For me, one of the beautiful things about knitting is the way in which it encourages me to be mindful from start to finish, and that begins right with the process of deciding what project to take on next – certainly not a simple decision! In the process of choosing what to knit, there are so many different potential priorities and I find it is an intensely personal choice. I started knitting about seven years ago now and I’ve been intrigued to notice that the way I pick my knitting projects and the questions that I ask myself throughout this process have fluctuated throughout my knitting journey. This post is a place for me to reflect on these questions in the hope that they might be helpful next time you’re ready to pick up those needles and cast on!
What finished object are you on the market for?
Slow fashion is not just about making a garment slowly (although, is there any other way to knit?). It’s also about taking the time to make those fashion decisions in an intentional and considered way. When I’m choosing what to knit next, I try to think about the gaps in my wardrobe and the kind of item that would fit in seamlessly to become not only a new staple, but a staple for many years to come. Is there anything more tragic than a beautifully hand-knitted item that just sits and accrues dust (or worse, moths!) hidden at the back of a cupboard, because it simply does not have a place in the everyday repetition of our day-to-day lives?
I personally love knitted garments not only for their beauty but also for their practicality, and I certainly don’t believe that one excludes the other! This is something that I love about the patterns here at Along Avec Anna. They have a modern but timeless quality that ensures they won’t be worn once or twice one season and then resigned to the graveyard of the formerly fashionable. A classic Rosa Jumper or elegant Silver Leaf Cardigan will always have its place in the wardrobe to bring warmth, cosiness and style for the short- and long-term!
What do you want to learn next?
This was the first question I always asked myself when I was at the very beginning of my knitting journey. I wanted to be attentive to my current knitting level but also choose a pattern that would challenge me and put a new skill under my belt. Learning the knit stitch took me to learning the purl stitch, increasing and decreasing, and before long I was taking on simple lace details and basic stranded colourwork.
One of the many things I love about working at Along avec Anna is the fact I still learn new things about knitting every day (indeed, brioche still awaits me…). The patterns at Along Avec Anna prize knitting pedagogy and accessibility, with their clear step-by-step instructions, links to video tutorials, and access to email pattern support (courtesy of yours truly)! Free patterns like a Trescao Jumper are great for motivated beginners, who want to dabble in raglan increases, simple lace yarnovers and the odd German short row, but mostly stick to the reassuring repetition of stockinette in the round. For those who want to try a slightly more complex lace pattern the Posy Top or Romy Jumper would be great choices! If colourwork is next on your knitting bucket list, Anna’s newest book, Tricoter en couleurs, tells you everything you need to know about colourwork from the very basics through to the complex nuances and top tips (though it’s only available in French for the time being!).
What do you most enjoy knitting?
This is a question that became more important to me further into my knitting journey after I felt like I had dipped my toes into a whole range of knitting possibilities and had developed a sense of the kind of knitting I enjoyed not only for the product but for the actual process itself. There are so many factors to consider in finding a project that you actively want to sit and knit for hours and hours on end, including the yarn weight, its fibre content, the number of strands, the size and complexity of the project, and the knowledge and techniques it requires.
Over the years I’ve learned about myself that I most enjoy patterns that have a little bit of variation in the stitches and are knitted in a medium weight yarn like DK or worsted made of all natural fibres. Like many people, I first began knitting with synthetic yarns picked up cheaply at my local knitting shop and it wasn’t until later that I realised how much using natural fibres enhanced my enjoyment of the knitting process (as well as the feeling and quality of the final product!).
I have especially fallen head over hooves for knitting with a strand of silk mohair alongside sheep’s wool, as for me there is something intensely satisfying in the combination of steadiness and structure with cosiness, fluffiness and beautiful silky sheen. Of course you can imagine that I am beyond excited by the recent release of the new Along avec Anna merino and mohair yarns, which are cruelty-free, 100% natural fibres, and will be perfect for holding together to knit a whole host of Along Avec Anna patterns and more!
What do you prioritise when you choose your knitting projects? Do you privilege the product, pedagogy, process or something else entirely? What comes first, the yarn or the plan?
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or by tagging us on instagram at @alongavecanna and using the hashtag #alongavecanna