Once, on a brief excursion to drop off overdue books, a friend described the English Faculty Library as full of people with terrible knitwear and no job prospects. For the sake of my own sanity/future livelihood I have to deny that there’s any truth in the latter description, but the knitwear situation has empirical visual proof.
Perhaps the data is proving less conclusive this term, as the appearance of sunlight leads the daring to bare a little ankle, or perhaps some forearm, but Michaelmas and Hilary were undoubtedly non-stop knitwear season. The seemingly infinite number of Primark jumpers out there – and the fact that employing your gran to help you follow the whims of fashion is not really fair – means that many people have taken it upon themselves to learn to knit.
This resurgence of DIY clothing is not limited to knitting, however; knitting is analogous to soft drugs – you try a little and enjoy it, you want to try a little more – and you soon find yourself addicted to all kinds of hardcore craft. Knitting is a gateway drug.
The successes have certainly been varied: some have created works of art, others have achieved little more than a holey scarf. Many struggle to proceed beyond knit stitch in a straight line, but the primary goal of not looking the same as everyone else has still been attained. Intermediate knitters can confidently purl and even cable knit, to the awe of mere knit-stitchers. The advanced can knit everything – even underwear.
One of the best things about knitting is the stitch and bitch: a fairly frequent get-together of all your craft-making friends to both create something and gossip. You can have variations on the same theme, such as, my favourite, ‘Disney and Crafts’. It may sound ridiculous, but after a week of serious thought and essay writing, doing something practical and/or silly is a perfect rejection of work-related hardships. Disney and Crafts has been so successful in my college that one male friend learnt to knit entirely from scratch, just to be allowed to participate.
Knitting is no longer the domain of old people with nothing better to do. It’s quirky, individual, and surprisingly sociable. Even if all you’ve made is a holey scarf, the feeling of having made something yourself is fantastic. It also gives you something useful to do on long car journeys. Online tutorials are easy to find and although it does take a while to make something, if you start now, you might have an entire scarf by Michaelmas.