Knitting is not just for nanas!

Written by Georgia, Girlguiding Sittingbourne division

As you can guess from the title, this blog post is about knitting.

I know what you’re thinking: “why does a 19 year old knit?” Well, the answer is that I’m teaching myself to knit for the personal skills development part of my Queen’s Guide award (QGA). I come from a family of knitters, and I thought it was about time I learned how to knit properly after my failed attempt when I was seven – I’m pretty sure the scarf I was making is still in the drawer at my Nan’s house, half finished!

For those who don’t know, for the personal skills development section of the QGA you must complete at least 60 hours of a skill you've chosen to learn or develop further over a 12 month period. Over the 12 months, you should be trying to set and complete goals for yourself in order to challenge your development and help yourself achieve more. For my QGA skill development, I am aiming to complete all the old Girlguiding knitter badges with the help of my mum’s old handbooks and the specifications the lovely people at Girlguiding HQ have sent to me. So far, I’ve smashed the 60-hour minimum in about 4 months so I'm hoping I might even rack up double the minimum by the time I finish the 12 months next May.

Knitting can be a really great way of keeping yourself occupied if it’s a rainy day or if you’re someone who can’t watch TV on your laptop without doing something else - or just to fill some time between doing things. I’ve found that if I craft while I catch up on TV in my room, it stops me munching through all of the snacks I bring myself to get me through my uni coursework. It's apparently good for your health too, as it can be used as stress relief. There are medical journals that say it helps fight dementia.

So, if you want to give it a go, I’d say just do it! It’s not the easiest thing, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be flying. Here are my tips:

1) Supplies

If you know you’re just giving it a go, and not 100% sure you’re going to like it, don’t go out and buy all of the knitting stuff you can see. Ask around people you know, like family, and chances are they’ll have some bits to get you going before you fully commit. With my family being knitters, we had hundreds of knitting needles in our craft box. But if you are buying new supplies to start off, don’t buy the expensive ones! Some supplies can end up being pretty expensive so shop around a little - you don’t want to buy a set of needles for £5 if you’re only going to use them once, especially when you could get the same pair for £1.50 somewhere else!

2) Wool

The cost of buying wool and yarn can rack up after a while, especially if you want to get a variety of colours like me. Instead of buying straight from high street shops, why not try charity shops or markets first? I managed to get 5 decent sized balls for £1 the other day at a local charity shop, which would have cost something like £6-7 somewhere else.

3) Getting started

Start by learning to cast on and do a knit stitch – those are the main things you’ll need to know when you start. Once you know those, try a purl stitch. Then learn to cast off your stitches, and once you know those, try an easy pattern. Easy and free patterns can be found online in lots of places; everything I have knitted so far has been from a free pattern. Online videos are amazing when you need help to do something, and there are hundreds of tutorials out there to get you started.

4) Charity

If you want a reason to knit or want to help others with your crafts, why not knit for charity? Charities like Age UK (with innocent smoothies), the RSPCA and local hospitals all use knitted donations to help those in need. Only good at knitting squares? No problem, ask your local hospital if they accept bonding squares (pairs of knitted squares, of which one goes to an unwell new-born and the other to the mother/parents to help them bond). You could even use knitting as a fundraising idea – like how many smoothie hats could be knitted in a meeting!

5) Just give it a go

You've got nothing to lose, and you might find it's something you enjoy and you’re good at! If that’s the case, keep going! Knitting isn’t just about knitting scarfs and jumpers - why not make a coffee cup warmer, or a teddy bear, or even some baby booties.

If you do give it a go and have Instagram, why not start the hashtag #KnitWithTheHive to post about your knits and inspire others? Some of my knits will be on there soon!

That’s it from me for a bit, so goodbye for now!

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