Knitting keeps the hands busy, and the mind at ease (once you get the hang of it). Multiple research studies show the brain releases oxytocin while knitting, helping you feel calm, relaxed and happy—all of which we could use a little bit more of these days. Here, we spoke with Alexandria local Danielle Romanetti, the owner of yarn and crochet supply store fibre space, about how to begin knitting.
Have you seen an uptick in interest from new clients since the pandemic began?
Yeah, we’ve sold a lot of internet kits. We actually sold out of one of the books, so we changed our kits to a new book that we could get steadily and since it’s such an extended book, with several projects in it, it moves through the crafts almost like classes. We’ve created a series of kits with it. Through kits one, two and three, you’re making fingerless gloves, a hat and a cowl. Those have been selling well, and people have been buying all three because they assume they’re going to have lots of time to learn new skills.
What are the best projects for beginners?
Normally, our “Learn to Knit” class starts with a scarf, because you’re learning the knits and purls (two kinds of stitches) and putting them together to create ribbing. The “Learn to Knit” kit we have right now starts with fingerless mitts and I really like that as a first product, something that you can complete a lot faster. Scarves are the same thing over and over again, so sometimes people get kind of bored or they lose interest and they put it down. We always recommend that you try to learn both the knit and the purl stitch when you’re starting out because you don’t want to get so proficient with just the knit stitch that when you learn purl it seems awkward. They’re both used all the time in knitting.
Why is knitting important, especially right now?
It helps you to feel calm and relaxed, and feel happiness and joy. It’s incredibly important that we have those types of activities in our lives right now. It’s a repetitive motion that can be very soothing because you feel like you’re accomplishing something, but at the same time, you’re sort of doing a mindless task, almost like a fidget spinner … It’s particularly helpful for my customers who are high-intensity, high-productivity, who tend to have a lot going on in their lives where they’re used to always being in motion, because knitting is sort of substituting that motion. You are at rest, your body is at rest and you can focus, but you’re still moving. You’re still being productive.
Romanetti’s 3 Tips for Beginners
• Sit correctly: “If you’re hunched over your needles in this super tense position, make sure to stop, roll your shoulders back and reposition yourself. Try to sit in a chair that’s supportive so you’re not bending your neck down to look at your needles.”
• Find a support system: Romanetti says that knitting really is about the community, whether that be friends who also knit, or a local yarn shop that holds classes. “They are your community spaces. They’re how you get support and advice; it’s really not a solo craft—it’s about connecting with other people.”
• Don’t give up: New knitters tend to have really loose or really tight stitches, according to Romanetti. “Remember that if it’s too tight or too loose, those are things that are going to improve as your hands become a little more automated with the motion.” Practice makes perfect!
This post originally appeared in our June/July 2020 print issue. For more at-home entertainment ideas, subscribe to our Things to Do newsletter.