Knitting often summons images up in your mind of your Granny clicking away in her armchair, and by Christmas you have an unfashionable woolly and lumpy jumper to add to the pile of jumpers you hide in your wardrobe and hope she forgets about it. In the post-war period, when material for clothes was still rationed and TVs were still pretty rare, knitting was a commonplace activity for women.
During Christmas, my Grandma reminisced about how she used to go to charity shops to buy old jumpers and pull out the wool to reuse it on a new project. These days we don’t have to make our own clothes as they are relatively cheap in places like Primark. However, in recent years there has been a surprising resurgence in knitting, particularly among millennials. Knitting is now recognised as a relaxing hobby that promotes mindfulness. It is a particularly useful home remedy for stressed out people in need of a non-academic related and hands-on activity to help them to chill out.
Knitting is cheap and socially flexible – it is an activity you can enjoy alone or in a group with others who like to chat while they knit! To start off with all you need is a pair of knitting needles, a ball of cheap wool, and access to a YouTube tutorial (see link below). This will set you back less than a fiver. Bearing in mind that one ball of wool (to start off with at least) will probably last you a good couple of weeks, this is a considerably cheaper hobby than others. You don’t need any specialist equipment, and what needles you do need shouldn’t need replacing often – unless you get particularly angry…
There are many knitting clubs around London, including some which hold particularly memorable meetings in pubs (knitting needles and alcohol – let’s hope they stay away from discussing politics!) The idea of attending a meeting when you don’t even know how to start can be daunting. In my personal experience, YouTube tutorials were the best substitute for taking lessons from a knitting teacher (or experienced friend) – at least in the beginning. I learnt how to do basic stitches and produce a simple garter-stitch scarf in a matter of weeks from YouTube alone.
Once you’re experienced enough to follow patterns, you may want to attempt more challenging projects. Pattern books can be problematic, as the designs can be a bit chintzy, my particular favourite being a star-patterned pink knitted bikini: who in their right-mind would wear that!?
Ravelry is a fantastic online resource with thousands of free patterns ranging from beginner to advanced.
To be honest, if you’re unsure about knitting in general, I would personally recommend that you come along to QMUL’s ‘Knit-a-soc’ group (see Facebook). Grab a pair of knitting needles, and give it ago! You will never know until you try.
Link to QM’s ‘Knit-a-soc’ group on FB – https://www.facebook.com/groups/133822973383216/
Link to a great knitting tutorial – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONVQCK_-rKc&t=1s