Sunday, 17 September 2017

3 Reasons For the Knitting Granny Myth


I know, I know. I heard that sigh.

The most common reaction from fellow knitters upon hearing "grannies" and "knitting" in the same sentence is a sigh of resignation and rolling of eyes. Most knitters I now, if not all of them, started knitting when they were quite young. Some were children, others picked it up in their late teens or early twenties. By comparison, I began quite late at 29, if I remember correctly.

So where does this common idea come from that only old people knit? Here's what I think may be  some of the reasons why the knitting granny myth still prevails.


1. They are our teachers

There are several ways people first learn to knit and most of the time, though not always, they have a teacher. This may be an actual teacher at school for those who studied Home Economics, but often we learn from an older relative. It comes as no surprise that mothers and grandmothers would be the most likely people to teach us to knit.

2. Knitting takes time

An older person has many skills to pass on and seems the most likely teacher, but this may not be the only reason they are associated with the craft. Knitting takes time and in these times when everyone needs at least one job to make ends meet, in addition to other commitments, sitting down for a spot of knitting isn't always possible. Generally, retirees have more time, so they may be seen knitting more often than younger people. Of course, younger knitters still find the time, but the perception is that grannies (never grandpas, of course) have little else to do and can spend their days knitting.

3. Women as primary homemakers

Similarly, the idea of women as the primary homemakers and men as the breadwinners still prevails. So women are thought to be the ones who make the home cosy, do the cooking and baking, tend to the garden, and pursue crafts like knitting, crochet and sewing. This idea is still ingrained in most of us and often goes hand in hand with the idea of knitting grannies. 


I think it will take time to overcome these preconceptions we have about knitters, if they'll ever change. In the meantime, younger knitters can look forward to one day being granny knitters - I doubt we'll stop just so we an put an end to the myth!


Saturday, 9 September 2017

Join the #knittinghour Destash!


Our weekly #knittinghour on Twitter is always a fun hour to spend with fellow knitters. Two years ago we had a sock KAL for beginners, suggested by participants, and last week they came up with the idea of a destash. 

Of course we need to have a destash! Every one of us has some yarn  they no longer want, so why not let someone else enjoy it? All knitters are welcome to join in the fun.

How do I find #knittinghour?

Go to Twitter and search for the hashtag #knittinghour to see all our posts. Don't be shy! Say hi and remember to use the hashtag in all your tweets so we don't miss you.

When is the #knittinghour destash happening?

We will start our destash on Thursday, 14 September 2017 at 19:30 (UK time). 

How does the #knittinghour destash work?

Join us during #knittinghour and flash your (de)stash! Post photos and details of what you want to sell or swap. If someone is interested, they will reply to you directly and you can then discuss the details such as who pays postage, what payment or swap you would like, etc. Similarly, if you see something you would like, just reply to that person's tweet to let them know.

If you are a member of Ravelry, you probably know that you can add yarn you want to trade or sell to your stash. Post a link to your destash page on Ravelry and everyone will be able to browse your offer. Not everyone will be a member of Ravelry, so please do also have photos ready to tweet just in case.

And that's it!

Let me know if you have any questions that I haven't answered in this post. Now, please excuse me: I need to stash dive.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Knitting Separates the Wheat From the Chaff

knitters are great problem solvers

In my post about the 5 reasons why knitting makes you smarter, I mentioned that problem solving is one of the skills required to be a successful knitter. I believe that the way we deal with problems we face with any project determines what kind of a knitter we are, how far we will be able to develop our craft, and ultimately separates the wheat from the chaff.

Are you a knitter?

Honestly, not everyone is cut out to be a knitter and that's okay. Not every knitter is the same either and we vary in our skill levels and preferences.

All knitters, in my opinion, need patience, the ability to recognise a problem and find a way to solve it. Youtube will only get you this far, so sometimes you will be on your own. Of course we don't have all the answers from the start and we develop our skills over time with every problem we encounter. We read books, we ask fellow knitters for help, and we search the web for information.

Easy peasy?  Not always.

The problem may be as simple as picking up a dropped stitch, but even this can be harder than expected. Losing a stitch in a simple stocking stitch piece is easy enough to fix, but I remember the first few times I dropped a stitch in an intricate lace shawl or across decreases. It's still a challenge now and I have to be able to carefully read my knitting in order to sort things out.

How tenacious are you?

Such moments are when we find out if we are really cut out to be knitters. Do we sink our teeth into the problem and don't give up until we've found a solution or do we give up at this point? Ripping back is always an option and part of solving problems you encounter, so don't feel like you have given up or failed! You've seen that something went wrong somewhere, nothing else seems to work, so all that's left to do is to rip back and start over.

Even if you rip back straight away without first trying to find another solution, this can be a good thing. It may be less challenging, but it can potentially save you a lot of time. Especially knitters who are more interested in the finished project rather than the process will most likely opt for the faster method.

Do you give up?

It's whether you give up completely or not that matters. If you are a beginner and early mistakes completely throw you to the point that you go off knitting altogether, that's okay. Knitting may not be for you or maybe it just isn't the right time for this hobby yet. (I tried three times over many years till I got the hang of it.) 

Knitters persevere. They want to finish what they've started, even though it may not be entirely free from mistakes. Those can be ironed out over along the way as we gain more confidence and learn more skills. You won't even realise you're doing it and, one day, you'll look at what you've just accomplished and think of how you'd never have managed it just a few months or even years ago. 

Liam Neeson a particular set of skills meme

If in doubt, be a badass.

Of course, even tenacious knitters will sometimes take short cuts. I can't tell you how often I simply decided a wrong stitch in a lace shawl would just have to stay as it was because I couldn't be bothered to fix it. You can't always have perfection (says the perfectionist who undid her entire jumper and is still trying to adjust it to fit her body type).

As knitters we need patience, endurance, and a very particular set of skills. 

In the world of knitting, be a badass Liam Neeson. - Tweet that!

Saturday, 26 August 2017

An Irresistible Knitting Pun

I love a good fingering knitting goddess project bag

I love a good fingering! Sorry. TMI? Nonetheless, it seems I am not alone in this. Many of you could not resist this project bag by The Knitting Goddess because it sold out as soon as she added it to her shop. I only found out about it when it was too late. I was very disappointed because this bag brings together my hobby and my job. Wait, that might need explaining...

Knitting project bag, Ravelry badge, EYF badge

Some of you who follow me on Twitter know that I work for a company that is all about sexual happiness. So how could I resist this bag? It's perfect! I love the double entendre. One of my more innocent colleagues asked me in horror if I was going to use that bag in public - I have absolutely no problem with that. I think it's fun - and I am so glad I managed to get my hands on one of them from the second round of printing.

screenprinted project bag for knitting

This bag is just the right size for a sock WIP, yarn, needles and notions. The bottom is flat so the bag can stand up on its own, and this design makes it a little roomier than I expected. Perfect, if you ask me. The screenprinted design is flawless and the monochromatic simplicity makes you focus on the message. This bag has a sturdy zip to match the material, but I would have preferred a slightly less chunky zip, to be honest. Still, it does what it's meant to do and definitely won't break. 


According to the label, the cotton bag was made in a Fair Trade factory in India and The Knitting Goddess printed it in her studio in Harrogate. She uses eco-friendly water-based inks, too, so you really can't go wrong with her bags. I like little touches like the wooden tag attached to the zip, showing the company logo and web address. 

What do you think of this bag? Would you get one yourself - and have you? I have to say I am also tempted by the "I like big balls" bag now. I need to cast on more to justify another purchase first!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

5 Reasons Why Knitting Makes You Smarter

knitting makes you smarter
Image source
We've always known it, haven't we? Us knitters are a bright bunch and our hobby seems to help us stay mentally fit for longer. Knitting requires skills whose regular use encourages us to take the time to practice, again and again, those things that will keep us agile as we get older.

1. Focus

Knitting requires a great level of concentration, particularly if you are a beginner or trying out more complicated stitches. This attention to detail keeps our minds sharp as we work our way through patterns and make progress with every knit and every purl - not to mention yarn overs, increases, decreases, slipped stitches and on and on.

2. Cognitive agility

Every knitter knows that each and every project comes with its own problems. We are a stubborn bunch and won't stop until we have found a way to make things work. This may be fixing something as simple as a dropped stitch or finding a way to reknit an entire pattern repeat. We've all been there. We are problem solvers. The good news is this habit helps maintain our cognitive agility, which we will be thankful for in the long run.

3. Dexterity

Apart from our brains, we need our hands to knit. Clumsiness won't usually get you very far with knitting because it requires dexterity. Knitting every day or a few times a week helps to keep our motor skills at the same level as they are now. As we age, we may lose them to a degree, so having a crafty hobby that relies on the use of our hands will help us keep our range of movement.

4. Mindfulness

I already mentioned focus and it goes hand in hand with mindfulness. Focusing on one thing and letting go of whatever else usually occupies our minds is calming and relaxing. We become aware of what we are doing at that very moment and everything else slips into the background. We feel the yarn gliding through our fingers and hear the clickety-click of the needles. A cup of tea and the world is alright again.

5. Creativity

Knitting is an act of creation. Being able to make something out of string, only with the help of sticks, is quite a feat, come to think of it. Knitters are makers and creative people. This is only possible because of the four points above. Without focus, problem solving skills, motor skills, and mindfulness we wouldn't be able to create much at all. 

We should be very proud of this. Knitting is not an unimportant past-time. It is not as easy as people think and it is not just for grannies - though once we reach that age, we will be the sharpest, most agile grannies around.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Knitting Inspiration: International Elephant Day

Elephant knitting patterns

Yay, it's International Elephant Day and we are celebrating with four fun knitting patterns featuring our favourite pachyderm.

Cowl

1. So let's begin with this stunning Elephant Cowl that I absolutely love! It is so intricate and the colour work simply looks gorgeous. Check out the designer's page to see how different gradient yarns can turn this already fantastic knit into the most precious thing you'll ever own.

Mini Make

2. Can a list ever be complete without a Mochimochi Land pattern? Probably not. Here's a teeny tiny Carnie Elephant, the perfect quick fix for knitters who like little projects and don't have a lot of time to waste. Bring the carnival to your town!

Cuddly toy

3. My favourite elephant toy pattern has to be included here, of course. I came across Elefante very early on in my Ravelry days and made mine from leftover yarn, mainly acrylic. It is a fun thing to make, doesn't take very long, and it isn't too fiddly either. 

Woolly Hat

4. After the heatwave we have had here in the UK, it is decidedly autumnal now, so looking at hat patterns is perfectly normal in August - right? Elephant Park is available in sizes ranging from baby to large adult, so there's something for everyone. Just look at those little elephants! Can you resist?


Toys and colour work seem to be the theme here. Which is your favourite of the four? Do you have any other elephant knits I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

6 Myths About Knitting

6 knitting myths
Image source
Call them myths, call them misconceptions, call them actual WTF moments. There are plenty odd ideas non-knitters have about who knitters are and what they do. I've put together six of the most common ones I keep coming across again and again. Which would you add to the list? Share in the comments!

1. Knitting is for grannies.

We all know he prevalent mental image that non-knitters have about the typical knitter: a little old lady sitting in an armchair knitting up a jumper. It is frustrating for younger knitters, knowing that they are seen as the odd ones out, a novelty. And yet there are loads of young knitters and the popularity of places such as Ravelry and the emergence of online yarn retailers like LoveKnitting and Deramores with their new community section and social hub, respectively, prove that marketing campaigns are aiming for a younger demographic.

The great thing about knitting is that is spans generations and brings together people of all ages and different social backgrounds. You can see this in your local knitting groups. The youngest person ever to join in one my local group was all of 9 years old and learning to knit a scarf. The oldest members were retired and most of us were somewhere in-between. So let's get rid of this image of knitting nanas. I'm looking at you, Shreddies.

2. Knitters are always happy to knit for you.

No, we aren't. Knitting takes time and skill, so we will only knit for people we really like A LOT and who we know will appreciate the work that has gone into it. Those of us who have knitted socks, shawls or even jumpers for ungrateful, unappreciative people learned this the hard way. We will be picky. We will decide who we consider knitworthy. 

3. Knitting is cheap.

This is an expensive hobby: Not only does good yarn cost a fortune, knitting also involves a lot of skill that should be appreciated. So don't ask us to knit something for you because we happen to be good at it and expect it to be for free. What's more, asking for a pair of hand-knitted socks will definitely cost you more than £10 so don't be surprised if the person you approach suddenly displays a nervous twitch. Back away slowly. Proffer yarn. Retreat in silence.


4. Are you pregnant?

Possibly, but probably not. After the common assumption that all knitters must be old and grey, another mistake is to assume young women (and what about knitting men?) only knit because we are expecting and the newborn needs to be wrapped in all manner of booties, cardis, onesies and the like. Luckily, we can knit whatever our plans regarding children. And this neatly leads us to:

5. Men don't knit.

Oh yes, they do! While the sight of a knitting man isn't as common as that of a knitting woman, there are lots of men who know how to handle yarn and a pair of needles. Knitters are familiar with designers like Kaffe Fassett and the Scandinavian duo Arne & Carlos whose work is particularly popular. See Knitty.com's top 10 men in knitting here.

Gender makes absolutely no difference in knitting. In fact, knitting used to be a male occupation, In 1527, Paris saw the founding of the first ever knitting union and women weren't allowed in.*

*Gardner, Sue, ed. A to Z of Knitting: The Ultimate Guide for the Beginner to Advanced Knitter. Woodinville, WA: Martingale & Company, 2007. 

6. Knitting is easy! I did it once at school.

Well done. But knitting consists of more than just casting on, knitting, purling, and casting off again. These basics are great and can be all you need for some projects, but you will have seen all the wonderfully intricate lace shawls or cabled jumpers and these are an entirely different ball game.

Knitting can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be and I think it is probably fair to say that those who knit for years and years will progress from the basics and keep developing their skills. I have heard many a crocheter say they don't knit because it is so much more difficult than their preferred craft.