Moving on from the subject of sewing (temporarily of course) I wanted to touch upon the subject of knitting!
Whenever I’m perched on the bed, knitting needles in tow, my husband would often ask me…’why spend hours/days/months knitting something you can buy for really cheap in the market- or get a machine to do for you? Its a waste of time….’. In response I’d mumble back a reason or another trying to make myself feel better and justify my choice to carry on…. but I couldn’t help see his point too.
As the UK finishes celebrating Wool Week (14th – 20th October 2013) it made me wonder what it was about knitting that fascinates us so much?. Not just in the UK, but all over the world and across different cultures, generations upon generations invest time and effort in this craft daily. There appears to be something therapeutic about this activity – to watch as well as do! So before I really get into this post I wanted to share with you a short paragraph I found in Wikipedia’s knitting article:
‘Studies have shown that knitting, along with other forms of needlework, provide several significant health benefits. These studies have found the rhythmic and repetitive action of knitting can “help prevent and manage stress, pain and depression, which in turn strengthens the body’s immune system”, as well as create a relaxation response in the body which can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, help prevent illness, and have a calming effect. Pain specialists have also found that the brain chemistry is changed when one knits, resulting in an increase in “feel good” hormones (i.e. serotonin and dopamine), and a decrease in stress hormones. Knitting, along with other leisure activities has been linked to reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Much like physical activity strengthens the body, mental exercise makes our brains more resilient.’ (The article also provides links to the source papers).
Aha!! Well that was a good enough reason for me to stop feeling guilty about investing so much time and effort in it… :D
So let me begin to tell you a bit more about this new, favourite pastime of mine and where it all began for me……
The family history….
When I was growing up in the 80s I was surrounded by young aunts (in their teens and early 20s) who were into crochet pretty big time. It was extremely fashionable then…. and well before then as I’m quite sure the rainbow ponchos were a hangover from 70s hippy fashion! But I will uncover more of my crochet stories in a separate crochet post. In this post, the focus of discussion will be knitting. I watched my mum and grandmother knit with passion….they knitted for babies, for other family members, for themselves….everything, anytime. Class A knitters.
Now the knitters of my family are my grandmother and Aunty N.
My late mother left a lot of unfinished projects behind that my grandmother easily (and heavy-heartedly) completed. My daughter is lucky to have pretty knitted cardigans, each made by both nan and great-grandmother!
I’m not sure why it became so important for me to learn. I guess most of it comes from mum’s inspiring yarn stash- I didn’t want to just donate/give it away and lose it. Learning to knit was a way to keep it as well as learn a new skill…and that can’t be a bad thing. All I had to do was tap into those knitting genes of mines, which my grandmother assured would certainly come to the forefront with dedication.
Knitting…the early stitches
Mum also had a whole bunch of needles; from the old UK numbering system and new. Some were in pairs and some weren’t! I grabbed a set of 4mm needles and Aunty N helped me cast on.
Having watched a few YouTube videos on the art of casting on I quickly realised that the technique was to the taste of the individual; there was no single way. You can use one needle to cast on…or two. There are a variety of ways of knotting the yarn around the needle(s). For me, I preferred to use one needle and the video that inspired and taught me all the same was this one by Cat of the Take Courage Blog:
I didn’t want to make a run of the mill scarf. As I’m more of a snood wearer, I thought that could be a good project to begin with. So I grabbed my needles and cast on my stitches.
It was all knitted, and as you know if you are a knitter yourself, this creates a garter stitch which produces quite a tough fabric. This wasn’t going to work for my snood as a wanted it to be soft and fluffy! In a local store I found some beautiful black yarn on offer. It had wonderful silver threads in to give it quite a shimmery look. I thought this would look lovely in the coming winter, so I bought a couple of balls.
Now, I realise this will take me absolutely forever to complete because of the yarn and needle size I’m using but I have plans to buy some much chunkier yarns to make a couple more snoods like these, as a girl can never have too many!!
Since setting out on my mission I have invested in some Bamboo knitting needles, diverging from the usual metals ones we’ve always used in the family. I have provided a link below to the ones I bought. Not sure exactly how I feel about them yet but they are certainly a beautiful looking set of 16 pairs (varying sizes)!
Bamboo Knitting Needles (Amazon UK):
I hope to post my finished snood very soon and fill you in on any other knitted projects I have plans to start. Until then…Happy Knitting!!!!