Why knit, why now?

There’s never been a better time to learn to knit. Sure, it’s a great hobby that some people might also find to have therapeutic benefits, but so does painting, reading, baking… So what makes knitting (and let’s not forget crochet!) different?

Well, I have a few reasons here for you. These range from the downright practical to using the power of crafting to do good in the world.

Practical magic ✨

I can remember watching my mum knit when I was quite young and being absolutely amazed by it. To an extent, I still find it quite mind-blowing that I can wrap a bit of string between two needles and make fabric. Fabric! Better still, I can make something that I actually want to wear and that I would happily buy from a shop for much more than it cost to make.

Learning a practical skill is very empowering. I don’t think it’s a co-incidence that during the first weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown, people were making and proudly sharing things that they had made on social media. These ranged from bread-making to home improvement and DIYs to – you guessed it – knitting. Learning skills like these can give you a sense of your own abilities that you didn’t even know you had, which is particularly appealing when the world around you feels out of your own control.

I have often had conversations with friends during which someone has mentioned that they wished they had a practical skill of some kind. This is often when I chime in with, ‘Well, why don’t you learn how to knit!’ (Note that it’s not a question..!) Although it can seem quite intimidating to learn something new as an adult, it is well worth the effort. It is great for your self-esteem and it can open up a world of opportunities.

It also helps that knitting is a very social media-friendly activity. In this day and age, this is a practical skill in and of itself! Give it a try. Who knows what will happen?

Give fast fashion a big ‘F you’ 🖕🛍️

There’s a lot that I could write about fast fashion. In fact, in an earlier draft of this page, I did. The only problem was that I wasn’t able to say anything that hasn’t been said elsewhere. So instead, I want to focus on how crafting can help.

The problem with fast fashion comes from a culture of consumerism within the industry that is simply not sustainable. I think that on a certain level, we all know this. We have all seen YouTube hauls showing off dozens of new items of clothing and Instagram influencers who never seem to wear the same thing twice. But these are extreme cases that don’t necessarily reflect broader consumer habits. At the same time, there have been enough news stories about the working conditions of major retailers’ suppliers to know that something is wrong. More recently, the environmental impact of the fast fashion industry has been made clear.

Crafting your own clothes can help in a few ways. First, you understand a lot more about what goes into the production of clothing when you make it yourself! It is also much easier to get an idea of where the materials you are having have come from. More knitting brands are making their sustainability practices clearer (e.g. WatG, WAK, BettaKnit), giving customers more information about the impact of their clothing. You are also less likely to throw something away if you’ve made it yourself.

A community of crafters 🌍

For me, one of the best things about crafting is the community. When I started knitting, I never imagined that I would gain so many friends through my new hobby. In my experience, it is a friendly and open place online where everyone is welcome.

More or less anyone can be a knitter. Whatever your race, age, size, or gender identity, you can learn how to make your first stitches. A quick search through YouTube even shows how techniques can be modified to make accommodations for knitters with disabilities.

Although it can be an expensive hobby, this needn’t always be the case. There are beautiful yarns for every budget and sometimes, as I hope my reviews will show, sometimes cheaper yarns are more beautiful than their more expensive counterparts.

Making your own clothes can even be a liberating experience. As Alanna Okun has highlighted, crafting your own garments allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your body and accommodate them accordingly. There has also been a greater emphasis on ensuring that more patterns are size-inclusive, with many plus-size designers leading the way on this front.

For what it’s worth, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not realistic for many people to have the time, resources, or inclination to move away from cheaply-priced clothing and to make their own instead. But if you have the will, there’s a way.

Knitting is the new yoga 🧶

This is a very common aphorism you hear in knitting communities online. Personally, I’ve never been totally convinced by the comparison since I’m pretty sure the ‘old’ yoga ever went away…

In any case, there are several notable health benefits of knitting and crochet. Like meditation, crafting allows you to step away from the world away from the world and to practice mindfulness. Knitting has been found to reduce feelings of depression or anxiety and even to lower blood pressure!

With each stitch, you can set an intention. This, for me, was a large appeal of the hobby. When I was feeling very overwhelmed by PhD applications and the political situation here in the UK in early 2019. my mum put needles and yarn in my hands to help me cope and I haven’t looked back. Even when I am at my most anxious, it is comforting to know that I can produce something beautiful, just like that.

It is also helps to know that your hobby has a community behind it, helps you to practice sustainability, and is a practical skill. And, just like that, we’ve come full circle!

So what are you waiting for? Check out my beginner’s guides to knitting and crochet and, trust me, you won’t look back 💖