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Page last updated at 06:06 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 07:06 UK
Knit one, purl one

By Rosie Waites
Today programme

Fashion models at a knitting party hosted by IMG Models at Knit New York  (file photo)
Models have taken up knitting as a way to relax after fashion shows
Knitting is no longer just a pastime for grannies.

Healthy, fun - and a hobby for celebrities - knitting groups have sprung up across the country and London's trendy knitting boutiques not only sell fancy yarns but also offer tea, cake and good conversation.

I Knit London, a shop and "sanctuary" for knitters near London's Waterloo station, has been organising knitting classes for the past three years, and they are invariably sold out.

Owner and organiser Gerard Allt, 35, says beginner knitters in their 20s are especially keen.

Open to see the logo stitch pattern. Pattern details can be found below.

"They are the generation who didn't learn how to knit at school, and now that handicrafts are becoming more popular knitting is recognised as something which is creative and meditative, it's an exercise in giving and sharing," he says.

"Now you see everyone wearing the same high street clothing, but knitting your own clothes adds to your individuality, nothing you knit will be identical and you are your own production line, which for people concerned about the ethics of cheap child labour is very satisfying."

Back to basics

Knitting is creative, practical - and a mobile hobby. Gerard Allt says that knitting evenings at the I Knit sanctuary are a social experience - the fact that they have their own bar helps. It is all about having a good time and enjoying a sense of community, he says.

Members of Stitch and Bitch London
Stitch and Bitch meets at public venues across central London
Lauren O'Farrell, one of five girls who run Stitch and Bitch London, a non-profit group inspired by the Stitch and Bitch book by American textile artist Debbie Stoller, agrees that knitting has become more trendy.

"People want to go back to basics, they are bored of seeing the same old thing and are interested in individuality, in creating their own designer wear."

"It's also something very productive to do, you can sit in front of the telly but still be doing something. I think people want to take control of their lives and be less passive."

Stitch and Bitch London was founded in January 2005. Originally it had only three members but now has over 2,500 people on its mailing list, most aged between 20-35 and knitters of all abilities. The group meets weekly in various venues across central London to knit in public.

Stress-buster


As life becomes more technologically advanced we tend to cling to certain basic and fundamental things

Andrew Salmond
Creative Exhibitions

Many people see knitting as an antidote to the stresses and strains of modern life.

Lauren, 31, says she started knitting in earnest when she was undergoing treatment for cancer and wanted something to occupy her mind with as she waited in hospitals for appointments.

"If you're a beginner it can be confusing at first and it takes a while to get into the zone but if you start with something basic like a scarf or a hat you will soon pick it up."

She says the London Stitch and Bitch meetings attract a real mix of people "from little old ladies to young Goth girls" but the fact that they all have a common interest in knitting breaks down any social barriers.

"People come for help and advice, but also just to meet other people, it can be difficult to meet people in London. 90% of our knitters are women, but men do come along as well - in fact it's a great place to meet women. We do have a couple who met at one of our sessions."

But don't be fooled into thinking that knitting is an antidote to the woes of the credit crunch. Knitting may seem like a cheap option during hard times but in reality the cost of yarn and the time that goes into making a jumper means buying the garment in a shop is actually less expensive.
Man knitting the Knit Cafe 02 in Manhattan (file photo)
A man with knitting skills can seem very attractive

However Lauren O'Farrell argues that knitting socially is a way of having a cheap night out, you get hours of free entertainment and chat and spend a lot less than going out for dinner or a club.

"We have 30 to 50 people coming each week to our meetings, and I think it really appeals to people who are interested in a more organic way of life and being more self-sufficient," she says.

Andrew Salmond, director of Creative Exhibitions, which is organising the Twisted Thread Knitting and Stitching Show currently on in Birmingham, says that the average age of audience at their knitting shows used to be 54 but is now 39, and going down.

"Younger people are coming to knitting for a range of different reasons, but mainly they are knitting for fun, for the satisfaction of making something yourself and being productive."

"We are cherishing skills which we are afraid of losing, as life becomes more technologically advanced we tend to cling to certain basic and fundamental things. I don't believe it's a fad that will just come and go, from the moment we are born to the moment we die clothing ourselves is integral to our being."

"In the 1960s and 1970s Germaine Greer was our guru, and women rebelled against things like knitting, it was part and parcel of all the things about being a woman that they wanted to reject, but now there isn't that stigma of domesticity attached and younger women are seeing it as a way to relax and be social."


Radio 4 Logo Jumper designed by Lise-Lotte Lystrup

MEASUREMENTS

To fit chest 107 cm
Length 70 cm
Sleeve seam 54 cm
Logo length 60 sts (29.3 cm), height 20 rows (6.7 cm).

MATERIALS

15 50g balls of RYC Extra Fine Merino DK in 893 Navy
1 50g balls of RYC Extra Fine Merino DK in 878 Cream
1 50 g ball of Yeoman Yarns, Fifty Fifty in 8 Midas Use 3 strands to make up for the difference in thickness
1 pair size 3.75mm (9 UK) needles
1 pair size 4mm (8 UK) needles
1 circular needle size 3.75mm, 60 cm long
2 st holders

TENSION

20 sts and 30 rows = 10 cm on size 4mm needles

BACK

With size 3.75mm needles and Navy cast on 126 sts and work 6 cm rib, K1, P1.
Change to size 4mm needles and work straight in st st until Back meas 42 cm.
Shape armholes
Cast off 7 sts at the beg of next 2 rows (112 sts).
Cast off 1 st at beg and end of next 3 alt rows (106 sts).
Cast off 1 st at beg and end of every 3rd row 7 times (92 sts).
Cont straight until Back meas 68 cm.
Shape shoulders
Cast off 6 sts at beg of next 8 rows (44 sts).
Slip the rem 44 sts onto st holder.

FRONT

Work as for Back until Shape armholes
Cast off 7 sts at the beg of row and work another 31 sts. This will be the start point at the bottom of the Y for the logo.
Change to White and follow the diagram for the Logo and at the same time dec for armhole as for Back. The O is knitted in Midas with a triple strand.
When Front meas 60.5 cm Shape neck
Work 37 sts, turn.
Cast off 2 sts at beg of next 4 alt rows (29 sts).
Cast off 1 st at beg of next 2 alt rows (27 sts).
Cast off 1 st neck edge on every 3rd row 3 times (24 sts).
Shape shoulders
When Front meas 68 cm cast off 6 sts at shoulder side 4 times.
Join yarn to the 55 sts left on needle.
Work 18 sts and slip onto st holder for Front neck.
Work the rem 37 sts as the right Front rev the shapings.

SLEEVES

With size 3.75mm needles and Navy cast on 60 sts and work 6 cm rib, K1, P1.
Change to size 4mm needles and work in st st inc 1 st at beg and end of every 5th row 14 times.
Inc 1 st at beg and end of every 6th row 11 times (110 sts).
Shape top
Cast off 7 sts at the beg of next 2 rows (96 sts).
Cast off 2 sts at the beg of next 10 rows (76 sts).
Cast off 1 st at the beg and end of the next 8 alt rows (60 sts).
Cast off 1 st at the beg of every row 12 times. The Sleeve should now measure 68 cm.
Cast off the rem 36 sts.
Sew shoulders.

COLLAR

With the circular needle and Navy pick up the 44 sts from the st holder on the Back, 40 sts down left side of Front, 18 sts from st holder at Front, 40 sts up right side (142 sts).
Work 3 cm rib, K1, P1.
Cast off in rib.
Sew side and sleeve seams.




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