I started knitting in the fifth grade, long before it was cool. It was so uncool, in fact, that I would hide my yarn and knitting needles in my locker and sneak them out at lunch for a quick knit/purl before stuffing them back in. I was taught by an OG knitter — a family friend in a nearby nursing home — long before YouTube how-to videos brought knitting lessons to the masses. Every Sunday my mom would bring me to her for a lesson and, before long, I was hooked. I knit pretty much every day now. It keeps my hamster brain busy, relaxes me, and I can take projects anywhere. I knit at home in front of the TV, at work in the hair/makeup chair, and in my trailer to pass the time. Some of the finished products I keep for myself, but I actually give most away. People usually seem to appreciate these handmade gifts — or they’re all excellent liars. Either way, it’s hand-knit sweaters for the whole family this year, whether they like it or not. Happy f- - -ing holidays!
One of my favorite ways to knit — for myself or others — is with kits, for their simplicity. There’s no guesswork: I know that the yarn I’m using will knit up well in a specific pattern. But for years, I had a hard time finding modern kits with good quality yarn that had patterns for various experience levels. Then, one day, I stumbled upon Loopy Mango. The Beacon, New York–based yarn shop’s website is like a candy store of delicious yarns in a rainbow of colors and patterns for every knitting level. I’ve used many of its kits to make gifts — or given them as gifts themselves, to friends who want to learn how to knit. Perhaps my favorite New Year’s Eve ever was spent teaching my friend Alecia and other pals how to knit as we sat around in our pajamas. (If only the uncool fifth-grade me could have seen into the future.) Whether you’re buying them to make gifts for someone else, or as gifts for a knitter in your life, my seven favorite Loopy Mango kits below offer something to pretty much everyone, from cozy hats and scarves, to chunky throws, to slouchy (WFH-appropriate) sweaters, to tinier blankets ideal for babies or new parents. If you like what you see but you don’t want to knit it yourself, Loopy Mango also sells its knitwear and blankets premade (though having them do the work means you’ll be paying a little more).
Who doesn’t love a pom-pom? This hat is an excellent project for first-time knitters (hence its “absolute beginner” level of difficulty). It takes about two hours to complete and, like all of Loopy Mango’s kits, you can choose from a cornucopia of colors when it comes to the yarn, which is 100 percent merino wool that’s made in the U.S. The price shown includes the required knitting needles (two size 19 20-inch circular ones) and a pattern. If you need more help, here’s one of those instructional YouTube videos I mentioned earlier that the brand made specifically for this hat.
A step up from absolute beginner, this beginner kit requires a bit more time — up to six hours — to complete. Still, that’s less than a half day’s work for a cool, chunky scarf that is just so cozy. In addition to a bunch of solid colors of merino-wool yarn, you can also choose from three multi-colored tweed yarn blends for this kit. The price shown is for a kit that includes the two needles you need (a pair of size 50 24-inch circular wood ones), but if you already have them, you can get the kit for $25 less.
I have these all over my house. It’s the perfect little throw in the yummiest, chunky yarn. There are more sizes of this beginner blanket kit, too, and the included pair of needles (size 50 32-inch circular wood ones) are so big that it knits up in a flash — the whole process should take no more than three hours. I gave my best friend this kit as her first-ever knitting project and I believe now she’s on her fifth one.
“But I just learned how to knit — I’m not ready to make a sweater yet!” If that sounds like you or the knitter in your life, allow me to introduce the Little Monster’s Jacket (which, given its merino-wool construction, is really more like a slouchy blanket with sleeves … in the best way). Believe it or not, the beginner kit should only take about two more hours to complete than the scarf above. Amazon carries the kit with an ivory-colored yarn, but you can choose from lots more colors over at Loopy Mango. Like the other kits on this list, this one also comes with needles (one size 50 32-inch circular needle, and one size 50 24-inch circular needle).
While Loopy Mango has lots of fantastic beginner kits, there are options for every level of expertise. For the knitter with some practice under their belt, I recommend this intermediate dress kit that I’m working on right now. The mohair yarn is thinner, but it still knits up quickly because it’s a looser knit. I can’t wait to slip it on with my gold clogs — at which point, I might never take it off. You can choose from no less than a dozen colors of yarn, and the price shown includes the needles you’ll need (a pair of size 19 32-inch circular ones). If you’ve got those, you can get it for $18 less.
This color-blocked scarf kit comes with of my favorite yarns from the brand, Big Loop Mini. It’s all-merino wool and knits up super fast. The color combinations are delectable and the kit comes with the required needles (two size 50 11-inch straight ones). It only takes about an hour to make, so I often get this kit to whip up last-minute gifts for friends.
Another absolute beginner project is this kit I use to make the perfect baby gift. I made one of the blankets for my nephew, in ivory with “largo blue” yarn as the accent color for the edging. He can’t talk yet, but I’m pretty sure he digs it? Again, this kit comes with the needles you’ll need (two size 50 32-inch circular birch-wood ones), and if the word edging scares you, Loopy Mango has a tutorial video for that, too. But it’s much easier than it looks. Trust me.
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