Is Knitting So Rustic?

I get this from time to time (or all the time), and the chances that you will experience something similar is almost a given once people find out you knit.

For anybody that is an active knitter and crocheter it is just part of the territory and you are bound to draw the scrutiny of people who just don’t get it. Knitting is somehow rustic, old, and un-hip. It was something that their grandmother might have done, but they don’t have any interest in. And while this might be true, my grandmother was definitely a knitter, it doesn’t mean that you have to be old to get enjoyment from knitting.

Rustic What?

The idea that knitting is somehow only done by people in the country, those that speak with accents that include words like y’all and what have you is nonsense. Sure knitting is more of a rustic pastime, but it doesn’t mean that it is only rustic.

In fact there are plenty of uses for knitting that are super hip. And if you are looking to set some trends then there are only a few ways that are better than knitting your own pieces of apparel. Still there will be people that pigeonhole you. They will think of you sitting alone in your rocker (I have a couch) petting their cat (yeah, I have a cat) crocheting granny squares. Heck, if they don’t know you personally they will probably picture you in all of this rustic splendor and you will be old. Maybe they will picture you with white curly hair with a fresh perm. If you’re lucky they’ll give you something to drink. It will probably be served in a mason jar sitting next to you on some little stand with a doily under it.

Now, if that is the idea you have I want you to shake it out of your mind.

This can’t be any further from the truth, and in fact the the knit looks like the knitter, at least in the context of the patterns you’ll be choosing. That doesn’t mean that you will be creating lifelike replicas of yourself in wool yarn (stay away from the acrylic blends they are harder to work with).

A rustic look will only “happen” if you want it to happen. And trust me it is more challenging than you might think. Granny squares and afghans are all fine and good. But to be honest I haven’t done anything like that since I got out of my beginner stage. They are things you’ll try when you’re learning the ropes (or yarns) and unless you have a specific taste for them you probably won’t try your hand at them ever again.

When you look for projects try and find ones that you could see yourself buying.

That is to say, if you are looking for patterns and you find one that you would purchase in a store then it is a good bet that it suites your personality. If you are into the rustic lifestyle the knits you choose will probably be more country than if you are into urban street wear. Each to their own.

There are many examples of both on on places like ravelry but lion brand also has a lot of good options to choose from as well.

So Why Rustic?

As I said people tend to have an aversion when it comes to knitting and this carries over to crocheting. A friend of mine was teased for years by her husband and father about her hand craft. Names like granny all come with the territory. Still if you can shake the feeling of being pigeonholed into the country rustic lifestyle and that might make you feel older than your years there is a whole world of fun waiting for you.

And is rustic so bad? While I can’t see myself being a country girl I can still appreciate the aesthetic in certain pieces.

Shabby chic is one of them.

A lot of people tend to see shabby chic in a rustic boho light. And I agree there is a lot of inspiration taken from the more rural backdrop. You can see this in things like the rustic fall collection that galet released. They used a lot of knitted pieces in their photos that blended a shabby chic or boho style together with the overall rustic theme that they were going for. I was commissioned for two of the pieces.

I think that a lot of the overall bias comes from a time when people needed to make most if not all of their own clothes. This was a time when knitting wasn’t a hobby but it was a way of life. This way of life slowly disappeared and what was left was this idea that people only used to knit because a.) they had to and b.) there wasn’t anything else. The idea of grandma sitting there knitting doilies on the rocker was one that is burned into a lot of people’s minds. I’m not sure where they get the imagery but it is definitely there.

Thankfully that simply isn’t true. People of every age (and gender) and walk of life enjoy knitting. It is relaxing and it give them a sense of having completed something. What that something is is up to the hands that are doing the work.

And I would love to see what your next piece looks like.

A Fun Shabby Chic Project

When people ask me what they need when they start knitting I say arthritis free hands. But in truth there isn’t a lot that you need to start knitting.

One of the easiest ones can be accomplished by beginners of all ages and it is pretty popular right now.

A Shabby Chic Scarf

If you want to start a small project, or if you want to teach a child how to knit I would highly suggest starting with a simple finger knit project. Holding needles for hours can be stressful, learning to hold them properly is stressful for adults, though I have found that this is less of a problem for children.

Still, if starting small is what you are interested in and this is something that I advocate you can always knit a small project with just your fingers.

Finger knitting, to me, feels like something natural. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that some ancient ancestor was sitting around a fire and knitting with finger alone. They were probably a grandmother, and it was probably a sweater.

Anyway, back to the project at hand.

There aren’t a lot of projects that you can knit like this but when you are working with children the amount of options is less important as when you try and teach an adult. Trust me if you have never held a needle in your hands before you won’t be whipping up cardigans, no matter how motivated you are.. The easier the better and the pattern is easy to get a grip on. Here is a version with pictures if you are having trouble visualizing the technique.

Step 1.

You are going to need to slide the end of a ball of yarn between your thumb and index finger (this will allow you to control the ball while you knit). By pinching it between your fingers you can control the yarn as you knit.

Now you will need to loop the yarn around your pinkie and then begin to weave it through your fingers.

Step 2.

When you have looped the yarn over and under on your fingers you will need to loop the yarn around your index finger turning back to your pinkie.

Step 3.

You should now have a full loop around your four fingers.

Step 4.

This produces a pattern that you can now begin to weave together. Slip the bottom row so that it goes over the one above it. Think about it like pulling one loop over the next loop. You will start at the pinkie and work your way up. Once you have the hang of it, you may need to untangle the yarn and start again, you can repeat the steps 2-4 until you reach the length that want the item to be. If you are making a bracelet you will not need that much and a couple of repetitions will be enough, for bigger items like a scarf you can expect to go through the process a number of times. Once you are finished you can tie the tip off and you’re all set.

Start Small, Learn The Ropes (Or Yarn)

I’ve been a recreational knitter for many years and never really had any interest in offering my items for sell. I usually give them away since the making and the giving are the rewarding part for me. I use it as a hobby, to relax when I come home from work, and that is all I expect from it.

That doesn’t mean that you have to “limit” yourself but to be honest if you are going to do it professionally you will see that it takes time to knit and you have to ask how much is your time worth.

People often ask me for suggestions or help on picking out hooks. They will tell me they are thinking about brand X though it is twice as expensive as band Y. When I hear this I will say something like “why don’t you just pick up a cost-effective set with everything you need?” The thing about cost-effective sets are that you do not need to continue buying each hook separately. That gets expensive quickly!

If you haven’t gotten the hang of it, know what you want/need, or don’t even know if you plan to continue, buying all of the expensive equipment upfront can be a waste.

When I first got started I was using whatever I had around the house for yarn markers. And while it was a nightmare trying to cut yarn with my rickety old scissors that were as dull as they were sticky I learned something important. I like knitting.

At that point I upgraded.

While the hair clips and other “counters” I was using didn’t work out like I wanted (I pulled out a lot of rows because I lost count). I was thrilled by the whole experience. For Christmas my mother bought me a kit which make things so much better. In fact it was more than I could have ever hoped for, more than I ever imagined!

I started a new project after I received my kit.

It has scissors, an assortment of needles, and a measuring tape which was mind blowing at the time.

Since then it has been replaced a number of times, at least piece by piece, but there is one thing that I learned. I loved to knit, had I blown my money on a bunch of equipment I think that I would have been more than disappointed. Especially since I know how hard it can be to learn on aluminum needles.