. Andy had found out about Mattress stitch which allows a seam to be completely invisible. Time consuming and quite fiddly but once you know how it goes it is so worth it to get a nice finish on something you've invested time into knitting.

We have a lovely knitting shop here in Cullompton, with very affordable wool and heaps of patterns to browse. The staff are all very experienced knitters and sewers and several times I've taken a pattern in that I'm struggling with and they've been happy to explain it.

For no pennies at all you can join, where you can browse a squillion and one patterns, most of which are free to download. So if you want a pattern for a little bunny or a pair of socks or legwarmers or Star Wars figures (Yoda's pretty fab) then the internet is your oyster. 

 Charity shops are forbidden to display knitting needles but if you ask, politely, they are happy to bring out what they have and let you rummage. They all vary but it is common to pay only 50p per pair, less if you're buying a whole stash.  Nearly all our needles are from charity shops, and we do have a lot. From 12mm to an inch or so, they cater for a plethora of different projects and my favourites are always the brightly coloured plastic ones which are comfy and warm to hold, but you can get bamboo ones or metal too. Andy has insisted on us having a rather large assortment of circular needles as he is quite a fanatic of "knitting in the round."

This allows you to create an item as a tube, meaning no seams! Very cool, especially for legwarmers but also, funnily for hats and all sorts.
When it comes to circular knitting, for Andy, wherever there's a will, there's a way. Dear of him.

So there we go, knitting is accessible. And it's also lovely. Smiles.  

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