Arts and Crafts - A Guide to Knitting

By: Francesca Fiori

Knitting is a type of craft in which a person uses a needle and yarn to create stitches. These stitches are made to create knitted fabric that is then made into any number of items, such as socks, afghans, hats, sweaters, or booties. Although needles are the most common method of knitting, machines may also be used. It is uncertain when knitting originated, however, some believe that it dates back to 1000 A.D. In 1527, the first professional knitting trade union was founded in Paris. At the time, the practice of knitting was performed primarily by men and the most common items that they knitted were socks and stockings. Knitting has gone through many different stages of popularity since that time, as other methods of creating fabric for clothing were developed. While it is still a common craft, it has since become a hobby or a means of relaxation for many people. Although in the past men were the main knitters, today it is predominately associated with women. In fact, approximately 36 percent of women know how to knit. There are still, however, men who continue to knit as a hobby, either alone to relax, with their spouse, or they become members of knitting groups. It is also a craft that can be taught to young children, who generally enjoy learning how to create items that they can wear or use in some way. In general, knitting can be enjoyed by the whole family, regardless of age or gender.

Knitting is a relatively inexpensive hobby and requires only a few basics to get started. At minimum, a person will need knitting needles, yarn, and scissors. There are several needle options. They may be straight and tapered on one end, or they may be straight and tapered on both ends. Another type of needle is circular in shape, however, at both ends it is straight and tapered. Needles are also available in different sizes, in both diameter and length. When a person uses a smaller diameter needle, he or she will have a tighter stitch. The larger the diameter of the knitting needle, the larger the stitch. Materials used to make the needles include metal, plastic, wood, or casein. Factors such as the type of yarn will affect what material a person uses for knitting. Physical problems with one's hands may also cause a person to favor a certain type of needle over another.

Although knitting is something that anyone can do, it is a skill that a person must first learn. There are several basic techniques that he or she will use to create various items. The plain, or knit, stitch and the purl stitch are two techniques that they will need to know how to perform. In addition, he or she will need to be taught how to do cast on, or create the first row of stitches, and how to cast off, or end the stitches. To learn how to knit a person can be taught either in class, by a friend or by a family member who knits. Knitting may even be self-taught, as there are many instructional books and knitting videos available.

Knitting for Kids

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