#PGRSelfCare: Unwind with Yarn
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a PGR in Glasgow must be in want of some cosy knitwear (and maybe some waterproofs). Luckily, Glasgow (and Scotland) has a wonderful knitty scene, and making sweaters isn’t just for those in possession of a free bus pass. Grab some yarn and needles- it’s time to get your knit on.
Let’s tackle the why you should knit.
Knitting is great for your wellbeing. Looking for a new addition to your #PGRSelfCare routine? Look no further than a ball of yarn and some knitting needles. There’s been plenty of research into the benefits knitting can have. The rhythmic, repetitive motion of winding yarn around and over needles can be as soothing as meditation or yoga; expect lowered blood pressure and heart rates, not to mention a sense of achievement and boost to your self-esteem whenever you finish a project. The tactile nature of working with different fibres such as camel, silk or alpaca can be equally calming. Not that knitting needs to be about relaxing, it can be subversive and political too. Knitters around the globe used their needles to prepare for the Women’s March in January by knitting pussyhats. Knitting can get you through anything, from chapter drafts to world events, as well as a frosty Glasgow winter.
Another benefit is the social aspect. Joining a knitting group is a sure-fire way to counteract the feelings of isolation PhDs, or moving to a new university can sometimes induce. My best friends came from a knitting group, and over the years, we’ve provided each other a wealth of support, laughter, and motivation; from dropped stitches to preparing for that first ever conference paper. Knitting groups needn’t necessarily meet in the flesh either. The UK (Scotland in particular!) is home to a plethora of knitting-based podcasts, some of whom host craft meet-ups, and even the occasional virtual knit-along. Other podcasters even host virtual knit nights. Websites such as Ravelry, and social media such as Instagram, can also help you connect with other knitters - and be a great place to show off your latest wip (work-in-progress), or seek help when your stitches don’t quite add up.
That’s the why covered, now for the where and how. Luckily, Scotland is a knitter’s paradise.
Whether you’re a skilled sweater knitter or starting on your first scarf, Glasgow is the best place to be; especially the UofG campus. Not only are there researchers producing fascinating knitting-based research, there are groups to join too. Knitting For Fun takes place regularly in the Gilchrist, where knitters of any and all ability can knit together and enjoy the Gilchrist's coffee and cake. It's free to attend, supplies are provided, though you can take along your own knitting projects too. The next meeting will be on November 20th.
Want to add to your yarn stash? The Yarn Cake is home to a wide range of delightfully squishy yarns, as well as a regular knit night and home baking to boot. Meanwhile, if you’re in the city centre, head to The Queen of Purls, where you can acquire stunning locally hand-dyed yarns, sign up to workshops and knit for a good cause. The store hosts the annual #warmandworking knitting event in aid of Glasgow’s Big Issue vendors.
Feel like venturing further afield? There are plenty of yarn festivals held across Scotland to keep you busy. Perth Festival of Yarn brings together independent textile talents from dyers and spinners, to farmers and small-holders, as well as hosting inspiring lectures and classes.
Want an international experience? Knitters from around the world descend upon Edinburgh Yarn Festival every March, attending classes and knit nights; chilling out in the exclusive podcast lounge, and scouting out the market place for new patterns and yarn. This is just the tip of the knitted iceberg - there’s even more around the UK to enjoy, including craft crawls and charity events.
I’ve just covered some of the knitting basics in this post - I’ve not even begun to cover other fibre crafts such as crochet, spinning and weaving - all of which are equally enjoyable and beneficial activities to add to your #PGRSelfCare lists. If you’re feeling inspired and want to know more, or feel like sharing your latest WIPs and FOs (finished objects) with us, as ever, drop us a line. We’d love to see what you’re getting up to!
Cia Jackson (@miss_ciakate) is a 3rd year PhD candidate in Comparative Literature, researching the portrayal of fangirls and power in DC's Harley Quinn and Batgirl comics. She is also co-host and creator of the Tipsy Knits podcast, where she shares more of her yarny adventures.