"There is a sexier side to knit and crochet now," says Jennifer Campbell, co-owner with Miko Schechter of The Purple Purl in Toronto, Ont.
It's no longer hard to find all the materials you need to create fabulous, modern projects. So, if you've already made your share of chunky scarves and baby booties for all your pregnant friends, here are some of the latest trends to expand your knitting horizons.
1. Join the club
With the Internet, all of a sudden anyone can learn to cast on and off, purchase rare wools and join communities of like-minded knitters in forums and on message boards – all from the comfort of home.
Knitting communities have also started to make their way back offline, meeting in cafes to knit one, purl two over tea, or at the local library to discuss hot new novels.
"One of the most inspiring things about knitting is the community it creates," says Campbell whose own shop embodies this very concept -- a place to "enjoy yarn, refreshments and good company."
Find your own fellow group of knitters:
• Check to see if your local knitting store offers knit nights.
• Ask if there's a knitting group at your local library
• Try Knitting Circle Canada for a list of knitting organizations in your area.
2. Incorporate eco-friendly materials into your projects
With a heightened awareness of the environment, more and more companies are coming out with eco-friendly practices when it comes to creating their materials. "I am working with yarns now that use non-toxic dyes in recyclable water," says popular British pattern and yarn designer, Debbie Bliss, who just launched Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine.
And according to Campbell, people are now steering clear of acrylics and choosing more sustainable fibres. Her store stocks materials made from seaweed, bamboo and corn. "It's not just wool and cotton anymore," she says.
If you're looking for eco-friendly knitting materials, try:
• Moda Dea Bamboo Wool Yarn
• Hand Maiden Silk and Sea Cell Yarn
• No Sheep for You: Knit Happy with Cotton, Silk, Linen, Hemp, Bamboo & Other Delights by Amy Singer
3. Take your knitting to the next level
As knitters become more comfortable with their art, they expand to other areas. "It's more than just knitting," says Campbell. "All the fibre arts are really popular." Spindle and wheel spinning are increasing in popularity, as well as Entrelac, a knitting technique used to create a textured diamond pattern.
Check with your local yarn store to see if they offer any classes to take you out of your knitting comfort zone and inspire you to try new things.
4. Knit for a good cause
Whether you’re helping someone at home or a community abroad, picking up your needles for charity is a popular – and fulfilling – pastime. Close to home, the Needlework Guild of Canada is an organization that has provided new handmade clothes for the needy for the last 116 years.
And, in South America, for example, the Mirasol Project supports local communities in Peru through the sales of the Mirasol Yarn Collection. A basic online search can help you find "knitting for charity" groups in your area.
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover more fresh knitting ideas on page 2