Culture

Free knitting pattern from fiber guru Clara Parkes, plus loads of tips for your holiday crafting season

A photograph of the author, Molly Mitchell.

By Molly Mitchell

September 11, 2019

Free knitting pattern from fiber guru Clara Parkes, plus loads of tips for your holiday crafting season

In This Article

  • If you're going to have a handmade holiday this year, the time to start crafting is now!
  • Enjoy a free knitting hat pattern and insights from knitting guru Clara Parkes.
  • Knitting is having a renaissance right now, possibly due to its significant physical and mental health benefits.
  • Read about amazing women in Peru who used knitting to overcome poverty in their community.

Knitting is back, and that’s a fact. Whether due to a social media effect, a generation desperately stressed out and looking for analog relief or some other mysterious influence, the fact remains that a fifth of women under the age of 45 are at least interested in taking up needles and crafting (and a surprising 17 percent of men aged 16 – 24). And nine out of ten knitters agree: there’s just something magical about it once you’re hooked.

Whether knitting is old hat for you, or you’re just knit-curious, we’ve got the goods in this week’s roundup.

A person's head viewed from the back wearing Clara's Hat.
Clara's Hat is perfect for knitters who are looking for an easy, yet fun, project that knits up quickly.

Hand-Knit Holiday

Is there anything more classic than a hand-knit gift for the holidays? The giftee will love the personal touch and effort that went into it, not to mention the practicality—a gift they can actually use! If you want to knit a gift for the holidays, the time to get your project on your needles is now. Knitting guru Clara Parkes graciously gave us this exclusive pattern and talked to us about her knitting journey. Read for insights from a master!

Wool 101

The world of fiber is wide and deep, going well beyond sheep’s wool! Once upon a time, dog fur knitting was a real thing. People have been using all kinds of animal fibers for their crafting for eons, including rabbits, goats, alpacas and yes, dogs. Each fiber has its own unique qualities and history worth exploring.

From Peru with Love

This community in Peru wielded their needles against the forces of poverty and won.

Knitting with alpaca wool is an old art among indigenous peoples in the Andes, and this community’s story bridges ancient tradition with making art and a living in the modern world.

An illustration of a person sitting crossed-legged and knitting, with a red yarn ball for a head.
Many find the knitting experience similar to meditation or zen practices. Illustration by Edel Rodriguez via Lion's Roar.

Knitting as Self-Care

Need convincing to get started or keep going? Knitting is good for your mind and body. Health benefits of knitting can include

  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Distraction from chronic pain
  • Prevention of cognitive decline from aging

 Not to mention the creative satisfaction of making something with your hands, watching your progress and the pride of a finished project!

Knitting is Coding

Physicist and applied mathematician Dr. Elisabetta Matsumoto realized that knitting is a form of coding, and that yarn is a programmable material. Research into this new “knit theory” and its relation to mathematics’ knot theory (knitting is a series of knots, after all) could have applications ranging from wearable technology to tissue scaffolding—replacing or improving biological tissues for medical purposes.

Learn to Knit

Ready to get started? There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s totally worth it if you keep after it! Here are 3 ways to learn: 

  • From a human being. Probably the best way to learn is from someone who already knows, who can show you in real time how to do it and guide you through common mistakes.
  • The internet is a great replacement for people if you don’t have a teacher handy. There are many, many written and video tutorials. I recommend video, because it’s easier to understand what’s happening on your needles in 3 dimensions that way.
  • Learn from a book. Book-learning is the classic way to learn, after all. There are lots of great knitting tutorial books, and they’ll all have illustrations to help you along. Try Elizabeth Zimmerman’s The Opinionated Knitter if you’re interested in some truly delightful writing to liven up your tutorial.

Once you get started, Ravelry is the go-to online knitting community for all your pattern and yarn needs. Happy knitting!

Donate a Knitter's Basket

Animals like sheep and alpacas provide the fibers crafting communities around the world need to overcome poverty through knitting, weaving, crochet and other crafts. You can donate a Knitter's Basket through Heifer to provide families with sheep, alpacas, llamas or angora rabbits.