Arts & Culture Corner

Knitting, Anyone? Learn a New Skill This Winter!

Last December, right before I left college for the holidays, I took a trip to the library. I wanted to find some activities to keep me busy during the break, so I picked up a couple of fiction books and also grabbed Veganomicon, the "bible” of plant-based cookbooks. Due to some mystery of the Dewey Decimal system, the knitting and crochet guides were in the same row as the cookbooks. Out of curiosity, I picked up a couple of those too.

I’m not a talented crafter, but I can never resist a good DIY activity. The day after I flew to my family's town, I purchased a few crochet and knitting needles (not yet knowing the difference between the two activities) and some colored spools of yarn from the local craft store. When I got home, I sat in my bed with my computer shut and my library books open.

The books had some really great patterns that I wanted to try. But with knitting needles in one hand and yarn in the other, I quickly realized that I didn’t know where to start.

The books offered some step-by-step guidance, but that didn’t really help. I needed an actual person to show me what to do. So I consulted YouTube. One video showed me how to knit and purl, so I used the technique to replicate the pattern in the book. I even put my own spin on it: the pattern was intended to make a long, traditional scarf, but I threaded the ends together to make a trendy circle scarf.

I’m by no means a good knitter, and the project took me two weeks to complete. But as you can see from the photo of my younger brother rocking the scarf, it ended up pretty successful.

A lot of people think that knitting and crocheting are for older housewives, but it’s time to drop that stigma. This is a creative, rewarding activity that anyone can benefit from, even if you’re not a crafter. I’m a 21-year-old, clumsy university student, and I like to make scarves.

Knitting was great, but I found it a little time-consuming, so I learned to crochet instead. I found plenty of tutorials on YouTube, including videos with crochet patterns. I made this beret for my grandmother in just a few hours. I also found a quick earwarmer tutorial that I really liked. I made two of them, a red one for me and green one for a friend. (That's me at the top of the page in the earwarmer.)

Both of these tutorials were for beginners, and there’s so much more on YouTube. It’s funny, I spent so much time working on knitting and crochet that I didn’t have time to try any Veganomicon recipes. But I did go back to my college town, a very frigid suburb of Chicago, with handmade winter gear that cost me next to nothing.

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to knit or crochet, but as winter settles back in, I’m definitely picking my needles back up.

Krislyn Placide is an intern at the Center for a New American Dream.

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