web analytics
22 In knitting/ ramblings

my teenage crafts | knitting and the stereotypes


For those of you who have read JoliHouse since it was my mum’s blog (thank you so much for sticking around!), this may come as old news, but I thought I ought to explain a bit of background behind the knitwear that I show here every now and then.  I’m aware that new followers might wonder what on earth I’m talking about when I mention my designs and projects, so bear with me!


Since I was tiny I’ve had a creative streak, always had some form of artsy crafty ‘thing’ at my fingertips.  A ‘mosaic dolphin’ kit springs to mind, but I was obsessed with watercolours, cross stitch, and all sorts really.  Around age 8 my mum and Nannie taught me the basics of knitting, and from there I practiced making a whole host of bizarre items.  Once I’d progressed through lumpy garter stitch scarves, to stuffed animals, to lace wedding dresses for dolls, I began making socks and accessories for myself and friends.  There wasn’t (and still aren’t) a great deal of garment patterns suitable for a 5’6 eleven year old, so I leapt in at the deep end and wrote my own pattern for a seamless, fitted, yoked jumper.

coniston4 copy

Coniston, first blogged here.

coniston5 copy

From then on I was bitten by the designing bug and continued with my own creations, and published my first free downloadable pattern to Ravelry 2 months after starting secondary school.  I remember the crown of Aira turning out so pretty as a happy accident, which definitely gave me encouragement to carry on!  In 2010 my mum and I were at a little crafty gathering in the Lake District, when Juliet Bernard – editor of The Knitter magazine at the time – popped over to say she really loved the knitted laceweight cardigan I was wearing.  (With denim shorts and cowboy boots btw.  I wish I had photos of that outfit!).  Excited, we started chatting and she asked to feature my design in her magazine.  Of course I excitedly agreed, and around my 13th birthday my pattern was published as a supplement with The Knitter.



This is turning into a brief history, so I’ll skip the next few years and just say that I’m very grateful for the opportunities I had to design for myself, and publications like US Vogue Knitting and other UK brands!  Almost everything I’ve made over the years can be seen on ravelry here, so feel free to have a look around/laugh at 10 year old Lily’s peculiar poses.

Anyway, back to the now!

As you can see from the first pictures in this post, I’m still very much a crafty one now.  Currently on the needles – passing between my mum and I – are two summery designs of mine: a ribbed, poloneck cropped top and a laceweight camisole.  Both in shades of pink, which is unusual for me.  This year I’m determined not to fall into my usual trap of only starting summer projects in June, to only finish once the sun’s gone into hibernation.

Often when I’ve mentioned ‘designing’ and ‘selling patterns’ to my friends/peers they’ve been confused as to what it is I actually sell, so I thought I might clarify!  I’ve written about my design process a few months ago here, and from that point I write up the pattern/instructions to be downloaded from Ravelry.  The main confusion when I’ve told people is that I don’t actually sell physical ‘things’, just PDFs of instructions, diagrams and pictures. (Hope that doesn’t sound patronising, I just know people have been confused before!).

Whilst I’m more than happy to post pictures on the internet, until not long ago I was reluctant to let anybody at school know about this hobby of mine.  Knitting has a certain ‘old granny’ stigma attached; it seemed pointless advertising the fact that I spent some of my free time knitting to people who weren’t going to be interested in my patterns anyway.  Even last year, after I’d gained confidence about wearing my knits, I was slightly dubious about taking my GCSE project into school to work on.  You know what some teenagers can be like!  However my sitting knitting away at school was mostly met with curiosity; a few odd looks but no negative comments, luckily.

Something that’s always puzzled me is the assumption that hand crafted = frumpy and old-fashioned.  Most teenagers would happily wear a Topshop jumper or cardi , but would flinch at the thought of wearing the handknit equivalent.  A turnaround of sorts has definitely occured over the last few years, and to a certain extent, hand crafts have become ‘cool’ –  ish.  I’m thanking programmes like the Great British Sewing Bee for this!  Love love love Tilly and the Buttons.  Still, I had the feeling that people would be surpised to see that I was knitting a bodycon skirt with see-through panels, that I’d like to think is more Rihanna than Miss Marple.  Personally I adore the ‘granny chic’ look, and styled in certain ways I think outdated knits can look fabulous.  However, there’s still a way to go in raising the profile of ‘make your own’, particularly amongst teenagers.  Lets hope the rise of crafty young bloggers and the like will do so!

lily kate x
follow me on bloglovin | twitter | instagram | email me


  • Reply
    24th February 2014 at 9:11 pm

    I have only known the basics of knitting for a while now. But it only recently that I have wanted to try more things knitting wise, and you and Miss Jojangles have made me want to pick up my knitting needle and knit something that is not a really long scarf…
    XO, Miriam

    • Reply
      26th February 2014 at 7:39 pm

      Lovely to know I’ve inspired you to pick up the needles more! I’m sure you’d be able to make beautiful things, I’d love to know what you get up to! Let me know if you have any questions; I’d be happy to help 🙂

  • Reply
    25th February 2014 at 12:14 am

    Hmm…I wasn’t a knitter as a teenager, so I’m not sure what the response would have been. But I can tell you that most would be interested, impressed, and respectful of your abilities — maybe not the boys, but you can’t win them all! Truthfully, you should be proud you have such a creative mind. Most of us don’t. So let your (knit) freak flag fly!

    • Reply
      26th February 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Yeah the boys weren’t particularly impressed! Thank you so much Marta, I shall contine to wear my knits proud!

  • Reply
    25th February 2014 at 5:38 am

    I’m a 17-year-old knitter, and I’ve been lucky enough that people at my school are either very interested in my knitting or completely clueless. (Most of the responses I get are “Wow! That looks so hard!” or “What are you sewing?”) Besides, I’m already known as a theatre/choir nerd, so they’re all used to how weird I am. Sometimes I even get teachers who let me knit in class. 🙂

    • Reply
      26th February 2014 at 7:45 pm

      Yay go us! People asked me what I was ‘sewing’ too; the circular needles confused them I think. I wish my teachers would let me knit in class! Are you in the UK?

  • Reply
    25th February 2014 at 7:18 am

    wow you are really talented. I also love crafts, I am really into crocheting at the moment. Its just such a nice thing to do, super relaxing and makes awesome presents.


    • Reply
      26th February 2014 at 7:51 pm

      Thank you Evelyn! Crochet is so pretty and perfect for summer; I’ve tried it before but realised I’m not great at following crochet patterns! Best just making it up as I go along 😀

  • Reply
    25th February 2014 at 10:27 am

    Hi Lily! I’ve been following you for a while, but it’s only today that I finally put myself through writing a comment instead of just reading anonymously!

    So yes, I’ve been following this blog from the time it was still your mom’s, and I remember I’ve always thought how young yet talented you were! I think the Altounyan cowl you’ve designed is being in my to-do list ever since it has been added to Ravelry, some day I’ll eventually kick myself out and make one!

    As a knitter myself, I also feel shy about “coming out of the closet” when it comes to crafting, because it has this ambivalent popular image of something totally trendy but also totally granny-like. And I hate being glanced at when crafting, either by total strangers or by friends (which is even more irritating, because it goes from aggressive “teach me!!”, to “nothing to brag about, I myself can knit scarves too” scorn). But still, I never hesitate to knit when I have to take the train, otherwise journeys might become so boring!

    Also, I wanted to say how great it is to see the beautiful young woman you’re becoming! 🙂 I tend to like most of your posts, but I have to confess my favourites are the ones when you’re featuring crafts!
    Keep the good work up, and sorry for my clumsy American English!


    • Reply
      26th February 2014 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks so much Clothilde! It really is nice getting to know my readers, and finding out who’s stuck around reading my blog as it’s evolved. The Altounyan pattern is really quick and easy to make, I’m sure you’d enjoy knitting it:) Friends have asked me to knit them copies of my designs too, without realising that a 4-ply jumper takes months to make. It’s so lovely to know you like my blog! I try my best to include crafts as much as possible, without alienating any ‘anti-crafty’ possible readers haha. I’d love to be able to knit on journeys, but I suffer from travel sickness so it’s rarely worth the risk. Your English isn’t clumsy at all, don’t be daft!

  • Reply
    Lauren (Lady Sewalot)
    25th February 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Your knitting skills are amazing! I wish I could knit, but am a bit apprehensive because everybody that I ask to teach me gives me a “look” when I say I’m left-handed. But I’ve been sewing for a year now (I just turned 17)and I can’t imagine life without it! It just gives me so much freedom that you just don’t get with ready-to-wear.

    • Reply
      26th February 2014 at 7:59 pm

      Thanks Lauren! I know a few left handed knitters; they’ve sort of invented their own way of knitting but they do a great job of it. I’d love to get into sewing more and I’d probably make all my own clothes by hand if I could. Have you been watching the Great British Sewing Bee?

      • Reply
        Lauren (Lady Sewalot)
        26th February 2014 at 8:32 pm

        I managed to catch the first episode last week and it was brilliant, but this week I’ve been revising like crazy for mocks and I didn’t get a chance to watch it last night. I really want to be in the next series but you have to be 18 🙁 Have you been watching it?

  • Reply
    26th February 2014 at 3:40 am

    Knitting is great,but your designing is really what stands out. There are just not that many people who are really so creative and willing to try things that may not work out. I’ve followed your mum’s blog for a while and I like how knitting is a something you could do together, but, yeah, as an eleven year old you did have to update and carve your own path. Maybe it helped you to start so young, more daring. I’ve knit more since ravelry and blogs came on the scene. As for the frumpiness factor, there is definitely that association. I kind of like it. In an ironic way. In truth, there is no age to knitting.

    • Reply
      26th February 2014 at 8:03 pm

      Thank you Max! You always leave the most encouraging comments, makes me smile 😀 I’ve had many an angry moment when I’ve had to rip a project forthe 50th time, but often it does encourage me to stretch my creativity! I definitely became much more involved with knitting when I joined ravelry, and now I try to pick up the needles whilst catching up on my favourite blogs. I sort of like it in an odd way too – it’s nice to have an unusual hobby!

  • Reply
    Rebecca B.
    1st March 2014 at 3:43 am

    Hi, I’ve never commented your blog before but I just had to chime in on this topic! I’m nearly 18 and I love to knit (though that might be an understatement!). I’m also homeschooled, so I get those ‘unsocial’ and ‘long denim skirts’ stereotypes as well as the ‘granny knitter’ stereotype. I am definitely not any of those! I don’t mind having an unusual hobby, I only wish there weren’t negative stereotypes on such universal things like hobbies. That’s not enough to make me give up knitting, though! I’m super lucky to have a small assistant job in the indie knitting/designing industry because I taught myself how to tech edit. 🙂 I’m glad that DIY-projects and crafting are becoming more and more popular. I hope it continues that way and knitting becomes popular, or at least socially acceptable, among teens. 🙂

    • Reply
      1st March 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Ah I’ve brought you out of hiding! 😀 It is pretty ridiculous that such stereotypes still exist like this, when in most cases individuality and quirkiness is seen as a good thing. Well done with the tech-editing! I find teaching myself things the best way too. We’re on the way of it improving, but not to the point where I’d ask to knit in class yet!

  • Reply
    Cachoo Joo
    1st March 2014 at 6:12 am

    That’s so cool that you can knit full clothing pieces!! My nana taught me how to knit when I was younger too 🙂 I didn’t do anything really advanced haha but I can see why people would like to knit! – It’s a great hobby – you can do it when you’re just watching tv or even bring it with you when you go travelling! And I mean, you can make so many different things, it’s great!

    • Reply
      1st March 2014 at 10:13 pm

      There’s so muc more flexibility with making clothes for yourself! I barely look at my knitting when I’m doing it so it’s a great hobby for multitasking. I’d definitely recommend picking up the needles again!

  • Reply
    currently i'm... » joli house joli house
    15th March 2014 at 11:48 am

    […] these projects mentioned here.  Although only a few rounds this week, sadly.  Not gonna grow very quickly at this […]

  • Reply
    november writing challenge | day 5 | loving your job - Joli House
    5th November 2014 at 9:24 am

    […] readers may or may not know that designing knits is kinda my thing (I rambled about it all here.  I’ve been published in UK and US magazines, books and online platforms, and sold my […]

  • Reply
    The forgotten crochet bikini | Why I'mglad I never stopped being creative
    12th June 2017 at 7:18 am

    […] industrial scale, I love being able to make something unique every once in a while.  I discussed knitting and its stereotypes in one of my early blog posts in 2014 and my thoughts are still pretty much the same – […]

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.