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I made a pact recently, and that was to get myself some hobbies. Ground-breaking idea, I know, but with the gravitational pull that work, dog care, social engagements – and admittedly Netflix – have on my life, there was little left over that was both active and restorative. Part of the answer came from getting outside more (shout-out to tennis lessons for helping with that one), but I also wanted something that was available to me daily, with low costs but high rewards.
That's where knitting came in. Turns out yes, even 30-something men can go full cottage-core. With nothing but a wild idea and a few YouTube how-tos under my belt, I got myself to a fabric store and came home with randomly selected needles and yarns, ready to embark on a new, crafty chapter.
Except it became readily apparent I had no idea what I was doing. I added stitches right and left, realized my starting yarn was way too thin for a newcomer like me, and had nothing but a tangled mess to show for it. What I needed was a little hand-holding. Some kind of guide that would point me towards not just the ideal project for my skill level (or lack thereof), but the right materials and approach to go along with it.
ENTER: WE ARE KNITTERS
That kind of step-by-step support is exactly what We Are Knitters gives. Founded just over ten years ago in Spain, the brand is the brainchild of Pepita Marín and Alberto Bravo. Driven by their desire to bring both accessibility and sustainability (100% of their yarns are made from natural fibers) to a world that was so often insular, the two turned to the world of e-commerce. By using a direct-to-consumer model, they were able to grow far beyond their region, with 95% of their customer base now coming from outside Spain. And their brand is growing faster than ever. It was only recently that the brand started popping up all over my feed, and what caught my eye even more than the adorable finished products was the unique approach to the customer experience.
WAK very specifically describes itself as a community, offering not just video tutorials for every step of the process, but detailed blog posts and live forums where customers can swap tips, tricks and inspo. Considering I was tackling my first project alone in my house, without any knitting gurus' words of encouragement, this was far and away the biggest reason I decided to give it a try.
Then came the fun part.
SO MANY OPTIONS, SO LITTLE TIME
A big decision lay ahead of me: what the hell did I want to make? WAK breaks down its offerings into tons of different categories, allowing you to sort by technique (knitting, crocheting, embroidery, etc.), type of fiber, type of garment, and/or difficulty level. The latter was obviously most pertinent for me, but thanks to my slightly delusional self-confidence, I skipped the "My First Project" section and went right to the "Beginner Kits."
Blankets, tees, and sweaters all stood before me, but I instantly gravitated to one project in particular: the Russel beanie. I kept it classic and stuck with grey wool, though there were 27 (!) other options to choose from. So without fully knowing what kind of workload I'd signed myself up for, I hit add-to-cart and began the five-day wait for my package to arrive.
In the meantime, I did my homework. Even though the WAK bundles come with physical copies of your instruction booklet – or your "pattern," as it's called in the knitting world – the digital version is also delivered along with your receipt. That gave me a chance to preview the techniques I'd need to get familiar with before diving in. It turns out the beanie pattern used several terms I was unfamiliar with: 1x1 rib stitch, stockinette, knitting vs. purling. More experienced knitters are probably shaking their heads, but for a first-timer, I'll admit I was daunted!
Handily, though, each of those concepts had an accompanying how-to video on the site. While the videos could have been more thorough, especially through the use of narration and verbal instruction, WAK’s position as a global and multi-lingual company has led them to focus on the visual instead. I was more or less able to absorb the ideas by watching, but I also leaned on a few outside videos for voiced-over explanations. As helpful as every other aspect of the WAK process had been so far, this is the one area that I'd suggest making even more foolproof.
Quibbles aside, once my kit arrived I was more than ready to get started – and from here forward WAK went back to delivering in spades. The needles and yarn that arrived were both high-quality and perfectly matched for each other, and made even my first stab at the new techniques feel gratifying. I was skeptical at first that this was really a Beginner Level project, but before long I was totally in the zone. Knitting became my go-to hobby for moments of unwinding, just as I was hoping it would be.
The pattern explains everything from dimensions to instructions on every single row. Having since looked at a lot of free patterns online to compare and contrast, I can say that WAK’s approach is ten times more helpful than almost any other pattern out there. In less than two weeks I found myself at the final step: weaving my handiwork into its final shape. Once I did that, consulting WAK’s blog post on that very subject…
Your boy had himself a beanie! To say I was pleased with the results of my first-ever garment could not be more of an understatement. The shape was right, the texture was even, and my excitement to move on to the next project was officially through the roof. So why mess with success? I'll absolutely be using We Are Knitters when it's time to pick those needles back up again. From start to finish, the brand ushered me into a discipline that seemed totally beyond my grasp alone.
Considering WAK’s mission statement, I'd say that's mission accomplished.
FIVE MORE REASONS TO LOVE WE ARE KNITTERS:
1. Knitting is just the tip of the iceberg here: WAK’s got kits for macrame, hand dying, and tons of other styles.
2. WAK offers discounts on individual items and significant savings if you buy in bundles, with up to 25% off a 15-yarn order.
3. The brand offers an entire line of WAKcessories: stickers, tote bags, tees, and needle cases.
4. As part of their commitment to slow fashion, WAK makes all needles from 100% recycled beechwood, as well as offering many yarns made from used, recycled garments.
5. Any time you invite friends to purchase WAK products, you'll both earn $12 off your next purchase, making it that much easier to share the love.