Happy New Year to all our readers! Now that the festive season is over, many of us are thinking ahead to what we’d like to knit for ourselves in the coming months. Make it your resolution to have the best knitting year ever, by exploring all that our wonderful craft has to offer – here are our top ten ideas to inspire and improve your knitting.
1. Try a new cast-on
Most of us stick with just one or two cast-on methods for our knitting. But there are so many different options to try that will give your projects the perfect, professional edge – whether you need it stretchy or firm, for lace or for ribbing, decorative or neat. Take a look at our masterclass on great cast-ons for our step-by-step guides here.
2. Buy British
When choosing and buying yarn for your upcoming projects, why not explore the exciting options available from British producers? With growing numbers of wool farmers, mills and dyers in this country producing gorgeous yarns, often from British rare breeds, there has never been a better time to try our native yarns. For more inspiration click here to check out the KnitBritish blog and podcast by Louise Scollay, who is on a mission to explore and share home-grown yarns.
3. Sign up for a workshop
Learning new skills in the company of likeminded, friendly people is such a treat. Yarn stores up and down the country offer knitting workshops run by experts, which are a great way to refine your techniques or try something completely new. Find details of the best knitting workshops around Britain in every issue of The Knitter.
4. Swatch for success
We all know that we ought to knit a test swatch before embarking on a new project – but many of us never do, according to our recent Twitter poll! Here at The Knitter, we’re firm believers that swatching first before you cast on will help you to achieve well fitting, professional results. Not only will it allow you to check that you’re achieving the correct tension, it will give you a chance to decide whether your chosen yarn and needles create the fabric you want, and can help you practise unfamiliar stitches or techniques. It’s also essential if you want to use a substitute yarn.
5. Visit a museum
Here in Britain, we’re lucky enough to have an array of museums with inspiring knitting and textile collections. Our all-time favourites include the V&A in London, the National Wool Museum in Carmarthenshire, and the Shetland Museum & Archives. There are also plenty of smaller, local museums and collections well worth a visit, such as the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, Sanquhar Tollboth Museum and Whitby Museum.
6. Tune in to a podcast
Sharing ideas and discoveries with other knitters is always fun, and that’s why we love going to knitting groups. But there’s a huge community of online knitters, too, who love to chat about knitting through their podcasts, which you can listen to through your computer or download onto your smartphone. Some of our favourites include Curious Handmade, Shinybees, Never Not Knitting, and The Knitmore Girls.
7. Join a knit-along
Sign up to a knit-along, and you’re guaranteed to have some knitting fun! Many knitwear designers now run knit-alongs through Ravelry.com, and they’re a great way to try something new, use up your stash, and make friends along the way. Participants pay for a mystery pattern, then receive it in instalments, knitting along with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of other people at the same time. This means they can share their progress with others, offer or receive technical help, and support each other along the way. Find details of current knit-alongs by browsing the new patterns on Ravelry.com, or by visiting the Ravelry pages of your favourite designers.
8. Take in a yarn festival
Fibre festivals offer the chance to discover new yarns, meet your favourite designers, participate in workshops and generally reinvigorate your knitting! Upcoming festivals in the next few months include Unravel in Farnham (19-21 February), the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (17-19 March), Wonderwool Wales in Builth Wells (23-24 April), and I Knit Fandango in London (13-14 May).
9. Play with design
If you’re a competent knitter, there’s no reason why you couldn’t try creating your own design – whether it’s adding a textured stitch to a basic sock pattern, using your own colourwork motifs on a sweater design, or incorporating some beautiful cables to a simple hat shape. To get you started, take a look at our guides here on The Yarn Loop, such as Rosee’s guide to designing your own shawl.
10. Look after yourself!
RSI (repetitive strain injury) is the knitter’s curse, and many of us will have been afflicted by it at some point. A flare-up could force you to stop knitting for a substantial length of time, so take steps to avoid it by looking at your posture while you knit, and consider changing your knitting style e.g. from English to Continental. Find more advice on our blogpost here.
For more tips and tutorials click here, and have a knit-tastic New Year!