From knit-inspired wallpaper to stitched-up chairs and stools, knitting is no longer just for sweaters; it’s a decorating staple for the home. Now it’s easier than ever for knitters of all levels to trim their residences with the craft.
The first step in the decorating process is to take stock of your home and what you like. Lindsey Zara, who runs Precious Knits Shop from Manahawkin, N.J., suggests flipping through knitting patterns for eye-catching inspiration.
“I even look at clothing magazines,” she says. “I look for what’s coming up, what’s the print, do I like the color?”
After determining personal preferences, picking a project becomes much easier. Zara recommends asking yourself three questions: “What do you like? How do you plan on using this? Where do you plan on using this?”
For beginning knitters, Eline Oftedal, Oslo, Norway-based designer and author of the upcoming book “Knit Nordic” (Collins & Brown, 2014), recommends “anything that’s square.”
“You can do cushions, you could do potholders in the kitchen or any of these cover-ups for a vase,” she says. Oftedal also recommends beginners pick projects that don’t involve adding or taking away stitches, so they can concentrate on the knitting.
Choosing the right materials is the next crucial step to successful hand-knit decorating. “You have to know what project will go with what materials,” Zara says. “You couldn’t make a pillow sham out of cotton, it won’t hold its shape.”
For knitters on a budget, Oftedal recommends looking at acrylic yarns, which are generally less expensive than natural blends.
Zara has a unique moneysaving tip for those in need of cheap material: Reuse old wool and cashmere sweaters from the thrift store. After washing, unravel them and knit up the yarn into whatever you please.
The next step is to knit a small square of cloth (known as a swatch) in the stitch pattern and materials you’ve chosen to help you size up the project.
The knitter then can count the number of stitches per inch in the swatch to measure how many stitches they’ll need for a twelve-inch pillow or four-foot throw.
Handmade from the Heart
Then, the decorating can begin in earnest. As Zara points out, design with store-bought goods comes with constraints ranging from availability to budget. “In knitting there aren’t any,” she says. “You can make something great with any budget you have.”
Both Oftedal and Zara cite pillows as excellent decorations, but they encourage thinking outside the box. Zara recommends small projects such as mug and teapot cozies, coasters and the pieces for a small afghan.
Oftedal suggests using thicker yarn and needles for updating the upholstery, or using two or three strands of scrap yarn together to knit a small rug.
“There’s basically no end to all the textiles you have in your home,” she says. “You could knit most of them.”
While there’s no denying knitting home décor is harder work than going to the store, Oftedal believes it adds a personal touch that is truly unique.
For her, knitting is a means of preserving and passing on traditional Nordic patterns, and incorporating those designs into knit goods is far more to her than a fashion statement.
For Zara, knitting provides the freedom and delight of making something your own.
“I love the labor of creating something,” she says. “It’s the joy you get and the satisfaction of making something, which, in this world today, is becoming a rare thing.”
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