The Journal | How To Knit with Alexandra Tavel
BONSOIR | THE JOURNAL
Feeling the urge to be creative. Knitting is a wonderful meditative hobby that can add a relaxing element to your downtime.
With nearly all of the world sheltering at home, and April being Stress Awareness Month, it's the perfect time to pick up a hobby like knitting and crochet. From the meditative and cognitive benefits of yarn crafting to the appreciation of the finished product, hand making garments and accessories is a healthful practice for the mind and spirit. "Knitting is the new yoga" as they say, and with over 53 million knitters and crocheters in the USA alone, the popularity of yarn crafting doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
So what are some of the benefits of yarn crafting and why should you start?
- meditative mindfulness through rhythmic stitches
- reduction of fear and stress by shifting concentration to the task at hand
- sense of productivity, confidence, and accomplishment
- decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment through mental stimulation
- increased fine motor skills
- engagement of the body's relaxation response, which slows breathing and heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and lowers levels of stress hormones
Not to mention that you end up with a finished garment or accessory that is not only special but also functional! Handmade items make the most lovely and cherished gifts as well.
If you're ready to dive in, you may be wondering if you should choose knitting or crochet (or both!). If you're confused about how to decide, let me give you a little run-down on the differences:
- knitting utilizes two needles, and your stitches are "live" and held on the needles as you work.
- crochet utilizes one hook, and you finish each stitch before moving onto the next
- knitting produces a lighter weight, stretchier fabric with more drape
- crochet produces a sturdier, more dense fabric with less stretch
- crochet is generally faster and uses more yarn than knitting
While they have different qualities, one shouldn't be considered easier or superior to the other, and it really comes down to personal preference. Both can be used to create lovely finished items!
I've been knitting my whole life and picked up crochet seven years ago. Living in NYC, I am always on the go with a project in tow. While yarn crafts have most generally been linked with an older generation, there is a definitely a wave of popularity amongst a younger audience looking for a stress-relieving activity. Just as fast fashion has escalated in recent years, the slow fashion movement is thriving as well. As a designer, I strive to create patterns that are modern, fashionable, versatile, and simple for a beginner-intermediate crafter. It's important for me to design items that the maker will be proud to show off and want to incorporate into their wardrobes or homes.
If you're ready to dive in, you're likely looking for inspiration and some patterns to get started. You can find all of my designs on my site, twoofwands.com. Many of my patterns are free on my blog, and others can be purchased at an affordable price. Another great place to start is Ravelry, which is a database of nearly every pattern available from designers all over the world. There you can search by many different attributes to narrow the results to very specific projects.
Once you've selected your project, you will be in need of yarn and tools! Thankfully online shopping is allowing us to source supplies during this time. Sites like LoveCrafts and Deramores ship within the UK and will have everything you need to get started. All of my patterns are also available for purchase on the LoveCrafts site, so you can do all of your shopping in one place!
Now while you wait for your supplies to arrive, it's a good idea to start watching some tutorial videos to familiarise yourself with the stitches. I have several available on my site and on my YouTube channel, and you can find many other instructors there as well.
While it may seem tricky at first, a little practice will have you stitching away and experiencing all of the joy that comes with knitting and crochet. Even knowing just a few simple stitches will open the door to thousands of projects - you wouldn't believe how many items, even sweaters, are made just from simple rectangles!
Knitters and crocheters love connecting online, and you'll find a thriving community and endless inspiration on Instagram and Facebook. Follow me on my channels and don't forget to tag me if you make one of my designs! I adore seeing my patterns come to life.
Alexandra is a textile artist from New York, creating modern knitting and crochet pieces. Discover her work at twoofwands.com
MORE FROM THE JOURNAL
Top Tips For Working From Home
Interiors guru and writer Kate Watson-Smyth gives you her best tips on how to successfully work from home.
How To Get Into Gardening
We spoke to leading florist and nature writer Willow Crossely about what we can be doing to bring a little of the outdoors in.