National Craft Month: Why We Knit

Happy National Craft Month! Here at Interweave, we’re so excited to spend this month talking about the crafts we love. Of course, we talk about them every day, but we’re looking forward to giving them some extra attention in March. Come back every day this month (and every month!) to see what we have cooking.

As crafters, we have a personal connection to all the things we make, and each project has a story. I’m pretty new to knitting myself, and one of my favorite things about it (other than getting to make exactly what you want in exactly the right size and exactly the right color) is the stories. I love to hear the story behind each piece—who it’s for, why the knitter chose a particular yarn and color, their successes, their mistakes. But I realized recently that, although I know the stories behind my coworkers’ knitting projects, I don’t know the stories behind the knitting itself. When did they start knitting? What made them pick up this craft, and why have they stuck with it?

I asked a few of my coworkers to share their knitting stories with me. Some of them have been knitting for years and some are relatively new to the craft, but they all have one thing in common: passion. Passion for the knitting, for the yarn, for the craft, and for the crafters. Here are a few of their stories.

—Rachel


National Craft Month

Hannah Baker’s passion for knitting is channeled through the pages of knitscene magazine. Click on the photo to order up the latest issue!

“I often hear people say they were taught to knit by someone in their family—their mother, grandmother, aunt, great-aunt, or maybe by some combination of those relatives. The women in my family are not crafty, except for my father’s mother, who was a sewist and cross-stitcher, but she taught me neither of those skills. I learned how to knit from friends in high school. I took to it because of its soothing nature and my attraction to figuring out how to manipulate the shapes and stitches. Once I mastered the knit and purl stitches, and probably an increase and decrease, I just started creating what I wanted without using patterns. It was mostly pretty basic stuff, but I liked that it was functional. That is why I knit—I enjoy the process of creating something that is both functional and beautiful.” – Hannah Baker, editor of knitscene

National Craft Month

Joni’s expertise is well developed, as evidenced by this post on lace grafting. Click on the image to read more about this technique, and take those knitting skills to the next level.

“I first learned to crochet when I was about ten years old. It was fascinating to me that such complex shapes could be created using just a hook and a strand of yarn. Eventually, I discovered Barbara Walker’s wonderful books of knitted stitch patterns and that was a turning point for me—I have been primarily a knitter ever since. I’m still fascinated by the process of creating beautiful things with yarn (though now I use needles instead of a hook).” – Joni Coniglio, senior project editor

National Craft Month

Deb’s take on playing with color in knitting will help to rise your projects above “clown barf.” Click on the photo to read about the colorwork themes in her latest issue of Love of Knitting.

“I knit to keep my hands busy during virtual trips around the world or the galaxy. Television, movies, and audiobooks take me into someone else’s brain. Knitting lets me create something of my own at the same time.” – Deb Gerish, editor of Love of Knitting

Editorial assistant Sarah Rothberg is new to knitting, but that girl has a craft jones that will not quit! Sarah’s Yarn Leftovers column will have you crafting that stash down to nothing in no time!

“When I started at Interweave, I was so terrified of making a mistake I could barely get myself to cast on. But after many failed attempts and too much frogging to account for, I am completely in love. And seven months later, I only wish I had started years before. I knit almost every day and have found it to be the perfect combatant for my ADHD. It helps me focus at work and relax when I’m at home—I truly can’t see my future without knitting.” – Sarah Rothberg, assistant editor

Why do you knit? What inspired you to begin, and why do you keep at it? I’d love to hear your story—please share it in the comments!


The gorgeous sweater that serves as our featured image in this post is the Bristol Raglan by Kephren Pritchett. You can find this pattern in our latest edition of Interweave Knits!

New to Knitting? We’re Here for You!

 

25 Comments

  1. Elena M at 8:19 am March 6, 2017

    I taught myself knitting after my son was born. I was at a bookstore, looking for some new hobby I could do pretty much anywhere that didn’t require a lot of brain cells (on account of the new baby). I found a knitting kit and have been doing it on and off ever since. Discovering there are beautiful, high-quality yarns out there now that aren’t wool and all the bright beautiful colors kept me going. I love learning new techniques and types of knitting (I currently knit Portuguese) and, although I don’t finish much, I still love it and will never completely quit.

  2. Ramona S at 8:40 am March 6, 2017

    I learned to knit and crochet when I was five or six. We got our first TV in 1952 and Mom wouldn’t let us just sit and watch it, we had to do something. I would sit on the couch and knit – dishcloths, doll clothes, whatever – and my sister who didn’t want to learn sat on the floor polishing shoes or silverware.
    To this day I can’t watch TV without working on some needlecraft project.

  3. Sheila S at 8:44 am March 6, 2017

    I retired in 2014 and after cleaning out every closet, drawer, cabinet and box I needed something to do. But, I wanted to do something creative something that I could give to the people I love that would make them happy.

    Years and years ago I made clothing and costumes for my children and I’d already completed a half dozen complicated cross stitch samplers.

    I was kind of stuck on what to pursue until my two year old grandson ask me if I could make a yellow and black striped sweater for his sock monkey, then his sock monkey would look just like the one in his favorite children’s “Bobo” book.

    That little request lead to researching a place to take knitting lessons. My first project was a yellow and black simple sweater for my grandson’s sock monkey.

    Fast forward two and a half years later and I’m still loving the feel of yarn and needles in my hands. I admit I’m obsessed and I have to knit every single day or I get withdrawal:) Since I started I’ve made sweaters, socks, hats, scarves, mittens and lots of stuffed toys for grandchildren.

    Best of all I’m calmer, happier and roll with the punches much easier than BK (before knitting). The bonus, my physical health has greatly improved, from blood pressure to cholesterol my numbers haven’t been this low in 20 years.

    To think it all started with the sweater for a sock monkey that still sleeps on my grandson’s bed at night.

  4. Amy B at 8:45 am March 6, 2017

    Learned crochet at age 8 from my mother. Learned how to knit when I was pregnant with my second child and on three months bed rest. I would have gone crazy otherwise. Now I’m addicted to anything lace.

  5. Linda C at 8:48 am March 6, 2017

    My Welsh mother taught me to knit and when I knit I feel connected to her. interestingly I have 2 sisters. My older sister did knit (not very well) and my little sister who learned with me just never developed an affinity for it. But I love it! I am a chemist by training and not naturally creative but give me a pattern to follow and I can make anything. I especially love making beautiful baby sweaters for family and friends.

  6. Jean H at 8:53 am March 6, 2017

    I retired from nursing 20 years ago and spent those years volunteering. At age 76 I returned to knitting after 50 yrs plus hiatus. I was and still am amazed at the transformation the industry has become. Knitting now fills my life as I am now in the category “elderly”. The challenge keeps me alert and excited to learn more.

  7. Barbara G at 8:53 am March 6, 2017

    My mother taught me when I was 12, so I’ve been knitting for 55 years! There were years that I sewed (also learned from Mom) and didn’t knit, but now my knitting consumes all my downtime! I’d rather knit than vacuum! (who wouldn’t?) I still work full-time so I make lots of sweaters & shawls to wear to work. I love hearing the awe in people’s comment “you made that?!” I’m generally a monogamous knitter – generally not starting a project until I complete one. The only WIP I may have on my needles is socks (2 at a time, toe up) that is my grab & go for car riding or line waiting. I love the creative process and wearing what I make. I also make knitted Christmas gifts for family & coworkers. I suffer (or enjoy) STABLE right now, but am trying to knit from my “resource center” (which sounds much better than “stash”). Shopping at home can be surprising too – “when & where did I buy that yarn?!”I also teach at my LYS – I love introducing knitters to new techniques & processes. I knit every day while my husband & I watch TV and also meet friends for “sit & knit” 2 nights a week – and some weekends. If I’m sittin’, I’m knittin’!

  8. Margaret H at 8:55 am March 6, 2017

    I learned to knit at age 12, with all my cousins, from my grandmother and aunt. They were never-ending knitters, as were all my aunts and my mother. This particular aunt was a college student at that time (1956) and decided to host two African-American girls at her home (with my grandparents in VT), as part of the Fresh Air program, which brings city kids to the country for two weeks, staying with a family in VT, a program still in existence. All my cousins and I were invited to come and stay to give them other kids to play with. My grandmother always got the biggest charge when our new playmates would call her “Grandma,” especially if it was in front of conservative folks. I learned much about diversity during those two weeks, as well as learning how to knit, and the knowledge of both has centered my life since. Two of our own five children are of different races and though they all look upon my knitting as “Mom’s obsession,” they do enjoy the final products. I will be knitting forever.

  9. Donna R at 8:58 am March 6, 2017

    It’s been so long, I can’t even remember. I crocheted first and that seems to be where my comfort zone is but I keep going back to knitting….mostly for the socks! Question: where is the pattern for the lovely jean colored sweater at the top of the article? Maybe some day I’ll get up the nerve to give it a try.

  10. Juti W at 9:00 am March 6, 2017

    When I was a kid, my mom taught me sewing and the rudiments of crochet, but she was not a knitter. Her friends tried to teach me to no avail. Over the years I learned to spin, weave, tat, I did embroidery — but knitting eluded me until I was in my 40s. A patient friend taught me about twelve years ago, and I’ve been like a yarn-fueled shot out of a cannon ever since. I keep knitting because it’s creative, constructive, meditative, and intellectual: knitting requires a certain amount of concentration even while you’re making those calming repetitive motions, and when you’re finished you have a thing! If you’re not finished, you still have the process. It’s also a constant learning process. If I begin a complicated project and keep making mistakes, I put it aside and knit other things. I can come back to that project later, when I’ve acquired more skill. Finally, I don’t think knitting requires patience as much as it takes persistence.

  11. Sherrie R at 9:02 am March 6, 2017

    My mom passed away about 17 years ago and left me her stash and needles. She was an amazing knitter who loved making Aran sweaters but not crazy about lace (of course I always picked lace patterns). She tried to get me interested but it just didn’t take until after I retired 4 years ago. I love the texture of the yarn and the magic of patterns emerging from my needles. I wish every day that Mom were here to help me when I have problems with my knitting! Appreciate the elders while they are with us!

  12. Sheree S at 9:42 am March 6, 2017

    I learned to knit from my grandmother (my Dad’s mom). I loved it immediately, and I bought books to learn more about it and various stitches and simple patterns. Then I learned to crochet from a friend. I alternate from crochet to knitting and sometimes embellish my knitting with crochet. It is a wonderful stress reliever for me, and I love how a pattern comes together.

  13. Christine G at 10:51 am March 6, 2017

    As part of a 7th grade art class I was given the option to learn to either knit or crochet. I opted for crochet, as I had been watching my maternal grandmother crochet for all of my life. In the beginning it was a very awkward undertaking and I never did finish the hat that was supposed to be my art project. However, my curiosity was piqued enough that I bought myself a book (these were the days before YouTube) and was self-taught from that point on. While most people would probably choose a simple scarf or potholder as a first project, I chose an afghan that I gave to my grandmother as a surprise.

    After crocheting for a number of years, I decided that I wanted to learn to knit. My mother always told me that if I could read a book I could do anything so once again I bought a knitting book and taught myself. I used to tell people that I knew how to knit, I just didn’t do it right. At the time I had no idea that what I was doing was called Continental knitting. Having crocheted first, that was just the way that I taught myself. I was shocked to find out that it actually had a name!

    And now, some 40 odd years later, knitting has become my passion. From scarves and hats to cowls and sweaters and many charitable knit and crocheted items, knitting has been the best way to use my time during my daily 3-hour commute on the bus to and from work.

  14. Marienella N at 10:57 am March 6, 2017

    When I got married, I moved into my husband’s apartment in NYC. He is from the Virginia and loved playing golf. On weekends I was by myself and decided to pick up a craft – knitting. I learned the basic until 2016, 22 years later and two children (You would think that I continue knitting after having kids. I was enjoying my babies more.) that I picked up the craft again. It was very hard as I could not knit English style anymore. I taught myself continental method of knitting and after three weeks of practicing daily, hands stop hurting and I relaxed. I have learned many new stitches, techniques, and socializing with knitting gals. I love it! My reasons for knitting are numerous:

    1. Love it, as it requires relaxing, concentration, and stress releaser;
    2. My crankypoo husband talks, I knit. It works;
    3. I was a shop-a-holic until I started knitting. Now, I am a yarn-a-holic;
    4. Colors, oh my God! The colors are calling me, I must run;
    5. I am a lone-shopper. No guilt on buying expensive yarn and needles. Good no one is looking;
    6. Gadgets;
    7. Guilt free shopping as I need to put many hours of work into it; Ha! Ha! Ha!
    8. Learn measurements, math;
    9. Chart reading, another language;
    10. Social groups forget about the cruelty of the world around us;
    11. I watch videos from around the world without understanding one word. Videos and pictures are enough for me;
    12. It piques my curiosity;
    13. No yarn is ever wasted which means no money is thrown away;
    14. I do not need to spend thousands on a garment, when I can make it myself;
    15. Donations. Such a great feeling meeting with knitters and donating your work; and
    16. The thrill of downloading a gorgeous pattern for free. I am sure we all spend lots of money on knitting purchases, but it is such a joy to get something free after all that spending.
    17. Finished projects, I can relax with a glass of wine. I do not drink until the finished project. Cheers!
    Want to join me?

  15. Rebecca A at 12:55 pm March 6, 2017

    My mother-in-law taught me to knit (at my request). (My own mother hates it along with sewing although she is a wonderful cook!) I took to knitting as the proverbial duck takes to water and have kept at it because: (1) it is creative fidgeting; (2) it was something to do while the men watched their boring sports; (3) if an expectant mother needed a baby outfit, I could present her with a truly unique gift; (4) I can be sure when I wear something that I will never “meet myself” on the street (that is no one will be wearing the same garment); (5) of course, church groups appreciate the contributions to scarves for the homeless, hat and mitten trees for needy children, and prayer shawls; (6) naturally, I find it enjoyable! There are plenty of other reasons, but they would take too long to put them down.

  16. Margaret B at 1:37 pm March 6, 2017

    I learned to knit from my mother at about age 8 — over 56 years ago — and I’ve never really stopped. I also learned embroidery, garment sewing and eventually quilting. About 15 years ago I embraced art quilting, and this is where I focus my time now (pieces in galleries and on tours etc.) but I am always knitting something — usually more than one thing. I always have something mindless (often a plain sock out of great yarn) in my bag. I don’t carry a purse; I carry a knitting tote with a wallet! These days I am very much a sock knitter, and when I want a challenge, I turn to interesting shawls or cowls. I knit for family and for charity and sometimes for friends — gifts, usually, but sprinkled with the odd commission. I don’t like bulky yarns, preferring to use no needles larger than 7 or 8 mm, and enjoy the process as much as the finishing of an item. I’ve altered patterns to fit and used different techniques for heels or casting on or whatever, but never felt compelled to design. I spend my designing time with my art quilts; knitting is for relaxing my brain. I’ve also never taken to crochet…can’t seem to manage the hook…and I am dyed-in-the-wool DPN user for socks! I could go on…but that’s it really — why I love to knit and always will. 🙂

  17. Charleen C at 2:01 pm March 6, 2017

    I have crocheted since my early 20’s, but only made doilies. 5 years ago, when my daughter became addicted to drugs, I needed something to occupy my mind, something orderly and predictable that I could lose myself in. I began knitting and have never stopped. Bringing a technique from one pattern into another and the construction is fascinating.

  18. Amyah L at 2:14 pm March 6, 2017

    I started to knit I was about 3 1/2. My mom was a very good knitter so, I wanted to do the same and, because I presume I was bugging her, she gave me a pair of little red plastic needles (still have them) and a ball of a strange brown and green wool. She showed me quickly how to do (she was not very patient) and I tried, and tried, and tried and then… I got it… my little hands finally got the schnack of it and, since then, I knit. I did myself a scarf with that strange colour (still have it in my memory box), kitted boleros, sweaters, scarves, tuques, mitts, etc… for myself and a nice sweater and a scarf for my dad and a nice scarf in a kind of fauxfur for my mom (I bought the expensive wool with my first paycheque (I was 13)) and succeeded to hide it and knit it without her noticing… I was proud of that one). I was knitting everywhere, at school, college, at work, in the bus…

    I was also sewing all my clothes, crocheting, tating, writing, photographying… and still do all of it…

    After I got married, I knitted for my husband and myself and started to knit socks on the top of everything else. I was doing all my clothes and everything needed for the house. Children came and it was more knitting, crocheting and sewing with tating for laces on my daughter’s clothes.

    I am still doing all that… of course just for myself now as I live alone but still knit gifts for my kids and friends. It relaxes me and consider it good for health… it just makes me happy.

    I love also going online, on Ravelry and other knitting sites to gather beautiful patterns that I can knit/crochet or I also take the sleeves of one, the collar of the other, the stitch pattern of this other one and I built my own patterns, mixing wool to give texture and originality.

    A great day is also when I go to the thrift and find nice beautiful wool at a price my nano budget can afford… that day, I just beam on my way home, dreaming of which pattern will be beautiful with the yarn I just got. Sometimes, I find just one ball but… it is such a nice and soft one that I can’t resist and buy it… even though it is just to have the pleasure to pet it.

    This is my little very abreged story. 🙂

  19. Cheryl D at 4:08 pm March 6, 2017

    I knit because I am. When I had a hand injury a few years ago and thought I’d have to give up hand work, I was devastated. I couldn’t imagine life without knitting. (Fortunately, PT solved that problem.)

    The pleasure of producing beautiful things, the interplay of color and texture, the feel of the yarns…all of this is almost physically addictive. The physical mantra-like nature of it is both stimulating and relaxing. I have hands that will not sit still, so if I weren’t knitting, I’d be fiddling with jewelry or locks of hair.

    I learned to knit in college over 50 years ago and have been addicted ever since. A friend was knitting a sweater and it fascinated me. I needed something less cerebral and more hands-on as a break from the study. The more cerebral challenges of more difficult patterns came later. It is my first love among the various fiber hobbies I have (spinning, quilting, sewing…but best of all, knitting).

  20. Cynthia B at 5:30 pm March 6, 2017

    I learned how to knit when I discovered as an adult that I have Aspergers Syndrome. It helps me bring my thoughts into order. Much like knitting creates fabric out of yarn and two needles. Knitting is my type of meditation. Quiets the mind and soul. Brings peace after a stressful day. I knit mostly small pieces like hats and scarfs so far. Most of what I make I give as gifts. Now I am starting to challenge myself with socks. Socks I think are next best step because more challenging ideas like cables can be integrated into the pattern.

  21. Renee F at 8:24 pm March 6, 2017

    I never met either of my grandmothers. Although, I do know that they both crocheted. My father’s mother made doilies and dresser scarves; my mother’s mother made pillowcase and bedspread trim. My mother had finished projects from both of them. When my husband and I got married in 1990 my mother gave me the dresser scarves. However, we had more furniture than scarves. I had to make more. My mother knew how to crochet but me being a Lefty Louie and she a righty it was difficult to pickup. So, I taught myself to crochet (no computers or internet back then, just lots of trips to the library). I made a lot of things (including dresser scarves to complete the set–I also had to figure out the pattern grandma used) which I am always complimented on. My father even says “just like mom would have done”. I then hit a lull and wanted to learn to knit. I had a little trouble (in fact I threw a needle and it almost hit my husband in the eye), but now I am doing very well. I am always looking at knitted items in the stores to figure out their “bones” and get ideas for future projects.

  22. Febe H at 3:47 pm March 7, 2017

    I started to knit because many years ago when I was in school, a friend of mine always have the most beautiful sweaters, we all used to ask her, where did you get that one, is beautiful and she always said, my mom made it for me because she loves to knit, and we ask her, do you know how to do it ? she said yes and all of us, our small group of friends ask her, can you please teach us ? she said yes get some needles and yarn. When I was ready it was so difficult for me to learn how to cast on the stitches, but finally I was able to do it, then time pass and we separated, and I remember to keep doing this my self, today I need because I love to do it and also help me with my anxiety, the only thing is that eve thing I made has to be red, my favorite color.

  23. Ann S at 4:22 pm March 13, 2017

    I learned to knit when I was about 8 and I can still see the yellow ball of yarn that I used. I can also still see with my mind’s eye, the holey, matted mess that was supposed to be plain garter stitch. I have come a long way since then and enjoy knitting intermediate patterns using various stitches, plain stockinette or garter are not challenging enough for me. I love knitting because it is my way of giving to the world, keeping people warm and showing love by welcoming babies with a sweater, hat, or blanket. I also have arthritis in my hands and I find that when I knit I have no pain but after days when I don’t knit, my hands hurt. So knitting not only lets me give to others, it gives me pain-free days. Knitting also helps me deal with stress. Whenever I am having a stressful day, or if I get bad news, all I have to do is pick up my needles and yarn and I can drift into my own serene world. There are just no words to explain how much knitting has done for me.

  24. Kathleen L at 2:45 pm March 15, 2017

    i’ve been knitting for almost four years and what I really need is the name of the pattern the model is wearing at the top of this page! What keeps me knitting is new, exciting patterns with different stitch combinations.

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