Knitting and crochet books to make you think

Here at UK Hand Knitting we’re always keen to take a look at new knitting and crochet books. Recently two arrived that have made us think about our crafting in new ways.

Knit Yourself Calm – A creative path to managing stress Lynne Rowe & Betsan Corkhill, Search Press

therapeutic knitting

Mindfulness and use creative pursuits to improve our mental well-being are hot topics at the moment and this book addresses where knitting fits into this movement.

Therapeutic knitting expert Betsan Corkhill has worked with designer Lynne Rowe to put together a set of patterns to help with different aspects of stress and benefit people’s health and wellbeing. Corkhill tells us that a study she did with Cardiff University “showed that the more frequently people knit (more than three times a week) the calmer and happier they feel – 81% felt happier after knitting.” The same study found that among those who initially “felt sad” only 1% continued to do so after therapeutic knitting.

With this in mind the projects in the book are divided into different types of projects for different situations with explanations of how they may benefit you. For example, Quick and Easy projects to give you a sense of accomplishment, and Group Projects that you could collaborate with others on.

Reading this book, the UKHK team were able to point to times we have used our knitting or crochet to help us cope with difficult situations or stress. If you think you or someone else would benefit from some therapeutic knitting this book is a useful tool.

 

In one section of Knit Yourself Calm, Corkhill says: “Learning new skills on a regular basis is essential for nurturing a healthy bran, opening new neural pathways and even encouraging the growth of new brain cells right into old age.” And for crocheters this is where our second book comes in.

 

Design Your Own Crochet Projects – Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves, Sara Delaney, Storey Publishing

crochet books

We have been lucky enough to get an early look at this US book coming out in the UK later this year and were surprised how useful it is for people with no interest in publishing their own patterns.

Sara Delaney shows us that designing is much wider than publishing patterns. Her book is designed to help you create lovely accessories with yarn from your stash and give you the skills to turn that skein of yarn you have fallen in love with into exactly the item you imagine.

The book gives you the formulas or recipes for 18 project types including scarves, hats, socks and gloves. Each formula takes you step-by-step through measuring stitch tension, working out what stitch patterns will work and how many stitches or pattern repeats will be needed.

This is a book that will make us be braver about our own crochet – stash yarn will certainly turn into hats and cowls in the coming months and may well feature some more adventurous stitch patterns. Look out for this book and hopefully it will inspire you too.

 

We have a copy of Knit Yourself Calm to give away. Tell us how you have used knitting or crochet in a positive way in the comments below and we will pick a winner among the commenters.

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Three reasons to Commit To Knit for charity this June

June is Commit to Knit month, when we ask you to commit to knit or crochet at least one item for charity.

So why should you get involved?

  1. Stashbusting
    A lot of the patterns in the special charity knitting supplement we have put together with the lovely folk at Simply Knitting (look out for it in your newsagent in the next few days) and the ones on the charity section of our website use small amounts of yarn. Why not make some space in your yarn cupboard by rustling up a few twiddlemuffs, blanket squares or preemie hats.

    Commit to knit month

  2. Knowing that what you make will be really appreciated
    We receive lots of feedback from charity projects we support, thanking knitters for their time and skill. If you have run out of people to knit for, why not make something that will really help someone?
  3. Meet like-minded makers
    We will be putting together a list of libraries, knitting groups and shops that will be hosting Commit To Knit events and sessions, where you can join other knitters and crocheters to simply make together or work on a joint project. Keep an eye on the Commit to Knit area of our website.

 

The joy of yarn shops

Visiting a strange town last weekend, I spotted a yarn shop so popped in for a visit.

It was reasonably-sized shop with the walls lines in yarns, giving customers plenty of choice. One customer was seeking advice about the right yarn for a pattern while another browsed pattern options. A third was settling in on a sofa for a “knit and knatter” session. And the staff were helpful and knowledgeable.

This was great example of a local yarn shop offering more than just the yarn – the knowledge, advice, support and community are essential ingredients and ones I have found in yarn shops all over the UK.

And this is exactly why Let’s Knit organises its annual Yarn Shop Day – to recognise and encourage these great attributes.

yarn shop day

This year’s Yarn Shop Day is this coming Saturday, 6th May. Many yarn shops round the country will be holding special events such as demos and workshops, sales or refreshments. You can find a list of participating shops and their events .

In addition Debbie Bliss has created this special blanket pattern which is only available for free through the shops taking part in Yarn Shop Day.

So if you have a hour or so to spare this Saturday why not use it to visit your local yarn shop.

 

Knitting and crochet blogs for you to enjoy

On our regular e-newsletter we choose a knitting or crochet blog of the month that we think our followers will enjoy.

In case our blog readers aren’t signed for the newsletter, here are a few of our favourites from the past year that you might enjoy browsing over the bank holiday weekend.

knitting blogs

Elsie Pop is a UK-based crochet blog written by Louise who promises “yarn, cats, a one-eyed dog, unfinished projects and a lot of colour”. Elsie (Louise) is a real crochet enthusiast who writes about patterns, reviews yarns and offers tips and advice. She is also a London commuter so is an expert on crocheting in public and on the move. The blog talks about both crochet and Tunisian crochet and features patterns for each. Elsie’s real enjoyment of her craft comes across as does her hope to help other people feel the same.

Great Balls of Wool records the activities of Una, charity knitter extraordinaire. She has been knitting for more than 50 years and says she loves “looking for wool bargains and making them into something useful”. The blog charts the progress of the items Una makes and which charities eventually receive them. She also links to the many charities she has made items for – there is no doubt the Una has committed to knit and we’re sure she will inspire others.

knitting blogs

Hand Knitted Things is the blog of Julia March who lives in the Scottish Highlands with a small flock of Shetland sheep. Julia writes about patterns and yarn that has caught her eye along with the knitting projects she is working on. All accompanied by beautiful bright photographs. This is a great blog to turn to if you are looking for ideas or inspiration because the photographs will certainly make you feel good about yarn crafts and Julia is honest about her experiences of patterns and projects. You will also find some useful tutorials.

Sometimes you just want to look at great images of knitting and to seek some inspiration, which is how we first came across The Knitting Needle and the Damage Done. On this blog Orange Swan reviews the patterns in knitting magazines by sharing pattern pictures with her comments, so it is a great place to see a wide range of patterns, assess trends and browse for ideas – rather like a very focused Pinterest.

knitting blogs

Barbara from Knitting Now and Then describes herself as fascinated by old knitting patterns and women’s magazines. Luckily for her, since 2011 she has been sorting and cataloguing the collection of publications held by the UK Knitting and Crochet Guild. This massive collection of magazines, pattern booklets, pattern leaflets and other publications is a fantastic resource and one she uses to talk about the history of knitting – for example the metrication of needles – how styles have changed and to show vintage stitches and patterns.

Mason Dixon Knitting one of the most established yarn craft blogs. It takes the form of letters between Kay who lives in Manhattan and Ann who lives in Nashville. They talk about all things knitting from new patterns and what they enjoy knitting, to knitting deadline stress and TV to binge watch while knitting. Their site is fun to get lost in, reading their friendly posts as well as exploring the tips and free patterns.

Never Not Knitting is the sort of blog where you smile or laugh in recognition. Podcaster and knitting boutique owner Alana Dakos writes about common knitting experiences such as persevering when deep down you know your knitting is coming out far too small, or falling for a supercute pattern and the joys of a spot of selfish knitting. There are also tips, patterns and book recommendations to give you new inspiration.

The Winwick Mum blog, which as the runner up for Blog of the Year at the recent British Craft Awards, is written by Cheshire-based Christine Perry who says she writes about plus what makes her happy: family, knitting, gardening, home-making and enjoying the outdoors. And knitting definitely makes her happy because there is plenty of discussion of knitting, knitting events, yarn and patterns. You will also find plenty about socks – Christine has written a sock knitting book – including a sockalong to get you started and a free pattern and tutorial for her Easy Cable Socks. Winwick Mum is a relaxing read for crafters that may also help you discover something new in terms of yarn or events.

knitting blogs

The Yarn Harlot is something of a knitting blog legend. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has been blogging and producing very funny books about knitting for years, Her blog is perfect to drop into when you need a smile. Over the years she has introduced us to the problems of dropping your yarn when on the move, the travelling sock, and more recently the concept of stash tossing. And she is very honest about startitis and playing yarn chicken (the hope beyond reasonable expectation that you have enough yarn to complete a project). You will recognise yourself and other knitters in Stephanie’s posts and generally have a good time.

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Trendwatch: In the pink for summer knits

It seems that if you want to look the height of fashion this summer go for a strong pink yarn.

In its Colour of Year predictions Pantone point to a series of strong pink shades to tone with the leaf green it picked out as this year’s colour.

Meanwhile in its summer trends review Vogue tells us to avoid pale pinks and to go bold with fuschia.

With this in mind we had a look to find some yarns to keep you right on this trend this summer.

 

Why teaching kids to knit will help them with maths and technology

I noticed something when I was teaching my seven-year-old niece to knit.

She isn’t that keen on sums in her homework, but if I asked her to keep track of her stitches she would happily tell me how many she had gained or lost. And if I asked questions like “You’ve knitted three rows this afternoon, how many stitches is that?”, she would be quite happy to sit and do the mental arithmetic. She didn’t notice it was sums.

teaching kids to knit

Image from UKHKA event

Like many crafters and craft teachers, I have often argued that knitting, crochet and other skills teach a range of useful extras including mental arithmetic, so along with my UK Hand Knitting colleagues I was pleased to hear this radio feature on the links between maths and crafts. It talks about how knitters think in 3D and use geometry to solve shaping problems.

What you learn from knitting can be applied elsewhere as computer scientists are showing. A scheme to interest girls in careers in coding starts by teaching them about knitting. This is because knitting and crochet patterns are “programs” – a set of step-by-step instructions that often use symbols or letter codes to replicate an action.

It is exciting to see knitting used as a way into writing computer code but it isn’t a new idea. The mother of modern computing Ada Lovelace drew inspiration from the punch cards used by weavers when she worked with Charles Babbage on their Analytical Engine .

So if you decide to teach some youngsters to knit during these school holidays, you will be doing more than just occupying them on a wet Wednesday. You will be providing them with both the skills to make lovely objects in the future but also to do well in certain school subjects and preparing them for possible future careers.

 

Knitwear and crochet trends for this Spring

Spring and summer yarns are out, summer dresses are appearing in the shops and the clocks are about to go forward, s0 it seems like a good time to take a look at the new seasons knitting and crochet fashion trends.

Colour block

Two or more contrasting colours in your summer knits are set to be a big hit this summer – you can go for strong contrasts or light and dark shades on one colour.

You can use different colours of the same yarn to achieve the look as with this Cleo dress from C+B.

Or you could use a yarn like Sirdar Colour Wheel which has been dyed to give you blocks of colour as you knit.

sirdar colourwheel

Mesh and lacy fabrics

This is a good summer to try a spot of lace knitting. This doesn’t necessarily mean tiny needles and extra fine yarns. Mesh knits in cotton tape yarns like this one in Rico Summery Ribbon.

mesh summer top

or a lacy knit in DK such as this sweater by Jenny Watson in a James C Brett yarn will also fit the bill.

Vintage stipes

Stripes are a popular choice this summer especially narrow ones or those that echo vintage garments. We think these two tops are great examples of the look.

 

Granny square

Granny squares are still enjoying a revival in the fashion stakes – if you are not sure you want a dress or a waistcoat in this technique, go for a crochet wrap like this one in Stylecraft Classique Cotton DK.

granny square qrap