Simple Stylish Knitting – review

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a PR Company to ask if I would be interested in trying the first issue of a new knitting weekly magazine series, or park-work, published by De Agostini. I’ll always be honest in my write-up if I am sent a product to try, or asked to work with a company. After a few of my very ‘real’ past write-ups I’m quite surprised whenever I’m approached again; I aim to give a balanced view but as I try to be very truthful I will say if I find something lacking.

After having a look at Simple Stylish Knitting online I decided to give it whirl. In fact I hoped it might help to improve my own knitting skills. There are so many really talented knitters on Instagram, and seeing their beautiful work makes me want to move forward with my own.

Included in the email was this information, I found it interesting and have since read the full report: As knitting fast becomes the new ‘it’ hobby for young people, DeAgostini Publishing and University of Exeter Medical School have issued a report looking at the hobby’s health benefits to understand why so many youngsters are taking up the new skill.

In brief: A study of over 3,000 members of an online knitting community found:

* 82% felt ‘a little’ to ‘very happy’ after knitting

* Almost half (47%) indicated that it helped them think problems through, while over a third (37%) said it helped forget problems

* Nearly two-thirds (65%) reported an increase in confidence, while 86% felt an increase in belonging

A study conducted in an inpatient eating disorder unit found:

* 74% of participants reported distraction from eating disorder thoughts and feelings

* Nearly one-fifth (18%) said knitting prevented eating disorder behaviours altogether

* 74 % found it relaxing

I think this some of this will ring true for both knitters and crocheters, we know it makes us feel happy, calm and productive.

Looking at this photo I’m wondering if I threw the needle away with the packaging, ummm….

Each week there are two balls of yarn with the magazine. I was surprised they are 50% wool, 50% acrylic; they’re not the usual squeaky yacky magazine yarn. I partly learnt to crochet through buying crochet mags and the yarn was absolutely shocking quality. It also came in lurid colours! (See my early crochet pics here from 2011/2012 for evidence…)

The plan is that you knit two squares a week, which gives you the chance to learn many different stitches. I had a look on IG for pics tagged #simplestylishknitting and lots of people are knitting stitches I haven’t ever tried. At the end of the (90 issue!) series (I checked the online FAQS) you will have knitted a substantial throw, or alternatively you could buy fewer and build a collection of stitch swatches.

I spent a fair amount of time using the online stitch library, watching the knitting techniques videos. The mattress stitch video is the clearest I’ve ever seen. I thought it would be good to test how clear I found the instructions for a familiar technique. Another demo has given me Fair isle confidence. People mention 3 needle bind-off / cast off a lot and I had NO idea what that was, now I do. It’s the same with tinking though I realise I’ve always done it, I just didn’t know it was called that (did you know it’s the word ‘knit’ backwards?) If you do check out the videos look at the funky lime yarn and purple nail combo! Even the crochet hook matches.

Square number one was plain garter/knit stitch and that I definitely didn’t need to practise! So I knit number two which is stocking stitch, decorated with duplicate stitch/swiss darning. This is the first time I’ve tried it. I like it! The only thing I would say is that the stitch library video assumes you’re a right hander. I really can’t hold the sewing needle in my right hand or sew from the right, but I just did what I do with some crochet charts – I started in a stitch on the left, going into the legs of the stitch above from left to right.

I liked swiss darning so much that last night I designed a little woolly decoration to make a Valentine’s card! For this I used my KnitPro wooden needles. The magazine ones are a bit like knitting with those splintery chopsticks you get in cheapie Chinese restaurants, they do the job but are not luxurious.

Apart from the two squares a week there are patterns for other makes, the first issue includes: a mug cosy, pom-pom scarf, Mr Fox ipad case (which I love but would need to size up for my regular sized ipad.) Yarn requirements vary for the other patterns; so you’d need to buy more, or use your stash.

For complete beginners there is a full knitting know-how section at the back with very clear instructions and photos. One omission is that there’s no how-to hold your yarn photo. It’s only shown looped over the index finger, so it’s unclear how you would tension your knitting. Most people would automatically use Google, YouTube, websites etc or look it up in a book, but its inclusion would be useful in the magazine and also in the video stitch library.

For improvers like myself each pattern is written in the usual pattern short-hand, as well as with more detailed instructions given for a novice knitter.

The magazines are available in Supermarkets and newsagents, or back issues can be ordered through the website. In true part-work style the first issue is 99p, the second £1.99 and thereafter it’s £3.99, the p&p is free. E-copies are also available in digitally too.

And tomorrow I plan to join in with the Yarn Alongers. Is this turning into a post a day in February?!

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