We Are Knitters: Fiber Happiness in a Bag

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Image: We Are Knitters, from a past Movember project.

I’m generally a crocheter, but I did learn to knit when I was a kid long before I mastered the art of the crochet hook. Knitting often makes my hands cramp up, though, unlike crochet, so I have only knitted a few things—some scarves, a sweater, a few hats, etc. But I have been watching friends knit and knit and post photos to Facebook and knit some more. I thought it was worth giving knitting another chance. That’s when I found We Are Knitters, whose tagline is “All the happiness in a kit.” Though they also supply crochet kits (and petit point, which I’ve never done), I wanted to try out their knitting. I loved the look of their giant wood needles and chunky yarn.

The kits are sent sealed in durable paper bags, which you can reuse for anything you like. Photo: Jenny Bristol

So I ordered two We Are Knitters kits, the Durand Bag knitting kit (with red tape) and Wool Beginner Kit (with lead yarn). Both were complete kits, having everything you need except for scissors. Each had a pattern, enough yarn/tape to complete the pattern, knitting needles of the proper size, a plastic craft needle, and even a fabric We Are Knitters label (though to attach that, you’d need your own sharp sewing needle and thread).

I began with the Durand kit, as I was intrigued by the idea of knitting with “tape.” The tape is kind of like the longest shoelace you’ve ever seen. It’s that kind of material, made of 100% natural fiber, mainly from recycled cotton. It comes in 11 different colors and is machine washable.

Since this was the first time I’d knitted in years, I noted my initial observations of the whole kit as I began. I thought the knitting needles were pretty sharp, and would sometimes catch on the tape. But it didn’t take too much knitting for them to smooth out and for me to get the hang of knitting again. The tape itself isn’t very stretchy—though it’s more stretchy than many 100% cotton yarns—which affected the knitting experience, so I adjusted my tension appropriately. I found out that knitting is pretty much like riding a bike; even though I hadn’t done it in a while, it began to feel familiar almost right away. I was also reminded that I like purling better than knitting. Couldn’t tell you why.

I did have to look up how to cast on, since I’d forgotten, but after doing it once, muscle memory took over. Binding off, though, wasn’t familiar at all, probably because my mom often did it for me. And I struggled with it, as stitches kept wanting to fall off the needles. Patience ruled the day, however, and I got everything finished.

This bag is done with the standard stockinette stitch. Knit one row, purl the next. It gives a nice flat look, and it’s what was on the pattern. It’s a nice look for the tape. Since it is knitted, though, there are inevitably some small holes, so I’m considering sewing a fabric liner inside the bag. Depends on what I end up carrying inside.

I’m a slow knitter, though, and it took me quite a while to finish this project. But the end result looks pretty close to the pictures on the We Are Knitters website. And the tape is amazing! It looks so nice when worked up. The final knitted fabric has a nice heft to it and a good thickness and texture, and seems very durable. The end result was much different than it would have been if made from conventional yarn, but I like it very much. Now my imagination keeps wandering to what else I could make out of such a material. I’m envisioning rugs, other kinds of bags, and interesting shirts…

After feeling so pleased with my first kit, I dove into the next, the Wool Beginner Kit. This one only came with one skein, but it was 100% Peruvian wool. It’s very thick, and is much more like roving than yarn. With yarn this thick, though, you need huge knitting needles, which I also got in the kit. It came with a pattern for the Broome Beanie, a fun winter hat, but since I don’t need yet another bulky hat (the weather has warmed up in my area over the past 15 years, and I usually don’t need a hat at all in the winter now), I decided to see how far the skein would go making a scarf, cowl, or capelet. I went with the boring but straightforward garter stitch, which is knitting every row. It also gives a bit of added stretch in the length of the product, and gives it more bulk and texture.

I had to be careful to not make many mistakes, though, because the wool will felt if you knit, undo, knit, too many times. Plus, unlike crochet, I am not good (at all) at undoing stitches or picking up dropped ones. This didn’t turn out to be a problem for this project, except in one place, which I’ll describe in a second.

So, I kept knitting and there was just enough yarn to make a cowl or small capelet that covers your neck and the top of your shoulders. I wanted to put in a button so I could fasten it, so I improvised a button hole, using the skills I picked up making the Durand bag’s handles. I started the hole a stitch or two too early, though, and was unsuccessful adjusting it. So my button hole is a bit large. I still haven’t found a good button to fit, so the photo shows a wooden craft wheel as a stand-in in the meantime.

The Wool Beginner Kit was a faster project than the bag above, as the yarn was thicker, there was less of it, and the needles were even larger. The wool is an amazing texture, both by itself and knitted. It wouldn’t work well for bags, but it would make nice hats, scarves, capelets, or (very) bulky sweaters. I look forward to having warm shoulders this winter.

If you love the fiber arts, I highly recommend you check out We Are Knitters. They’ve got a ton of kits ranging from less than $50 to about $200, but you can also just get supplies, such as wool, cotton, merino, tape, fabric yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, and more. You can also buy bulk yarn skeins. You’ll get quality materials, a fun project to complete, and the satisfaction of having done it yourself. They also have plenty of instructional materials on their site. Do recommend.

Note: I was provided with a couple of kits for review purposes.