When you hear someone talk about knitting, I’m sure the first thing that comes to your mind is the image of a grandmother sitting in a rocking chair slowly working away at a pure white, itchy sweater for you to wear out of guilt. Now, push this image to the back of your mind and rewind back about five years to my high school days at a North Jersey all-girls’ Catholic high school. Full of teenage angst and existentialism, I begrudgingly tried my hand–literally–at knitting for the first time making a mess of the kelly green yarn and resenting the activity that I had been forced to do. (You see, I had been lured to the knitting club’s weekly meeting by my friends who were members of the club. I hadn’t ever giving knitting much thought, mostly because I didn’t give many things much thought in those days.) When the end product was this tattered, hole-y weird green blob, I felt that once again I had tried to fit myself into a niche in high school that wasn’t mine and that I had wasted my time and everyone else’s.
I don’t know why I didn’t give up after that, but I’m glad that I didn’t, because my life honestly wouldn’t be the same if I hadn’t become such an avid knitter. It’s something that I’ve grown quite fond of over these past few years, something that I’m proud to be able to do and that I genuinely can say I will continue doing for the rest of my life. Below, I will outline the perks and rewards that I believe are the best reasons why you too should drop what you’re doing right now, pick up the needles, and start knitting:
1. It allows you to be the fashion designer you always dreamed of being.
I promise I’m not trying to be sarcastic with this one. When I was younger (I’m talking like third grade), I wanted to be a fashion designer. I once cut countless pictures out of the magazines and fused together one-of-a-kind outfits for a “passion project” in elementary school. Of course, I’m now twenty years old and I couldn’t be more unsure of what I want to do with the rest of my life if you stamped a career on my forehead and told me that’s what I’m meant to do. Expanding my knitting repertoire in the past years has really had some stunning effects on my wardrobes. Now, whenever I wear a scarf or a hat I’ve made myself and someone compliments me on it, I proudly say, “Thanks, I made it myself!” It’s a process from picking colors to finding the right pattern, and there’s no feeling quite like wearing something made of your own blood, sweat, and tears.
2. Shopping for yarn is so much more fulfilling these days.
Seriously, even if you read this and aren’t convinced that knitting is the hobby for you, take a trip to a Michaels or Joann’s Fabrics one day and cruise down the yarn aisle(s). You’ll be amazed at how intricate and unique yarns are these days! Remember granny’s white sweater in the aforementioned imagination? Now picture soft, chunky pastels and metallics. Think of an ombre that’s the color of the mountains, or one of the sky just before the sun sets in the late summer. I’d find it very hard to believe that you could just walk past that and NOT think of something that could be made to wear out of it. I can’t walk into a Michaels without scooping up an arm-full of yarns and spending at least twenty minutes mulling over which skein I’m going to go home with this time.
3. It’s a fantastic stress reliever.
While knitting is an activity that requires skill and close attention to what you’re doing, it doesn’t require that you dwell on anything else. Sometimes when you’re trying to read for a class, you find yourself on Facebook one minute and beating yourself up over a poor grade or a bad falling out the next. Knitting lets you take time (providing, of course, that you do have the time) out of your daunting day to devote some time to yourself and your craft. With each row, you come closer and closer to something beautiful, something your own, and with each stitch, you slowly let go of what’s been eating at you all day. You can relax for a few minutes, maybe hours if you’re free and devoted. And you’ll feel freer, your head much clearer once you do, once you’ve channeled your negative energy and frustrations into something different.
4. It makes gift-giving at the holidays much more exciting and rewarding.
Everybody loves Christmas, but when you’re young and scrappy and also not really in touch with what your family members are interested in, it definitely helps having a hobby that allows you to produce something that everyone will be proud of, even if they don’t like it. For the past couple of years, I’ve gathered up some of my money to buy a couple skeins of yarn that lasted me the entire holiday season in making gifts for literally everyone on Christmas. It’s better than buying your uncle a shirt from Old Navy that he’ll never wear. And I mix it up, too. If Nana gets a scarf one Christmas, she gets a hat the next. It’s a lot of fun to share something you love doing with your family and friends, especially if it keeps them snug and warm.
5. It’s good exercise for your hand-eye coordination.
Okay, so this may not be important or a priority of everyone, but knitting totally keeps your eyes and hands swift and young because you have to be meticulous and conscientious of what you’re doing whether you’re following a pattern or just free-balling it. And who knows, maybe you have dreams of being a Nascar racer, but as of right now, you’re not the best driver. Maybe you want to be a surgeon one day, but the thought of scalpel incisions and sutures intimidate you because you don’t yet possess the skills necessary to save a life. This isn’t meant to freak you out by insinuating that I think that knitting is some kind of pleasurable amateur surgery, but it definitely does improve your hand-eye coordination, and you can integrate that into all aspects of life.
So in short, knitting isn’t archaic or lame. It’s freaking awesome. It gives you so much potential to make and share great things. It’s definitely a healthy, happy hobby. If you know anyone who does it, they’ll back me up. Ask them to borrow their needles and yarn some time and give it a shot. If you can’t get through it, find something else you love. But give it a chance, because when you can wrap yourself up in the first scarf you’ve ever made and nuzzle your face into that soft, serene yarn, you won’t be sorry you did.