I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit. Watching stylish girls on the G train with their yarn and needles has always filled me with craft envy, but getting started just felt impossibly complicated. I’ve even had a friend attempt to teach me how this past year, but to no avail; lack of time and frustration made it hopeless.
Enter: Wool and the Gang. The UK-based DIY fashion brand—known for selling knitting kits, along with ethically sourced knit pieces—has always been a proponent of do-it-yourself style to gain maximum pleasure and that accomplished feeling in a world of predominant fast-fashion. And they’re celebrating Stress Awareness Month (April aka tax season, naturally) by running their “Make Yourself Happy” campaign, aimed to get customers into the zen zone while combating stress with their busy handiwork.
According to the brand, “77 percent of the US population regularly experience symptoms caused by stress, with workplace stress costing approximately $190 Billion in annual healthcare for employees – making it one of the pressing health issues of our times.”
There’s no doubt these numbers ring true, not only for myself, but likely for most of us who face the hustle of day to day lives in the city.
According to a recent Wool and the Gang survey of US knitters, knitting was found to have helped 68 percent of those who tried it to manage and overcome stress. But the real shocker for me came with the claim that “97 percent of people felt happier when knitting rather than doing yoga or meditating,” which solidified my urge to start knitting immediately.
And when I stumbled upon the Wool and the Gang “knitting parties” hosted in Brooklyn, I knew this was my chance to finally get into knitting properly. With claims of knitting helping with the stress New Yorkers deal with, the knitting parties—set at Williamsburg mainstays like Noorman’s Kil and Battery Harris—sound tempting, to say the least. And so my crash course in knitting began in hopes of finding out what exactly makes this longstanding tradition so relaxing.
Leading up to the “knitting party” this month, I was a little intimidated by the idea of learning an entire new skill set in front of a class. However, upon arrival, I found an intimate, laid back atmosphere with a friendly knitting instructor who diligently worked with every knitter. Armed with the provided knitting kit and yards of colorful upcycled Jersey yarn, I was ready to get knitting.
The hand holding aspect of learning process did came in handy while I struggled with the beginner stage of casting on, where I found myself frustrated with my lack of coordination. But to my relief, I was assured this was normal for beginners and with time and practice, it’ll become easier for me to cast on like a pro. The key is to really keep at it, even if you have to start over and over until your knit is as tight as you’d like.
Fast forward to halfway through the 2-hour class, and I was actually beginning to enjoy the knitting my slowly forming white fabric bag. I would even say, it was relaxing already! But just what exactly makes knitting so stress-relieving, which I already began to feel during the knitting party?
Wool and the Gang’s co-founder and creative director Jade Harwood explains that, “It’s to do with the repetitive nature of knitting, it can seem tricky at first but once you’ve mastered a stitch and keep going, you’ll reach a relaxed, almost meditative state. Like a knitting nirvana! Before you know it you’re calm, relaxed and have knitted something you’ll feel proud of too.”
For more info about these knitting parties, visit here; photos courtesy of Wool and the Gang.