Craft Ideas for Adults | 4 May 2016De-mystifying Knitting with the Knitted Home Share article facebook twitter google pinterest There are few comforts quite like hand-knits – be it clothes, toys, or home accessories. While it may seem daunting to the outsider, the basics are easily mastered with a bit of practice and, as with most things, this opens up a whole world of designs and personal experimentation! Take The Knitted Home author Ruth Cross’s word for it – her book helps de-mystify the knitting process while also providing patterns to create your own knitted home – from blankets and poufs to wall hangings. We’ve edited together some of her best tips to help you get started. 1) Grab your Needles Needles come in a whole range of sizes but to start with pick some that aren’t too fiddly or too big to handle. I learnt on 6mm (no 4) which is good and remains my favourite today. What you prefer your needles to be made from is something you’ll find out for yourself when you’ve tried a few. I like metal ones with quite short tapered points (I find long tapers will make your knitting tighter and less easy to play with), but there are also wood and plastic ones available. photography by Ben Anders 2) Pick your Yarn For your first yarn try to pick something chunky and smooth in a light colour, which will make your knitting really easy to control. (Steer away from the sparkly hairy novelty yarns.) On balls of yarn there is a specified needle size written on the packing. Don’t worry too much about this – it’s an indication only. Charity shops are good places to pick up needles and yarns without spending a fortune. Then, when you’ve worked out what you like, find your local wool shop for more specific requirements – they will also provide a wealth of knowledge if you need advice and may even run a ‘stitch and bitch’ knitting group. photography by Ben Anders 3) Learn your Basic Stitches – knit and purl When you’ve got the hang of knitting and purling a whole row then you can start to play around. By changing the order of your knit and purl rows you will be able to create a whole range of stripes. If you simply alternate between knit and purl you’ll get a flat jersey fabric – any other combination will instantly add stripes. When you are playing with the texture like this it’s important to remember that fabric is double-sided. Sometimes what you originally intend as the back looks better than the front so always remember to check – you may need to turn the whole piece over. photography by Ben Anders 4) Once you’ve got your k’s and p’s – go wild Knitting is like baking – once you’ve mastered the basic knit and purl stitches you can start to play around with each element of the process separately. The easiest way to experiment is simply by changing the yarn. There are no limits as to what can be considered yarn – if it’s bendy and in a strip then you can knit with it. It’s certainly not just wool out there. To experiment with different materials cast on a number of stitches then switch between yarns to see what happens. Simply tie your new yarn onto the old one at the end of a row and start using it. Don’t worry about all the loose ends at the moment. If you keep the needle size and number of stitches the same it will remain a similar width. Don’t be precious with this kind of thing – just try, try, try and have a look at the results. It doesn’t have to be beautiful – it’s just research for yourself! 5) Embrace individuality – there is no ‘right’ way to knit! Although basic knitting and purling are simple to do you’d be surprised at how many small variations there are, each having a slightly different effect on the overall piece. Because hand knitting is passed from person to person, each of us assumes we all do it the same, but I’ve worked with so many knitters over the years that I now know if you gave 50 people the same yarn and pattern, you’d get 50 slightly different items back! Everyone is individual, so do whatever works best for you. Hopefully this book has inspired you to realize there is no ‘right’ way and by exploring different options you may discover something new along the way. This post is an edited extract from The Knitted Home – Creative and Contemporary Projects for Interiors by Ruth Cross Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: This book is for people who enjoy knitting and exploring the different patterns and textures that hand knitting can create, and who want to use these skills to produce beautiful pieces for their homes. Hand-crafted items always add an extra layer of personality and interest to a room, and a beautifully knitted and designed piece, whether it is a cover for an existing piece of furniture or a wonderful throw, is a covetable and unique accessory. Ruth Cross draws on her experience of designing organic and freeform collections to guide you through the process of making and creating your own items. Taking an experimental approach, Ruth combines traditional stitches with new stitches she has devised herself. She creates desirable fabrics that can adorn many different items around the home, from easy chairs to footstools, a doorstop to a table runner, vase covers to wall hangings. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.