It’s understandable if knitting seems complicated from a distance. Without knowing much about it, it’s next to impossible to figure out how to use knitting needles to turn a ball of yarn into a sweater or a pair of booties all on your own.
Thankfully, there are millions of yarn artists online who provide tutorials and advice for all skill levels. With a little determination, and a dash of passion, too, you could end up knitting yourself a whole winter wardrobe. Not to mention picking up a pastime that will entertain you for decades to come. If you search a little deeper, you’ll also find that the world of knitting and yarn is full of tantalizing trivia. Try these four facts on for size.
1. Unknown Origins
Yarn is composed of organic material that degrades over time and reincorporates into the earth without leaving a trace. This is why the history of knitting is made up of anecdotal evidence from books and pictures preserved throughout the millennia. Nobody can say for sure when knitting began, but you can certainly play a part and stitch your way into its future history—check this out to find out how.
Garments that give you that warm and fuzzy feeling are made of a special type of yarn. It’s called chenille—which means ‘caterpillar’ in French—for its distinctively frizzy appearance. A few hundred years ago, craftspeople applied heat to the fabric to make it fuzzy. Nowadays, manufacturers wrap the fabric around lengths of twisted yarn and cut it to achieve the same look.
Chenille is a popular type of yarn to work with because its tiny hairs give it iridescence, or the quality of seeming to change colour as light hits it at different angles.
3. Health Benefits
It may not be talked about much in the media, but regular knitting benefits both body and mind. When it comes to your body, knitting does wonders for your motor functions, causing you to flex your fingers as a given project requires.
When it comes to your mind, browsing free knitting patterns online and making yourself something you really want—like a new toque or scarf—can recalibrate your focus and tap into energy sources you don’t even know you have.
4. A Little Lingo
Did you know that a yarn’s thickness is referred to as its weight? The Craft Yarn Council maintains a standard system that goes from zero to seven and assigns each weight a helpfully descriptive name.
- 0: Lace
- 1: Super Fine
- 2: Fine
- 3: Light
- 4: Medium
- 5: Bulky
- 6: Super Bulky
- 7: Jumbo
Look for the number on packages of yarn at your local yarn store. The packaging also has recommendations about what size of knitting needle or crochet hook to use for that particular weight.
This has only been a taste of the vast and intriguing history of knitting and yarn. As you explore new patterns and test yourself with new projects, don’t forget to learn from the footsteps of knitters who came before you.