Knitting has been around for a long time. Although it experienced a decline in the 80s and 90s, it has become fashionable once again with tattooed millenials sewing caps on city buses, college students tucking in a knitting project in between their studies, men knitters hanging out at coffee shops, and DIYers making all sorts of interesting knitted creations and selling them on Etsy. And of course it’s a great excuse for people of all ages to gather together and socialize.
There are a lot of great benefits to knitting. It can be therapeutic and fun. People enjoy knitting for others through knitting groups, or as an old-fashioned, time-honored way of making gifts for loved ones. Knitting requires that you sit still, and the silent click-click of the knitting needles together have a wonderful rhythm which helps you to slow down, breathe, and enjoy the beautiful texture of yarn and its interesting color variation.
It doesn’t take a fortune to take up knitting, even if you have never done it before. Technically all you need is a ball of yarn and a pair of knitting needles. Then comes the hard part, deciding which knitting needles and which yarn to use. It really depends on what your budget is, what you are making, and what you prefer. If you are knitting anything flat, regular knitting needles will do. If you want to knit in the round, like when you make a hat or gloves, for example, you could either use double pointed needles or circular knitting needles.
If you want to make something really large such as a rug, you would want to have really thick knitting needles. If you want to use a smaller yarn or having a tighter weave, you would stick with smaller needles. You can use all sorts of materials for knitting needles, from wood to metal to plastic. I have even heard of people using whale bone, chopsticks, and plastic forks as knitting needles. You might be surprised what lengths knitters will go to when they are away from their beloved needles. Knitting can be really addicting.
Yarns can also be made from so many different materials. There are so many different yarns to choose from. Natural materials can be really luxurious. You can find all sorts of natural yarns made out of bamboo, alpaca, sheep wool, silk, hemp and cotton. As lovely as natural yarn may feel and look, one of its main drawbacks is its lack of elasticity. Wool can be especially stiff on its own, and of course it shrinks when exposed to heat, so you cannot simply throw those lovely hand-knitted socks into the dryer (unless of course you are trying to shrink them down to fit a doll). Synthetic fibers do have a large amount of elasticity and can be easily washed and dried. Sometimes the best yarns are those that combine synthetic fibers with natural yarns to create yarns that are both stretchy and easy to wash. The best thing you can do to learn about the different fibers is to try using different ones for different projects and see which ones are your favorite.