Needles at the ready

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Forget loo-roll covers and tea cosies, the latest woolly wonders have made knitting cool again, says Trish Lorenz

If you think that knitting is all about grannies, cheesy Christmas sweaters or chintzy loo-roll covers, think again. The Knitted Home: Creative and Contemporary Projects for Interiors by Ruth Cross is published next month and proves that knitted pieces can be stylish, modern and very covetable.

Cross is a designer who discovered a passion for knitting interiors products when creating an installation for shoe brand TN 29. "I knitted everything for the shop from lighting to cushions, upholstery and wallpaper. It looked great and made me realise how much I enjoy working in interiors," she says.

Cross says the secret to avoiding chintz and achieving a more modern look is to keep designs simple and use plain, natural fibres in neutral tones such as the Rialto range by Debbie Bliss (debbieblissonline.com) and Big Wool by Rowan (knitrowan.com). "It's easy to get caught up in novelty yarns or colour combinations when all you need is a well-considered simple design that is beautifully made."

Her top tips for beginners: "Pick something easy on big needles with big simple yarn. You'll be able to see what you're doing and should finish it fairly quickly. From the book I would try the super-easy bed throw/blanket."

And, she says, the key to a professional-looking product is to spend time on the finishing. "Most knitting looks like an old dish cloth when its just been knitted; it's the steaming and sewing and finishing that makes it stand out from the crowd. If you can master these, your pieces will look wonderful."

But if crafting your own pieces sounds too much like hard work, there are plenty of high street products that can also give your home the "look what I made" vibe.

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