Sometimes people leave lovely things on my desk. This morning’s treat was Born to Knit kit from Save the Children. For just $9.95, the kit contains a good pair of 4.00mm bamboo needles, a ball of 8-ply Patons wool, a wool sewing needle and instructions for knitting up a wool square. Create 16 squares and you can sew them up into a blanket that will be given to a child in India, Cambodia or Laos for their next winter. The kits are available from Spotlight, Lincraft and most good knitting shops, or directly online.
It’s a brill little kit – you could pay that much for the needles in some shops. But if you just want to make a blanky for a child, you can just as easily use a pair of borrowed 4mm needles and skeins of any 8-py wool – ask your knitting friends, we’ve usually got balls we’re dying to get rid of. The important part is that it gives you a reason to learn a new skill, and a project to practice it on. The 20cm squares knit up quickly and easily, and if you rope in a few friends, you can make up a kid’s blanket in under a month. At the end of it, you’ll know how to knit, and a small child will be less likely to become one of the 8.1 million under fives who die every year from preventable illnesses.
And you don’t need to be super-crafty. The kit is designed for ages eight and up, and includes step-by-step instructions for everything from casting on to casting off. Knitting really is easy, it’s just knots and holes – even a no-knitting numpty can become a Purling Princess in a few months. I learned to knit when I was 28 and not particularly crafty at all. One of my friends taught me how to cast on, and then, in the days before YouTube I bought a secondhand book and learned to do the rest. My third project was lacy socks, and I’ve never looked back.
These days you don’t even need to buy a book. Googling for instructions brought up millions of responses and tens of thousands of videos. Because all of us learn differently, the best approach is to just try a few until you find the one that suits you. For people who really love a book, our lovely friend Francesca from Better Homes and Gardens taught herself using this one, and says it’s great for helping you fix problems, too.
Though if you have a few minutes to waste, this is possibly the greatest how to knit video ever, even though it’s really Russian crochet, it’s a very fine giggle. And manly!
If you’re feeling all inspired now, don’t forget that Wrap With Love also sends knitted blankets out to people in need, both around the world and closer to home, after events like the Queensland floods and Victorian bushfires. Their squares are 25cm/10 inches rather than 20cm, but check out their easy patterns for diagonally knitted squares or ones that decrease down a centre ‘seam’.
And if you’ve never knitted before and have no stash of wool to knock over, Morris and Sons have a sale of up to 80% off wool and needles at the moment, both in their Sydney and Melbourne shops and online.