Purls of Wisdom

Cameron Lee

Recent Posts

Crocheting: How It Is Different from Knitting, and Why You Should Try It This Summer!

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Jul 15, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

So you’ve decided to try out handwork with your kids this summer, but you can’t choose between knitting and crocheting. What are the differences? Which is easier? Do they both offer the health benefits that we discovered knitting helps with in our last blog post? If you were never taught the difference between the two, it can be daunting to figure out how to start. You may have a family member that knits or crochets, but you’re not quite sure what goes into the different processes, and you’ve never thought to ask them why they prefer one form of the craft over the other. In this post we’ll explore the history of crocheting together, talk about the differences (and similarities!) between knitting and crocheting, and help you figure out which of the two you’d rather learn first! (If neither seem right for you, check out this blog post on kumihimo, a form of Japanese braiding, and an awesome summer activity for your kids.)Hands crocheting with blue yarn and crochet hook

Crocheting, or the process of making “a piece of needlework by looping thread with a hooked needle,” has history in many countries around the world. A lot less is known about the origins of crocheting than knitting, but some researchers believe that the art originated in Arabia and traveled around the world via Arab trade routes, while others believe crocheting was born in South America or China. Even though the history of crocheting is not very well documented, its role in the world has been very important! After the Irish potato famine in the mid 1800s, for example, families survived on money they made from selling their crochet projects, and when millions of Irish people immigrated to America to escape the famine, they brought crocheting with them.

Early crochet projects were made using anything from hair to grass to animal fur as yarn, and animal bone, horns, old spoons, and wood served as substitutes for the crochet hooks used today. One of the main uses of crocheting in 16th century Europe, for example, was to imitate the fashionable lace that wealthier people could afford, but that people of the lower classes couldn’t. Nowadays people crochet afghans, blankets, scarves, hats, shawls, socks, tote bags, and more!

Now that I’ve told you all about crocheting and knitting, it’s time to learn about the similarities and differences between the two so you can pick which to try first! Both crocheting and knitting can be done by following patterns and you can make mostly the same projects using either technique. They require similar sets of skills - hand-eye coordination, patience, determination to see a project through to the end - and because of this, crocheting offers many of the same health benefits as knitting.

Crocheting and knitting, on the other hand, don’t use all of the same supplies. Instead of using two needles like you do when you hand knit, crocheting is done with a single hook. Although there are knitting machines that help mass produce clothes, no machine has yet been invented that properly mimics crochet stitches, so almost all crocheting is done by hand.  

There is no simple answer to which process is easier: some people find crocheting more natural to pick up and others think knitting is less difficult. Because you can make very similar projects with knitting and crocheting, whether you wish to create a blanket or a hat shouldn’t stop you from exploring one or the other. If you want to help teach your child how to knit, check out our last blog post for some amazing resources on getting started!

Crochet hook and purple yarnIf you wish to try crocheting, you have many options for how to begin! You can send your kids to one of The Handwork Studio’s summer camps where they can learn all sorts of crafts, or you can check out The Handwork Studio’s YouTube tutorial on how to get started crocheting and learn right alongside your kids. No matter which technique you choose to learn and how you decide to explore it, The Handwork Studio will be right by your side with resources and guidance.

If you and your child work on projects that you want to share, post a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #SewMoreLove! We would love to see what you and your young crafters create this summer!

Tags: Knitting, Crochet, Fun, Summer, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities, Crocheting

Knitting: A Fun Summer Activity That’s Also Good for Your Health

Posted by Cameron Lee on Tue, Jul 10, 2018 @ 05:15 PM

Do you ever notice that your child is feeling stress, helplessness, or anxiety? Whether they are caused by school, work, or other daily worries, these negative emotions can sometimes get overwhelming. Everyone has their way of dealing with them, from bubble baths to relaxing yoga to playing sports, but there’s one method of helping eliminate this negativity from your kids’ lives that is a bit more unconventional: Knitting. 

 Stock photo of knitting needles and yarn

Hear me out! Knitting, a process that involves the repeated interlocking of loops of yarn using needles, has been around since the 5th century and spread from the Middle East to Europe to all over the world. People everywhere learned to make sweaters, scarves, socks, and all sorts of things with this handheld craft, and eventually, it became so popular that machines had to be invented to make the process faster. Its popularity only grew and spread with the recent resurgence of handmade knitting, and now it is popular amongst people of all ages!

Knitters and scientists alike have conducted studies, experiments, and research all to figure out if knitting has health benefits, and they discovered some amazing things. One study shows that knitting can “reduce chronic pain, boost mood, reduce stress, treat panic attacks...boost confidence,” and more. The repetitive movements, hand positions, and mental stimulation of knitting can help cheer you up and make you feel safe, and feeling the soft yarn can soothe you and calm you down.

Child (boy) smiling with Wonder Knitter

Another study finds that knitting can prompt your brain to release serotonin, a chemical that affects your mood, and it can also lower your heart rate by 11 beats per minute, creating a sense of calm similar to what you feel when you practice yoga. Knitting is different than yoga, playing music, and other calming activities, however, because research speculates that crafting encourages neural pathways in your brain to stay healthy. This means that knitting can help your brain stay strong as you age, and lessen the chance of memory loss and cognitive impairments.

In addition to being great for your health, knitting is an fantastic skill to learn both for personal gain and to combat loneliness. When you or your child finishes a knitting project, you get to wear your hat or scarf or socks knowing that you made them, or give them to someone else knowing that you gave them something unique that no one else could have done the same. When you are on the bus, or in a car, or in a waiting room, knitting is an amazing conversation starter, in addition to helping you feel productive and pass the time. You and your child can also make friends because of knitting! You could join a knitting club, or attend The Handwork Studio’s classes or camps, and unite with others around a shared love for the craft.Two children (girls) smiling with knitting projects

Whether you or your kids wish to start a new activity, make some friends, strengthen your brain, or simply feel good, knitting is a great solution. You and your child can even improve your bond by learning to knit together by getting your own knitting materials and watching The Handwork Studio’s knitting tutorials. If you are stuck on how to approach teaching your child to knit, check out this article for some tips and tricks to make the process as seamless and happy as possible. Summer is also a great time to try something new, acquire a fun, useful skill, and make memories that your family will cherish forever!

 Two children (girls) smiling with Wonder Knitters

 

Image Descriptions
Image 1: Stock photo of knitting needles and yarn
Image 2: Child smiling with Wonder Knitter
Image 3: Two children smiling with knitting projects
Image 4: Two children smiling with Wonder Knitters

 

 

 

Tags: Summer Camp, Knitting, Fun, Summer, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities, Health Benefits, Health

Summer: Let Kids Relax and Get in the Flow with Ancient Japanese Braiding

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Jul 01, 2018 @ 10:06 AM

Another school year ends, and another summer begins. Suddenly kids are hanging around the house without the daily routine of school and after-school activities, and they may complain that it is too sunny and hot to go outside. Everyone has experienced this phenomenon, whether you are a parent or a kid yourself, and it is easy for kids to get stuck in the endless cycle of sitting in front of the TV in the air-conditioned family room all day, eating snacks and losing all that fantastic free time they were so highly anticipating while still in school.

So many kids spend too much time watching TV or on their phones, letting some of the greatest joys of this time of year pass them by. Having so much time on your hands can seem like a negative when you’re not sure what to fill it with, and although electronics and screen time are a child’s first go to, they can quickly become overused, and prevent kids from participating in activities that they don’t have time to explore during the school year.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that kids should be immersed in activities the first day after school ends - nobody wants to go from the stress and strict routine of school to another strict routine. Summer should be a time for kids to alleviate stress, learn something new, and find tColorful marudai kumihimo braidsheir flowengaging in an activity or passion for which they have so much love that they don’t even notice the time passing.

Being in flow, or experiencing that sense of overwhelming joy that comes from doing something you are really passionate about, is something we don’t incorporate enough in our daily lives, but that can easily be remedied. Activities like kumihimo, an ancient form of Japanese braiding, can help kids find their flow, learn something new, help with fine motor skills, and forget all about that summer slump. Kumihimo dates back well over a thousand years and was traditionally used by Samurai warriors to hold their armor together and provide a grip on their sword hilts. It was even used to prevent tea from being poisoned!

Although handmade kumihimo became less popular over the years as Japanese braiders invented machines to do the braiding, the art is still practiced in Japan (and all over the world) today. People still use kumihimo braids to tie down the wide sashes called obi that go on kimonos and to tie their haori jackets. At the same time, people like Martha Stewart are featuring kumihimo in their magazines and blogs, explaining how to use a kumihimo disc, the modern version of the traditional marudai and takadai stands used to create the braids. 

Kumihimo braid bracelets

Kids can even learn how to do kumihimo themselves through The Handwork Studio’s YouTube channel and at our summer camps. Summer is a time for kids to challenge themselves to try new things and learn new, fun skills, and kumihimo is a great place to start. It is educational, engaging, and kids become a part of an ancient history of Japanese braid-making when they try their hands at the art. Kumihimo braids can be used for all sorts of awesome things like shoelaces, bracelets, necklaces, and bookmarks, and it

Kumihimo braiding discwill feel great for your kids to be able to wear or use something they made. Once they become a master at the braiding technique, they can even try out more complicated and colorful patterns!

So, once again, if your kids are bored at home, watching too much TV and stuck in ruts, you should encourage them to learn kumihimo. Whether they try it on their own by ordering some of our kumihimo materials and following a YouTube tutorial or come to one of The Handwork Studio’s many locations and participate in our summer camps, your kids will find passion in kumihimo, find their flow, and make the most of their summer! 






 

Tags: Kumihimo, Summer Camp, Kids Camp, Fun, Summer, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities