Making is the new baking - so grab your sticks and get clicking. There are tonnes of stunning hand-dyed cashmeres, merinos, silks, cottons and tweeds to work with ... actually 'work' is the wrong word. Knitting is all about relaxing.
Cara Delevingne is right. Knitting IS the bomb. There’s something deliciously analog, that’s hard to replicate or explain, about sitting down with a few balls of wool (fresh cup of tea to hand) and getting down to it. When you’re in the groove, it’s like meditation but with the added bonus that you might get something tangible out of it. A jaunty bobble hat for young George, if you're Kate Middleton (a mustard keen knitter), or a tea cosy.
Actually, the days of grannies pumping out tea cosies shaped like little houses and loo roll covers have given way to an epidemic of needle-wielding hipsters creating oversized jumpers and scarves you could get lost in. The upside of that is that there are more materials and patterns available now than ever before, for virtually every taste. A search on ravelry, the mother of all crafting websites, can suck up hours.
Cara killing time backstage
Cara D is a big fan of Wool and The Gang, which champions chunky knits (you can churn out a hat in an evening or a jumper in a weekend), many in kit form. It’s a great go to for beginners, with simple instructions, but novices really shouldn’t be afraid of slightly more ambitious undertakings. Learn your purls and cabling via Youtube tutorials or better yet (in the spirit of analog living) from a real live person at a bricks and mortar knit shop. Staff in all the Dublin wool shops couldn’t be friendlier and really know their stuff. Try Winnie’s Craft Café (Booterstown), The Constant Knitter (Dublin 8), This is Knit (Powerscourt Centre, Dublin 2), Springwools (Walkinstown) or The Knitting Room (Clontarf). It takes surprisingly little to jog the memory if you ever learned the basics back in Home Ec.
If you’d like more support and validation, or just some company, check out your local Stitch n Bitch group, which does what it says on the tin.
Knitting is a tactile sport so once you’ve nailed the basics, it’s worth seeking out extraordinary materials. Purl Soho in Manhattan is one of the most beautiful shops in the world, of any type, and has an absolutely breathtaking collection of the softest merinos and cashmeres in the most on-trend colours imaginable. They deliver to Ireland if you can’t make the trip to Nirvana.
'Super Easy Blankets', Purl Soho
Brooklyn Tweed also has a lovely selection of nobbly eponymous wools, some of which are stocked in the Constant Knitter on Francis Street. They can be prone to snapping if you’re a tight knitter but their patterns are 100% ace. Designed by Jared Flood, who’s a big deal in knitting circles, they offer modern slim fits, which can be surprisingly hard to find. Too many other patterns end up with bingo wing or blouson sleeves, which isn’t ok after all that work.
Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed in one of his creations
If giant knitting (you use your arms, which is an incredible workout) is your thing, Manuosh is one of the best sources around for rich, hand-dyed, ethically sourced wools that make for astonishingly pro throws. It only takes an evening to make one, so it’s a totally do-able Christmas project (albeit one that might set you back a few hundred quid).