Knitting For Self Care
Can we all put our feet up, take a deep breath and just sit still for a moment? The past few months have been a nonstop flurry of activity: mostly good but challenging at times. I’m ready for 2018. I’m ready to step forward and in a new direction, but I’d like to do so deliberately and without feeling rushed. Since my knitting life often mimics my daily life, I want my knitting projects to be thoroughly enjoyable. That means, I want the fibers to feel great on my hands. I want the stitches to be relaxed but mentally stimulating (meaning I want a bit of pattern without it being too tricky). I want the finished object to something I can effortlessly throw on – and I want these projects to be for me – or for someone who is really good to me.
Here are some projects that seem ideal for beginning 2018 with lots of love, compassion and care for ourselves.
One of my favorite new yarns I discovered in 2017 was Brooklyn Tweed’s Arbor. Brooklyn Tweed unveils new yarns and patterns with lots of thought and care. You can read about Arbor’s creation on the Brooklyn Tweed website (a knitting nerd like me highly recommends you do this). In the meantime, I can tell you that Arbor is made with 100% American-raised, breed specific wool that is soft and supple. Lots of twist means this yarn practically bounces off your fingers as you knit with it. Meanwhile, your finished objects will be soft and sturdy. This yarn comes in gorgeous, solid tones and it offers great stitch definition when used with color work, cables and other stitch patterns.
I’ve previously mentioned projects like the Tincture Hat, Hatch (a not-so-basic ribbed hat) and the Guernsey Wrap as great projects made in Arbor. I’d just like to reiterate that these projects are meditative without being too basic.
A sweater project I have recommended before is Harlowe, a relaxed v-neck pullover. This piece is knit up in a broken rib – which means one row is all knitting, while the next row alternates knits and purls. Drop shoulder construction makes for easy construction and seaming of sleeves. This sweater is my weekend workhorse.
Recently, our very own Kathryn knit up the Library Vest (pattern by Churchmouse Tea and Yarns) in Arbor, and this is another wonderful project for Arbor. This simple piece is knit up in simple stockinette stitch and is, for the most part, a relaxing knit. A little thought is required when you get to pockets, armhole and neckline shaping. I love that this piece is easily adjustable for length. While the short version is very school-girl chic, I am finding myself craving the longer version to wear over leggings (another act of self-love!).
I’d also recommend projects like the High Pines Cowl and the Vignette Cowl, which are relatively quick projects that allow you to have some fun with cables (meditative with a little challenge). Arbor’s texture will give you amazing stitch definition, and this is an ideal yarn for cabling given it’s natural elasticity.
Shibui’s Birch is a new addition to their yarn line-up, and working with this yarn was one of my favorite projects I knit in 2017 (Odessa by Shellie Anderson). Worked up in stockinette stitch in the round in a combination of Pebble and Birch, this soft and textured combination knits up as a worsted weight fabric. Fresco is another very wearable pullover knit in Birch. Lots of squishy garter stitch makes this flattering and simple sweater cozy and light, all at once.
Meanwhile, Icon is a color block wrap poked with Birch held single. Triangular blocks of color are formed with German short-rows (the best kind of short row) and this generous wrap is incredibly soft and luxurious. With lots of stockinette stitch, this piece is primarily a simple, and relaxing knit, and it gives advanced beginners the opportunity to learn and master the German short-row!
A couple other smaller projects featuring Birch are the Slouch Cowl and Slouch 3 (a hat) by Elizabeth Elliot. These two projects alternate use of Birch and Pebble, creating a subtle stripe in undulating lines. Particularly the Slouch Cowl is another opportunity to have some fun with short rows (German ones, of course!). The Cowl uses two skeins each of Birch and Pebble while the hat uses one skein each of these two yarns. So you can enjoy knitting with these divine fibers without feeling like it’s going to last forever.
The Endless Wrap is a project that jumped back on our radar after a couple of gift recipients came in wearing this monstrously gorgeous wrap right after Christmas. One of our prolific knitters made four (FOUR) of these ginormous scarves as gifts. Knit up in Blue Sky Fibers’ Woolstok, has a lot of texture – some of which is simple and some of which requires a little more attention. However, throughout the course of this project, it’s easy to memorize and anticipate what comes next, as it is a seemingly endless project. We’ve also seen this project knit up in Pure Bliss’s Falkland, which has become a favorite worsted/aran at Wool & Grace over the past 18 months.
Falkland is an incredibly soft and easy yarn to work with, so I recommend this yarn for your any project you want to wear the heck out of. Lori Versaci’s Sequences was made many times over in this yarn, and it’s been a popular choice for snuggly sweaters. We currently have one of our Straight & Arrow KAL participants making this open cardigan in this yarn, and it’s shaping up to be the type of sweater that you can’t help but wrap yourself up in.
Whatever you choose as your first cast-on of 2018, be sure to choose something that will feel good to knit and wear, through and through. Make it relaxing with a hint of challenge. Work with fibers that feel good on your hands and great on your body. And make something that is irresistible to wear. All of this will add up to you doing something that will make you feel good throughout the process of making it and after it’s complete, and in the end, will be an act of self-care kindness that you deserve!