Knit for victory! In 1932, the Mail ran a much-loved knitting contest. Now, KIRSTIE ALLSOPP’S launching our brand new challenge and your design may even appear on TV

It was one of the most hotly contested Daily Mail competitions ever. The 1932 Knitting Contest challenged readers to design their own jumper — and thousands responded. Entries were highly original: one had two tiny dolls attached; another (right) made a virtue of the £200 cash prize. Now, with the country in lockdown, we’re relaunching the glorious contest to unleash readers’ creativity. Today, to help you get your hand in, we’re giving you a free knitting pattern, the Daily Mail jumper by acclaimed knitwear designer, Jacinta Bowie. Here, TV crafting expert KIRSTIE ALLSOPP (in Jacinta’s design, above) explains why knitting can be such a balm to the soul and why she’s looking forward to judging your entries…

Like most of us, I consider my daily lockdown walk the highlight of my day. After hours trying to work, supervise my sons’ studies, and keep a semblance of domestic order I’m ready for a break. 

But it’s not just the fresh air and temporary release from house arrest that I love — it’s what I’m wearing, too. Because despite the chill of the evening air, I’m eschewing winter coats in favour of jaunty knits, cleverly layered and topped off with a scarf! 

I probably look ridiculous, but I don’t care — because for me there’s nothing more comforting than wool. Pulling on a jumper is like getting a big hug. And goodness knows we all need one of those right now. 

In 1932, the Mail ran a much-loved knitting contest – and thousands responded

There’s something about a homeknitted jumper and the fact it is made by another human being that provides a special bond. In these times of isolation, when we are all forced into lockdown with only our immediate families — if we are lucky — for company, that human link is rather magical. 

Without sounding too hippy, I think it’s fundamental to us. And it’s also a great way to connect with nature! At the moment I’m looking out of my window in Devon, moved by the fact our Manx sheep are wandering by, eating the grass, and will soon be sheared for their wool. 

Wool that will then be dyed into beautiful colours and finally make its way onto one of our bodies. It’s an extraordinary connection. And that’s why I’m encouraging everyone to take part in the Daily Mail’s knitting challenge. 

Under lockdown, when we’re mostly sitting on our beds, watching telly and not going anywhere, there has never been a better time to get knitting again, or to learn how to do it. 

Anyone can knit and you barely need any equipment. If you don’t have any knitting needles, order some online, and off you go. And you can knit almost anywhere, even outdoors. I used to know someone who whipped out her knitting needles at traffic lights as she drove to work — but I wouldn’t recommend that! 

Crafting of all kinds is a great way to stay connected to older relatives, who you may not be able to visit. And I know from many guests on my TV show Kirstie’s Handmade House that knitting is a great antidote to anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder. 

Today, more than ever, we need to maintain our mental, as well as physical, wellbeing. I think the Mail’s competition — in which we can come together as a community of knitters — is just what we need to keep ourselves productive and connected. 

Whether you’re knitting to show your support for the NHS or to make a jumper for a vulnerable person locally, we can all play our part. Get the kids involved too! A crochet set is a good way to teach little ones. 

Kirstie Allsopp in a homemade knitted jumper as she launches the Daily Mail’s new contest

While you knit a jumper, they can crochet a cardie for a favourite teddy bear. And once you’ve completed the Mail’s free pattern, why not create your own design? I’m looking forward to judging your efforts along with the paper’s editor Geordie Greig, and designer of the Daily Mail jumper and Teddy’s cardie, Jacinta Bowie. 

We might even feature some of the best ones made by you and your children on my new television show — aired later this month. I’ll also be answering your questions about care for woollens. 

I have found lavender is the best defence against the dreaded moth, intent on munching through your jumpers. Lavender bags or scent work a treat — I stuff bars of soap in with pullovers and scarves. 

And when it comes to washing — lukewarm, soapy water and no vigorous scrubbing, just a gentle rub — should prevent shrinkage. My home is filled with knitwear and crocheted blankets and toys. 

Craft enthusiast Kirstie’s Lockdown Craft Club starts on Channel 4, on April 20, at 5pm 

I purchase knitwear and promote knitting, whenever I can. One of the most prized items in my wardrobe is a glorious Sasha Kagen jumper that I bought nearly 30 years ago at the first ever Country Living Fair in 1991. Part of the appeal I think is the infectious joy knitting spreads. 

Knitters just want to encourage others to join in, to spread the love. So what are you waiting for? Pick up your pins, let’s get knitting! 

Kirstie’s Lockdown Craft Club starts on Channel 4, on April 20, at 5pm. 

How you can be a knit star

The contest: Design and knit a unique jumper. It can be any colour, size or shape, with or without decorations. 

It must be an original concept and you cannot be a professional knitwear designer. Send a copy of your design drawing and photographs only — showing the front, back and side of the jumper. 

Please do not send us completed jumpers. the prize: Your design will be made into a professional knitting pattern by Jacinta Bowie and could appear on Kirstie’s C4 Lockdown Craft Club and will be featured in the Daily Mail. 

Send entries to: ­[email protected] 

Closing date for entries is May 23. 

Terms and conditions apply.

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