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
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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.