Knitting is a survival skill

Jun 18 2014 0 Comments Tags: knitting, sewing

I was lucky to go to school while the importance of teaching kids such life-skills as cooking, sewing and constructing things from wood and metal was still recognised. We spent several weeks in each class, several hours per week. I believe that many schools no longer teach these skills, which is a real shame, and the subject of another post entirely. My point here is that I learnt to sew when I was 11 and I got a bit of practice making different things. The school had the same sewing machines as my mother’s Bernina, so I was able to practice at home as well. My parents gave me a new Brother for my 21st birthday. I am not a brilliant sewer, but I am comfortable with cutting out and sewing fabric, especially simple projects like curtains, which can be pretty handy for making what we need and saving money.


While I learnt to knit around the same age, I never practiced much had never learnt to follow a pattern or any fancy stitches. I did not (and still do not) feel as comfortable with knitting, but I am forcing myself to learn.

Why bother to learn to knit when I can sew what I need? To some extent knitting and sewing cover different applications, but where there is overlap, I see several advantages to knitting:
  • Knitting is portable – you can take it with you nearly anywhere.
  • Knitting is quiet – I can knit in front of the TV or listen to the radio without drowning it out, as the sewing machine does.
  • Knitting is potentially more self-sufficient – with the right tools you can spin wool from fleece and knit the wool to make nearly any shape. If you can’t buy fabric, you can’t sew anything, and making fabric at home is not as simple as spinning fleece (not that I can do that yet!).
  • There are certain things that are suited to knitting rather than sewing, such as socks, that are high use items I would like to be able to make.
While there are certain large items that I would never attempt to knit, lately when I have “needed” something, like a cover for our tablet computer, or one of those fluffy seat-belt shoulder pad thingies, that I could easily sew up in minutes, I have decided to knit instead. Even though it takes longer to knit, it is an opportunity to practice, and I am seeing the results. I am getting faster and more confident.

If you are new to knitting, my advice is to look for simple projects that you might normally buy or make another way, and knit them instead. The simple things that I have made include a warm wooly headband, button-up snood (just a short scarf really), the cover for our tablet and a seat-belt shoulder pad. I then tried out more technical patterns such a snood “in-the-round” on circular needles, fingerless mittens, socks and a vest. Now I’m working on an alpaca shawl in a lacy stitch that uses slip stitches, and knitting two together, something I never thought I would be able to do when I first started.

My next step is to learn to crochet with wool (rather than just finger-crocheting rag rugs!).

What do you think? Do you choose between sewing and knitting?




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