Q: I am a novice knitter looking for inspiration. My seven year old son came home from school with a bookmark he’d made and we want to explore further. Can you help?
A: It’s great when kids get us started on a fantastic craft adventure, and knitting is such a fun and rewarding activity. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of wearing or using something home-made. Your son’s in luck too, because knitting has, in recent years, become a very fashionable activity again, with classes and groups springing up across the country. At the UK Hand Knitting Association, they have information about classes nationwide. It’s also worth going to your local craft/fabric shop and asking the shopkeepers if they hold classes – there are lots of local groups that are word-of-mouth or on a small scale.
If you want to stay at home and develop your skills, try some of the great kid’s books like Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of All Ages by Melanie Falick where your son can learn how to make a roll-necked sweater and a backpack, amongst fifteen other easy projects. Claire Montgomery’s Knitting for Children has an even wider range of projects and she also holds classes in London. There’s a very modern pattern for a mobile phone cover in Usborne’s How to Knit by Fiona Watt, a book which gets rave reviews.
It’s worth seeking out some really lovely yarns to make things with. The textile industry is among the top ten most polluting industries in the world and the conventional woollen industry contributes to this, with chemicals used in the treatment of wool being harmful to health and the environment. If you’re going to make clothes, you want to know you’ve got organic wool next to your skin, and supporting smaller companies makes a big difference to their livelihood. Check out the lovely colours at Cornish Organic Wool, or find out more about the sheep whose wool you’re using at Ethical Twist. Organic Pure Wool stock over 85 different yarns. One tried and tested way to save money on new kit, however, is to visit your local charity shop and pick up some old knitted garments past their best. Once you’re home, you can start unravelling them, and turn them into something new! Happy knitting!