Q for You: Are you a kit knitter?

Q for You: Are you a kit knitter?

One of the most fascinating things about knitters, to me, is the variety of approaches and attitudes toward choosing yarn and projects and yarn for projects. There are people who have no interest in patterns and want to make everything up for themselves — finding half the joy in the planning and even the trial-and-error aspect of it. People who like a pattern but go their own way where yarn is concerned and/or make lots of pattern modifications. People who will only use the recommended yarn, either knowing that the pattern was designed for that yarn and using it will increase the likelihood of success, or not trusting themselves to choose something else. People who want exactly the pictured item, and will use not only the recommended yarn but the same color as the sample. And people who prefer the pattern and yarn be sold together in a kit, so not only is there minimal risk and no decision-making required, it’s a single purchase. I love it!

Like most things in knitting (and life) there is absolutely no right or wrong. We all come to knitting for different reasons. Some have mind-numbingly dull day jobs and knitting is their creative outlet. Others find the greatest escape and relaxation in having had someone else do all the math and planning for them — they just want to sit down and knit, and to feel reasonably confident the outcome will be positive. Among a million other scenarios. I get it: Some days I’m one of these people, and some days I’m the other. But most days I’m somewhere in between. I feel like if I want the thing exactly as pictured (which happens often enough), I’d rather buy it as finished goods, since there’s no room for me to bring any of my own thinking to it anyway. On the other hand, kits can be such enticing objects unto themselves. The Latvian mitten kit I won a couple years ago is one of my prized possessions, to the point that I can’t imagine unboxing it, so I guess that’s maybe a kit being too good? Wool and the Gang does such a beautiful job with their boldly bagged kits. (Of course, I like to think my own Fringe kits are pretty appealing!) And the other day I ran across Kit Couture and found myself wanting kit after kit. So that’s my Q for You this round: Are you a kit knitter? Or where do you fall on this spectrum?

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52 thoughts on “Q for You: Are you a kit knitter?

  1. I am not a kit knitter at all. I prefer to make my own patterns, or follow a pattern but usually very heavily modified. I have only once used a pattern as written. That was the very first knitting project I had ever done, and it was a cardigan. Perhaps a tough thing to do to learn how to knit, but I learned a lot from the experience and I never regretted it. I still wear it to this day and it was made many, many years ago.

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    • I bought my first kit just recently! It’s a crochet-a-long kit for a shawl that I think I never would have attempted otherwise. :ately I’ve been eyeing patterns with lots of colors (knit and crochet), but since I don’t feel confident in my color selection abilities (yet) I felt a kit was perfect for me. It was also so fun to have a whole pile of harmonious yarn colorways arriving in one beautiful package. So a kit made me really happy!

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  2. I have not tried kits yet but I have tried yarn subs, which come with yarn and recommended pattern. More often than not, I choose a different one. I like the idea of a kit though, and will probably try one day, but for now, I have way too much stash to consider buying more yarn. I think a good packaging does make for an appealing kit, and receiving one must feel like a special present has been sent to you, a different experience from buying yarn only.

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  3. It depends on what i’m knitting. If i’m doing a color work item for example its sometimes easier to buy a kit , rather than buy full skeins of 15 colors and have a ton of yarn left over. Fair isle sometimes can be difficult to come up with great color combos so kits can be fun and less stressful. Other wise i usually like choosing my own yarn and colors for a pattern.

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  4. I am not a kit knitter. I like to follow a pattern (occasionally I do a minor modification) but I always prefer to chose my own yarn. I love color and never like the basic colors most patterns are shown in on the pattern site. Example, I knit the Madigan sweater and it was done in a lovely green, my favorite color. First time I made it I colorblocked it with shades of blue to white, I’m making another one and this time it will be a rainbow :) Now if I found a kit with options like that I might buy one.

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  5. I am a frugal knitter, so much of my knitting (and I’m always knitting) for the past 20 years has been unraveling things I’m tired of or didn’t come out as expected and re knitting with the same yarn! Most recently I undid a favorite Aran from a vintage pattern because it developed too many moth holes and made a lovely quince barn coat. Maybe I’ll start documenting!

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  6. I can’t seem to follow patterns, let alone keep with the yarn recommendations, so mostly I do not knit with kits. That said, Morehouse Merino (closing for sad reasons) has these critter knit kits that my daughter and her friends adored so I did buy a sizable amount of those kits and they are great fun.

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  7. I’ve knit from a kit occasionally, but typically choose my own yarn. I don’t usually modify a pattern too much – I modify length most often and may also change recommended techniques such as a cast-on or seaming techniques – minor changes like those. My big problem is that there’s no real LYS where I live – we have big box stores that carry yarn and one independent store that carries yarn as an afterthought and never in sweater-quantity amounts, so I’m very dependent on Internet buying and visiting yarn shops when we travel. Consequently, I am probably more tempted than most to buy the yarn pictured in a pattern, although I always choose my own color. I simply don’t have the opportunity to touch and squeeze and visualize a variety of yarns when I’m buying yarn for a project. And, on the whole, the choices have turned out very nicely, although I do return a fair amount of yarn, too! My husband and I will be relocating after he retires in a few years and my #1 requirement of our new community will be a full-service fiber shop that has classes and which builds and supports the local fiber community! Can hardly wait!

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    • Hi Karen I too live in a community with no local fiber shop. I have found the most useful investment is swatch kits from any company whose yarn I think I will like and use if I could only see actual colours and touch the yarn- Quince & Company, Rowan, Jared Flood, Big Bad Wool company are some that I return to time after time- then of course a good online shop is invaluable- Espace Tricot in Montreal is excellent. Happy knitting cheers Deby

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  8. No, I don’t do kits either. I usually just use the pattern but substitute appropriate yarn, colour and mods where needed for my shape i.e. deeper arm scye, shorter sleeves etc. I guess I have a large enough stash for smaller projects like hats and mitts so have never thought to go with a kit.

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  9. I do occasionally knit from kits. I have loved the Wool and the Gang kits I have used so far. I am curious about Kit Couture Karen. Have you knit one of their kits? They have some gorgeous knit kits at the website.

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  10. I have never bought a kit. Not true, I recently bought a deeply discounted Rowan kit at a shop because… Rowan! I wanted the yarn, have little interest in the project for which it was intended. I won a kit once and, like you, rather enjoy it more in kit form and don’t know if I’ll ever make it. I rarely knit a project with the specified yarn.

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  11. I am all over the map. I mostly like flexibility in tweaking a pattern or using a different yarn, but sometimes I will find an FO I like a lot and want to copy shamelessly. I have knit a couple of hats from kits and enjoyed it- an Andean chullo from a KnitPicks kit with tons of leftovers, and a Sheep Heid where the kit was a gift from a friend. For the Sheep Heid, a kit was a no-brainer, since it used 9 colors of undyed Shetland yarn. I’m seldom a purist, but yarn substitution for that particular hat would have been anathema!

    I struggle sometimes with buying yarn without a project in mind, so there is something to be said for the “match made in heaven” idea of a kit. :)

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  12. I don’t know if I am a kit knitter yet- I haven’t tried any. But I think I would like it. my biggest fear when buying yarn is not buying enough, so I always over buy. Now I want to start using more quality fibres for my good projects (rather than big craft store yarns), but I have so much of the lower-quality stuff stashed that I need to figure out ways to use that up!

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  13. I much prefer the full creative route both because it saves money and I get to be satisfied that something is mine from start to finish, but also not “mine” but part of a vast tradition. I find knitting the knitting community and the spread of information and techniques to be at its best when things are more or less “open source”. The sharing of techniques and ideas, coupled with the sourcing of materials from such a wide variety of independent makers is what makes this particular field part of the zeitgeist today. That it’s all done with a truly positive “contributory” attitude–contemporary artists whose focus is Social Practice can only dream of such a world, and here it is fully fleshed out in the fiber community.

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  14. I like the idea of kits, but most don’t have enough colorways. I like options, if I’m going to get a kit. There are a few places out there with ‘build your own’ kits, and I like those. They give you the base of the kit, and let you select your yarn colors from specific yarns. I know this leaves room for leftover yarn colors, but I prefer this, if I’m going to buy a kit.

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  15. I just started knitting in October of last year. I really thought should I start with a kit? I instead bought some Wool from the NewYork Wool fest , bought a bundle of bamboo needles from China , every size possible. I bought a pattern and made a fox then adjusted it to a much smaller size . I love working with wool compared to alpaca , not that I don’t like it but I am a some what tight knitter. Alpaca is So soft .I guess I will adjust myself eventually.So I think a kit for me would be a safe knitting project for me. There are some gorgeous kits out there and I’ll have give it a try.

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  16. I resist the domination of a kit! Too funny, but every time I check out kits, I want to change their content somehow. So no to kits, I’ll figure out my own way. I love knitting from patterns because creating complex stitches and designs is not something that comes easily to me so I’ll gladly pay a designer for their time and expertise. I do enjoy looking at kits to see how designers put together colors – gives me ideas I may not have thought of.

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  17. Like others, I too have never bought a kit and tend to choose a pattern but then make many modifications. It was only recently that I actually bought the intended yarn in the intended colorway because it was so stunning and I’d been thinking about that yarn for at least 12 months now. lolol Sometimes I get a vision when I’m knitting the particular pattern where I veer off and am going down my own path. The problem: sometimes I get caught with not enough yarn and have to scramble to be able to finish.

    I recently started participating in Ravelry KALs and have noticed that some designers are good with folks like me…..but there are others who have no patience and don’t really want folks like me participating as if to say: why can’t you just follow the rules?!?!?!?

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    • Hey Lynn,
      I never thought of KALs as a “kit” but I guess when you’re using the yarn the pattern designer wants, it is a de facto kit. I tend to stay away from a lot of them because I don’t want to spend on the fancy yarn they partner with. Who needs rules? lol

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  18. I love the IDEA of kits but I’ve never actually bought one, mostly I think because I tend to use less yarn than particular patterns typically call for and I hate having tiny leftover skeins all over the place that I don’t know what to do with!

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  19. I *only* crochet. I do not buy crochet kits. Just like a recipe, I always tweak something. I get teased about it.

    Now, writing that, I did buy the quarterback dress kit from Wool and the Gang before they just released the pattern. I also ordered two extra balls of the yarn in the color I wished. I am converting it to crochet. I wanted to make the sweater myself.

    I happened into a yarn store in Sante Fe, NM where the owner also was a designer. I fell in love with one of her sweaters. She really did not have a premade kit but all the elements of a kit. I bought the pattern, the correct amount of yarn for crochet, and had her blessing. Once I finish it, if it turns out well, she asked me to come back and teach a class, especially since I had a work-in-progress with me.

    I just wish there were more crochet options. I have been told by Meg of Northwest Handspun Yarns that my crochet is what crochet should be. I have had my crochet mistaken for knit.

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  20. I LOVE the idea of a kit…. I have always wanted to buy one, but never do, I think because of the cost. So I guess that makes me a cheap knitter. :3

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  21. I have 3 current WIPs: a stole (modified to be narrower, subbing gauge and color); a cardigan (sub yarn, gauge, stitch pattern, adding cables, and bespoke shaping); and a cowl which was a stash-diving project (no pattern, this one is totally winging it).

    So, I guess the answer is no. Kits can be lovely and inspiring, but I am not a kit knitter.

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  22. I look at kits *often*, but I have never actually purchased one. In the end, I think I rely on choosing yarns and putting colors together to spark my creativity too much to get satisfaction from a kit. If I keep looking at them though, I’m sure one of these days I’ll make a purchase. lol

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  23. When I was younger I was *obsessed* with craft kits. Convenient, but with packaging so pretty I had a hard time tearing into it. The only kits I owned were gifts, I was never allowed to buy them because it was usually cheaper to buy the supplies/material separately. I remember going with my Mother to wholesale craft stores for materials to make things seen in Klutz books, ha. That woman put up with many of my crafting endeavors. Things haven’t changed much, I still have a really hard time buying a kit. They usually include tools I don’t need or the yarn isn’t to my liking.

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  24. I find kits somewhat limiting. The very few that I’ve purchased have been disappointing. Part of the fun for me is coming up with that winning combination–yarn, pattern, notions. I do love making my own little kits for myself. I print patterns out and cake up the yarn, sometimes even including needles and buttons, then put it all in a ziplock where it awaits the long-anticipated cast on. It’s a great way to organize stash and insure that that fleeting inspiration doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

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  25. Mostly no to kits with the one big exception: complex colorwork projects. When I see projects that require small amounts of each color and when buying full skeins of each color results in $100+ for a hat or mittens then I prefer a kit with the right amount of yarn. An example that isn’t even very complex is Brooklyn Tweed’s Seasons Hat: 1 MC + 4 CCs at $15 a skein makes for a pretty spendy small project. Any project with more than 5 or 6 colors is just easier in a kit. I have a few Bohus project kits with 20+ colors in a single hat or sweater. The idea of subbing out 26 shades in another yarn makes my eyes cross!

    The one kind of kit I abhor, however, and refuse to ever buy, are kits that just bundle full skeins of whatever yarn is required regardless of how small the amounts are for the contrasting colors (*cough* Purl Soho *cough*). These kinds of kits give kits a bad name.

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    • I agree completely! I have a couple of Bohus kits too, though they are with the heavier Kimmet Croft yarn. But for those a kit totally makes sense.

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      • Deepa, we must live near each other.. I have some Kimmet Croft kits too (as well as SolSilke kits, they are amazing) and I think Janice doesn’t travel all that far with her wares. At least, not until very recently.

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  26. Never bought a kit, but I will follow patterns to the letter – more or less. Knitting is my wind down/relaxing time and the last thing I feel like doing is figuring out modifications. I will sub yarns, often to avoid overseas shipping. When the kids are older I will probably be less knackered at night. Until then I rely on pattern designers to work it all out for me. Which in all honesty they do so well.

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  27. Since I’m still pushing past being a “beginning knitter,” I select my pattern/project based on a skill I haven’t learned yet like cables or increasing. I think I tried 4 different patterns before I got 1 sock done :( I still have to do the other mate!!! I’ve never bought a kit although I am thinking of buying one from wool and the gang to learn how to knit a sweater/cardigan. I can’t find an easy sweater pattern for me to follow let alone find suitable yarn in my “stash”

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  28. I do enjoy kits sometimes. I’ve also found it’s a great way to get yarn as a gift. People are often reluctant to buy yarn on its own for me but if I point them to a kit it’s very easy for them to purchase it and gift it to me.

    I also enjoy kits for colorwork projects, as others have mentioned. Not just because you can sometimes get smaller skeins of expensive yarn but also because often a store just doesn’t have all of the colors. Even for projects that aren’t necessarily using a large number of colors–I ran into this a few weeks ago when purchasing yarn for a Lego blanket. I needed a bright yellow and the store just didn’t carry it in that yarn line. Understandable but still frustrating. A kit would have been great.

    I also like to “kit up” my own stash yarn. Every once in a while I’ll gather the book or pattern, needles or hooks, and yarn for a project (winding the yarn if needed) and put it in a tote bag so it’s ready to go when I need a new project. That’s part of what I love most about kits–everything you need is right there.

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  29. I also tend to feel that kits are pretty much “paint by numbers” and I might as well just by a finished product. On the other hand, I *do* actually buy them from time to time, because buying the yarn and pattern together can be cheaper than buying the yarn separately. I’m still a beginner knitter, so kits also have the benefit (for me, anyway) of forcing me to stick a bit closer to the directions of a given pattern and hopefully this means I actually learn something. Otherwise, I tend to modify and improvise.

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  30. I tried knitting with a kit just once. It was also by Wool and The Gang. What I loved the most is the excitement of receiving a package, opening it and taking one thing after another from the bag! It felt like Christmas!

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  31. I started off re-learning to knit (learned as a kid, dropped it till much much later) with a couple of kits, because I had no idea where to buy or how to choose yarn/needles. Those kits were was super helpful – one was a hand puppet, one was a pair of socks. Now, I am not really a kit knitter. I’m not against them in theory, if I found one for a project that I liked, but I’ve never found one that 1) was a price I was willing to pay 2) using a yarn I wanted to wear 3) in a color(s) that I like. I tend to knit sweaters and find that kits with yarn I like are usually quite expensive.

    I do think there is also a little part of me that doesn’t want to have the EXACT SAME item as everyone else who’s bought the kit (even if in different colors), because part of the reason I like knitting is that I end up with clothes that aren’t cookie-cutter or off the rack, but unique items. I rarely use a pattern’s suggested yarn/color for this reason.

    I would strongly consider a kit for colorwork (beyond simple stripes), because I have very little experience putting colors together, and don’t really have the money/stash to experiment with lots of different colors until finding the right combinations. But while stranded colorwork intrigues me, it’s also not very practical for the hot climate where I live. More likely would be something like Carol Sunday’s Milano – http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/milano-6. But generally, I like making pattern/yarn/color choices for myself – they’re not always very good, but they’re part of the fun.

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  32. I have 3 young children and am a new knitter. I always copy!! I don’t have enough time to frog due to poor choices! (I frog enough due to operator error!) however, I am looking to branch out as my kids get older, and let them have some input on what products they want. I love the math aspect of knitting and it just really calms and relaxes me. Just as long as I don’t have to think too hard.

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  33. Pingback: Q for You: What do you knit the most of? | Fringe Association

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