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.

An Ode to Garter Stitch

The humble garter stitch: knit-stitch-only for row after row, with not a single purl or other embellishment to break the so-called monotony. It’s likely the first “pattern” we learn to knit, often left behind as we learn to yarn-over, knit-two-tog, and slip stitches for jazzier and more impressive knitting.

But lately, I’ve embraced the garter stitch as the ultimate in meditative, no-brainer knitting. Once you’ve mastered it (which can be done in an afternoon), you can mindlessly let your fingers work while you carry on a conversation, watch a TV drama, or just zone out. If you do make a mistake, rip it out and start over. It’s not like you’ve messed up some intricate lace work. You just get more knitting in.

Better yet, beginners and experts alike can make practically anything out of garter stitch – a simple bulky weekend sweater, a scarf, a placemat, a coaster. I once stayed at a beach house that didn’t have coasters for cold, icy drinks. Our family didn’t want to ruin the furniture, so I whipped out a set of coasters lickety split, leaving them in the house for the next vacationers. Garter stitch gets it done. 

Here’s my no brainer coaster pattern:

  • With cotton yarn and size 8 or 9 needles, cast on about 20 stitches (as you choose; I don’t micromanage these things).
  • Knit in garter stitch for about 20 rows (or about 4 inches), cast off
  • Add glass of cold iced tea. 

Happy Knitting! Cindy

Cynthia Coe is a blogger, avid knitter, and author of several books. Visit her Author Page on Amazon for more information and a complete list of her books.

Quick and Easy Knitting Projects for On-the-Go Knitting

Every yarn crafter needs a quick, easy, and portable knitting project to keep on hand. School pick-up lines, doctor’s offices, airports, and any kind of waiting room necessitates something to do to pass the time. I always have an easy, small project stashed away in my purse or tote bag to keep myself from getting antsy in such situations. 

I usually work on a place mat or dish cloth, but at this point in my life, everyone in my family has more placemats than they need. New ideas for quick and easy knit or crochet projects are always appreciated. 

Here’s my go-to knitting pattern for placemats, my favorite on-the-go project:

With size 4 yarn and size 9 needles (or smaller, as you choose):

  • Cast on 60 stitches
  • k2p2 for two rows
  • knit the following two rows
  • repeat until placemat is as long as you want, cast-off

You can also make coasters, small knitted pads to go under houseplants, table runners, or other rectangular knitted pieces to protect furniture or add a kick of color or pattern to your home.

Recommended Resource:

60 Quick Knits for Beginners: Easy Projects for New Knitters from Cascade. Lots of cold weather projects – hats, wristlets, cowls, pullovers, and scarves. Geared for beginning knitters, but we veteran knitters also like a quick and easy knitting project, too.

Knitting on the Go

Happy Knitting! Cindy

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.