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10 Crafty Questions · Emily / Make.e

When I first discovered Instagram, Emily – known on social media as Make.e – was one of the first makers/designers that I fell in love with, no lie. Her buzzing creativity, eye for colour and honest approach to crafting and life was and still is so inspiring! Whether it’s knitting, crochet or handcrafting crochet hooks and notions, she’s always making something unique and fabulous. It’s Make.E, need we say more?
In this interview, Emily talks 90’s bags, staying true to yourself (amen) and crushing on Tom Cruise. No judgement Em…

When did you first discover that you had a knack for making stuff? I have always made stuff, from a very young age. I’m sure any maker starts very young, I used to watch Blue Peter only for the ‘craft’ section, you know, where they would show you how to make a paper mâché money box, or stick plasticine on a frying pan to make faces (I remember doing that one for hours). I’m not sure I really realised I had a knack for making things until I was a lot older, I think it was probably when I was given my first sewing machine for my birthday. We had sewing lessons in D&T at school, that’s where I learnt to thread a machine and sew ‘properly’, as soon I got my own machine I would sit in my room sewing stuff for hours. I remember being about 15 years old, making a small rucksack out of this cotton fabric that was white with a blue stripes, I put in a zip that almost went the whole way round the bag because that’s what I had available to me at the time. I added extra long shoulder straps so the bag sort of sat at the base of my spine, it was very 90’s, I loved that bag. Then my best friends very cool big sister asked to borrow it to go to out to a club and I think maybe it was then that I felt that something inside me knew I had crossed a line and I might actually be alright at this making thing.

How important would you say social media is for budding designers, makers, creative folk and those of us who want to try and make a living out of a ‘hobby’?Instagram has been hugely important to me as a designer/maker. When I joined instagram there is no way on earth I would have called myself a designer. Making is my passion and its what I would do even if no-one was going to see it. Instagram is a great way to join a community of makers and crafts people, many of which share their craft and offer tutorials giving you access to an unbelievable amount of inspiration. I had absolutely no idea I would be welcomed into insta land as I have, instagram has been an incredible platform for me to share what I do, it just so happens people think I’m good at it and I can turn my passion into some kind of earnings. To make a ‘living’ out of a hobby is something I think most people would love to do, but let me just ask this question ‘what if your hobby became a chore?’ That sounds really dramatic doesn’t it? sorry to bum you out. Instagram can give you the opportunity to turn your hobby into some kind of earnings, its just what you want that to be? To make the real money as a maker takes serious hard work. To turn your hobby into a side hustle, instagram is fantastic, link yourself up to an Etsy shop and you can test the water that way, you never know where it might lead…..

If you could only sew, sculpt, knit or crochet for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Oh god… Serious?… Urm…. Damn that is hard… Ok, so crochet is what I suppose I’m best known for, but having learnt to knit last year I feel like I can’t just ditch that… And I do love me a bit of fimo and clay… Sewing isn’t something I really make time for so much, I find it too stressful with kids and dogs and all the pieces… It’s making me anxious just thinking about it! Can we make the question Snog, Marry, Date and push off a cliff? I’d snog knitting, Marry Crochet, date sculpting, and push sewing off the cliff…. Though I would probably divorce crochet and marry knitting later on….

Your hooks and notions bags are iconic at this point.I was lucky enough to nab a bag last year and it always gets a lot of compliments! What are your favourite hook/project bag styles that you have made so far? OMG, stop it….. The hooks and bags are so fun to make, I have to be in the right mood though. I find if I make because I ‘have to’ then I don’t produce work I’m proud of or happy to sell. The hooks and the project bags are really personal to me, they mark my growth as a maker. I love looking back at my earlier hooks and seeing how my style has become more refined and much more of a reflection of me. My favourite hooks are probably my crystal hooks.. mainly because I’d had the idea in my head for so long but wasn’t sure how they would work. I love the project bags, I actually love it when the project bags are all different, I try not to repeat a dye combo too much, I love that each one has its own personality. I have some new bag ideas that I hope to introduce soon….

What is important to you as a designer and brand? Being me…. This is absolutely the most important thing. I make things that I like. I don’t want to be a performing monkey, I want to explore and have freedom in my craft. I hope that comes across in my work and to my followers. 

Back in the day, children learnt skills like knitting and sewing at school. Is this something that you think should be brought back as part of the curriculum?100% yes… Im teaching my girls at home how to sew, knit and crochet, that’s when they want to of course. There is so much to be learnt from making, it’s problem solving, creative, mindful, imaginative and perfect for self expression. 

Describe your ‘happy place’ Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin… Ahhhhh, my happy place. As a family we LOVE the mountains, we have a small apartment in the Alps which we visit as often as possible. We kayak and paddle board on the lakes, we go rock climbing, walk, explore, hit the trails on our bikes and ski and snowboard in the winter. We are all so happy there. I think it is safe to say that is my happy place…

What’s usually going on in the background when you’re crafting? Do you need to have music, the telly or a series on or are you happy sitting quietly? Depends… if its something where I need to concentrate then I will probably put on some calm music. If its a more repetitive easy project that needs me to look at it while I make it then I love a podcast, I love the ‘Off Menu’ podcast and also ‘Films To Be Buried With’ is a bloody good listen, oh, and Ricky Gervais ‘Deadly Sirius’ has me in stitches. I also listen to a lot of Radio X, and of course Netflix is a staple for crocheting and knitting.

Has there been any craft you’ve tried your hand at and, well, been rubbish at? I’m sure there is… Spinning… Damn that shit is hard! Anything that is super intricate seems to go to pieces for me… I mean, I’ll try anything, but I am that annoying person that will just keep practicing until I get it… Urgh I hate myself!

…And how about a craft you’re dying to try and haven’t been able to have a crack at yet? Urm…. Basket making… Y’know, with willow sticks… I’d love to give that a go…. Oh oh oh, and whittling… Fuck, I’m slowly going full hippie….

Finally, which celebrities would you snog, marry and avoid? Ok…… so I don’t have any major current celeb crushes right now. I feel like I’ve let the team down. I could confess my past celeb crushes? When I was about 14 I had a real thing for Tom Cruise (oh god, the shame), I loved, loved, loved, Michael J.Fox, oh and there was the awkward Jim Carrey phase…

You can follow Emily on Instagram here and visit her Etsy shop here.

Thank you so much to Emily for her time and awesome answers. Stay tuned next month when another amazing crafter gets the 10 Crafty Questions treatment!

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How to Not be Annoying on Instagram

The crafting community online is absolutely amazing and we support each other to the max, but it has to be said that most makers and designers on social media have to deal with irritating things at some point. It’s the same as in any profession! Whether it’s rude people, entitled people, spammy people or just people who don’t understand the hard work that goes into creating crocheted/knitted/woven/etc items, it’s something all of us have to deal with.

I’ve been working on this article on and off for ages and ages – it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for months – but ony just got around to finishing it up and adding some extra goodness.

I need to warn you in advance that this post is full of BIG Scorpio energy. There you go, don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m lucky enough to have some very honest, very sarcastic and VERY talented friends over on The ‘Gram who helped me provide this quality, ranty content and gave me the push to write this after such a long time of eye-rolling to myself!

Brace yourself… The Karen is strong with some of these…

Pattern? Yarn?

Erm, excuse you, Beverly. Can you form a sentence for me? Fancy adding some verbs in there? Maybe a few prepositions? Here’s the best way of asking a designer what yarn they are using or how to buy their pattern. Feel free to copy and paste: “Hi! I was wondering where I could purchase this pattern/buy this yarn? Many thanks.” Failing that you could bother to read their photo caption, which 99% of the time has all the information you need. Don’t be rude.

When this ends up in your inbox: “OMG, I love your work! I have many social media accounts with 400 followers apiece and would give you good reviews and advertising if you send me your stuff for free! I can share it on Shapchat! Yayyy.”

Back up there, Chantelle. If you want to try samples of stuff for zero dollar you can get one of those ‘first month free’ Birchbox plans or something. My crocheted blanket that took 100+ hours to make plus materials is not that kind of thing. If you like something, buy it. It’s hard enough for makers to run small businesses without sending stuff for free to people. Plus I’d rather have a frontal lobotomy than have my work featured on some grotty Snapchat video. I ain’t 13.

“Hi! Visit my account!”

No, Greg. I don’t want to see videos of you gurning in the gym or trying to sell me protein shakes. Unless you knit whilst you’re doing squats in which case that’s the content I’d be all over.

When these beauties slide into your DMs: “Could you tell me the measurements for this jumper so I can knit it myself?/How did you make this?/How many stitches did you cast on?”

I can absolutely tell you how to do find out those things, Barbara. You can buy the blasted pattern.

Comment under your post: “Ahmagahd Lydia @somerandombird1996! Let’s make these at the weekend! They look well easy innit!

Chances are that Lydia @somerandombird1996 and her friend Felicity @ifelloveroutsideyatesswinebar mean well with these comments, but bitter and seasoned designers know that this means trouble. They won’t be purchasing from you, they’ll be trying their own half-arsed attempt at rehashing your beautiful pom-pom art at home and fail miserably. Because they can’t be arsed to buy the tutorial. Another thing is when people tag you in another designer’s post and say ” Awww bish can you make this for me?!1!”. How about a whole bag of NOPE.

“Follow for unfollowers”

You can spot these slimy creatures from a mile. In fact, I caught one this morning and said “bye!” quite charmingly. I mean, you know, you have to say “cheerio” when you leave the party, right? Normally this happens when people are after A LOT of followers quickly – maybe because they’re still in that Year 9 ‘friend collecting’ phase that they haven’t grown out of yet – and the good news is that you can almost always tell what’s going to happen. They’ll follow you – they already have 50k followers or something – and only follow a child’s-handful of people. Then they unfollow you a few hours later regardless of whether you follow back. Sometimes these crafty little ferrets even follow you multiple times during the same day or week. Some dodgy marketing people say that it’s a viable way of getting ‘Insta Famous’ or some other annoying shite of a buzzword, but everyone knows that it’s a trash move. These people may have 70k followers but they only care about that number. They have an unengaged following who don’t give two hoots. Avoid these people, or at least send them a firm ‘ADIÓS, PENDEJA!” in their inbox when they go.

When people screenshot and repost your images without decent credit and asking for permission.

Ahhh, this one. Haven’t we all been victim of this at one point? It’s normally a page that has a badly-written bio saying that they sell knitting-themed t-shirts and their entire feed is full of other people’s work. If you see accounts called things like ‘knitting.love.amazing’ or, ‘crochet.dreams’ they are normally of that ilk. Annoying! The best thing you can do is report these accounts as they are usually bots. Also, have a scroll through and alert the designer if you spot any of their work. Sadly, sometimes well-meaning accounts take people’s images and, even if they do give credit, they do it WAY DOWN in the caption so it isn’t easily found. Genuine accounts, decent brands and shout-out pages will tag you and credit you visibly.

Bad giveaway behaviour.

Giveaways – if done tastefully and not every month – can be a lovely way of sharing your success at reaching a milestone, launching a pattern or collaborating with a brand. Sadly, some people overdo this and it can get grating. Another thing people do is tag you in giveaways when you haven’t spoken to them before or don’t follow you. Wotcha playing at, Tracy?

Product placement

This for me is most of the time OKAY. I love seeing my friends do well and get sent free stuff (I mean, I told you this would have SCORPIO ENERGY) but when it’s constant – especially with products that are not connected to their style or brand – sometimes it can get up people’s noses.

People who plug their own accounts in your question stickers.

This article couldn’t have been written without the gorgeous Instagram Stories Question Sticker (all hail!) but some people obviously don’t know how to use it. Like, for answering people’s questions or sending recommendations. It’s pretty straightforward. Here’s what it isn’t for; plugging your own chuffing account with sentences like, “I love your work! Visit my profile”, sending spam and acting like a dick. Yes, I’m looking at you, parenting bloggers.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their ideas and experiences for this article! Fancy adding your own? Drop me an email and I’ll add it here.

Article

10 Crafty Questions · Tiam / Knit Safari

Starting from well, NOW, every month I’ll be interviewing some of my favourite crafters, makers and shakers that really light up my feed every time I see their designs. This month I’ve been fortunate enough to get to chat with one of my absolute favourite designers, the wonderful Tiam of Knit Safari.

When I opened my Instagram account, Tiam was one of the first designers I followed. I just loved (and still love) her modern, chunky designs, stylish garments and honest approach to making and motherhood – perfection! Whether it’s her craft process, morning commute or beautiful travels around her native New Zealand that she’s posting about, it’s always a treat to stay up to date and follow this talented garment-making goddess! Today Tiam and I chat flabby bits, shoving yarn into garden sheds and the living nightmare that is frogging mohair yarn… The horror!

Tiam, when did you first realise that knitting (and crochet) design was ‘your thing’?

My mum taught me how to knit and crochet (and sew!) when I was really young, and I always dabbled in crafty things. After a long break from anything yarn related, I was at a really stressful job and was finding it difficult to stop thinking about work in the evenings. I had also recently moved back to the UK and brought some peach mohair and knitting needles from my mum’s house with me. I just started knitting – no pattern, the wrong size needles, I didn’t even sketch out what I wanted to make. I just started knitting. The focus shifted from worrying about the day ahead to thinking about how to solve my next knitting conundrum. Do I remember how to cast off? How do you shape a neckline? Is this going to fit? It didn’t matter, because it was something different to my 9-5 to think about, and at that time that’s what I needed. The peach mohair jumper was a giant failure. Too dense, a weird shape, made me look like a blob and it was insanely scratchy. So I frogged it. If you have ever unravelled mohair, you know that’s not an easy task. Long story short, that was over 10 years ago, and I basically haven’t put down the yarn since!

You’re a mum and all of us parents know how hard it can be to balance parenting with crafting and designing. How do you manage your time in order to find moments in the day to run Knit Safari?

I use a project management tool for my longer term Knit Safari goals, plus I write a to do list in my notes app every Sunday night for the week ahead for my day-to-day life, from housework and food prep to social media content and pattern development, and try to focus on those tasks that day (but also not beat myself up when I don’t tick it all off!) Some days, I get nothing done. Other days, I’m super productive and tick everything off. It’s always a juggling act, and I’m still learning how to balance mum-me with yarn-me.

What’s been your proudest moment as a designer?

I pitch ideas to magazines and publications constantly, and a design kept getting rejected. Lockdown happened in the U.K., and I had a gap in my project calendar, so I decided to just do it. The response has been absolutely incredible and has made me realise that I need to back myself more!

I really love seeing your experimental makes pop up on the feed – your loopy cardigan is dreamy – but have you ever had any times where you’ve had a good idea for a project in your head that didn’t turn out the way you wanted in real life?

Well to be honest, not since my peach mohair saga! I pin loads of ideas on various Pinterest boards constantly from shapes to colour trends to stitches, I sketch things and draw size schematics before starting a project (ok not always…) and I don’t tend to unravel things because it’s all mapped out at the start. I learnt from my transgressions – frogging mohair was the kick up the butt I needed!

Do you ever suffer from ‘crafter’s block’? How do you get the inspiration back when it hits?

Definitely, we all do. Especially if I’m submitting to a publication and the moodboard and brief is too vague or too specific. I always go to a “palate cleanser” like some knit socks, to let ideas bubble about in the background. Sometimes, not thinking directly about a thing helps you figure our that thing!

Are there any knitting/crochet skills that you’re yet to master?

I have tried everything (I think!) but haven’t done much Tunisian Crochet, and I have to really focus to do intarsia on my knitting machine so now that I don’t have time to focus, that isn’t something I’m doing! 

My husband can best be described as ‘baffled in a supportive way’ when it comes to how he feels about my yarn and making addiction! How does Mr. Safari deal with the mountains of yarn in your house and does he know how to knit?

Yarnia (my stash) is in the “chalet” (our garden shed!) so it’s sort of hidden away, in giant plastic tubs. Sometimes I’ll get a bunch of yarn support deliveries all at once and he raises a brow, but he is super duper supportive and has made some design suggestions recently that have made things go from blah to wow.

Whats your favourite yarn composition to work with? How about a yarn type that makes you see red?

I love all types of yarn! I’ve seen some rose and mint fibre recently that looks fun to use, but I don’t know how to spin my own yarn so that’s out of the picture for me right now.

Regarding social media, how important is it to be yourself? Do you think sharing your real-life persona is important when running a brand or should us designers put a lid on it and focus on the crafting?

For me, personally, it’s another balancing act! Do I pick the most flattering photos for the grid that don’t show my undereye bags or grey hairs or flabby bits? Of course! Do I also share the explosion of toys, the after-exercise schvitz, or the non-yarn things I do in stories? Absolutely. 

Okay, for the last question we’ve got a bit of a Desert Island Knits situation: which four crafty bits & bobs would you need if you were stranded on an island Wilson and Tom Hanks style?

Oh… hmmm… some circular knitting needles, some good scissors, a crochet hook, (maybe 6-8mm?) and I can’t think of a fourth! Maybe a giant bale of cotton/silk blend yarn? Like enough to knit some glam tropical island outfits while I wait to be rescued. Would that be allowed? 🙂

...Definitely!

Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Tiam!

Don’t forget to follow Knit Safari over on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and shop amazing patterns over on their website.

Article

Recipe · Infused Oils

Every October we have a mini-break and take a couple of weeks to ourselves whilst our Alex stays with her Nana. We tend to stay in Spain, and one year we stayed in a marvellously plush hotel (we are not flash gits in the slightest, but tend to splurge on holidays) that had an insanely lovely restaurant. I remember the bread selection vividly – there were like 10 different kinds – and they were served with little oils for dipping. It was amazeballs, to say the least!

Sadly, infused oils usually cost a packet and although I like a treat, I don’t feel comfy spending a lot of money on a condiment… Handbags definitely, condiments no. See I told you I wasn’t flash! Then I had a brainwave…

Cooking and gardening go hand in hand, and there’s nothing more satisfying than combining the two to make your own meals. The thing I love about growing herbs and chilis, for example, is that you don’t need a lot of space for them – or even a garden or balcony – and they are relatively easy to maintain.

This year I’ve been growing all sorts of herbs in our veggie patch, and as we’re huge fans of spicy food we also invested in a bunch of chillis of different kinds. I really love drying out chilis once they’re picked so we have a handy stash all year round, plus dried chilis have a unique smoky spiciness that sneaks up on you – just the thing for Mexican food!

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase. The other evening I was pottering about in the kitchen and decided to make my own infused oils. I was pretty convinced that it wouldn’t work, but tried anyway. Well, as luck would have it they turned out super well and I just had to share this recipe with you!

These dainty oils are best served with crusty bread, but can complement any cuisine perfectly. You can experiment with quantities and flavours ans have s lt of fun inventing combinations! Almost anything can be turned into an infused oil, so do let me know if you discovered any unusual combination…

You will need:

  • 50ml vegetable oil or plain olive oil (not Extra Virgin);
  • 40g chilis, herbs or anything you fancy, roughly chopped. I bought organic or used the herbs from my garden. I used the following quantites for my oils:

Garlic Scapes & Chive Oil: four long garlic scapes, five chive flowers and chive stems.
Red Chili Oil: two medium-sized Habenero and five Cayenne chilis.
Basil Oil: Eight basil leaves (with stems).
Green Chili & Garlic Oil: two large garlic cloves and three large Jalapeño chilis. I also added a very small sprig of rosemary but this is entirely optional.

  • A food processor, sieve or mug tea mesh strainer/infuser, large jar or mug, small pan, small jars or pots to store the oils.

This amount serves three.

Method:

Now you’re all set! There is a lot of trial an error involved in this recipe, but the quantities I have shown are generic. Feel free to add larger quantities of ingredients to thicken the oil or fewer for a more subtle taste. Here are some tips and ideas to help…

Tips:

  • When making a batch of oils, make the oils with a milder flavour before chili oils or ones with stronger-tasting ingredients. Even after washing some flavours can stick to the blender and affect the taste of any oils made afterwards.
  • Invest in a mug with a fitted mesh tea strainer/infuser. They are ideal for making oils and cut down on mess as they fit the mug perfectly. Ikea do great ones!
  • Take care not to burn the ingredients by constantly stirring the mixture when cooking and keeping a close eye whilst it’s cooking! Even the slightest hint of burning can ruin the oil and you’ll have to start again.

Enjoy your oils and do let me know if you discover and amazing combinations!

Article

Essential Tips for Newbie Knitters

Let’s be real. A lot of crafters find knitting difficult, annoying, impossible, weird, clunky… You name it. I’ve heard crocheters say they ‘hate’ knitting and can’t get their head round it, as well as people saying that they really love the way it looks, but the process makes them feel so cack-handed that they end up giving up after a few rows. I’d wager that all over the world there are drawers heaving under the weight of half-finished knitting projects, started with a lot of love and determination, but trashed for one reason or another. RIP, beautiful semi-knits!


I get it, though. My social media handle is Emmaknitty for a reason. Knitting was a craft that had always interested me – especially as my great-grandmother was a master knitter and I always heard tales of how amazing she was at knitting socks and all manner of wonderful things – but it wasn’t plain sailing at the beginning for me at all.

My first knitting memory (back in the olden days of 2008) wasn’t some calming, mindful experience looking like a cool We Are Knitters ad… Oh no. I actually threw the project across the room (like the short-tempered, snarling Scorpio I am) and stuffed it away, hoping never to see it again. I say project, but I mean that it was basically a floppy, uneven rag of garter stitch. A few months later however I decided to try again (like the determinded, pig-headed Scorpio I am) and found myself ‘getting it’. The rest is history.

I often get asked on social media how to get better at knitting. The truth is, there’s no straight answer to that – heckers, is there ever in life? – but I do have an arsenal of helpful tips that will definitely help you out as a new knitter. I’m not going to teach you how to knit or work stitches or anything like that – there are hundreds of people who do it way better than I ever could – but this is a list of hints that I hope will make things a bit smoother for you on your two-needle journey. Ready? Let’s go!

You won’t manage anything without patience

It’s easier said than done, but like most things in life, patience gets you everywhere. If you are starting to knit as a crocheter, the slowness of it will probably be a big factor in you stopping knitting altogether. Crochet is notoriously fast and satisfying, so if you’re used to finishing a crocheted scarf in an hour, the idea of a knitted one taking a week will make your teeth itch, and not like bad-quality acrylic yarn does. If you find yourself getting impatient and annoyed with your knitting, put it down and come back to it another day. Don’t force the process or you’ll only learn to hate it.

Allocate calm time to knit

When you are learning something new, it goes without saying that peace, quiet and time to concentrate are paramount. Give yourself an hour a day in a quiet place where you can’t be interrupted (not when the kids are running riot and your husband is asking you for the 20th time where you put his iPhone charger) to really sit and enjoy the process.

Don’t bother with patterns at the start

One of the things I hear the most from frustrated newbie knitters is “Why are the patterns so confusing? They’re impossible to understand!” and well, I know! Not being bitchy, but when I started to crochet I thought the same thing, you just swap a hdc blo with a kfb – it’s all a confusing new language that you have to learn…
My first reaction to anyone who says that is, “well, why are you following a pattern when you’ve been knitting for a week?”. At the beginning you need to cast on and off, knit and purl and perfect those four things. I shouldn’t say this as designing patterns for beginners is my bread and butter, but the last thing you should be doing when you’re learning to knit is grappling with abbreviations. The best thing to do is work small searches of stitches until you’re happy and ready to move on. Unless you’ve managed to find a picture-based pattern designed especially for beginners, you’re running before you can walk. Get on YouTube, browse tutorials for the basics and worry about patterns later on.

Choose the right yarn and needles

Go big or go home! The last thing you should be doing as a new knitter is faffing about with fine-weight yarn and teeny needles. Choose the chunkiest wool or acrylic yarn you can find and some wood or bamboo needles and start from there. The bulkier the yarn, the easier it is to see you stitches, the faster the process is and the sooner you can finish your project. Why wood or bamboo needles and not metal or plastic? Well, wood and bamboo help the yarn ‘stick’ and your stitches less likely to drop off the needle. Also, avoid very long needles as they can be another obstacle.
Yarn wise, wool and acrylic are excellent choices for beginners as they are forgiving, and in the case of acrylic, cheap and in a huge array of colours.

Knit a rectangle

You can do so much with a rectangle, and it’s the easiest thing to knit, like, whoa. Everyone makes scarves when they start knitting, but a simple rectangle can be turned into a blanket (such a good pick up, put down project), a bag (by seaming the sides, adding a zip and knitting a long, thin rectangle for a strap) or, once you’ve learnt the basics, even a modern floor cushion like my easy The Bubu Mini Ottoman! If you want to keep it even simpler, by knitting a small rectangle you can make coasters or washcloths.

Perfect the basics before moving forward

Don’t push yourself. There’s no point in attempting more complex techniques like increases or changing colours until you’re feeling 100% speedy and confident about the famous four techniques I mentioned earlier on. Get your knitting, purling, casting on and casting off down to a T and then move on. Piling too many skills on yourself will only make you feel frustrated and throwing your knitting, like me back in 2008. Not a good look.

Understand what knitting actually is

Do you know what a knit stitch looks like? How about a purl one? Do you know the differences between knitting with cotton yarn compared to wool, for example? How about the history of knitting? All these things may seem silly when you’re starting out, but learning about knitting beyond the actual process of making an item is all part of the experience and might peak your interest! Knowing what the stitches look like and the different types of yarn is essential, but it is fun and motivating to get to know elements of the importance of knitting in culture and the wider world.

Get some books

Investing in a few good knitting books will help you get to grips with the theory and generally give you a reference guide when you need to check a stitch, refresh your memory regarding a technique or simply just enjoy some relevant bedtime reading whilst you’re learning. Everything is digital nowadays and tutorials can be found instantly online, but sometimes just flipping through a book old-style can be satisfying and even more useful! There are a lot of knitting books on the market, so take a while to browse and invest in a few to really up your game

Don’t spend a lot

It might be tempting to splurge on luxury wool yarn and exotic needles, but if you’re just trying knitting out it probably isn’t a good idea to spend too much at the beginning. Companies such as We Are Knitters sell awesome knitting kits for beginners (and more advanced levels) with all you need to make gorgeous jumpers, home decor items and even pet sweaters, but there’s nothing wrong with popping to a discount store and spending €5 on some simpler but no less useful yarn and needles. Once you gain confidence and if you think knitting is for you, you can always widen your range and go for fancier yarns!

Ask for help

Finding an experienced knitter to help you out when you have doubts is a wonderful way to bond with other makers and make friends. Even better, starting to knit with a friend can be really rewarding and motivating! Most designers on Instagram for example are super friendly and helpful, and although it might not be a good idea to send them a whole pattern to decipher for you, most of us LOVE giving tips to beginners. I mean, any reason to talk about yarn-related stuff is a good reason, right?

Are you a newbie knitter? What do you find the most complicated about knitting? Let me know over on Instagram and share your experiences!

I’d like to send HUGE thanks to everyone who sent in their knitting problems, doubts and frustrations over the last week. I couldn’t have written this guide without you!