The Craze to Cast On

Once, knitting was viewed as an "old lady's sport," but now people are reconsidering that label. From preschool classrooms to college campuses, younger folks are yearning for yarn, and the time-honored craft is gaining momentum.


Everybody's doing it! Knitting has reemerged as a popular pastime.

In a Buffalo, New York, Montessori school, children learn the steps from "sheep to shawl" with the help of a small stuffed sheep named Shearson. "My goal was to make them think about what they're wearing. Clothing doesn't just come from Target," says Heather Lodinsky, a 39-year-old knitting teacher, who even knitted her own wedding gown. She's inspired about 100 children in her eight years of teaching finger knitting and related topics.

At Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics High School in New York, students saw assistant principal Devorah Zamansky knitting and expressed an interest in learning how. Starting last February, an informal knitting clutch gathered at lunchtime and grew to 40 students by June. Now it has become a knitting club, with students from 14 to 18 years old, spanning all academic levels. Devorah appealed to knitting groups on the Internet for supplies and soon found her office heaped in boxes of donated yarn and hundreds of pairs of needles.

In western Maine, women over age 60 taught 10-year-old Girl Scouts to knit scarves for teddy bears that were donated to comfort children in crisis. In California, San Diego Community College District Continuing Education enrolled 22 students who learned to knit without a pattern in an Improvisational Knitting class. According to class instructor Colleen Davis, "Knitting is now a fashion item. People want wearable art."

Young celebrities also speak to knitting's resurgence. Julia Roberts "stitches her stuff" in the movie "America's Sweethearts." Actresses Cameron Diaz, Jodie Foster, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Winona Ryder as well as models Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Amber Valletta have all joined the knitting network.

For information about membership-oriented knitting groups, contact: The Knitting Guild of America, 2692 Richmond Road, Suite 205, Lexington, KY 40509; 800-274-6034.

The Knitting Guild of America

Knitting can provide personal satisfaction, a chance to socialize, and warm gifts for those in need.

In the impoverished Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, knitting has captured the attention of Lakota Indians. Knitters from all over the country have supplied finished goods (blankets, hats, and mittens), and now the residents are learning to knit. Janet Ramsey Conrad travels to Pine Ridge from Pennsylvania each summer to teach knitting and encourage self-sufficiency. Last year, 10 people showed up. This year, 40 people came to learn, from grandmothers to children as young as 6 years old. Each student went home with starter yarn and needles -- even a handmade knitted gift -- in hopes they'd practice and develop their knitting skills.

Craft Yarn Council of America substantiates the surging trend. According to recent tracking research,* the number of new knitters and crocheters has increased markedly over the last seven years. Of an estimated 38 million knitters and/or crocheters 18 years or older, the number under age 35 has increased from 3 percent in 1994 to 15 percent in 2000. Craft Yarn Council has developed a Web site including projects, how-to illustrations, and where to find yarn and crafts stores.

Craft Yarn Council of America

Knitting ... the new comfort craft.

The Knitting Guild of America (TKGA) in Lexington, Kentucky, offers similar evidence. Since January 1, 2001, the organization has signed on 989 new members. In September 2001, TKGA introduced a Learn to Knit Starter Kit (sold in Michael's and other retail crafts stores) geared toward knitters ages 20 to 40. Following the attacks of September 11, retail stores reported a spike in yarn sales. According to Susan Brandt, director of communications at the Hobby Industry Association, "People take solace in staying busy and doing things with their hands."

The Knitting Guild of America

Besides the personal satisfaction they get, people are knitting to comfort those in need. Knitting guilds across the country are pooling their talents to benefit others: making blankets for victims of the terrorist attacks, hats for chemotherapy patients, and toys for needy children. One guild of 22 women knit 1,800 items in just under two years! Bottom line, knitting is making a well-deserved comeback. For building self-esteem, encouraging social interaction, and contributing to the well-being of countless communities, the craze to cast on fits like a glove.

To get started knitting, check out our sweater projects on the following page. And if you'd rather crochet, we offer two versions of a crocheted sweater as well.

To donate finished knitted goods to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, contact: Naphtali, 1227 Clearbrook Road, West Chester, PA 19380. Phone: 610-436-0145. *Source: Research commissioned by Craft Yarn Council of America, conducted by Research Incorporated of Atlanta, Georgia.

Needle size and yarn weight give each sweater a distinctive look.

Skill Level: Beginner

Sizes: XS (S, M, L, XL, XXL) The pattern is written for the smallest size with changes for larger sizes in parentheses. When only one number is given, it applies to all sizes. Note: For ease in working, before you begin the pattern, circle all numbers pertaining to your size.

Finished Measurements: Bust = 32 (36, 40, 44, 48, 52)" Length = 22 (22-1/2, 23, 23-1/2, 24, 24-1/2)"

Gauge: In stockinette stitch (knit on right side, purl on wrong side) with larger needles, 18 stitches and 24 rows = 4"/10cm. TAKE TIME TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE.

What You Need:
  • Lion Brand Wool-Ease, Art. 620, 80 percent acrylic/20 percent wool, worsted weight yarn (197 yards per skein): 4 (5, 5, 6, 7, 7) balls of Blue Heather (107)
  • Size 8 (5mm) knitting needles or size needed to obtain gauge
  • Size 6 (4mm) knitting needles
  • Tapestry needle
Instructions:

1. Back: Beginning at the lower edge with smaller needles, cast on 72 (81, 90, 99, 108, 117) stitches. Knit 8 rows for garter-stitch band. Change to larger needles. Beginning with a purl row, work in stockinette stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row) until piece measures approximately 15 inches from beginning ending with a purl row.

2. Armhole Shaping: At the beginning of the next 2 rows, bind off 5 stitches. Continue in stockinette stitch on remaining 62 (71, 80, 89, 98, 107) stitches to approximately 21 (21-1/2, 22, 22-1/2, 23, 23-1/2)" from beginning ending with a knit row.

3. Neckband: Row 1 (wrong side): Purl 15 (19, 22, 26, 30, 34) stitches, knit center 32 (33, 36, 37, 38, 39) stitches, purl to end. Row 2 and each following right side row: Knit. Row 3: Purl 14 (18, 21, 25, 29, 33) stitches, knit 34 (35, 38, 39, 40, 41) sts, purl to end. Row 5: Purl 13 (17, 20, 24, 28, 32) stitches, knit 36 (37, 40, 41, 42, 43) stitches, purl to end. Row 7: Purl 12 (16, 19, 23, 27, 31) stitches, knit 38 (39, 42, 43, 44, 45) stitches, purl to end.

4. With the right side facing, bind off knitwise and loosely.

5. Front: Work as for Back, shaping armholes as before, until piece measures approximately 19 (19-1/2, 20, 20-1/2, 21, 21-1/2)" from beginning ending with a knit row. Work Neckband rows 1-7.

6. Neck Shaping: On the next right side row, knit 17 (21, 24, 28, 32, 36) stitches, bind off the center 28 (29, 32, 33, 34, 35) stitches, knit to end. Right Shoulder: Purl 12 (16, 19, 23, 27, 31) knit 5; turn. Knit across next row. Repeat these 2 rows until piece measures approximately 22 (22-1/2, 23, 23-1/2, 24, 24-1/2)" from beginning ending with a wrong side row. Bind off loosely and knitwise.

7. Left Shoulder: With the wrong side facing, join yarn at neck edge; knit 5, purl to end. Knit across next row. Repeat last 2 rows to same length as Right Shoulder ending with a wrong side row. Bind off knitwise and loosely.

8. Sleeves (make two): Beginning at the lower edge with smaller needles, cast on 41 (41, 46, 46, 49, 49) stitches. Knit 8 rows for border. Change to larger needles and purl across next row. Working in stockinette stitch, increase 1 stitch (knit in front and in back of the same stitch) each edge now and then every 8th row 10 (10, 11, 4, 2, 0) times more; then every 6th row 0 (2, 1, 10, 13, 17) times. Work even on the 63 (67, 72, 76, 81, 85) stitches to approximately 18 * (19, 19-1/2, 19-1/2, 19-1/2, 20)" from beginning ending with a purl row. Bind off loosely and knitwise.

9. Finishing: Pin sweater pieces to measurements onto a flat surface. Cover with damp towels and leave to dry. Join shoulder seams. Set in sleeves, sewing the bound off stitches on body to sides of upper sleeves. Join underarm and side seams. Weave in loose ends on wrong side of fabric.

Enlarge Image Even a beginning knitter can achieve these stylish results.

Skill Level: Beginner

Sizes: XS (S, M, L, XL, XXL) The pattern is written for the smallest size with changes for larger sizes in parentheses. When only one number is given, it applies to all sizes. Note: For ease in working, before you begin the pattern, circle all numbers pertaining to your size.

Finished Measurements: Bust = 32 (36, 40, 44, 48, 52)" Length = 22 (22-1/2, 23, 23-1/2, 24, 24-1/2)"

Gauge: In stockinette stitch (knit on right side, purl on wrong side) with larger needles, 14 stitches and 20 rows = 4"/10cm. TAKE TIME TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE.

What You Need:
  • Lion Brand Homespun, Art. 790, 98 percent acrylic/2 percent polyester, bulky weight yarn (185 yards per skein): 3 (4, 4, 5, 5, 5) skeins of Barrington (336)
  • Size 10 (6mm) knitting needles or size needed to obtain gauge
  • Size 8 (5mm) knitting needles
  • Yarn needle
Instructions:
Note the measurements that apply to your sweater before beginning to knit. (Click to enlarge.)

1. Back: Beginning at the lower edge with smaller needles, cast on 56 (63, 70, 77, 84, 91) stitches. Knit 6 rows for garter-stitch band. Change to larger needles. Beginning with a purl row, work in stockinette stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row) until piece measures approximately 15 inches from beginning ending with a purl row.

2. Armhole Shaping: At the beginning of the next 2 rows, bind off 4 stitches. Continue in stockinette on remaining 48 (55, 62, 69, 76, 83) stitches to approximately 21 (21-1/2, 22, 22-1/2, 23, 23-1/2)" from beginning ending with a knit row.

3. Neckband: Row 1 (wrong side): Purl 11 (14, 17, 20, 23, 26) stitches, knit 26 (27, 28, 29, 30, 31) stitches, purl to end. Row 2 and each following right side row: Knit. Row 3: Purl 10 (13, 16, 19, 22, 25), knit 28 (29, 30, 31, 32, 33), purl to end. Row 5: Purl 9 (12, 15, 18, 21, 24), knit 30 (31, 32, 33, 34, 35), purl to end.

4. With the right side facing, bind off knitwise and loosely.

5. Front: Work as for Back until piece measures approximately 19 (19-1/2, 20, 20-1/2, 21, 21-1/2)" from beginning ending with a knit row. Work Neckband rows 1-5.

6. Neck Shaping: On the next right side row, knit 13 (16, 19, 22, 25, 28) stitches, bind off the center 22 (23, 24, 25, 26, 27) stitches, knit to end. Right Shoulder: Purl 9 (12, 15, 18, 21, 24), knit 4. Knit across next row. Repeat last 2 rows until piece measures approximately 22 (22-1/2, 23, 23-1/2, 24, 24-1/2)" from beginning ending with a wrong side row. Bind off knitwise and loosely.

7. Left Shoulder: With the wrong side facing, join yarn at neck edge. Knit 4, purl to end. Knit across next row. Repeat last 2 rows to same length as Right Shoulder, ending with a wrong side row. Bind off knitwise and loosely.

8. Sleeves (make two): Beginning at the lower edge with smaller needles, cast on 31 (32, 34, 35, 37, 38) stitches. Knit 6 rows for border. Change to larger needles and purl across next row. Working in stockinette stitch, increase 1 stitch (knit in front and in back of the same stitch) each edge now. Then increase 1 stitch each edge every 10th row 3 (2, 0, 0, 0, 0) times, every 8th row 5 (7, 8, 5, 2, 1) times, and every 6th row 0 (0, 2, 6, 10, 12) times. Work even on the 49 (52, 56, 59, 63, 66) stitches to approximately 181/2 (19, 19-1/2, 19-1/2, 19-1/2, 20)" from beginning ending with a purl row. Bind off loosely and knitwise.

9. Finishing: Join shoulder seams. Set in sleeves, sewing the bound off stitches on body to sides of upper sleeves. Join underarm and side seams. Weave in loose ends on wrong side of fabric.

Show off a sweater you made yourself.

Skill Level: Beginner

Sizes: XS (S, M, L, XL, XXL) The pattern is written for the smallest size with changes for larger sizes in parentheses. When only one number is given, it applies to all sizes. Note: For ease in working, before you begin the pattern, circle all numbers pertaining to your size.

Finished Measurements: Bust = 32 (36, 40, 44, 48, 52)" Length = 22 (22-1/2, 23, 23-1/2, 24, 24-1/2)"

Gauge: In single crochet, 16 stitches and 22 rows = 4"/10cm. TAKE TIME TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE.

What You Need:
  • Lion Brand Wool-Ease Sportweight, Art. 660, 80 percent acrylic/20 percent wool yarn (435 yards per skein): 3 (4, 4, 5, 5, 6) skeins of Purple (144)
  • Size 8/H (5.00mm) aluminum crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge
  • Tapestry needle
Instructions:

1. Back: Beginning at the lower edge, chain 65 (73, 81, 89, 97, 105). Row 1 (right side): Single crochet in second chain from hook and in each chain across * 64 (72, 80, 88, 96, 104) stitches; turn. Row 2: Chain 1, single crochet in each single crochet across; turn. Repeat Row 2 until piece measures approximately 15 inches from beginning ending with a wrong side row. Fasten off.

2. Armhole Shaping: With the right side facing, join yarn with a slip stitch in 5th stitch from right edge. Chain 1, single crochet in same stitch as joining and in each stitch across leaving last 4 stitches unworked; turn. Work even on remaining 56 (64, 72, 80, 88, 96) stitches to approximately 22 (22-1/2, 23, 23-1/2, 24, 24-1/2)" from beginning. Fasten off.

3. Front: Work as for Back to approximately 20 (20-1/2, 21, 21-1/2, 22, 22-1/2)" from beginning ending with a wrong side row.

4. Left Shoulder: Chain 1, single crochet in each of first 16 (19, 22, 26, 29, 32) stitches; turn. Work even on these stitches until piece measures same as Back. Fasten off.

5. Neck and Right Shoulder: With the right side facing, skip the center 24 (26, 28, 28, 30, 32) stitches for neck. Join yarn with a slip stitch in the next stitch. Chain 1, single crochet in the same stitch as joining and in each remaining stitch across; turn. Work even on the 16 (19, 22, 26, 29, 32) stitches to same length as Left Shoulder. Fasten off.

6. Sleeves (make two): Beginning at the lower edge, chain 37 (37, 41, 41, 45, 45). Row 1 (right side): Single crochet in second chain from hook and in each chain across * 36 (36, 40, 40, 44, 44) stitches; turn. Row 2: Chain 1, single crochet in each single crochet across; turn. Rep Row 2 for 3 times more. Increase Row: Chain 1, working 2 single crochet in first and last stitch, single crochet in each stitch across * 38 (38, 42, 42, 46, 46) stitches; turn. Repeat Increase Row every 10th row 9 (0, 0, 0, 0, 0) times, every 8th row 0 (10, 11, 6, 6, 0) times, and every 6th row 0 (1, 0, 7, 7, 15) times. Work even on the 56 (60, 64, 68, 72, 76) stitches to approximately 18-1/2 (19, 19-1/2, 19-1/2, 19-1/2, 20)" from beginning. Fasten off.

7. Finishing: Join shoulder seams. Set in sleeves, sewing the skipped stitches on body to sides of upper sleeves. Join underarm and side seams. With the right side facing, join yarn with a slip stitch at neck edge near left shoulder seam. Slip stitch evenly around neck working a chain 1 at each corner on the front. At end, fasten off. Weave in loose ends on wrong side of fabric.

The larger crochet hook creates a different effect.

Skill Level: Beginner

Sizes: XS (S, M, L, XL, XXL) The pattern is written for the smallest size with changes for larger sizes in parentheses. When only one number is given, it applies to all sizes. Note: For ease in working, before you begin the pattern, circle all numbers pertaining to your size.

Finished Measurements: Bust = 32 (36, 40, 44, 48, 52)" Length = 22 (22-1/2, 23, 23-1/2, 24, 24-1/2)"

Gauge: In single crochet, 10 stitches and 10 rows = 4"/10cm. TAKE TIME TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE.

What You Need:
  • Lion Brand Homespun, Art. 790, 98 percent acrylic/2 percent polyester yarn (185 yards per skein): 4 (5, 5, 6, 6, 7) skeins of Waterfall (329)
  • Size 10-1/2/K (6.5mm) aluminum crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge
  • Yarn needle
Instructions:

1. Back: Beginning at the lower edge, chain 41 (46, 51, 56, 61, 66). Row 1 (right side): Single crochet in second chain from hook and in each chain across * 40 (45, 50, 55, 60, 65) stitches; turn. Row 2: Chain 1, single crochet in each single crochet across; turn. Repeat Row 2 until piece measures approximately 15 inches from beginning ending with a wrong side row. Fasten off.

2. Armhole Shaping: With the right side facing, join yarn with a slip stitch in third stitch from right edge. Chain 1, single crochet in same stitch as joining and in each stitch across leaving last 2 stitches unworked; turn. Work even on remaining 36 (41, 46, 51, 56, 61) stitches to approximately 22 (221/2, 23, 231/2, 24, 241/2)" from beginning. Fasten off.

3. Front: Work as for Back to approximately 19-1/2 (20, 20-1/2, 21, 21-1/2, 22)" from beginning ending with a wrong side row; turn.

4. Left Shoulder: Chain 1, single crochet in each of first 10 (12, 14, 16, 18, 20) stitches; turn. Work even on these stitches until piece measures same as Back. Fasten off.

5. Neck and Right Shoulder: With the right side facing, skip the center 16 (17, 18, 19, 20, 21) stitches for neck. Join yarn with a slip stitch in the next stitch. Chain 1, single crochet in the same stitch as joining and in each remaining stitch across; turn. Work even on the 10 (12, 14, 16, 18, 20) stitches to same length as Left Shoulder. Fasten off.

6. Sleeves (make two): Beginning at the lower edge, chain 24 (24, 26, 26, 28, 28). Row 1 (right side): Single crochet in second chain from hook and in each chain across * 23 (23, 25, 25, 27, 27) sts; turn. Row 2: Chain 1, single crochet in each single crochet across; turn. Increase Row: Chain 1, 2 single crochet in first stitch, single crochet in each stitch across ending 2 single crochet in last stitch * 25 (25, 27, 27, 29, 29) stitches; turn. Repeat Increase Row every 4th row 0 (0, 0, 5, 5, 8) times, every 6th row 4 (6, 6, 3, 3, 1) time(s), and every 8th row 1 (0, 0, 0, 0, 0) time. Work even on the 35 (37, 39, 43, 45, 47) stitches until piece measures approximately 18-1/2 (19, 19-1/2 , 19-1/2 , 19-1/2 , 20)" from beginning. Fasten off.

7. Finishing: Join shoulder seams. Set in sleeves, sewing the skipped stitches on body to sides of upper sleeves. Join underarm and side seams. With the right side facing, join yarn with a slip stitch at neck edge near left shoulder. Slip stitch evenly around neck working a chain 1 at each corner on the front. At end, fasten off. Weave in loose ends on wrong side of fabric.

It's always been my experience that once you feel comfortable with knitting or crocheting, it becomes as natural as writing or reading. Getting to the point of being comfortable is another matter entirely. Many times I've heard someone say, "I can't learn to knit or crochet. I'm too awkward to master a skill with my hands." These comments are untrue.

I've taught knitting for many years and have never had a student who wanted to learn who couldn't master the skill. I thought one person was going to break that record, but she persevered--and she's now an avid knitter!

If I polled my knitting buddies (and I have many) about what inspires them to knit, the answers would be varied. Some of my friends enjoy sharing with a community of knitters and crocheters who have the same passion. Others find total satisfaction in creating an end product they can wear, give as gifts, or use to decorate their home. Gift giving is a very popular reason to knit and crochet.

Why do I knit? For me, it's mostly because I find it a way to relax. I love what I make, but what drives me even more is the time I spend in meditative movements with my yarn and needles. The more nervous I am, the more I knit. Knitting has gotten me through some pretty rough times.

Needlecrafts have had a profound effect on my live. I've been lucky to have a jog that involves something I love and enjoy so much. I've traveled in search of knitting to some pretty exotic places-- from the Shetland Isles to the Andes. These trips put me in touch with knitters around the world. I discovered that even if you don't speak the language, you can share a love of your needlecrafts. For me, it's been a passport to open many doors.

If you are a fledgling knitter or crocheter, I offer you a little advice about getting started. Practice, practice and practice some more. It doesn't matter what your first efforts look like, just keep going. Once you know the basics, the sky is the limit. Don't be afraid.

Know yourself. If you want to make a sweater and don't have a lot of time, make a quick project rather than something that you won't find time to finish. It will give you the confidence to start your next project.

Get the best quality yarn and tools that you can afford and create projects you enjoy making. You'll be proud of your finished product. Find out what your favorite knit and crochet style is and do it!

Get connected. Find knitting friends. It's a good way to learn new techniques and share ideas. Take pleasure from your skills and have fun.

Nancy is the former editor of Vogue Knitting, Family Circle Easy Knitting and Knitter's Magazine. Nancy is now the editorial director of Lion Brand Yarn Company, and a syndicated newspaper columnist of The NeedleWorks.

Better Homes and Gardens Creative Collection -- Knit It!

The Craft Yarn Council of America estimates that four million women, mostly in their 20s and 30s, took up knitting in 1999. Cast on to the craze! Whether a beginner or an experienced knitter, Knit It! magazine is for you! This year's issue contains 35 carefully selected, field-tested projects, designed with the young, on-the-go knitter in mind! All are simple to make, use affordable materials, and most importantly, deliver stylish fashions, personal accessories and accents for the home. So, get HOOKED and get Knit It! today! Available at your favorite newsstand or call 1-888-547-2147 to order your copy! On sale 12/24/02.

Features:
  • 35 GREAT projects you can knit and crochet!
  • Scarves -- this year's hottest style trend - make your own!
  • Knit your first cardigan - step-by-step instructions
  • Weekend Wonders - forget about housework and KNIT!
  • Basics - all the info you need to know!

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