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Why Knitting Makes Me Feel Cool, Chic, Fun, and Active (It’s Not for Old Ladies Anymore!)

By Elizabeth Dunkel May 08, 2021 Lifestyle

Knitting used to be associated with lonely old ladies. Back in the day, knitting was an affordable way to have a sweater. In high school, I remember going to my town’s local fabric shop and seeing a meagre selection of uninteresting yarn for me to choose from.

Not anymore! Young men and women have turned knitting and crocheting into the coolest, fun and creative activity with many dimensions for pleasure.

Today’s knitting world is hip, hop and happening thanks to a new generation of young women and men who have made knitting the thing you want to do. Cruise Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube for inspiration, tutorials, and podcasts about the knitting life.

Any technique you want to learn is explained and demonstrated in a variety of videos. Join the amazing website “Ravelry” for free and take a look at all the help and companionship you could desire.

Social media has created cult superstar knitwear designers like Stephen West, Boyland Knitworks, Andrea Mowry. Indy yarn dyers create artisanal yarns made of speckles, fades and semi solids with yummy yarns of alpaca, merino, silk, yak.

Knit Everywhere

Knitting is not for sitting around at home. It’s a portable craft.  I’m never without my knitting.  My transportable project is socks, small needles and one ball of wool. But I also take scarves, shawls, mittens.

I love to knit in cafes, on a park bench, the beach. I knit on airplanes, trains, buses, in doctor’s offices, waiting rooms everywhere. Love to knit whilst I watch the telly. #nevernotknitting is a hashtag on Instagram.

Knitting Is Not for Loners

Once a solitary activity, knitting has turned into a social activity. When I moved to Chicago, I started a weekly “Stitch and Bitch” group in my apartment building and immediately met men and women knitters who were thrilled to gather, knit, chat, sip tea, nibble treats, talk.

We teach each other techniques and have a grand time. People see us knitting and want to join us. We teach knitting gladly.

Want an easy way to meet people? Sit and knit in public. Within minutes I guarantee someone will come up to you and ask, “What are you knitting?” They might be a knitter or not, but you’ll have a conversation. Knitters are talkers and they seek each other out.

I was knitting in a lounge on a cruise ship some time back, and a woman came up to me and asked the what are you knitting question, and boom, I made a glorious friend. I’ve met people on planes and in airports, I’ve soothed people’s nerves in waiting rooms. People say, “Oh, I wish I had brought my knitting” or “I wish I could knit,” and you’re off!

Your Fabulous Yarn Store

My local yarn store is my happy place of color and texture. It’s not just a place to buy yarn, it’s a beehive of activity and community. Yarn stores offer walk-in advice, private and group classes. They host workshops, trunk shows, demonstrations, knit nights. Most have comfy couches so you can bring your knitting and hang out anytime.

“Local Yarn Store Day” is an international event when everyone visits their local yarn store for sales and activities. A “yarn crawl” is an organized visit to all the yarn stores in your community so you can become acquainted with their specialties and stock.

Knitting Together

Knitwear designers offer “Knit Alongs” where they announce a specific project – a scarf, a shawl or a sweater, and you join with people around the world and all knit the same thing. You consult each other as you select your colors, share your progress and problems, you ask questions and get the help you need.

I have connected with top knitters from around the world on Instagram for advice and help. I interact with my favorite superstar knitters on their fascinating podcasts from around the world.

Travel Knitting

There is a world of travel opportunities for knitters. Choose a place you’d like to visit and chances are there is a yarn festival there. Famous ones are in Edinburgh, Barcelona, Finland. Shetland Island Wool Week is an event I have my eye on.

Vogue Knitting has conventions in venues across the world. Yarn fairs have classes, workshops, lounges, events, games, lectures and plenty of yarn to buy.

The famous Norwegian knitting duo, Arne and Carlos, host excursions to the gardens of England, or a South African safari – with some knitting and/or yarn buying thrown in. They famously host a few knitting cruises each year with Hurtigruten.

As the ship weaves in and out of the fjords up the Norwegian coast, they give lectures, provide a group knit along and onshore excursions to yarn factories and sheep farms. You can go alone and have an instant community.

Once you start exploring, you’ll find international knitting retreats in beautiful settings everywhere – the French countryside, English villages, the Rocky Mountains. You’ll meet likeminded souls, get inspired, learn new skills and have a nice, spa-like experience.

One summer, during my first visit to Amsterdam, I saw a one-day workshop offered in the famous yarn store Stephen and Penelope. I spent a marvelous day sitting at a table with Dutch knitters learning new tips and techniques as we knit the same project together. It was a highlight of my trip that summer.

Chic. Luxurious. Sensual.

A hand-knit sweater or shawl is the ultimate luxury. A priceless gift to yourself or someone else. Mind you, knitting a sweater is not cheaper than buying a sweater. Premium yarns are pricey. But there are yarn companies for all levels of economy.

Lion Brand Yarn has more accessible prices, whereas a premium shop such as Stephen and Penelope in Amsterdam or La Bien Aimee in Paris is more expensive.

Knitting Is Artistic

Explosion of new patterns, techniques and yarns makes for an exciting, sensual, textural experience. Combining colors, learning to fade, marl, color block. “Yarn bombing” is an installation art event when knitters either separately or together knit some fabric up and drape it – around a tree, a light pole, on a fence, a sculpture.

Knitting Is Love: Useful and Beautiful

I knit sweaters, mittens, scarves, shawls, blankets for holiday and birthday gifts. What expecting mother doesn’t want a hand knit baby blanket? I knit stuffed animals, hand warmers, Christmas balls, pompom wreaths, wash cloths, dish cloths, you name it.

Knitting Is Mental Health

Knitting has so many aspects. It’s fun, relaxing and challenging all at once. It is meditative, calming and inspiring. It makes me happy.

Knitting for Charity

Many knit for social causes. I know a group of women who gather weekly to knit hats for newborns in underprivileged areas. Recently, I took the Chicago Architecture Tour, and the male tour guide said his wife taught him to knit during Covid. He knit 25 scarves for homeless shelters. “If you don’t know how to knit, do learn,” he said. “It’s the most fun.”

Aren’t you the teeniest bit interested in exploring the brave new world of knitting? Won’t you share with us some of your interesting knitting stories? And if you don’t knit, do you want to try? Yarn stores love beginners. Make a visit to your local yarn store and they’ll set you right up.

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The Author

Elizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who recently moved back to the U.S. after living in Merida, Mexico for 25 years. Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. As a Cambridge CELTA certified teacher of ESL, she considers herself not just a teacher but a dream maker. “Teaching English empowers people to reach their dreams.”

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