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Planning Retirement Online

Out of the box - Knitting

This is our new regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try. 

If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.





Men – don’t go away. While traditionally knitting used to be for women only, times have changed dramatically. Read on!!

Certainly, most of us who are members of the Laterlife community come from an era when knitting was very much part of normal life. If we didn’t knit as youngsters, certainly our mothers would have done and for our grandmothers, it would have been as normal in everyday life as cooking.

Then yarns became more expensive and man made fibres and cheap clothing hit the market and suddenly, knitting was off the agenda. Which was a shame because, apart from the excellent clothes that can be made from hand knitting, it is also a very therapeutic pastime. Knitting can calm one, some claim it can help to lower blood pressure; it can occupy one and help prevent loneliness; and today, with so many exciting new colours and yarns on the market, it can also produce terrific items. The newest development is the knitting club; today clubs are being started all over the country offering a great way to learn more about knitting and make some new friends as well.

Increasingly, men are now also taking up knitting and with as many patterns now available for men’s clothing as well as for women’s, many men are finding it a useful as well as a fun pastime.

With a little practice and skill, everyone can produce beautiful items that, thanks to new colours and patterns, are a light age away from the traditional old ill-fitting sweaters and socks that used to cause so much mirth in the past.

Learning to knit is easy. There are lots of websites that give visual demonstrations; there are also a host of magazines and publications and also special knitting groups. I have included a list of contacts and ideas below to help get you started.

Also there are now some special learn-to-knit products on the market; usually nicely packaged and including fun yarns, knitting needles and simple instructions to introduce newcomers to the art of knitting.

Very basically, to start knitting all you need is some decent yarn (ie wool in skeins) and a set of knitting needles. To get started, you cast on, ie loop some yarn onto the knitting needle and then pull the wool through the loop to secure it onto the needle. Once you have cast on the number of stitches you require, you simple keep going along the line of stitches, building up more and more “loops” of wool to form the material.

It sounds complicated, but once you do it, it becomes second nature and many people knit happily while also watching television or reading.

As you become more practiced, there are different stitches you can use to create different effects; and of course once you become proficient, you can add different colours to create intricate patterns and styles. With modern stretchy yarns, you can now also make a variety of garments that can fit snugly, are wonderfully soft and comfortable to wear, and look great.


Like any new hobby, there is new terminology to be learned. This includes:

Casting on. This is when you start by creating the first row of stitches. This is done by making a slip loop over one needle, placing the other through the loop, passing the yarn over and under the needle and drawing this yarn back through the loop. You then put this new loop onto the needle to create another basic stitch.

Knitting. This is the act to knit, and also means the main basic stitch used in knitting. To knit, you create a row of the basic loop stitches on one needle (casting on, see above); then you place the point of the other needle through the loop, wind the wood under the point of the needle and bring it back through the loop. You slip this loop onto the needle and you have created one stitch of the next row.

Row. A row is when all the stitches have been worked, and thereby transferred from one needle to the other. When a row has been completed, the needles change hands and another row can be started.

Purl. This is the name of another type of stitch that gives a different pattern. Often you can knit one plain knitted row followed by a purl row to give a nice pattern; but purl knitting can be used in many different ways.

Increase and decrease. This is when you add or reduce the number of stitches on your needle and is used to shape garments or to create specific patterns.

Knitting is once again coming back into fashion and people of all ages are beginning to take it up as a creative pastime.

To find out more about knitting, a few useful sites include: (good clear instructions and visuals) (offers video support)


There are also some hard copy magazines available from high street shops such as:

Let’s Knit Magazine

Knitting Magazine (GMC Publications)

There are also many books available which offer comprehensive advice:

Amazon Book: How To Knit The Knitter's Bible Knitty Gritty: Knitting for the Absolute Beginner


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