9 May 2012

Delightfully heart-warming and productive

If you have had problems slowing down, I encourage you to take up the delightfully heart-warming and productive craft of knitting. Clicking away with two sticks, using long threads of cotton or wool that you can pick up and put down, take with you when you go out, and continue working on while you're talking to people and being very sociable, slows not only your heart rate but your mind too, and if you let it, your life as well.

While Tricia was here with us, I had an insight in what the old knitting circles and women's social mornings used to be like in past times. Often women used to take their knitting with them when they went out. Why not! It's portable, easy to carry and a good way to connect with others. Whenever you knit in public, often people come over to you and want to feel the texture of the yarn or the garment. Knitting breaks down the barriers, there is something about it that brings people together, and calms you when you do it alone.

Knitting can take a long time, depending on what you're working on, because it is a one stitch at a time craft - like gardening, there is no way to hurry it along. It takes it's own time, or you don't do it at all. And because it does take time and it's something you put time and effort into, it makes sense to me to use the best quality yarns you can afford. I'm lucky to have a new order of Ecoyarns here now. It arrived while Tricia was here. So I invited her to take her pick, I had plenty of knitting needles here, so she started making a simple hat and socks (above) for her first grandchild, Danny and Laura's baby, due at the end of the year. True to her nature and her fine style, she finished them off with tiny rabbits. They're very sweet, one of a kind, and can be safely worn by the newborn because the yarn used is organic.

The photo above is her second project - a newborn cardigan from a Debbie Bliss book. She's using two different types of  organic cotton and again, it's unique, soft and very special.

If you've been hoping to take up the needles and learn how to knit, or if you're going from the beginner stage to a slightly more advanced level, I encourage you to choose good quality yarns for your knitting. Buy the best you can afford but check out my sponsor, Vivian at Ecoyarns because she is expanding her business and has plenty of specials at the moment. If you're in a cold climate, there is nothing better than the natural yarns like wool and alpaca to keep keep the cold out. They're natural insulators and are more efficient than fleece or acrylic yarns. In a warm climate, your can't beat knitted cotton, especially on a baby. A little cotton jacket or vest will keep a baby protected and comfortable without over-heating them.

I hope you get hooked on knitting, just like I am. It's soft, gentle and so productive - from these needles and yarn, beautiful garments and helpful household items are made. It's a craft that you get better at simply by doing it. There are plenty of excellent How to Knit videos on You Tube, so get your needles, select your yarns and dive in. It's a world that opens up an abundance of richness, satisfaction and handmade garments. Check out Ravelry for some inspiration. There, knitters from all over the world, show their work, share patterns and develop friendships through this wonderful craft.

Tomorrow I'll show you what I've been working on, as well as some of the new yarn and my very old wool winder. In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be knitting.



  1. I totally agree with what you say about knitting, Rhonda. I love my knitting and really don't know what I did with my time, particularly in the evenings, before I discovered knitting. I find it very restful, and therapeutic and it certainly slows me down. Every stitch has to be made, there are no short cuts,and I find myself creating with love, I think when I knit, pray, listen to music. And then on Monday mornings I meet up with all my other girly friends who knit, and we chat, and laugh and have a great time. Knitting has done a lot to enhance my life.

  2. Beautiful post! I love to knit too, it's so relaxing and less stress is definately what I need these days! I am trying to get the hang of double pointed needles (so far to no avail) so I can try socks--any tips on using double points? Your encouraging posts keep me motivated!

  3. Renee, I'm not a whizz on the double points either. I'm supposed to be doing a 16 stitch double pointed needle sleeve on the cardigan I'm doing right now but it got the better of me being so small. I'm doing a flat sleeve instead. I think the only way is to keep practising, that's what I'm doing.

  4. I am very much at the beginner stage, I have made a few simple projects, but would like to learn more so I can follow more conplicated patterns. I have learnt the basics online, but nothing beats a beautifully inspiring book. Does anyone know any titles they could suggest?

  5. I'm not a knitter, but I do crochet. And, I agree that there is just something about it that is so relaxing. I often find myself crocheting to relieve stress. I mostly crochet with thread, but once in awhile I get the urge to crochet with yarn. I will have to look into the organic yarns.

    Thanks so much for your blog, Rhonda! It is a true inspiration!

    Lisa in Minden, NV USA

  6. Four years ago 6 of us got permission from a local coffee house to come by once a week and knit till closing. We are still meeting but the group has grown to a steady 14 with drop-ins that have made us swell to 20 at times. Just knitters helping knitters and having a great time

  7. A very timely post Rhonda, I have just this minute returned from my knitting group. We meet in the local pub, we drink tea, chat, laugh, show off our WIP's and generally have a very good time.

  8. Good morning Rhonda,
    Yes, I agree with all you have said. I am beginning to really enjoy knitting. My latest little projects are little knitted cotton eye make-up remover pads. I used to buy the cotton wool ones from Aldi but now I use my own knitted ones and just pop them in the wash each day. I would not have thought of this before you introduced me to knitted face flannels and dish cloths. Just another way to save a few cents each day. I also love the idea of sitting with friends knitting and chatting.
    Blessings Gail

  9. Hi Rhonda,

    I am knitting my first ever dish cloth at the moment, from your book. It's amazing how at first a pattern seems so daunting but with a little persistence and internet googles it seems to come together. Thanks for introducing me to knitting and I can't wait to try and knit other things.
    With love

  10. Love this post! I also do not know what I did with my evenings before knitting it is so relaxing! I am still having trouble with the double pointed needles though, I would love to try making socks....

  11. I am a beginner knitter - just started a few months ago - and I agree - it is most definitely a way to slow down and relax. Have a blessed week ahead!

  12. Your post is warmly encouraging on this chilly morning here. We definitely need the heavy duty wool here, and it's been used for about the past month or so. My projects are pretty slow going, but they're getting there. I'm hoping to make a jumper or cardigan for each of the kids this winter. Meanwhile I always keep any eye out for beautiful hand knits from the op shop.

  13. I totally agree that knitting in public gets you chatting!

    I was at the train station a couple of weeks ago, and whipped out my knitting (arm warmers), just as the woman next to me whipped out hers - she was knitting her own wedding dress! And had only been knitting for a year! I wish I'd got her address so I could see the finished thing...

    (and Rhonda, I wanted to thank you for adding me to your weekend reading list last week! I had such a lot of lovely readers and some fabulous new blogs to investigate, so thank you very much, I was honoured!)

    Jenni x

  14. Good morning Rhonda, I found your blog a few months ago and have been lurking ever since! I have never been a knitter(with the exception of a very holey scarf when I was 10)but since finding your blog I have started! My granparents(who raised me) were both knitters. My pop had to learn to knit after he came back from the war, as he and my mim had twin boys and with rationing things like singlets were in scarce supply so he learnt to knit to help my grandmother. Unfortunately as a teenager I could never be bothered and now regret it. So here I am in my late 40's trying to learn. When my grandmother passed away a few years ago I couldn't give away her knitting basket with all her kneedles, wools and cottons and so when I read your blog about dishcloths I knew I would find all the things I needed in her basket. So the last few weeks I have been knitting discloths and have even managed to make them with the basket weave pattern! Happy Happy. So thank you for helping me find the good ol kintting. It is relaxing and I enjoy sitting down after tea and having a little knit. Sorry I feel like I am writing war and peace. So to finish quickly thank you for your blog I am inspired each time. Traceyxx
    P.S I have even swapped over to making your laundry detergent and cleaning products. The jury is still out on the gargening thing.

  15. I've just started knitting, and it's already brought me community!

    The lovely lady down the road has her mum visiting soon, and she will be learning to knit. She said I can come along and learn too. I'm so excited!

    I can do plain and purl, but anything else is beyond me. I'm sure learning the complicated stuff in person will be easier than learning from YouTube. YouTube tends not to correct me when I go wrong...

  16. Yes knitting is wonderfully relaxing and productive, I have been knitting on and off for over 50 years,first garment a basic cable jumper when I was 12.
    some books I have heard reccommended are Elizabeth Zimmerman,she does quirky instructions and patterns and "Knitting Rules !" by Stephanie Pearl McPhee, which has "basic recipe socks" etc so very useful but not full of patterns.

  17. Mum and Auntie always took their knitting with them when they went out so it became a matter of course for me to do it. Even when we eat on the deck with friends I duck in and grab my knitting when the meal is over.

  18. If I may offer a suggestion re: getting comfortable with double-pointed needles, which I have come to love? Try starting with toddler-sized socks, using DK or aran or even worsted-weight yarn on fairly "big" dpns (based on the yarn). Easier to see, easier to handle, and not so much of an investment of time and effort as knitting adult-size socks with fingering-weight yarn and tiny needles.
    And one important thing to know: the first several rounds are always the wonkiest, and they always look horrible! You just have to keep going. With practice, it gets easier...like so many things :)

  19. My Mum taught me to knit purl and plain as a child and I never ever graduated past coat hanger covers and scarves.
    I am proud to say that I have completed 3 dishcloths recently - I love knitting! It is very therapeutic and really does slow me down.
    I have found all I need to know about knitting on various websites - how to cast on, cast off, swap from purl to plain etc.

    Tricia's little sock and hat set is so cute - lucky grand-baby!

    I am loving your book - I have made a stew from scratch and your bread recipe is the best ever - it makes the best bread rolls too!

    Cheers - Joolz

  20. You are preaching to the converted here, I love knitting. right now it's hot water bottle covers for my Grandchildren and jumpers for my (38 week pregnant) soon to be Grandson

  21. I want those socks! How sweet!

  22. I am a relatively new knitter and it was because I saw your projects 3 yrs ago. I am still only doing small
    Things like beanies socks and dishcloths but I love it during winter. I sit and knit while
    Waiting for children at sports outings dentists exams. My knitting bag is always packed and ready to be grabbed as I walk out the door.

  23. I love this post! My closest friends and I gather for a Knit night each week. We call it knit night because that has a nice ring to it. A couple of us knit, but I actually teach crochet and it is my passion. The most wonderful thing has been combining the crafts. Knitted work is gorgeous, and crochet makes a lovely border for it. I think that a lap full of a crochet or knit project definitely makes a great conversation starter!

    Thank you for your post.

  24. I morphed from being a seriously beginner knitter to a slightly obsessed knitter about 2 years ago. I had knitted a few things before then, but it had been like pulling teeth! Now, I definitely get the slow-down-soothe effect (unless I discover a major mistake quite a few rows back...). I knitted my first sock on dpns not long after the obsession took hold - dpns feel like trying to manage multiple chopsticks when you first start using them! They feel quite normal now, several socks later. There are lots of helpful tips on Ravelry that have helped my sock knitting, like maintaining tension over the space between needles, picking up stitches around the heel flap so they're not really loose, and avoiding a hole in the corner where the heel and gusset join up. Just remember that, as Quinn said, your first dpn project will look a bit odd, but persevere! It will get easier :-)


  25. Great post Rhonda. I have to say that knitting is one of the few things that slow me down successfully. I love it. I once had a dear friend of mine say, " Tracy, when I watch you knit, you look peaceful.". And I feel at peace when I am clicking away. There is so much more to this craft than the object being created.
    Thank you for your post. Think I might go and pull my knitting out right now :)

  26. I love knitting. Being born in a city in Yorkshire which had plenty of woollen mills, I was taught to knit in junior school at the age of 7 or 8 and have been knitting ever since (I am now 64).
    Having MS and suffering a slight stroke a few years ago which affected my left side I found it difficult to knit, so didn't do any for a couple of years and gave a lot of my patterns and stash of wool away thinking that my knitting days were over, both of which I regret now.
    Even though she can't knit (not for the want of me trying to teach her) my pregnant daughter bought a Shawn the Sheep knitting kit intending to learn (or was it a subtle plan of hers?) After a few months of it languishing in the cupboard I said I would have a go, not expecting to finish it. Each day I did a few rows and then a day or so later found that I was doing a couple of rows more. It took me three months to finish Shawn and I haven't put my needles down since. Last year I made Christmas stockings with motifs personal to the receiver from charts I made up myself.
    I am still limited with the amount of knitting I can do before my arm gets tired and can't hold the needle any more, but at least I am knitting again even though it takes me longer.
    Knitting is therapeutic and very good exercise for my left arm as it does seem to be getting stronger.
    Like the other lady I must be writing War and Peace Vol II.
    Joan A. (Wales,UK)

  27. Oooh, you must be talking to me! A knitting tragic from way, way back (they don't call me Potty Knitter for nothing) I can only heartelly agree with your lovely post Rhonda. Knitting is my justification for TV, can't seem to sit down to watch it without it, feels wrong somehow. I was interested to see how many comments mentioned the calming influence of knitting, I'd like to go a little further and call it meditative. I also love the portability of knitting and have written a couple of little post myself on my blog called 'Have needles - will travel' and 'Productive Meditation', both echo your sentiments. Just last weekend I joined the Handknitters Guild and am looking forward to getting together with knitters of all persuasions once a month.
    For knitting with double pointers I have a couple of suggestions. Using a set of 5 instead of 4 makes it easier and allows more wriggle room at the change overs. It is also easier to follow the patterns as the heel stitches are exactly half of the circumference. Sets of double pointers come in differing lengths and I certainly recommend using short ones for beginners, no longer than 15cm, you'll be amazed what difference it makes, other than that, Quinn is right, practice, practice ,practice.
    Happy Knitting!

  28. Knitting has always made me angry. Lol don't get me wrong i love knitted items but i have never taken to knitting like i have other crafts and found myself furious at slippy little stitches. Everytime i see posts like this though i wonder if i should give it another go. Maybe a half way point would be to learn to crochet more, i can do a bit of that and i wouldn't require anger management courses.

  29. After battling through my first sock on double pointed needles I switched to circular needles and the magic loop method. I found this much easier to handle in my small hands, especially knitting the toes. Have a look on the internet as there are some very helpful articles and lessons on using "magic loop".

    These days I use circulars for all my knitting. Its easier on my shoulders and I no longer have to contend with my cat swinging on the needle ends!

    Evenings just don't feel right without some knitting, Michelle in Wellington, NZ

  30. Knitting does indeed start conversations and draw people to you. (Possibly it scares a few away as well, but we'll just have to make the best of that.) My work sometimes takes me out to sea for months at a time, and I always bring some knitting to help past the time on quiet shifts. I was on one ship where there was quite a language barrier between the ship's crew and the scientists, and the baby jumper I was knitting was the one thing guaranteed to make every sailor attempt a bit of communication, even if it required pantomime.

  31. I am very thankful that my mother taught me how to knit as a child and its now a craft I am wanting to pass on to my 6 year old daughter. I also have trouble with dp needles and generally stick to patterns that don't require them. I love Debbie Bliss patterns and have knitted many over the years and at the moment I am thinking on what to knit for winter for my 2 year old son. I will look into your friends yarn, they sound delightful!

  32. Hello,

    please excuse me for asking a question non related to your post. I want to start my flower garden (I already have a veg garden) and I want to grow usefull plants. Calendula is already in line, but I want to ask your opinion/experience about this subject. Can you please take some time to talk about this?
    Note: I´m also a knitter and I tottaly agree with you. Sometimes my children are taking the house down and I continue knitting as if nothing is happening.
    Thank you


  33. I love the color you've chosen for the white bunnies. Knitting is therapeutic isn't it? Sometimes I wonder why we need so much technology when making things by hand is so good for the mind and soul. You also know the quality of your own work compared to something imported.

    PS. I spotted your lovely book on www.growcooksew.blogspot.com

  34. @For simple beginnings --
    Here's one that's mostly lessons, with a few patterns for novice knitters like me. "Never Too Old to Knit: Beautiful Basics for Baby Boomers." Karin Strom (Editor)

    Truth in advertising: the editor's my cousin. But *SHE* got the knitting gene not me, and she did manage to help me untangle my fingers at last.

    I've also had good luck with the Readers Digest book : The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches. This one's a weightier tome.


  35. Thanks for all the tips on dpns. I have successfully used circular needles.

    It's good to know you're knitting again, Joan.

    Maven, yes, crochet it's also wonderful. Try that, we don't want you putting an axe through anyone's head. ;- )

    Mallowlark, are you the woman who works on the ship doing scientific type work in the Southern Ocean?

    Celia, I'll see what I can do next week.

    Luna, thanks for the heads up on the book.

    Mary, thanks for the book suggestions. Your cousin's book looks like a good one.

  36. Hi Rhonda,
    I am part of a sewing group that has been going nearly 20 years now. 5 of us get together every week or second week and we bring our choice of project. Some knit, I make yoyos at the moment but I also do my hand sewing for any quilts I am working on. Some do applique and some just sit and chat. We meet at eachothers houses and at a lovely winery in the Yarra Vallyey called Brumfields. We meet at 11.30am have lunch and wine and dessert and coffees and sew. We leave around 3pm. The hostess is very happy with this arrangement and so are we. It is good to network with other women and to share craft ideas and inspire eachother. I can't see us stopping any time soon.

  37. It's fun to see what you are working on in knitting, especially as a knitter who has few friends who knit. It's so much more fun to share with other knitters what we are working on.

    I've been working on dishcloths in colors that match a piece of print fabric that I hope to make into a rocking chair cushion for a kitchen rocker. I have recently finished dishcloths in a plain avocado diamond shape, a yellow raindrops pattern, & a pine tree pattern in forest green. On the needles now is a lilac pattern dishcloth in
    a cranberry color.

    Happy Knitting,
    Natalie Ann

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