How do we get the entire world knitting?

It’s a mission of mine to get everyone knitting. Today, we discuss the five pillars of knitter assimilation:

  • Marketing
  • Self-belief
  • Tools and Materials
  • Medium and motivation
  • Access to decent resources

Of course, this is the Shinybees Pentagon of Knitting Assimilation and I think these are the things we need to be considering if we do want knitters to take over the world. More specifically, if we want the entire world to knit. Think how awesome that would be.

No longer is it the case that we keep our knitting hidden away to ourselves.

No more hiding behind closed doors in case someone asks us a silly question, offers a flash of the blindingly obvious, or says, ‘You must have a lot of time on your hands.’

Want to hear what this Pentagon is? Sit back and grab a brew, it’s about to get technical.

Pillar 1: Marketing

Knitting has an image problem.

There you go.

I said it out loud.

Knitting has an image problem  Every man and his dog this that knitting is for Nanas and pregnant ladies, and the media and film do nothing to change that view. Everything people see is stereotyped like this and that is a big issue. Any character in a story who knits? Nana. Comparison to getting old and putting your feet up? Take up knitting! (subtext – Nana). I could go on with all the examples, but the point I make here is that this narrative has to change. This can only be achieved by changing the image of knitting, in much the same way that Skoda have managed to change their image from crap, unreliable junk car to actually pretty decent, no longer embarrassing and, arguably, maybe even a little bit rebelliously hip.

So, how do we change these Nana perceptions? Marketing.

No, it’s not just for sleazy snake oil salesmen and here’s why: marketing is all about conversations and communication. The brand of knitting at the moment is wrapped up in Nana-dom and unless more people see young, cool people doing it, that won’t change. Yes, we all know that it is cool AF, but we’re the enlightened few. We need to find better ways to get it out there that knitting is for everyone.

Knitting needs to become more relevant and desirable if we want everyone to do it.

Pillar 2 – Self belief

Sit in public and knit, and you will get an array of comments like ‘Oh, I could never do that’ and ‘I tried to learn when I was a kid and I was terrible at it’ and ‘It looks so hard!’. Curiosity is the first step to learning, but we also need to deal with the issue of self belief. In order to get people to actually try and learn the skill, instead of telling themselves repeatedly that it is too hard, they need to believe they are capable of doing it.

Pillar 3 – Materials and tools

Very often, a first foray into knitting is a cheap kit with low end acrylic (not all acrylic is created equal) and bendy plastic needles. The instructions are almost always total pants and the whole thing is set up to encourage failure.

New knitters don’t know this is a problem. Think back to when you first started. Given your time again, would you really have used the same tools and materials to get going? Yes, it is probably amusing, looking back now you know what you know. Back then though, there was probably reasonable amount fo frustration involved, and you lily wanted to give up on the whole sorry thing on more than one occasion. Did you even finish the first project?

Whilst this approach may be a cheap failure, the fact is, failure is not what is needed for assimilation (see Pillar 2). We need to be setting newbies up with better tools and nicer yarn, to encourage continuing, and to make the end product worth it (see Pillar 4). It’s mush easier to press on through the difficulties of learning a new skill, if the tools you are working with feel good in your hands, and you really want to achieve the end result.

Pillar 4 – Medium and motivation

Aka Death to the Dr Who Scarf. How many times have you seen others, or have been yourself, taught to knit using the Whovian method? Let’s just all knit a massive boring scarf that will take forever and hope they stick at it. Do you know anyone who has actually finished a Dr Who scarf?

Chances are you still have your first one, and it wasn’t even long enough to achieve neck warmer status. Mine was turned (spectacular holes and all) into a hot water bottle cover.

Yes scarves are easy and allow for (a lot) of repetition but they are so large they are insurmountable. This doesn’t help people stay motivated when the going gets a little tough. It helps them get bored and switch off.

We need to be bringing the Shinybees Trifecta of project awesome into this: a quick win + right level of complexity + desire for finished item = knitting dreams.

Pillar 5 – Access to decent resources

Most of the freebie videos on YouTube are crap. They are too fast, badly lit, too far away to see what is going on, or, lately, have an alarming array of props in there. Learning is not about perfectly styled shots; it’s about getting the information across in an accessible a way as you can. We need decent resources to point newbies towards.

This could take the form of a curated (cringe) list of good places to get started, depending upon what they are interested in making. Whilst there are a lot of really solid tutorials included in independently written books, often these are pitched at slightly more complex skills that may not be appropriate for the new knitter. Many of the mass published ‘learn to knit’ books I have read have had naff projects and unclear techniques sections – again, not exactly inspiring or motivating stuff.

What’s your experience?

What’s been your experience of learning to knit or teaching others? Whilst I talk passionately in this episode, I’d love for this to be the opener for a conversation about how we can all get better at assimilating new knitters. Head on over to the Shinybees Podcast Community on Facebook and let me know your thoughts there!