Learning a new skill? How about knitting?

You can find a plethora of crafts in St Ives – it’s the artist paradise. One of the crafts you might like to try is knitting – it doesn’t cost much and it can give you a lot of pleasure.

Knitting is the process which produces cloth from thread. It’s used to create garments, toys, home wares and all sorts of exciting things! It’s a skill that can be enjoyed by anyone – and it’s growing in popularity every single day with celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Cameron Diaz happily declaring their love for the hobby. But, it’s actually so much more than that.

Knitting can be beneficial to your health! It has been proven to lower blood pressure, relax the enthusiast and even burn calories (approximately 55 for half an hour of knitting). In fact, knitting has become so popular that there are now many competitions and challenges associated with it. The most well-known of these being:

The World’s Fastest Knitter – currently held by Miriam Tegels of the Netherlands who can hand knit 118 stitches in one minute.

Speed Knitting – currently held by Linda Benne of America who can knit 253 stitches in 3 minutes.

The World Knitting Record – currently held by Australia at 4 hours and 50 minutes.

Of course, these aren’t things that we are aiming for just yet! They are just interesting facts which demonstrate how widespread knitting has become.

Although these days it is considered a hobby more popular with females, knitting started out as a male only occupation, proving that anyone can reap the benefits from it! T

There are many suggestions of when knitting began, but the truth of it is no one really knows since many ancient textile fragments thought to be knitting have actually turned out to be an ancient form of needle craft, often thought of single needle knitting – nålebinding. However, when the knitting machine was invented, hand knitting became less of an essential necessity, and more of a hobby, which is where we are at today.

There are a few supplies that you will need before you start your first knitting project. The amount you spend on this skill is entirely up to you, and entirely depends on your requirements and budget. Everything that you’ll need to complete a knitting pattern will be listed within the patterns information, but just for practicing the stitches listed in this guide, you will only need the basics: Yarn, Needles, Scissors, A sewing needle, and a crochet hook.

Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocking fibers. It’s essential to knitting as it is the basis for creating the cloth. It may interest you to know that although we automatically think of wool at the mention of yarn, but for the four of five hundred years of the recorded history of knitting, the yarn materials were cotton or silk.

To decide what yarn is best suited to a particular knitting project, many factors come into play; its loft (its ability to trap air), its resilience (elasticity under tension), its washability, its feel (its feel, particularly softness vs. scratchiness), its durability against abrasion, its tendency to twist or untwist, its overall weight and drape, its blocking and felting qualities, its comfort (breathability, moisture absorption, wicking properties) and of course its look.

There are three main types of yarn: wool, cotton and acrylic. Each type produces an entirely different result after it has been worked with, so it is important to familiarize yourself with these during the practice stages of learning this skill so you know how each one works and how they suit you and your knitting style.

Selecting the right knitting needles for your project is essential. Choosing the wrong size for the yarn and pattern will throw off the gauge entirely and the end result will not look anything like you want it to. These needles generally have a long shaft and taper at the end and they come in a wide range of materials, including bamboo, aluminum, steel, wood, plastic, glass and casein. It may surprise you to learn that originally knitting needles were created from ivory, tortoise shell, or even bone! Although the knitting needle size will be included in the pattern, the material you select is completely dependent on your personal preference.

Experienced knitters will tell you that it is much easier to start with straight needles – especially when practicing stitches. Back and forth rows are constructed using the straight needles, whereas the circular and double pointed needles can be used to create rounds. It’s much simpler to get to grips with rows as you know where they begin and where they end, whereas it takes a little more experience when it comes to rounds – as their name suggests they are circular.

If you are not confident of your knitting skills, you can find many craft shops where you can learn from an experienced knitter. Or you can find a whole community dedicated to it. Get knitting!