knitting
Easily packable, easily learned, but no easily-obtained gratification ... but the work is worth it. (Illustration by Rachel Glucksman, Rhode Island School of Design)

Summer is here and with it comes some free time. Sure, you could watch the new season of “Stranger Things” or take those frivolous Buzzfeed quizzes that you somehow always get roped into taking (guilty), but what if instead there was an activity you could really get something out of? Perhaps a new item for your wardrobe or a gift for someone special?  Well, there is and it’s knitting.

Yes, the official pastime of grandmas around the world is now a hot hobby for all, including “Sex and The City” actress Sara Jessica Parker, everyone’s favorite swoon-worthy star Ryan Gosling and many other celebs. With all the available resources out there these days to help you easily learn a new skill, like YouTube and Pinterest, there is no better time to pick up some needles and learn the art of knitting.

Knitting can seem like a daunting hobby at first glance, which is often why many individuals are apprehensive about learning.  Thankfully the activity does not have to be as scary as one might think. I, along with many other people who successfully learned how to knit after many failed attempts, have to thank a company called We Are Knitters.

The site offers project kits that include everything you need to create items ranging from scarves and snoods, to sweaters and blankets. The site offers beginner and easy kits, all the way to intermediate and advanced kits. Each includes a pattern and yarn, along with a set of needles if you do not already have them.

The patterns are clear and easy to follow, perfect for any beginner. If at any point you ever feel confused, you can consult the brand’s blog or their many YouTube videos that explain different stitches and techniques. The videos are simple and have close-up shots of the model knitting, perfect for those who are visual learners. The kits can come with a high price tag due to the quality of the yarn, but the website runs promotions quite often, making the kits quite a bit cheaper.

If perhaps you would prefer to grab a skein of yarn and needles from the local craft store but would still like some help learning how to knit, there are plenty of resources available. Many privately-owned yarn stores offer classes to knitters new and old, either teaching how to knit a certain project or just giving a little extra help to those working on their latest endeavor.

There are also plenty of pattern ideas and how-to posts on Pinterest and websites like Vogue Knitting to help teach you things, like the difference between the stockinette and seed stitch, to how to seam your finished product together.

If your summers are anything like mine, then you are spending time with family and maybe visiting some relatives you do not always see, like your grandparents. Knitting is an interesting hobby in that it can span all generations and is a great way for us millennials to bond with our older family members.

It is nice to have someone who is more well-versed in the hobby in your life to help you out when you are first learning, not to mention just having someone’s company to enjoy. I personally appreciate knitting with my grandma when we visit each other and find it to be a much more pleasant and memorable hobby to share versus watching television together.

Self-care has been a hot topic lately, with many people looking for different activities to help take their minds off the various stresses of everyday life. While you may enjoy your face masks and journaling as a form of unwinding and de-stressing, it might be time to switch things up a little.

Knitting can be a great form of self-care and has been found to reduce anxiety and depression and a handful of other things. Knitting requires you to give your attention to only one thing: your project. By having to focus on your stitches and what comes next, you are required to be present and to take things slow in order to have a successful product. You may not be experiencing as much stress and worries now that it is summer, however if you learn to knit now, you will have a new addition to your self-care arsenal for when the pressure of midterms and internships is in full swing.

As mentioned previously, knitting is special because when you finish, you are left with a physical object to cherish after all of your hard work. While this self-care endeavor might seem quite different from the instant gratification mentality that is ever so present in today’s society, it is a smart idea to ditch that school of thought every once in a while and work on something that will take some time and patience.

Coming from someone who knits, the journey is one of the biggest reasons why I love the craft. There is something about finishing a project that you have worked hard on for weeks or months and having a handcrafted product to show for it that gives you such a great feeling.

Another plus to knitting in the summer is that you can work on fall-related items, like cardigans, beanies and scarves during the warm weather season, and if you are diligent about working on them, you’ll have some new handmade threads just in time for crunchy leaves and PSL season.

With summer comes travel, whether it be a road trip with friends, jet-setting somewhere tropical or just taking the bus or train to your summer job or internship. Travel is a great time to bring out the easily-packable knitting needles as knitting is a nice way to start the day and get your creative juices flowing.

Whether it is with the help of a kit, YouTube and Pinterest or the knitting circle at the craft store down the street, knitting is a wonderful hobby to take up and one with many perks. From being a relaxing way to combat stress and anxiety to giving you something to do while watching your favorite show, knitting is a great hobby that you’ll have for life once you pick it up.

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