The End of the Knitting World as We Know It?

Last fall, my knitting world was at its best. I attended a knitting convention with an abundance of yarn on offer. I had a terrific subscription service sending me luxurious yarns from Peru every month, and if I wanted anything at all knitting-related on short notice, I just jumped in my car and headed to a lovely local yarn store or took my pick from three big box craft stores near my home.

That was the best of times – knitwise – and now it’s looking like the worst of times. I can certainly place orders for yarn, but will I actually receive it? Who knows?  Some of the yarn I ordered during this quarantine took a month to arrive; other yarn has yet to arrive. One of the big box stores flat out cancelled my order. My go-to source for looking up unfamiliar techniques I needed for advanced projects, Bluprint, announced a shut-down in late May. Then, boom, yesterday the local yarn shop in my community announced its closing. 

Will we ever get back to the “normal” ways we purchased yarn and learn new knitting techniques? Even in the last two weeks, I’ve changed how I buy yarn and from whom. Most of my yarn purchases had moved to online purchases anyway, but I’m finding myself looking closely at which sellers actually have yarn in stock and which do not. I’m delighted to have found a yarn store in South Carolina that seems to have lots of yarn on hand and gets my yarn shipped to my door in two days. If it weren’t for all this change, I would never have ordered from them.

Despite this rapidly changing economy, the knitting world will eventually settle out. There WILL be changes, and some of those changes WILL be for the better. Though we’ll mourn the loss of our favorite local stores, we may well celebrate finding new purveyors of yarn we’d never heard of before. 

Knitting has been around for hundreds of years, if not longer. Whatever happens to our favorite knitting suppliers, we will still manage to get hold of some kind of fiber and make something beautiful with it. The world will go on, change and all, and we will keep on knitting through the good times and the bad. 

Blessings, Cindy

This is my first blog post in a couple of months. I’ve been homeschooling and caring for a family member with a serious illness. Thanks to everyone who has checked out my older posts and read my books!!! Much appreciated!!!

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.

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. 

Christmas Gifts for the Favorite Knitter in Your Life

What do you want for Christmas? Your spouse, child, close friends, and family members may ask this of the Knitting Superstar in their life (which would be YOU). What to tell them? 

You may have something specific in mind. But all of us like nice surprises for Christmas. If your loved ones need help in making Christmas extra special for the Knitting Diva in the house, here’s a handy-dandy suggestion list:

  • A Gift Card to the local yarn store nearest your home. Your beloved knitter will be sure to pick out lovely yarn, needles, or patterns to make something lovely. 
  • Extra Special Needles. These come in all price ranges. Check to see what brand your knitter uses and think about a set of them. Sets keep the knitting life organized and make sure the right size is always on hand. Here are some popular choices:
  • Clover Takumi Bamboo Interchangeables: This is what I use, and I highly recommend them. Most of the sizes you’ll ever need, with a good variety of cables, all in a nice case.
  • Chiagoo Sets: I use the small sets for socks. These metal needles are smooth as silk and come in nice cloth cases.
  • Prym Ergonomic Needles: I just discovered these recently and love the feel of them in my hands. No sets, but any size would make a good stocking stuffer.
  • Yarn. Luxury Yarns are even better. Knitters love squishy, soft yarn, and many of us penny-pinchers shy away from buying the expensive yarns for ourselves. Treat your favorite knitter to three months of projects with extra special yarns with a gift subscription to Knitcrate.  You can also buy luxury yarns online or at your local yarn store. Go for your knitter’s favorite color, and you’ll make her very happy. 
  • Swift and Winder. If your favorite knitter habitually buys high end yarns, they’ll likely have to wind them into balls by hand. Help your knitter out with some low-tech tools.
  • A Good Floor Light. It’s all about eyesight, whether you’re young and hoping to hang onto yours or older and can’t knit without direct lighting. Not a glam gift, but highly practical.
  • Fancy Stich Markers. These look like jewelry, but your knitter uses them to keep track of pattern changes within her work. Many of us use scrap yarn, but you know your knitter deserves better. Available online and likely at local yarn stores.
  • A Yarn Bowl. These are now the “must have” knitting accessories. They’re both decorative and help keep yarn balls from rolling all over the house.
  • Big Fat Knitting Books. Keep your knitter occupied with pretty pictures, lots of patterns, and everything there is to know about knitting. Try the new Vogue Knitting Ultimate Knitting Book or the Interweave’s Ultimate Pattern Collection.
  • Alone Time to Knit. If all else fails, make your loved one a certificate for quiet, peaceful, uninterrupted time to knit. Believe me, this will be appreciated by stressed, busy wanna-be knitters.

Happy Holidays!!!! 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.

Legal Disclosure: 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 – at no additional cost to you). These fees help pay for this blog!

Knitting Christmas Gifts – Are We There Yet?

Hello, Fellow Knitters! It’s now less than a month before Christmas, and I’m knitting my little fingers off.

For those of us who knit, this is our season. Not only do we actually get to wear all the lovely knitted garments we’ve worked on this past year (no small thing for those of us in warm climates), we also get to use our knitting superpowers to actually make our Christmas presents by hand.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been rather busy. Fortunately, I started around October. After asking what family members wanted in the way of handknitted gifts, I got orders for two pairs of socks, a cowl, and a scarf, plus a couple of surprises for someone who reads this blog. As many of you know, socks take a long time! I’m delighted to make them, and they look fabulous, but I’m sure glad I started early.

At this point, I’m wondering if I’ll get my knitting done by December 25. “Yes, I will,” I tell myself! There is no alternative. So every chance I get, I’m stitching away.

And when my last handknitted gift is finished, I’ll sigh a long sigh of relief. I love knitting, and I’m delighted that my family members actually want me to make them something. But on Christmas afternoon, I’ll be knitting very, very slowly…and making something for myself!

Holiday Knitting Blessing to All,

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.

A Knitter Learns to Crochet

This past year, as I’ve upped my knitting skills, I’ve also developed an interest in crochet. Many yarn companies offer both knitting and crochet patterns, and at times, I’ve looked at a crochet pattern and said, “I wish I could make that.”

At the Vogue Knitting Live event recently, I took a three hour beginners’ crochet class, taught by the sassy author of Stitch ‘N Bitch fame, Debbie Stoller. I loved it! With a solid background in fiber arts and a terrific teacher, by the end of the class, I had made a mini-version of a crocheted scarf. I amazed myself with the lovely scallops I’d made and how quickly I picked it up.

Having “crossed the divide” between knitting and crochet, here’s my thoughts on knitting versus crochet:

  • Crochet is more forgiving if you make a mistake and easier to rip out and try again.
  • If you already know how to knit, you know a lot of the basics of crochet, even if you don’t think you do. You know the basics of manipulating yarn to do what you want. 
  • Crochet is more architectural than knitting; you can go in more directions with your stitches. Crochet stitches are like building blocks, and you can make several rows at one time.
  • Crochet seems faster than knitting; you use more yarn per stitch. 
  • Knitting makes a more finished-looking fabric; crochet looks a bit more chunky.
  • Needless to say, the one small needle of crochet is a little easier to keep up with, store, and use on-the-go than the two needles of knitting.

I’ve enjoyed crochet and plan to use it for quick gifts and household items. I’ll likely use small crochet projects for the “purse project” I always keep with me for waiting rooms and car pick-up lines. Looking ahead, I think crochet and cotton yarn will make a good summer beach project.

The common wisdom is that crochet is very “different” from knitting – a completely separate craft and technique. But from my experience, it’s just a different way of using yarn to relax, calm yourself down, and do something constructive. Is one better than the other? My own view is that whatever makes you happy is what’s best for you at the moment! I love knitting, and I’m loving crochet, too.

Blessings on your chosen craft, whatever it is!

Cindy

Here’s what I’m using to learn crochet, all books I’ve personally used and highly recommend:

Debbie StollerStitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker

Deborah Burger, Crochet 101: Master Basic Skills and Techniques Easily through Step-by-Step Instruction

Interweave Editors, Crochet to Calm: Stitch and De-Stress with 18 Simple Crochet Patterns

Cynthia Coe is an author, blogger, and avid knitter. Her books are available in paperback and e-reader edition on Amazon.com. Visit her Author page and follow this blog for more info and news.

Five Reasons to Go to a Knitting Convention

Hello Fellow Knitters! I’ve just returned from the Vogue Knitting Live Convention in Columbus, Ohio, and I’m bursting with new ideas, skills, and enthusiasm for the craft of knitting. Have you ever attended a knitting convention? If you haven’t, here’s why you should:

  • The Sheer Geek-Out Factor: High quality yarn everywhere you turn, like-minded new knitting friends, lots of new ideas, knitting fashion shows, and it’s perfectly okay to sit and knit at each and every event.
  • The Classes: Take classes by well-known, highly skilled teachers and learn advanced knitting skills – mosaic, double knitting, brioche, you name it. Plus hear talks on knitting fashion trends, design skills, sustainable wool production, and more. 
  • The Marketplace: Find all those small but crucial niche products you need for your knitting but can’t find locally. Try out those new-fangled knitting needles you’ve had your eye on and buy directly from the manufacturer. And did I mention the yarn? Lots and lots of yarn.
  • Meet Craftspeople Who Make Knitting Possible: Talk to the actual craftspeople who dye the yarn, make the wooden buttons, and even raise the sheep. Put a face with that yarn you’ll use for your next project and those handmade buttons you’ll put on your next cardigan.
  • Re-charge Your Knitting Life: All of us need new ideas and skills to revamp, re-charge, and re-invigorate our hobby once in a while. By immersing yourself in all-things-knitting, you’ll discover new ways of practicing the knitting life you’ve always loved. It’s the ultimate “me time” for knitters.

I’ll be blogging more on what I learned and observed over the next week or so. Follow this page or the Sycamore Cove Knitting Facebook page for info on latest knitting fashion trends, product news, and how I flunked Brioche 101.  

Happy 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.

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.

How the Internet is Saving Traditional Crafts (Like Knitting)

The internet is accused of destroying many things (quality family time, the dinner hour, peace and quiet, etc.). But ironically, the internet may save traditional crafts – including knitting.

Last week, I read the galley proof of a new book on heritage crafting, “Spinning and Weaving” by Lynn Huggins-Cooper. It’s an interesting history of textiles, commercial knitting, and fabric production in the UK. The second part of the book profiles a number of British women who engage in the traditional crafts of spinning their own yarn and making fabric out of it.

What struck me as most interesting about these traditional crafters is that many of them learned this heritage crafts on the internet, some of them completely self-taught. This made sense to me. Most of us probably don’t have someone around in our neighborhoods, towns, or cities who still know how to take a wad of raw wool and turn it into something you could actually knit into a sweater. But do a search on the internet for how to do such things, and presto, you’ll likely find videos for each step of the process.

I’ll have to admit, my knitting skills have improved exponentially this past year, mostly due to resources available on the internet. For Christmas last year, my husband bought me a shawl kit from an online company. It scared me at first, forcing me to learn new techniques and stitches. But I soldiered through it, and I’ve now mastered mosaic colorwork and include professional looking I-cord edges on all my work. I’ve even learned to make socks (!) in the past few months, using free videos available on YouTube. 

Better yet, I’ve connected with many of you, swapping stories and photos, ideas and resources. With all this combined wisdom floating around on the internet, I would bet the collective skill level and availability of knitting resources has never been stronger!

Happy Knitting and Sharing! 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 in Ninety-Five Degree Heat

Knitting in 95 degree heat is not fun. With a stash full of new wool yarns, I looked forward to starting my fall knitting soon. I planned two sweaters for myself, an attempt at my first cardigan-knitted-top-down, and socks for all the guys in my family. But the daily highs are in the mid-nineties, and working under a pile of wool does not appeal.

We keep the air conditioning set on 70 degrees and all the shades down to block as much sunlight as possible, but it’s still uncomfortably warm indoors. All I’ve managed to knit are socks. Not that I anticipate wearing handknit wool socks anytime soon, but socks are small enough that they don’t take up much space while knitting. The heavy shawl I’m making actually makes me sweat, the larger it becomes. I’m looking forward to casting that thing off double-quick!

I love to knit, but I’m thinking I’ll need to re-evaluate what I knit as the summers get longer and longer and as we get less and less snow here in Tennessee. After making several sweaters I felt really proud of last winter, I have to admit I stuffed them in a drawer at the end of January and haven ‘t seen them since. I wear cardigans quite a bit, and I’ve decided to re-route my efforts into garments I can easily peel off this season. While I love to knit pullovers, I have to acknowledge that they will get limited wear.

Will the pattern designers get the message that those of us in the South don’t need sweaters anymore? I was delighted to get a pattern and yarn for a sleeveless tunic from a knitting subscription company last month. A sleeveless sweater in October? Actually, it’s too warm for such a thing now, but in December, a sleeveless wool sweater with a cardigan over it or t-shirt under it will be just what I want to wear.

Patience, fellow knitters! Even here in Tennessee, it will get cool enough (I hope) to wear a hand-knitted wool sweater without melting inside the thing. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll soon see designers and yarn companies offer more goodies for us to knit that will be lovely and useful in warmer weather. 

Happy 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.

When Do You Pull the Plug on a Knitting Project?

In the past two days, I’ve pulled the plug on not one but two new knitting projects. First, I tried to knit socks with lace weight yarn. That was Fail Number One, due to utter unsuitability of the yarn to the project. Fail Number Two was more complicated.

I planned to knit a scarf as a Christmas present for Son#1. He recently moved to Nebraska and suddenly needs LOTS of cold weather garments. I miss him terribly, but this gives me a new focus for my knitting. Need a hat, cowl, or winter scarf? I’m all over it! 

But the pattern I selected for this scarf just didn’t seem right. Mind you, there was nothing inherently “wrong” in this pattern – a traditional Scottish horseshoe pattern. But it wasn’t right for son. And that bothered me. I kept knitting the pattern, but I still didn’t like it. Finally, I pulled the plug – or should I say, the yarn – and frogged the whole thing. I re-started the scarf with a tried and true pattern I enjoy and could do in my sleep. (And I’m reasonably certain my son will love it.)

Friends, knitting is something we do for fun and relaxation. We need to knit what we want. If you start a project and don’t like it – for whatever reason – pull that yarn and start over. Knitters have a huge advantage over other crafters: we can re-use materials if we need to start over, and no one’s the wiser. Plus, you get “extra knitting time” with the same yarn if you decide to frog it.

So knit what you want, what you really really want. If you don’t like it, remember this is a HOBBY for most of us. And the whole purpose of a hobby is to relax and do something pleasant. If you find yourself knitting something you don’t like – for whatever arbitrary reason – yank the end of that yarn and be done with it!

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.