Knitting & Crochet: A dyed in the wool revival
Right now, knitting and crochet are having a bit of a moment. People are picking up their needles and getting hooked on making some amazing creations. We asked Janice Anderson who owns Baa! in Stonehaven for advice on getting started.
Knitting and crochet have never been more popular, not least because there’s a huge range of materials, great online resources for beginners and the more experienced, and it’s a wonderful way of just switching off from life and being in the moment.
Some knit for the sense of achievement of finishing a garment or mastering a complicated pattern, others find it relaxing. Youngsters get a thrill from learning something new and making something with their own hands, while the elderly enjoy sharing their skills and keeping busy, whether it’s knitting for new babies or for charity. It’s not just for women and girls either. Men were almost certainly the first to knit and fishermen often knitted at sea.
Knitting and crochet also offer mindfulness and health benefits. The methodical repeating motions provide a sense of focus and calm to those suffering from depression or anxiety, while following a pattern is said to help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Yarn has changed immensely. It’s available in every fibre imaginable – cotton, bamboo, hemp, linen, even nettle or banana! You can buy wool from a specific breed of sheep and often the provenance of the animal is known too. There’s a tremendous range of colours available. At Baa, we focus on natural fibres and blends. If you’re starting crochet, then the Dutch brand Scheepies offers an incredible colour palette and good value. I love niche and indie wool producers like Jamieson’s of Shetland and local independent wool dyers Hennypennymakes and Colliston Yarns. They have very different styles, but both are quite beautiful.
Knitting sometimes suffers from the idea that patterns are outdated – all those 1970s mustard yellow belted jumpers worn by chaps with pipes, pointing off somewhere in the distance. Design has moved on a long way, particularly with online resources like Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram and Ravelry.com. Ravelry is free to join. You’ll find some tremendous digital downloads for all types of knitting and crochet, including some which are free. Ravelry gave designers all over the world the opportunity to sell their designs independently. There are also some brilliant books for beginners or the more advanced wanting to learn a new technique. We stock a good selection in our online shop and we can also put together individually tailored kits for customers. We’re even looking at ways of running our popular weekend workshops and individual tuition online, so there are plenty of options even if you’ve never picked up a crochet hook or a pair of needles in your life.
Crochet has taken a little longer to become fashionable, but it can be a little less daunting for beginners. You’ll find lots of designs for cute animals, rock-stars and even Star Wars characters. It’s not all doilies these days! Crochet in the main has only one loop of yarn on the hook at a time. If you make a mistake, it’s not that scary compared to a dropped stitch when knitting, so it’s a great craft to try.
Whether you choose to try knitting or crochet, you don’t need much to get started. Just a ball of wool, a crochet hook or a pair of knitting needles. We can advise on where to find alternative tutorials, or to provide personalised help by e-mail.
For more resources on getting started with knitting or crochet,
Images: © Jenny Rose Photography / jenjaar.com