Boredom Buster: Learn to Knit

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

The art of knitting has had a massive resurgence over the past ten years, especially with the twenty and thirty something age brackets.  It’s a fun hobby that runs from cheap (think acrylic yarn, like Red Heart) to costly (you can find wonderful yarn out there with price tags that could very well make you choke), affording you the wiggle room to decide what fits in your budget.  Making your own clothing and accessories to your personal specs is very alluring, and it’s something you can do with friends and several cups of tea (alcohol, not so much – trust me).  Knitting circles are wildly popular, especially in cities and college towns.  It ain’t just for grandma anymore, my dears.

Winter is coming, and if you have some time to kill, knitting is a fantastic way to occupy your hands.  Go find your

Photo Credit: Gwen Feldman and Brandon Vogel

Photo Credit: Gwen Feldman and Brandon Vogel

favorite sweater in your closet.  With enough practice, you can create a garment just like it, or something even better.

To the right is my super simple skinny scarf.  It probably took me three evenings total to create, though your mileage may vary.  There are a few reasons why this is a great beginning project:


This knits up in a garter stitch, which is the easiest stitch to learn.  No doubt it is covered in any basic knitting lesson.  The look gets a little oomph from the unique texture of the yarn.  The material also covers up any beginner mistakes, which are bound to happen.  And at only nine stitches across, it knits up quickly and shows results fast.


The scarf was knitted with one skein of yarn.  I think I paid a little over $8.00 per skein.  The scarf is to my unique specifications (I like ‘em long and skinny to loop multiple times around my neck), it’s nice and warm, and it cost less than a trip to the movies.  A lot less if you factor in popcorn.

The Yarn Makes a Difference

This yarn is 100% silk – silk is a fantastic insulator.  Soft and super warm, many folks prefer it over the feel of wool.  Even better though, is that it’s empowering!

This yarn is purchased from women’s cooperatives in Nepal and Indonesia, and is made from recycled sari scraps.  These coops are selected for their policy of paying a living wage, thus fostering independence and fair compensation in the community.  Many of these companies reinvest a portion of the profit back into the cooperatives, purchasing spinning equipment and sponsoring educational programs.  Before purchasing recycled sari yarn, I recommend checking that the above is part of the potential merchant’s practices.  A good place to start is Mango Moon.  Their yarn is fun on the fingers and they also have free patterns available on their website for all skill levels.

Where do you start?  There’s no set place to begin knitting.  Some folks find that formal lessons work best, and there are classes to fit most budgets (try Google or Yelp to find something near you).  If classes aren’t feasible, don’t fret.  I taught myself how to knit with a $3.00, thirteen page booklet that hadn’t been updated since the Carter administration.  Any crafts store will have something like it – you can learn at your own pace, and on the cheap.

Our blog mascot Willow models the Super Skinny Scarf.  Photo credit: Willow and Gwen Feldman, Brandon Vogel

Our blog mascot Willow models the Super Skinny Scarf. Photo credit: Willow and Gwen Feldman, Brandon Vogel

The internet is full of incredible resources to help you along the way, as well.  I highly recommend Knitting Help, which offers free video tutorials to help you master that one stitch that’s driving you batty. is also a tremendous source, with articles about technique and free reader-submitted patterns (some of these are jaw droppingly gorgeous).  Of course there’s no way that I can forget Stitch and Bitch, which helped revolutionize the way we see modern knitting.

As the weather cools, try challenging yourself.  Knitting, crochet, learning a new language, and a bazillion things we’ll discuss – these are all things you can do on your own, with your SO or roommate, which is well, a great way to spend a staycation.

Leave a Reply