Knitting may seem like a dying art, but I discovered the opposite is actually true on MU’s campus. Knitters are everywhere, especially in college. I just wasn’t looking in the right places.
I learned how to knit after a few of my friends took up the hobby. At first, I laughed and made jokes about how they were turning into “old ladies.” That was before I bought my own pair of knitting needles and realized that I was missing out on a world of soft yarns and warm accessories.
The process of learning how to knit was not difficult. I simply typed “How to Knit” into my search engine and clicked on the first link that popped up. I followed the steps until I eventually knit what I deemed to be either a short scarf or an odd-looking headband.
With that first project, I began my journey of moving up the knitting “ladder.” The first rung consists of poorly made scarves. During the first clumsy projects, knitters learn what it means to drop a stitch here and add a stitch there. Usually a project starts with a certain number of stitches, but it is common for beginners to accidently slip a stitch off their needle without noticing until several rows later. Once the scarves become uniform in shape and aren’t frightfully misshapen, it’s time to knit in the round.
Knitting in the round means that a wire connects the knitting needles together. This allows for one continuous circle of knitting, instead of constantly switching the needles back and forth after completing a row.
After learning how to successfully knit in the round, a knitter can make the second and third rungs of the ladder– headbands and hats. When I first started knitting in the round, I poorly judged the circumference of a head, which lead to the creation of a small infinity scarf instead of a headband. However, knitting promotes innovation and fixing mistakes.I somehow managed to turn the scarf back into a headband by bunching up the extra fabric into a bow-like shape.
Blankets are next on the ladder. They are essentially really wide and elongated scarves that fit over an entire person and not just around a neck. Some blankets are made with different stitches to create patterns to make the project look intricate and unique.
Sweaters, socks and stuffed animals are at the top of the ladder. I have yet to delve into this area of knitting. Most of the patterns I’ve seen involve strange needles and stitches.I need to hone my skills before I set my sights on knitting my own sweaters that might be worn in public.
The knitting ladder seems daunting, but I have actually discovered knitting provides an outlet for relaxation at the end of the day. There is something about the rhythmic movement of the needles in my hands that brings me joy.
Sammy Ackerman, an MU sophomore and avid knitter since the age of eleven, said, “[Knitting] is a stress reliever… It’s relaxing because I can sit there and do it for two hours while the TV’s on, and I’m still getting something done.
Ackerman sells her Knittens (knitted mittens) at Quirks, an entrepreneurial store in the MU Student Center that sells student-made items. On average, a pair of mittens takes her three hours to complete. She is also a part of Knitwits, a group of MU knitters that meets once a week in Mark Twain residence hall to knit items for the less fortunate.
Ellise Verheyen, a sophomore and founder of Knitwits, created the club because she saw multiple students knitting and recognized that they could benefit the community with their skills. Every Thursday the group meets to knit items, such as baby blankets and hats, to give to homeless shelters.
Whether or not knitting is used for profit, stress relief or community service, it’s a growing fad that is seeping its way into the college community. The hobby will hopefully continue to grow with the existence of groups such as Knitwits.
One thing is certain, knitting is the only time it’s okay to share needles.