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Bitten by the Knitting Bug …

June 5, 2010

Have you been bitten by the knitting and unsure where to start learning the craft of knitting? You could always peruse the aisles of acrylic yarn in your local Walmart looking forlorn and hope a fellow knitter takes pity upon you and welcomes you to the knitting club with open arms. Well, you could do that. But I have a way that will lead you down the knitterly path into a world filled with fun, yarn, sharp pointy sticks, and – most of all – bonds of friendship that will last a life time.

Knitting groups have been a popular way to pass the time since the history of knitting began. Women used to come together to produce a number of needlework crafts. They used to sit on porches over tea and a basket of mending. It was a way to catch up on the local news and community gossip. Days were filled with hard work necessary to maintain a family. They were long and arduous. The work of women seemed to be endless. Even gathering on the front porch over knitting, crocheting, mending, or another portable task was viewed as work. Socks needed mending, sweaters needed knitting, tablecloths and doilies were needed for wedding gifts, quilts needed quilting…well, you get the picture; right?

Not only did a lot stitching get accomplished during these evening gatherings, but a lot of learning became a hallmark of them as well. The experienced would transfer their skills and knowledge onto the younger set. Many youngsters began their knitting careers over a scarf or pair of socks and knitting them at their mother’s knee. However, one need not lose sight of the fact that even though work was accomplished; teaching was always present, etc. the members of the gatherings formed life long bonds of friendship and comradery while gartering over tea and giggles.

Yes, knitting circles were a part of daily life during some tough times in history. They remain an entertaining and valuable part of our modern life as well. Those wanting to learn to knit can find them in almost any community. So, rather than parting with your hard earned dollars, why not find a knitting circle in your own community and join the crowd.

New to a group setting? Not sure if you will fit in? Does the level of experience around the table intimidate you? You needn’t worry. Knitters are a kind breed and a lot of fun when 2 or more are sitting around the table. Here are some ways to feel more comfortable whilst you stitch away at the knees of some of your community’s most dedicated and talented stitchers.

  1. Speak up. Ask questions. Don’t stay quiet: Don’t just show up and knit in the corner like a quiet little mouse. Join the conversation. You’ll learn more by being part of the conversation than you will by just listening to it. Knitting circles today are more like a group of friends gathering over coffee and enjoying each other. You’ll be quite surprised by how much the regular members want to get to know you. Let them get to know you. Answer their questions and present your own to enable yourself to get to know them. Don’t forget the most important part of a group is that sense of friendship that grows with each and every stitch.
  2. Ask their opinions of yarn, LYSs (local yarn shops), and techniques: If you’re a new knitter research the tools and resources available to you. Bring a list of your questions such as “What does each yarn shop offer?”; “What are your favourite yarns to knit with?”; “What are your favourite techniques?” etc. Members in the group will be more than happy to tell you of their experiences with yarn, with shopping, with LYSs, etc. This information can be invaluable to you, as a new knitter. Often you’ll find the membership contains at least one employee of a LYS in your area.
  3. Be sure to bring a simple knitting project to work on: You’re at the meeting to meet knitters and learn from them. Bringing a simple project will allow you to keep knitting and concentrate on the gems of knowledge that float amongst the conversation. The idea is to join the conversation and be friendly. I highly recommend working on a garter stitch scarf, a dishcloth, a vanilla sock, or simple shawl.
  4. Help a new knitter with their project: People go to a knitting group to knit, but also to learn from the more experienced knitters. Be kind enough to return the favour and willing to put your project down to help another new knitter out with holes, skipped and dropped stitches, or the extra stitches that may have been picked up along the way. It won’t take long before you have the knowledge to share and share it you must.
  5. Bring along your WIPs (works in progress): Every knitter struggles to finish a project because there’s always another new and more exciting project on the horizon. “Castonitis” is a condition we all experience at one time or another. It leaves us with many WIPs languishing in a corner. So bring a few, show them off, ask for feedback, and you’ll find that before long you’ll receive encouragement to turn those WIPs into FOs (finished objects). The other knitters won’t let you forget about it again and often will ask each time you meet about the sad little WIP and continue to do until you finish.
  6. Meet at upcoming knitting events: If you’re a new knitter, you don’t need to be shy at a LYS event. You no longer need to feel like the odd man out. You now have a group of like minded knitters to join you. So grab a few knitterly friends and head on out to that LYS sale event or community knitting show. You’ve heard of a knitting event? Great, now get on the phone and invite other members of your local knitting circle to join. You won’t believe the fun you will have.

After attending a knitting group meeting, you’ll find yourself wanting to keep going. You, as a new knitter, will not be the new kid in the group for long. Knitting circles have a tendency to be highly addictive. You simply need to remember to be friendly and open, take along a simple project to work on, and join the knitterly fun with both feet first. Knitting no longer has to be a solitary activity that becomes frustrating for you will now have met and become friends with some of the more experienced knitters in your area. There is usually someone who can fix almost every knitterly conundrum that you may stumble across.

Here in Saskatoon the Saskatoon Knitting Circle meets every Sunday afternoon. The local university, University of Saskatchewan, also hosts a number of knitting groups. Please contact Bonnie Zink at SaskatoonKnittingCircle@gmail.com for more information on times and events in the Saskatoon area.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. sharon permalink
    June 5, 2010 5:17 pm

    Great post! I was the newbie this year, and no issue fitting in!

    • bonniezink permalink*
      June 5, 2010 5:19 pm

      And we love having you!

  2. treanyrain permalink
    July 19, 2010 3:12 am

    This is encouraging. I do not live in your area, but there is a knitting group advertised at my local library. It is a bit intimidating but I think I will give it a try. Thanks so much.

    • July 19, 2010 7:30 am

      Good luck, Treanyrain! I’m sure you’ll love joining a knitting group. Even though it won’t be ours, don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’ve any number of experts in our group that can help you out via the internet 🙂

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