How I Picked up Crochet and Knitting

When people first think of knitting, we might imagine a grandmother knitting a sweater for babies, children, adults, or maybe even you. Knitting is often seen as a “feminine” hobby reserved for older women, but knitting is so much more than these stereotypical assumptions.

In fact, there’s a wide age distribution of knitters and crocheters across the U.S. according to surveys done in the past (a somewhat recent report was done in 2014 which is summarized in this article). I also find it rather silly to think that knitting is a gendered activity.

When I think of knitting, I think of patience and creativity. When I was in high school, I had a conversation with a friend about a scarf that I was wearing. It was one of my first few projects when I began to teach myself how to crochet. I told her that crocheting was a really neat hobby and that you can make all sorts of things with just a ball of yarn. She seemed impressed, but went on to say “yeah I think that’s really cool. But if I wanted a beanie, I can just buy it”.

She’s not wrong. But I also felt that she overlooked why crocheting, knitting, or any kind of craft is worth pursuing. The time investment and process involved with making something with your own hands is rewarding. The end product is a visual representation of all the time you put into making it–something that you won’t get from purchasing a mass-manufactured beanie.

For me, knitting is a medium for exploring my creativity and learning how to breathe an exciting idea to life. I found it rewarding to see a sweater begin as a few skeins of yarn that eventually turned into a fabric, a sleeve, and finally a whole sweater.

I actually didn’t knit when I first worked with yarn. I first learned how to crochet when I was in my freshman year of high school. I bought a skein of brown yarn to use for a puppet for an English project.

After the school year ended, my first instinct was to repurpose the yarn. I knew a few people who used to crochet, so I asked a friend to lend me a crochet hook. Little did I know, this opened up a new love for crochet and eventually for knitting.

I became obsessed with learning as many stitches as I could through tons of youtube videos, slowly graduating from granny squares to scarves, hats, and amigurumi.

An amigurumi project I worked on in the past. I made my own pattern for these so stay tuned for the post!!

After a few years of crocheting countless of projects, I began to pick up knitting.

It took some time to get used to knitting but eventually I got the hang of it and ambitiously pursued multiple projects. My favorite few included infinity scarves with eyelets, gloves that actually fit my hand, and soon my very first sweater.

After I started college, it became more difficult for me to knit as often as I did in high school, but I recently picked it up again in the middle of my senior fall. Picking up crochet or knitting as a hobby can induce soothing effects caused by repetitive motions of knitting and purling your stitches, which may explain why I found solace in it during a stressful semester. There are a few reports like this one that share why knitting can have other several health benefits too!

Now that I’ve sold my soul to the physical sciences, pursuing creative hobbies like knitting has helped me stay grounded whenever I felt worn out from problem sets or research.

I’ve been working on a few projects these past few weeks and am excited to share a some that I’ve also worked on in the past, so I hope you look forward to my future posts. As always, thanks for tuning in and best wishes in everything!


Pattern Review: Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible by Hitomi Shida

Not too long ago, I received a knitting pattern book as a gift from a Secret Santa gathering (thanks Huy!). I had this book on my wishlist for about a year now and completely forgot about it until it was gifted to me.

I usually find patterns online (which ends up being a painstaking process that I willingly bring upon myself), so it was nice to have a physical copy that I could flip through.

More recently, I’ve had a difficult time trying to find advanced knitting patterns that both suited my taste and didn’t charge me $5 for a single one. I noticed a few floating around on Ravelry and Etsy, but I’d rather have access to a larger array of patterns if I wanted to seal the deal (as a college student on a tight budget)!

Hitomi Shida’s Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible takes the cake in terms of level and variety. I’m a huge fan of Japanese Knitting because of its intricate and delicate patterns, coupled with knitting diagrams that are easy to follow (once you figure out what each symbol means).

The Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible by Hitomi Shida, translated by Gayle Roehm.
The first pattern that I attempted!

The book features a variety of patterns that are categorized based on its characteristics and potential use (e.g. lacy patterns with bobbles, pattern panels, edging). The diagrams are clean, featuring numbered rows and columns to show how the pattern repeats.

Each stitch symbol can be found in the beginning of the book that defines each knitting abbreviation and how to make each type of stitch. The back of the book provides visuals for more complicated/non-conventional stitches (such as the one seen in row #13 centered on stitch #10 in the pattern I followed).

The patterns are not exactly for the faint hearted, as many of them have multiple left/right leaning decreases and yarn overs scattered everywhere with the usual knits and purls. It took some time to adjust to reading each row without flipping back to the stitch guide every two seconds, but once you get into the groove the process feels seamless (no pun intended)!

First repeat of the pattern. Features eyelets along knitted columns (look was achieved by knitting in the back loop instead of the forward loop) followed by a leaf-like pattern on top.
Another view. Bobbles were made using a crochet hook.

The pattern I attempted had eyelets everywhere, so blocking the fabric was a crucial step to do the final product justice. I never made bobbles before, let alone with a crochet hook, so attempting these for the first time was pretty fun to figure out.

I found that most of the patterns were extremely decorative and would make gorgeous pillow covers, scarves, and shawls. There is also a great selection of pattern panels that would be perfect for a sweater. The end of the book has a number of edging patterns which I’ve never incorporated in a project before, though they can definitely add an extra layer of intricateness and dimension to any kind of project!

I’d say that I’m pretty satisfied with the variety of patterns that the book offers. I was pleased to see that the diagrams translate well into the expected appearance of the fabric. I would strongly recommend checking out the book if you’ve been knitting for a while and are itching for a challenge (or if you’re new to knitting, it can serve as a motivation for you to continue knitting)!