Sustainability has been an ongoing conversation in fashion for some time, so it’s no surprise that handmade clothing is set to be a major trend in the coming year. Chunky, handmade knitwear in particular has dominated the slow-fashion movement, with brands like Hope Macauley, Gold Freckles and influencer fave Lirika Matoshi producing jumpers, cardigans and accessories that are cozy to an almost physics-defying degree.
These smaller brands aren’t the only ones getting in on the action. Sales of knitting yarn and needles have reached new heights during the last year, thanks to a DIY boom. We can probably thank the ongoing fight against fast fashion and the pandemic for this rise, but there is also something else at play: knitting is now objectively cool. Celebrities like Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Tom Daley are all at it, and it recently became a TikTok trend to recreate the JW Anderson knit patchwork cardigan as seen on Harry Styles (to which Anderson himself responded by releasing the full assembly pattern and, more recently, turning it into an NFT).
Knowing where to start with this hobby is, unsurprisingly, a huge hurdle for the knitting novice. You could be forgiven for thinking that going to buy the supplies you need is a simple task, until you’re greeted with a wall of different sized needles, dozens of yarn varieties and patterns that read like hieroglyphics. And that’s before you even realise something quite vital: you don’t know how to knit. Thank God, then, for YouTube channels like Sheep & Stitch, which painstakingly guide viewers through even the most simple stitches, and for the Craft Yarn Council’s master list of pattern abbreviations.
There are also a plethora of companies who have made it easier than ever to knit your way through the next year (and beyond). Brands like We Are Knitters, Wool and The Gang and the recently launched Made With Love by Tom Daley provide kits, patterns and tools alongside online content to guide you through every step. We’ve picked some of the best kits and patterns to keep you busy and, eventually, looking chic and feeling warm in the new year.
Wool and the Gang: One More Time Balaclava Hat
Skill Level: Beginner
Wool and the Gang’s mission statement is all about sustainability and accessibility, with an aim to get more people making their own clothes and keep up the habit by encouraging community in craft. Their designs are timeless, while also nodding towards some current trends that are less likely to go out of style quickly. This is seen in their One More Time Balaclava Hat kit, which allows knitters to make one of this winter’s hottest accessories, while also encouraging you to wear your finished item over and over again in the future – if only to honour the effort you’ve put into it.
£53 at woolandthegang.com
We Are Knitters: The Nolita Sweater Kit
Skill Level: Beginner
We Are Knitters is one of the most popular modern knitting brands out there, thanks to its extremely fun (and ethically sourced) yarns, as well as kits containing all the tools you need to make contemporary knitted items. The Nolita sweater kit is no exception. This chunky, oversized jumper is designed to never go out of style, while using simple stitches that can be mastered quickly by beginners. There’s a huge choice of colours and patterns go up to a 3XL, with other sizes available on request.
£99 at weareknitters.co.uk
Wool Couture Company: College Scarf Knitting Kit
Skill Level: Beginner
A classic beginner’s craft project, this Wool Couture kit allows you to create a scarf that makes you look like you know what you’re doing. Stripes are created through yarn switching, which sounds scary but is one of the easiest skills to master. Add up to six colours to this kit for a perfectly autumnal, Nora Ephron movie-esque accessory. You may have seen Wool Couture Company on Dragon’s Den back in 2017, when owner Claire Gelder snagged joint investment from dragons Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani. She’s gone from strength to strength ever since.
£39.99 at woolcouturecompany.com
Stitch and Story: Hunter Cowl Knitting Kit
Skill Lever: Advanced Beginner
Once you’ve got a couple of basic scarves behind you, a cowl is the perfect next step – use all the skills you’ve learned from your first projects and add a little bit of spice. This more compact style will keep you warm while introducing you to the slightly more advanced basket weave stitch in the process. Stitch and Story itself provides a lot of guidance on different knitting skills, as well as other craft kits like crochet and cross stitch. Jennifer Lam and Jen Hoang began S&S with a series of workshops in London aiming to make knitting easier and more fun. The end result? A company that promotes accessibility in craft.
£40 at stitchandstory.com
Made With Love by Tom Daley: The Cuddle Cardigan Kit
Skill Level: Intermediate
Launched after the diver knitted his way through the 2021 Olympics, Made With Love by Tom Daley celebrates queerness in craft. Most designs feature a subtle rainbow flag, as seen on the sleeves and edges of the Cuddle Cardigan. Another oversized piece, this cardigan does what it says on the tin: the use of bubble stitch with chunky yarn will have you wrapping this creation around yourself like a hard-done-by, divorced mum in an American TV drama.
£125 at bytomdaley.com
Lauren Aston Designs: The “Sock It To Me” Lounge Socks Kit
Skill Level: Advanced
Run by a small team in Devon, Lauren Aston Designs sell yarn, kits, needles and patterns that ship internationally. The “Sock It To Me” lounge socks aren’t for the faint of heart, more suited for advanced knitters, but the effort is worth the outcome. Kits come with written and visual guides, as well as further pattern options if you’re feeling adventurous. You can follow them on Instagram too (@laurenastondesigns) – the account’s run by Lauren herself, with frequent appearances from her very cute baby daughter and dog. Wholesome!
£25 at laurenastondesigns.com