Want to Learn to Knit? There’s Never Been a Better Time

It’s never been a better time to learn to knit, crochet or any other craft you can do in your home and by yourself. Fortunately, with a few clicks of your fingers, you can get all the supplies you need delivered to your door AND take classes from top notch instructors right in your own home. If you’re already a knitter, you can take this time to bump up your skill level or just try something new. 

As I check my emails, I notice many craft related companies have stepped up to the plate to offer “something to do” for those of us with too much down time on our hands. Here’s a selected list:

  • Bluprint just announced they will offer a free 14 day trial period for new potential subscribers. They’ve also slashed their annual fee to $39. They offer LOTS of family friendly crafting classes, along with advanced classes for those of us wanting to up our skills during this long break. Also, they ship supplies (including yarn, needles, stitch holders, everything). Bluprint helpfully offers “start-up kits” for newbies, with everything you need to take a class and get started with a craft. 
  • KnitCrate ships two skeins of yarn and a little booklet with patterns for the yarn each month for only $25. They also have a very active Ravelry group for online chats with other knitters. Knitcrate is great if you want to improve your knitting or crochet skills. By making the project you’re sent each month, you’ll learn lots of new techniques. Perfect for those who “learn by doing.” 
  • Michael’s Craft store is sending out emails about every day with crafting projects for kids they will ship to your house. They are currently offering a nice discount on purchases. Update: Michael’s is now offering curbside pickup.
  • JoAnn’s offers online shopping for yarn and other crafting projects. As of now, they offer curbside pick-up. You can also have your purchase shipped to your home. Emails have offered generous discounts for online orders. If you knit a lot and need an affordable option, the big box stores are great options. 

We’re facing an unprecedented disruption of daily life. With all this extra time on our hands, it’s a great opportunity to learn or improve a craft that will calm us down, give us a sense of accomplishment, and help us connect with other crafters while doing something we enjoy. 

Blessings during this difficult time, Cindy

If you need something to do while sheltered-in-place (besides knit), please take a look at my two novels, The Prayer Shawl Chronicles and Ginger’s Reckoning, both available in e-book and paperback editions, both available worldwide.

Ten Reasons To Teach Knitting or Crochet To Young People This Summer

Looking for a engaging, worthwhile activities for your summer camp? Offer Knitting or Crochet lessons. Why?

  1. It teaches a craft they can practice and enjoy for the rest of their lives.
  2. You’re teaching “real” life skills, not an “arts & crafts” project they’ll trash as soon as they get home.
  3. Knitting and crochet help young people calm down and get away from their phones.
  4. It’s perfectly acceptable for both boys and girls to knit and crochet these days.
  5. Finishing a knitting or crochet project gives you a huge sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.
  6. If you knit or crochet, you can make your own clothes, hats, scarves, and blankets.
  7. If you use cotton, wool, alpaca, or bamboo yarns, you’re introducing a sustainability lesson, too.
  8. You can engage members of your community as teachers and create bonds between generations.
  9. Local crafters will likely donate much of the yarn you need (because all of us knit and crochet folks have leftover yarn and secret stashes we know we need to give away). You may even get donations of needles and hooks, too!
  10. Your young people will remember “the summer I learned to knit” as one of their best memories of summer camp. 

Cindy Coe is the author of two resources to help children and youth engage with nature during summer camps. Her latest book is “The Prayer Shawl Chronicles,” a collection of interrelated short stories set in and around an Episcopal Church in Tennessee. 

How Many Knitting Projects Do You Need? 3. You Need 3.

How many knitting WIPs (works-in-progress) do you currently have going? In looking at the online knitting forums, the answers vary widely. 

Most of us knit for several reasons. It calms us down in an overly busy, wired world. It gives us something to do while we’re waiting to see the doctor, waiting in the pick-up line for kids to come out of school, waiting for a meeting to start or the bus to come. Most of us start with something simple, but eventually, we need to bump up our skills and learn something new. Portable projects are great for on-the-go knitting, but many of us will want to knit a blanket, sweater, or other project that takes up to half a room. 

So for those flummoxed by why some of us have several projects going on at one time, here’s (generally) the three kinds of knitting projects most of us really need in our lives:

  1. A Meditative Knitting Project (also known as “Medknitation”): Mindless knitting just to knit and unwind requires something simple, something we don’t have to think about. Prayer shawls, simple blankets, scarves, or even a simple placemat can fill the bill. The idea here is to tune out, knit, and rest your mind. Repetitive patterns requiring little or no counting work best. Knitting while watching TV is included.
  2. A More Challenging Knitting Project: Meditative knitting can get monotonous, so we need something to challenge us once and awhile. Everybody needs to keep growing and expanding their skills.  Working on a new knitting technique or stitch keeps us mentally fit and interested in the craft. These projects might include learning to make socks, learning mosaic or brioche knitting, or making a sweater with challenging stitches or techniques new to you.
  3. A Portable Project Kept in Your Purse or Car: For a knitter, nothing is worse than finding yourself in a waiting room for more than ten minutes without a knitting project to work on. No, you don’t want to read the magazines on offer. You want your knitting needles!!!! So most of us keep a small project in our purse, tote bag, or even in the car for such modern inconveniences.  Personally, I keep a placemat project in my tote bag, using circular needles (harder to lose than straight needles) and cheap cotton yarn. If it gets stained, dirty, or lost, it’s no big deal. 

Many of us, of course have lots more projects than three on the needles. There’s that project you lost interest in, the one you ran out of yarn for, the one you somehow misplaced or forgot about. No judgements!  

And if you just have one project on your needles, consider another one. For those who do meditative knitting, try something challenging. As if you’re lost in a difficult project, slow down and knit something simple. But always have a project you can pick up and take wherever you go!

Knitting Blessings, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. Available in e-book for US $4.99 and in paperback for $14.99. Read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited! 

Knitting is Primal

Why do we knit? Almost all of us could cloth our bodies and those of our families by buying manufactured goods at a store. Our clothes might be worn or second-hand, but most of them originated at a factory. 

Knitting takes time, lots of time. It would be much more efficient to buy a sweater, hat, scarf, or socks at our local big box store – and likely cheaper, too. But still, we knit.

We all have basic needs, and the need for warmth is one of them. After the needs for food and water, the next basic necessities for life we humans have are for shelter and clothing. And to feel loved. 

Knitting satisfies our human need to be warm, both physically and emotionally. And physically providing this warmth with our own hands for ourselves and our loved one is something we’ve done for our families since the dawn of time. It’s part of being human – making blankets, clothing, and maybe home décor as well. The handmade nature of this task infuses that extra special showing of love and care, demonstrating to others our emotional connection with them.

This is likely why many of us take up knitting or step up our knitting efforts when we expect a child or grandchild. It’s the primal mother or grandmother in us, wanting to make sure our children keep warm, both in body and spirit.  We knit as part of being human. 

Blessings on your autumn knitting, Cindy

Recommended Knitting Resource:

Baby’s First Knits by Debbie Bliss: Baby’s First Knits is a great basic knitting book. If you’re expecting a child or grandchild – or want to knit for babies for whatever reason – this is the book for you. All the basic techniques are included. Author Debbie Bliss starts with instructions for a slip knot and the basic knit stitch, taking you through the process of making a basic baby blanket. From there, you can increase your skills with a hat, a rompers, pants, a poncho, and more complicated sweaters. If you followed the progression of patterns in this book, you’d become quite an accomplished knitter by the end of the process.

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. Available in e-book for US $4.99 and in paperback for $14.99. Read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited! 

Legal Disclosures: I generally receive free digital copies of books I review from the publishers. If I read them and like them, I say so. Otherwise, I don’t. I provide links to these products, and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (which means I may get a very small fee if you click through the link and buy something). Honestly, I write this blog for fun and to promote my own books. I pay for expenses out of my own pocket.

What’s Your “Small But Essential” Knitting Toolkit?

It’s the small things in life that make a difference. For knitters, we usually have a handful of small “must-have” tools we can’t knit without. Some of these are inexpensive, some a bit pricier, some may be items we’ve re-purposed.

Here’s my list of small but essential tools I use just about every day:

  • A small pair of really sharp scissors. I’m making a temperature blanket this year, and I’m changing colors (and cutting off loose ends) frequently. In tying up any loose ends, I’ve found a really sharp pair of scissors makes a difference. My go-to is a small pair of Fiskars.
  • A crochet needle. My pretty Birch-wood crochet needleis always within reach when I’m knitting. In addition to weaving in loose ends when a project’s complete, it’s handy for picking up dropped stitches as well. I recently found an inexpensive pack of crochet needles in every size imaginable, and I’m using the tiny ones for socks and lace weight projects.
  • A pattern page marker. I’m nearsighted, and I wear “progressive” glasses. I don’t need to ruin what vision I still have trying to decipher knitting patterns. This is a fairly new product I found recently, by Clover. It has magnets to mark exactly where you are on the pattern page.
  • Tapestry needles. Necessary for sewing up seams and useful for loose ends. I keep mine in a cork from a wine bottle so I won’t lose them.
  • Row counter. I’ve got one with sparkles on it, along with a claspthat I use to clip it to my project or knitting basket (‘cause they’re really easy to lose). 
  • Stitch gauge and ruler. These have been around since God was young, and they still get the job done. Measure your gauge, measure your work-in-progress, and figure out what size needles you’ve got – all in the same tool. 

What are your essentials? Feel free to comment to share ideas and tips with other readers!

Peace, Love, and Knitting, 

Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. Available in e-book for US $4.99 and in paperback for $14.99. Read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited! 

Your First Piece of Knitting Will Be Awful, And That’s Okay

I don’t know how many people have told me, “I tried to knit a scarf (or sweater, hat, blanket, sock), and it was awful.” They never try knitting again, and it’s a shame. I want to take such people by the hand, sit them down, and patiently ask them to at least try a second knitting project. It will be better, I would promise them.

When you learn to do something for the first time, you WILL make mistakes. That’s okay. It’s part of the learning process. I seriously doubt that anyone in the history of knitting (or any other craft) started and finished a project without at least a half dozen visible, obvious, and potentially disastrous mistakes. I now tell new knitters that they should plan to put their first project in the trash. If they do come up with something worth saving, we’ll all be happy and surprised. 

Do you remember your first knitted garment? I sure do. The first knitting project I tackled was a big orange and white blanket made solely with garter stitch, because my mom didn’t know how to purl. She didn’t know how to tie up loose ends either, apparently. That first blanket I made (now enjoyed by my dog) has less-than-charming little pieces of loose ends hanging out on every side and seam. 

As a twenty-something, I took up knitting again, this time asking help from the experts at my local yarn store, The Knit Wits. The elderly ladies who worked at the shop patiently taught me how to purl, increase, decrease, and properly sew my pieces together and tie up loose ends. I’m eternally grateful to those ladies. The sweater they had me knit ended up kinda messy, but that’s okay. My skills increased by leaps and bounds. My next sweater looked terrific, and I was well on my way to the ranks of “accomplished knitter.”

So if you’re just learning to knit or still a beginner, give yourself a break. If your knitting isn’t perfect, know that we’ve all been there at some point. I would guess that all knitters have an awful mess of a first project they’ll never forget. But those of us who love knitting so much eventually tackled a second project and maybe even a project down the road we consider a minor masterpiece. And we all hope you’ll try that second project, too. 

Knitting blessings, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of the just-published book, The Prayer Shawl Chronicles. This fictional collection of short stories includes tales of several newbie knitters and those saintly women who mentor them, forging friendships and incredible connections. Available at this link in paperback and e-book edition. Included in Kindle Unlimited.