Of all the different types of needlework, knitting is one of the most popular. Knitting is a specific type of needlework that is identified by the process of looped stitches pulled through one another. Knitting is commonly used to make clothing and accessories such as hats, scarves, sweaters and gloves, as well as blankets and afghans. Most commercially produced knitted items are made with knitting machines; their high speed is indispensable for meeting the demands of the world economy. Knitting machines have not done away with human knitting, however; far from it, knitting has gone through a recent resurgence in popularity as a craft and hobby.
One of the great things about knitting is that you can make a wide variety of items with the same relatively simple steps. Just select a different type of yarn and a different variation in your stitch, and you can come up with a very different end product.
The origins of knitting
Archaeologists have found evidence of knitting as far back as the first millennium. Obviously, knitting has been around for a long time. Indeed, even the ancient Egyptians are known to have knitted colorful socks and other accessories. It is generally thought that the first peoples to use knitting to make blankets and clothing were the ancient Arabians.
The history of knitting was pretty straightforward until the invention of the knitting machine. The knitting machine completely changed the purpose of knitting. Before the industrialization of knitting, it was an essential task for many families, a means to keep warm and clothed. After the knitting machine, blankets and clothing were mass-produced far more cheaply than any one person making it. For this reason, knitting today is primarily a recreational pursuit. Knitters enjoy gathering together to socialize. People love to knit because it can be an extremely relaxing way to pass the time and ease one’s nerves. The products of their pastimes are often presented as gifts, which can save you some money as well.
The demographics of knitting are changing as well. Knitting used to be the sole preserve of primarily older women. More and more, however, knitting is becoming popular with younger generations. Indeed, some studies show that knitting has risen in popularity among the 25 to 35 age group by as much as 150%.
Different types of knitting
The two main types of straight-needle knitting are weft knitting and warp knitting. Weft knitting requires only one string of yarn at time, but can be more susceptible to snags and runs. Warp knitting, on the other hand, is usually done by machine, so when most people think of knitting, they are usually thinking of weft knitting. Another important type of knitting that is commonly done by hand is circular knitting. This method uses a circular needle, and creates a “tube” of yarn when completed – great for socks and other tubular garments.
What materials do you need to start knitting?
Knitting is an ancient and rudimentary craft. As such, the materials that you need to knit are fairly basic; when it comes down to it, all you need to knit is some needles and some yarn. You should pay close attention to the type of yarn you use, however, as it will have a significant impact on how your final product looks and feels. For instance, certain yarns are appropriate for stretchy materials, while other yarns will produce less stretchy, more solid final results. The width and thickness of the yarn should be taken into account when selecting knitting needles to use. Picking out the yarn can be one of the more pleasant steps in making an item, as knitting yarn comes in a variety of colors and styles and it is always fun to play around with your imagination. Some are solid colors, others have multiple colors for striping, and others include sparkles and other embellishments.
The best thing for those serious about knitting is to join a knitting circle. In a knitting circle, members will meet with their yarn and needles at the home of different members or local coffee shop and just knit, share tips, and socialize.
If you are on your own, you can always turn to the Internet for a wealth of knitting resources. Groups, forums, and message boards provide a means of communication and getting together for knitters. Through these avenues, many knitting enthusiasts share tips, techniques, patterns, and tales of successful projects. The Internet is also a great place to order knitting materials and patterns, and can help novice knitters get past some of the challenges that face those new to the craft.
Craft and hobby stores will also carry a robust selection of knitting needles, yarns and patterns. Do not be afraid to ask employees in these stores for help – more often than not, you will be able to find experienced knitters who can offer you some sound advice and tips.
Mary Amos loves arts and crafts and has been knitting for years. See her favorite knit patterns at Knits and Knitting Patterns, and be sure to visit Knitting for more knitting fun!
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