The news is bleak right now and a lot of people are self-isolating to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Those things combined can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, and if you are feeling them, trust me, you are not alone. I’ve had to turn off the news almost entirely and have been talking more with my friends around the country than I have in years. I’ve also been knitting more to keep my brain and hands busy.
I’m clearly not alone. Ravelry reported they had 420,000 pattern downloads on Wednesday March 18th (175,000 is typical).
I normally socialize with my fellow knitters during knit nights and our twice monthly knitting and gaming group. We are still doing those things, but using technology to get together from our own homes. Our Friday night Knit Night will be held using Google Hangouts, which is a free way for people to hang out together and chat. For knitting and gaming we will be using Discord, also free, to video chat and Roll20 to play the game. Roll20 has paid and free versions depending on how you want to use it.
How to Stay Connected
Need to connect with someone but your local yarn store isn’t virtual? Ravelry has listed all of the online knitting events associated with its groups. Some are make-alongs, some are virtual knit nights, virtual happy hours, and some have trivia and prizes.
I know dropping into a virtual event where you might not know anyone can feel intimidating, especially if you’re already low. I’ve done it many times and can attest to the fact that fiber people tend to be incredibly warm and welcoming (crafters in general, actually). Plus we’re all going through the same thing and looking for community right now. Ravelry also recently changed their guidelines making their community even more inclusive and welcoming to marginalized groups.
I did a virtual knit night tonight via Google Hangouts and it went great except that my kitten, Chips, kept jumping in front of the camera like, “Hey guys do you want to see my butthole? Look at my butthole, guys!”
How to Learn to Knit (and Crochet!)
Maybe you’ve never tried knitting or crochet before, but have a lot of time on your hands. There are plenty of online resources as well as books to walk you through the process.
First of all, many local yarn stores are offering curbside takeaway or delivery. If you’re thinking of picking up tools for beginners, give them a call and check it out. If that’s not an option, Knit Picks has beginners kits.
This learn to knit scarf kit is priced at $21.99 and contains everything you’ll need for your first project.
They also have dishcloth kits which are a great first project. Dishcloths don’t have to be perfect and (in my experience) tend to warp a little over time anyway. Plus they make a super cute gift when rolled up and tied with ribbon.
If crochet is more your style, you can get this learn to crochet kit to make dishcloths.
If you have materials, but need instruction, there are plenty of online resources, both free and for pay.
Bluprint (formerly Craftsy) is offering is a free 14 day trial for it’s classes. You can learn all kinds of crafts including fiber arts here. They are also offering 50% off single classes for March.
Emily Woodhouse’s class on Udemy comes highly recommended and it’s free!
Skillshare offers a variety of classes for making specific projects as well as learning to knit generally. You’ll want to sign up for a free trial to make sure it’s worth it for you.
And of course there are books. I used Teach Yourself Visually Crochet to teach myself crochet years ago. I’m a fan of the Teach Yourself Visually books in general.
And let’s say you have about $650 burning a hole in your pocket? You could buy this gem which, based on the cover, is about using crochet to lure men into your boudoir. Seriously, WTH 1972?
I have never met a dude who got a boner from crochet before, but there’s a first time for everything. Maybe she’s knitting him a dick cosey?
How to Help the Fiber Community
A lot of indie dyers, pattern designers and yarn stores depend on foot traffic, cons and festivals for their income. This crisis will hurt some of them.
If you have the extra income, check out your local yarn store. Mine is still selling online and offering curbside takeaway and delivery. Many are also assembling project kits for people waiting out isolation. Some will help you shop virtually through Facetime.
If you planned on going to a con or festival and it canceled, check out the websites of the dyers and designers who were going to attend. Buying something from them will help as well.
Cocoknits is offering a free pattern to anyone who submits a receipt from the local yarn store, as well. Email a PDF of your LYS receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website also offers some great tutorials and a glossary.
And money isn’t the only thing. Many small businesses are happy if you let them know you’re thinking of them right now and haven’t forgotten about them. Signal boosting their social media will also help.
What are you making?
We will weather this together, stitch by stitch.
I decided to cast on a Petit Picots (currently free) to work on during my self isolation despite knowing picking up the edges will drive me bonkers. I’m imagining myself swanning back into work when this over, feeling extremely chic. Not as chic as the woman in 1972 attracting men with her crochet, but still.
Tell me what you’re making right now. I really want to know! If you’re on Ravelry check out our group, Smart Knitters Trashy Books, where we talk about crafts and projects.