As sure as the sun rises and sets each day you will find yarn running through my fingers - honesty I can’t remember the last time I did not knit at least a few stitches in a day.
This is the joy of knitting, you can easily slot it into your life. It does not take a huge amount of setting up, it is portable and even just a few moments of spare time can be filled with the clicking of needles.
Needless to say, I love knitting – some might say I am obsessed with knitting, I would argue that knitting is integral to my being – it is part of who I am.
Truth be told, knitting changed my life! Once I found knitting I was not entirely sure what on earth I had been doing with my life in the preceding years. Discovering fibre and needles did more than teach me to knit, it taught me about who I am and it brought me to a rich and varied community of incredible people who have filled my life with joy.
My knitting story is a little unusual. I learnt as a child but actually took up knitting as an adult backpacking around Australia, slightly random I know. The story goes a little like this ….
We were hiking on the Bibbulmun Track and had been going a few days when we happened across a tiny gift shop linked to a forest tree top walk we were passing. We stocked up on the things people walking multi-day hikes most crave, chocolate and an ice cold drink. As we were waiting to pay I spotted a stunning hand knitted hat for sale – let’s be clear it was hot I did not need a hat and I had a hat in my bag – but, there was something about the texture, the way the stitches linked together, I fell in love. The budget of a backpacker does not stretch to unnecessary extras and so, with a heavy heart, I left that hat behind. Little did I know that the yearning for this hat as I walked would develop into the passion I have for knitting today.
Why is knitting so important to me? I’ve narrowed it down to four broad themes; Discovery, Challenge, Stillness and Community.
Knitting has been a journey of discovery for me on so many levels, however the most wonderful element of discovery has been the wondrous world of fibre. Learning about,and experimenting with, a wide range of fibres is always such a treat.
So many individuals in the fibre industry are incredibly passionate about the yarn they produce and have fantastic stories to tell. Over the last few years I have focussed on finding out more about where my fibres comes from. Learning about the way they select, process and dye yarn has always fascinated me.
If you are interested in learning more about some of the beautiful yarns Rachel stocks take a look at these lovely blog posts about Shilasdair, exquisitely naturally dyed yarn from the Isle of Skye.
A particular passion of mine recently has been Rare Breed Yarn – the folk over at Rosy Green have an incredible story and a lovely selection of yarns. Rachel wrote a little more about them last year. They also produce a magically soft (and beautifully ethical) Merino – pure happiness in a skein.
Through the process of discovering amazing yarn and fibre from near and far I have also learned to love the process of swatching. This initial meeting with your yarn can tell you so much about what it wants to be (I think yarn always tells you what it wants to be) and is a process of knitting that I feel we should all indulge in a little more.
There is nothing more enjoyable that selecting some needles and your yarn, deciding on a stitch pattern and working a swatch – watching as it unfolds, adjusting as needed and getting to know your yarn. If you haven’t indulged in this knitting pleasure before I highly recommend it as a journey of discovery. It is also really handy for learning more about substituting yarns and getting the most from your knits.
Knitting can be as challenging or relaxing as you choose it to be. I love learning new things so relish the challenge of a tricky project filled with techniques – I am passionate about construction and enjoy thinking of different ways of putting knitting together. There is so much to learn out there and knitting in a fabulous way of stretching the grey matter.
The most important thing I have learnt about knitting is that, put simply, the act of knitting is merely the connecting of yarn with two sticks – why this is so fantastic is that knitting is easy to undo and start again. Sure, frogging is not something that many of us love to do but if a mistake is made and it can’t be fixed on the needles, the yarn can simply be unravelled and the project is ready to be started again. This makes it a brilliant medium for taking risks, trying something new and learning as you go. There are plenty of brilliant resources out there to challenge your knitting practice – why not give something new to you a whirl?
What would you like to try in 2016?
In the same way as I love a good knitting challenge I also appreciate the stillness that knitting brings me. Nothing in this world soothes my nerves more than the gentle clicking of needles and the feel of yarn running through my fingers.
Knitting can be complex but it can also be breathtakingly simple – endless stocking stitch or miles of garter stitch are the perfect companion for my frazzled mind. I love nothing more than to select a beautiful skein of yarn and cast on something easy to knit, working the stitches effortlessly as I chat with friends or let my mind wander. The calming, almost meditative qualities of knitting soothe my soul and calm my mind.
Finally the part of knitting that has changed my life more than I could ever have anticipated – community. The knitting community is as wide and varied as the practice of knitting itself. I always love meeting knitters out and about on my travels – there is something quite magical about being able to strike up a conversation with someone simply because you are both knitting in public.
This community reaches far deeper than that though – having moved so much in recent years my knitting community has formed in many places but most importantly online. Many of the knitters I have met online have become close friends and the support network I first started to get to know all those years back as I travelled in Australia has strengthened and grown. Knitters, and the knitting community, are generally kind and passionate people, willing to offer a helping hand and support when you need it and to cheer you on as you celebrate the joyful moments of life.
My two favourite knitting places on the web are Ravelry and Instagram.
Not sure where to start?
Rachel has a friendly Tangled Yarn group where you can share your projects, as questions and chat to like-minded folk.
Until next time ….happy knitting!
Clare Devine is a writer and designer. Originally from South Africa she has nomadic tendencies and is currently knitting her way around the UK. She is passionate about all things fibre related (especially if it’s grey), knitting, travel and sunshine in equal measures.
She regularly blogs at www.yarnandpointysticks.com. You can find her on Ravelry as Knitsforklipskaap, Twitter as @ and Instagram as @Clare.Devine.