6 reasons why you should take a knitting class

Ever wondered about attending a knitting class but couldn't decide if it was the right thing for you? Or would like to learn more about how to knit, but being in a room full of strangers fills you with horror?

Maybe you've seen me promoting my knitting classes recently - to learn how to make my Star Stitch cushion (hosted at the amaaazing Wool Couture Studio and Makery in Yorkshire) - but thought it looked too difficult and talked yourself out of it?

Here are 6 reasons why you should take a knitting class...

1) Get out of your comfort zone, meet new people...

You can really benefit from meeting new people and widening your social circle. You will potentially be introduced to new opportunities. New people can open your eyes to new ideas. Everyone has a different perspective and these different views and experiences can help you solve a problem, find the answer to a question, or highlight something you hadn't thought of before.

Meeting new people isn't easy for everyone. I find it difficult and am often plagued by shyness. I have worked in the corporate world for nearly 20 years. You'd think I'd have got used to going into conferences and meetings where I don't know anyone! But I still find it hard work. In the early days I would hide in the toilets for a good part of the networking sessions where you a forced to circulate a room and break into conversations with people. Small talk *shudder*.

"What will I say to them? They won't be interested in me. I feel like a fake. They'll realise I don't know what I'm talking about."

Over the years I've found a few things that help me when I'm dreading going into a room of new people:

  • Before I go, I think of some questions I can ask people or things I can say: "Where have you travelled from today?", "Why are you at this meeting / conference / workshop?", "What are you hoping to learn / find out about?", "Oooh I like your dress / shoes / bag!". Having a few things in my head already help me start a conversation more easily.

  • I change the emphasis in my mind from "oh please don't come and talk to me" to "this person looks interesting, I want to know more about them".

  • I set myself an achievable goal, and it doesn't really matter how small it is. For example, "I will speak to one new person at this workshop / meeting". When I achieve that goal I go away from the day feeling great!

  • I know that I'm not the only one who finds it difficult and I will search out and speak to someone who looks quiet or is standing on the edge of the room.

Fortunately, in a knitting class you are not usually faced with a room of hundreds! For a class to be taught well, I think it should be a maximum of ten students. And you can be sure there will be people with a range of skills and different backgrounds to share the experience with. It doesn't matter if you are the most or the least advanced person in the room. Your teacher will find a way to make it an enjoyable experience for all.

2) Learn a new skill, improve your existing skills, broaden your horizons...

Learning something new gives you the opportunity to try something that might just be the best thing you have ever done! The more knowledge you gain, the more confident you feel. You can fuel your creativity by discovering new things.

Scientists have found that when you learn you stretch the capacity of your brain. Learning can help improve your memory, concentration and intelligence and has even been shown to lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's.

Before you book on to a class, it is worth checking what you will be taught and what you need to know in advance. It is in the teacher's interest to make sure you are suited to the class - so get in touch with them to ask questions if you are not sure. They should be able to describe whether the class is for a complete beginner or if you already need to know how to do certain things.

For example, for my Star Stitch cushion class, you need to know how to cast-on, knit, purl, and cast-off. And preferably have some experience of using a sewing machine, although it's not essential. The rest I will teach you how to do. Hopefully from that description you can see it's not a class for a complete beginner, but you don't need to know anything more advanced than the basics of knitting.

3) Make something! Get those creative juices going...

When we are in a fixed routine, we often feel restless or bored. Creating something makes your brain alert and is extremely satisfying. You don't have to rely on external factors, like television, for mental stimulation. You can entertain yourself!

You can make something for yourself or your loved ones. Maybe a handmade gift for a Christmas present for someone dear.

The things you create are a reflection of your personality and mean something special. By using your hands and your mind, you can really appreciate what is involved in making something, rather than buying it ready-made. You can make something exactly the way you want it. You can make something one-of-a-kind.

4) Get tuition tailored to your needs...

A good knitting class will be taught by someone who is experienced and flexible to your needs. You can ask questions, get clarification or explanation, and interact with a knowledgeable teacher who wants to help you understand.

Many people learn to knit using online resources, such as video or photo guides and written instructions. These are generally a download of information and there's limited opportunity to ask questions and get answers there and then. When you are learn in a class, it is more interactive and you'll be able to get advice tailored to your needs and therefore learn more effectively.

5) Practice mindfulness, unlock the stress relief that knitting offers...

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment, to the world around you and your own thoughts and feelings. It's easy to get caught up in our thoughts and not notice how those thoughts are affecting the way we behave and feel. Mindfulness is recognised to benefit your mental health.

When you are knitting, the rhythmic clacking of your needles and creation of knit and purl stitches in a simple pattern can induce a meditative or mindful state. If you are knitting a more complex design you can become totally engrossed, leaving no attention to devote to anything but the present moment. Knitting is an excellent way to practice mindfulness, relieve stress and feel calm, focused and relaxed.

6) Keep an age-old tradition going...

Traditions represent part of our culture. They help form our families and society and contribute to a sense of comfort and belonging.

My Gran, Freda, taught me how to knit. She also taught my Mum, my Auntie, my sister, and my cousins - it is a tradition that runs strongly through my family. I feel a great connection to my female relatives because of the shared skills we all have. As I get older, that connection feels more important. And even though my Gran died just over ten years ago, I still feel comforted and happy when I knit with her needles.

Feeling inspired to take a knitting class? Are you someone who can knit and purl but want to take your skills to the next level? Join me in Yorkshire to learn how to make my Star Stitch cushion cover. To see the course details the description and costs are on Eventbrite. It's a daylong course and costs £50, including all the materials you need to make the cushion and the tuition.

Are you a complete beginner? Fear not! Wool Couture provide classes for you too! They run classes for all skill levels, and not just knitting classes. They also run crochet and macrame classes. Check out their website for details https://www.woolcouturecompany.com/events/

Please share this post with others you think might be interested in taking a knitting class.

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