Is knitting still cool?

Many have hypothesized about why knitting suddenly appealed to so many women and men a few years ago. It’s come and gone as a fad throughout the years (apparently popular in the 1920’s and during WWII), but why now? Debbie Stoller’s book with the slightly naughty name (SnB) emphasized group dynamics, like quilting bees. It also showed that knit items could be fun and funky. And maybe this is the key: people realized they could express themselves through knitting.I’ve always been the crafty sort, but, like many people, I hate to be labeled as a trend follower. I have to admit that I got sucked into the scrapbooking craze by a friend (you know who you are). Other than that, my life is pretty blah and seldom affected by the crowd in obvious ways.

Knitting has satisfied me on so many levels, though. Here are some ways:
1) I’ve always been fidgety, as if my fingers have been waiting for yarn and needles to twist and turn. These fiber projects keep my hands busy with meaningful things.
2) I like giving heartfelt gifts, and who can argue that a handknit item isn’t heartfelt?
3) I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing a project, especially a DIY project.
4) Knitting can be rote when you want something to zone out with (see the scarf I’m working on above) or very complicated when you need a challenge (see the sweater in my progress bars below).
5) Stress relief! My worries melt when I pick up a nice ball of yarn and some lovely bamboo needles.
6) I feel challenged creatively when I take up a knitting project.

So, I guess, it doesn’t really matter to me if knitting is still cool or not. It’s meaning is beyond cultural influences to me. It does seem as if the trend is cooling a bit, though. I meet knitters all the time, and the publishing industry is still churning out fiber arts books like crazy. I don’t see young women picking up sticks anew as often, though. Not many of my friends seem interested in learning. Is the fad dead leaving only us true believers behind?


My own String Theory

A physicist I’m not, but I do have some ideas about string-like things. I may not be able to explain hyper dimensions, but I can turn a 2-dimensional piece of yarn into a 3-D sock or sweater.

I started knitting 2.5 years ago while my family was awaiting our first entry into the new generation: my niece was soon to be born. I was on vacation, and I saw a friend knitting a Baby Kimono. The pattern was precious and looked easy enough, so I decided to learn to knit so that I could knit THAT. Not to make scarves, not to make socks, not to have a lifelong skill, not to have something to keep me busy: just so that I could make that one project and give it to my niece. My friend gave me a quick tutorial on casting-on, knitting and purling and binding-off. Several months later, after some practice and some reading, I had a baby kimono to send to my little niece, but the knitting bug stayed with me. It should be pointed out that this was the height of Debbie Stoller’s SnB knitting craze.

I’m not nearly a pro, but I am experienced enough to have a sense of confidence when approaching my knitting. I haven’t learned every technique, but I’ve mastered the ones I’ve tried. If I can find an explanation or tutor, then I know I can do it. And it’s my own String Theory that most people can, too. Knitting isn’t advanced physics, it’s just about juggling a series of loops and twisting them into the shape you want. Sometimes it can be scary to start something new — I never thought I’d figure cables out — but I’ve found that nothing’s too difficult if you take it step by step, row by row.

Sandi Wiseheart has proclaimed 2008 a year for fearless knitting. Some of my goals this year are to complete a sweater/cardigan for myself (started), make more baby goodies for friends/family who are expecting, and to maybe finally sit down and learn the brioche stitch I’ve heard so much about. In other crafty news, I need to catch up on my scrapbooks and photo organization. I have some really cool photo presentation ideas I’ll post for those of you who like using conventional items in unconventional ways.

I hope you’ll share your 2008 knitting/crafting goals with me. I’ll be posting more pictures and maybe some videos as I dive deeper into this world of blogging. Hopefully we’ll be “seeing” more of each other!