I think it’s safe to say that, as a knitter, creative expression is one of the many things that draws us to fiber work. That’s why when I read that the First Quarter of the Moon is marked by creative growth, it made sense. Something special flows within us when we use our hands to create something unique. While many of us are comfortable with patterns and established ways of doing things, many of us also like to take new roads in the development of our craft. The cool thing about knitting is that it accommodates both approaches and one frequently leads to another as we grow in our abilities. With instant access to millions of patterns, thousands of designers, tutorials and new products there is no shortage of inspiration.
I’ve been knitting since I was a kid, so I am versed in the craft, but that hardly means I know it all. Many of my most satisfying moments have occurred when I got out of my own way and opened myself up to learning something new. So, in the spirit of sharing, here are few resources that might be of interest to you. (Of course, one of the added benefits in exploring these resources might lead to you becoming acquainted with a new “community” of people that share our passion. Some of my best friendships have sprung from the knitting community.
Inspiration for Knitters
I love knowing about the culture of the craft, so I often seek out the international audience when it comes to inspiration. An American knitter who I greatly admire is Mary Ann Mucklestone, an author, teacher and facilitator of workshops that teach the art of Fair Isle Knitting. Along with her business partner, Gudrun Johnston, a Shetland born author and teacher, they conduct trips to the Shetland Isles, where technique and hands-on experience is explored. It’s worth following both designers and getting on their mailing lists.
Talking inspiration, if vintage is of interest, you might try searching the Victoria & Albert Museum site. This page will take you to a treasure trove of vintage patterns. If travel is of interest, check out these upcoming trips, sponsored by Vogue Knitting.
Another source of learning for many of us are tutorials. This one, from Knitter’s Pride, is filled with all manner of learning. While you will find a full range of technique information, you can also learn about body work that will increase your stamina and add to your physical enjoyment of working with yarn and fiber.
Exploring new types of products is another sure-fire way to expand your horizons. When I began knitting, there were needles made of plastic and aluminum – even the wooden ones were hard to find since they tended to be regionally produced and not nationally available. I still remember how much pleasure it gave me when I discovered wooden needles while vacationing in Maine. The wool I bought directly from sheep farms in Maine had a lot of lanolin in it. When the lanolin rich wool was knitted with the wooden needles the result was work that moved back and forth on the needles in a soothing manner. It was then that I began to understand the meditative effect that knitting had on me.
Today, knitting needles come in all types of materials – from bamboo to carbon fiber. This company has the widest range of types on the market today. You owe it to yourself to test out a variety since needles and tools can change the experience dramatically. (I still like wood, and ebony is one of my favorites – it’s ideal for some of the well-plied and smooth yarns I love best.
Where to Shop
Ideally, you have a wonderful local knitting store. This often is a terrific source of inspiration and community. Unfortunately, the pandemic has adversely affected a lot of local yarn stores as people have shied away from shopping outside the home. Stores are beginning to re-appear, but for those who have no access to a LYS, allow me to recommend my two favorite online stores: Webs and Jimmy Beans Wools. These are two of the best on the web. They each have a full range of needles and yarns and offer free shipping (based on the size of the order) and, in some cases, dramatic discounts. While nothing beats in-person shopping, these online purveyors are a godsend to people without access to a full range of products.
These are just a few suggestions. There are so many more that can be discovered on sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Ravelry. Use search topics like knitting designers, knitting stores, knitting techniques, yarns, fiber artists, etc. It helps to be specific. It also helps to start simple. Hats, mittens, cowls are great small projects that allow you to try out a new designer or technique. Whatever you do, please let us know! We’d love to hear from you.
Next up on the blog will be the “Waxing Gibbous” stage. This is a time for refining and improving.
We will have even more thoughts on that subject, you can be sure! In the meantime, keep knitting and show us what you’re working on.