Your Weekly Digest on What Muslim Women Are Talking About

The Year of Hobbies: Knitting With Azeezat Adeola

by in Lifestyle on 31st January, 2020

sewing

source: instagram.com/soul.knit.sew/

At Amaliah, we are calling 2020 the year of fun. A year where we give time to that which gives us joy. We kicked off the year of fun back in December 2019 with Amaliah Nights In, our new event series which is a space for sisterhood to come together and get creative. As a part of the year of fun, we’re talking to women who are championing the art of hobbies. Starting with Azeezat Adeola, also known as @soul.knit.sew on Instagram. We talk mindfulness in knitting, how to get started and knitting for social issues.

If you would like to interview a Muslim woman about her hobby, get in touch on [email protected]

1. What’s the story behind your knitting and sewing hobby? When did you start and why?

I started to knit in secondary school, right at the end, I was already in sixth form. A friend of mine was knitting a scarf before class, and I was flabbergasted. Asked her what she was doing, and she explained that she was knitting. Curious, we ended up in a local department store, in the haberdashery section, and I bought myself a little pamphlet with instructions, a pair of 4mm aluminium knitting needles, and some yarn. It took a lot of practice, and there were a few moments of frustration, I stuck with it though, bringing my pins and yarn with me to uni.

Knitted by Azeezat
source: instagram.com/soul.knit.sew/

I knitted when I was in hospital, and carried out knitting right through three debilitating hyperemesis gravidarum pregnancies.

After I had my bubbas, I knit as a way to have something for myself, outside of being a mum.

There was something about the movement of the yarn and the needles, slowly finding a rhythm, that was, and to this day still is, so very soothing. There’s research by this lady called Bethsan Corkhill that explores how knitting heals, if you’re interested!

2. For anyone that would like to get started, how and where do they start?

To get started I would say you only need a few basic tools.

  • Yarn – This can be acrylic, which tends to be a more inexpensive option, wool, or cotton, there are many more materials out here, but these are probably the best to get started with. Look for DK sweight yarn or a nice chunky yarn. When I first started knitting I used to buy my yarn in poundland, now i tend to purchase yarn on loveknitting.com, they have regular sales and discounts, and lots of different yarn types, and colours.
  • Knitting Needles –  You can get these in craft shops, (hobby craft anyone?) or online too (love knitting- and amazon/ebay) anything size 4mm (US size 6) or above is a good size to start with. Wherever you buy your yarn, you should be able to get help to match your needles to your yarn, or if you look on the label at the back of your yarn it recommends a needle size for the yarn you are using.
  • Books – You can learn from books, one of my personal favourites is “A Little course in knitting” by DK publishers. It has detailed colour photos, with project ideas, and lots of explanations, or you can learn from videos on you tube.
  • Tutorials – You can also find loads of youtube videos and tutorials for stitches etc. This playlist by sheep & stitch is great for beginners

Ravelry.com, is amazing- it’s got so many things on there, from patterns, to blog posts, to knitting groups- It’s I guess a social networking site for all things yarn, knitting, crochet, I think there might even be quilting and felting on there too.

I’ve got plans to upload knitting videos on my youtube channel too!

  • What to learn – The four things you want to learn as a beginner are casting on, knit stitch, purl stitch, and binding off. I would say to learn these and practice them, and get use to holding the needles and the yarn to begin with, eventually your hands will find a natural way of holding the yarn and needles as you go along, beware it can feel awkward when you first start. It’s always great to get help in person too, there tend to be local knitting groups, check if there’s one in your community, or you can go into a yarn shop, or even if you see a knitter “in the wild”.

Also as a beginning knitter one other thing that’s good to have, a bit of patience, being really kind to yourself, and a strong belief that you’ll get the hang of it with practice, and a sense of fun too, you know?

3. You recently uploaded a video of you knitting in a lecture and spoke about it being a force as well as something that invites conversation, can you tell us a bit more about that?

View this post on Instagram

@Yarnuary day 3⠀ ⠀ My Favourite place to knit: is not one specific place, I enjoy knitting anywhere. I suppose I get a special kind of enjoyment out of #knittinginpublic. ⠀ ⠀ This is some footage of me knitting during a lecture. It has been really helpful for processing information in a different way. And actually helps in retaining what I’ve heard. I’ve found that knitting has a gravitational force all of it’s own, and it draws people in. I’ve had quite a few fun and interesting conversations when someone notices me knitting in an unexpected place. We smile at eachother and the conversation begins.⠀ ⠀ •⠀ •⠀ •⠀ ⠀ #yarnuary #yarnuary2020 #SoulKnitSew #ThoughtInEveryStitch #knittinginpublic #muslimmaker #soulknitting #knityoursoul #knitlove #blackgirlknitting #homeinteriors #homeaccessories #cosyhome #makersvillage #fiberarts #handsandheart #handmadeuk #handmadecraft #slowmade #mumswhomake #cuttysark #deptford ⠀

A post shared by Azeezat Adeola; Soul Knit Sew (@soul.knit.sew) on

Oh yes, I said it had a gravitational force, because it seems to pull people in, it did it to me too! Whenever I ‘d get on a bus or something and see some knitting, it would be that sense of connection. “Oh you knit? Me too! Don’t you love it? What are you making?” That sort of thing, or when I’m knitting somewhere there will always be someone’s mum, aunt or cousin who taught them how to knit or did something else with yarn like crochet. So there’s that sense that it attracts people who are interested in it or other creative expressions, but then also I think there’s another element.

It’s very tactile, and when you’re knitting you’re repeating these small hand movements over and over again, and it’s incredibly calming, especially when you just focus on the feel and sensory experience of it, the little click of the pins hitting each other, the tension in the fibre as you wrap it around the pins.

4. How does knitting help you with mindfulness?

There’s a sense of slowing down, and focusing that comes with knitting, in the beginning, when you first start you might be more thinking about how to do the stitches, or something like that, but as you become more comfortable, it’s very easy to get into this sort of meditative state.

Knitted by Azeezat
source: instagram.com/soul.knit.sew/

There’s also something called mindful knitting, where you are more intentional about being mindful in the knitting process. I’d like to look more into it personally, but from what I know I think it’s bringing your focus back to the present situation of you knitting, focusing on the texture of the yarn, the feel of the needles etc.

5. Do you set knitting goals? How do you pick your next project (that baby grow was SO CUTE)

Haha, thank you! A friend of mine told me that she always tries a different technique for every project she makes, that way she’s always learning something new. I like the idea of that, so this year I’m definitely branching out more to try out different things, but I don’t really plan my projects out, I get ideas of things I would like to make, sometimes I look up patterns for them, other times I make up my own patterns. Or it might be, like the baby romper, that was a gift, a friend was expecting, and I knew I wanted to make something for the bubba to come. I searched out a pattern, and ended up with one I liked the idea of. Or sometimes I buy yarn, that I have no idea what I want to do with it, and it’s like one day the idea of what it’s meant to end up being used for will pop into my head. I’ll be like aha, okay so that yarn was a justified purchase.

Other times it’s like this jumper I started knitting in December. So I’ve always felt a bit intimidated about knitting a jumper, just as it seemed to be a really big undertaking, especially as it was for an adult, and not like a child or a toy hah! Then I thought you know what, just do it, yes you’ll probably make mistakes whilst you’re making it, and that just means you’ll have learned something for the jumper/ sweater (as our overseas friends call them) you make after this one.

6. What’s your favourite knitting project been?

Ha! Nooooo. That’s too difficult to decide. Oh okay one time I made a little duckling, I adapted a pattern I found in love knitting magazine, and gave it wings and a little hat. It ended up being shared in a later edition of the magazine. That was really nice. I love all the things I knit though. I mean some things don’t turn out great, like some of my very first scarves (wonky) hats (too tight) and knitted phone cases (hahaha- I tried to pawn them off on family, but no one wanted them)

Knitted by Azeezat
source: instagram.com/soul.knit.sew/

Still it’s hard to really call any one item my favourite, I put thought, time, effort, and energy into everything I make, and there’s a lot of joy in that process, so eventually all the things I make in some way end up becoming a favourite.

7. What’s something that’s surprised you about knitting?

I think I would say the “Fiber Community” has surprised me. There are so many people who knit with big hearts that try to use their knitting to make a difference in the world, whether that’s knitting for refugees – like charities like Knit Aid, or making hats for premature babies.

There’s so much love in the community, and more recently there’s been a lot of introspection and examination of how wider social issues play out in the yarn community, and a lot of changes are being made.

I think it speaks to the nature of the community, although obviously it’s a microcosm / mini version of wider societies so there has been push back etc. But that sense of activism, that was surprising to me, in a good way.

Knit Aid message
Source: twitter.com/knitaid

8. Are there any other hobbies you pursue or would like to?

I’ve loved reading and writing for the longest time. I’m an amateur photographer too. This year though I have plans to really push myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to my writing, so that’s thrilling and nerve-racking all at the same time. Also I can see myself doing outdoor activities, I would love to go abseiling again, the last time was on my year 6 school trip… so a bajillion years ago, I think it would be fun to give it another go though. I think the more we try out new things, the braver we get. We widen our world one new experience at a time, bi’ithni’llah.


If you would like to interview a Muslim woman about her hobby, get in touch on [email protected]

Nafisa Bakkar

Nafisa Bakkar

Co-founder and CEO at Amaliah Find me @nafisa_bakkar on IG and Twitter