From knit-inspired wallpaper to stitched-up chairs and stools, knitting is no longer just for sweaters — it’s a decorating staple for the home. Knitters at all skill levels can trim their residences with the craft.
The first step in the decorating process is to take stock of your home and what you like. Lindsey Zara, who runs Precious Knits Shop in Manahawkin, N.J., suggests flipping through knitting patterns for eye-catching inspiration.
“I even look at clothing magazines,” she said. “I look for what’s coming up, what’s the print, do I like the color?”
After determining personal preferences, choosing a project becomes much easier. Zara recommends asking yourself three questions: “What do you like? How do you plan on using this? Where do you plan on using this?”
For beginning knitters, Eline Oftedal, an Oslo, Norway-based designer and author of the upcoming book “Knit Nordic” (Collins & Brown, 2014), recommends “anything that’s square.”
“You can do cushions, you could do potholders in the kitchen or any of these cover-ups for a vase,” she said. Oftedal also suggests that beginners choose projects that don’t involve adding or taking away stitches, so they can concentrate on the knitting.
Choosing the right materials is the next step to successful hand-knit decorating.
“You have to know what project will go with what materials,” Zara said. “You couldn’t make a pillow sham out of cotton — it won’t hold its shape.”
For knitters on a budget, Oftedal suggests looking at acrylic yarns, which are generally less expensive than natural blends.
Zara has a money-saving tip for those in need of cheap material: Use old wool and cashmere sweaters from thrift stores. After washing, unravel them and knit the yarn into whatever you please.
To help you size up the project, the next step is to knit a small square of cloth (known as a swatch) in the stitch pattern and materials you have chosen.
The knitter then can count the number of stitches per inch in the swatch to measure how many stitches will be needed for items such as a 12-inch pillow or a four-foot throw.
Handmade from the Heart
Then the decorating can begin in earnest. As Zara points out, design with store-bought goods comes with constraints ranging from availability to budget.
“In knitting there aren’t any,” she said. “You can make something great with any budget you have.”
Both Oftedal and Zara cite pillows as excellent decorations, but they encourage thinking outside the box. Zara recommends small projects such as mug and teapot cozies, coasters and the pieces for a small afghan.
Oftedal suggests using thicker yarn and needles for updating upholstery, or using two or three strands of scrap yarn together to knit a small rug.
“There’s basically no end to all the textiles you have in your home,” she said. “You could knit most of them.”
While there’s no denying that knitting home décor is harder work than going to the store, Oftedal believes it adds a personal touch.
For her, knitting is a means of preserving and passing on traditional Nordic patterns, and incorporating those designs into knit goods is far more to her than a fashion statement.
For Zara, knitting provides the freedom and delight of making something your own.
“I love the labor of creating something,” she said. “It’s the joy you get and the satisfaction of making something, which, in this world today, is becoming a rare thing.”