Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So you want to knit?

Are you sure? Do you even know what you're getting yourself into?  Perhaps you have always been curious about knitting but never tried it.  Maybe some of your friends do it.  Perhaps you have seen a knitted garment and though "I would love to make something like that."  The reasons to start knitting are just as varied as the people who do it so the reason why to start is not that important.  What's important is that once you make up your mind up to start you need to know how.  If you're lucky enough to have a friend or family member who knits, go learn from them.  Having an experienced knitter who can teach you hands on is perhaps the best method.  But if you're like me and don't know anybody, then the internet is your best friend.  I am entirely self taught.  Everything I learned about knitting I learned off of the internet, experimentation, and patience. Lots and lots and lots of patience.  

My first advice is to watch some videos on how to do the two types of stitches. The knit stitch, and the purl stitch. When you begin to read patterns you will see these two terms used.  When I first got started I got confused.  "Aren't the stitches all knit.  I mean it's called knitting.  Why call a knit something else." I know, I was new, give me a break. Knittinghelp.com  is a great web site with videos and verbal instruction on techniques.  I should also mention the different styles of holding the yarn.  The only real difference is which hand you hold the working yarn in (more on that in another post).  Holding it with your right is English and holding it in your left is Continental.  The correct method is whatever you feel most comfortable with.  Continental is the preferred for speed but it takes quite a bit of finger dexterity to get down.  English is slower (when you get good at it you can go faster) but maybe easier for people with less finger control.  I started out English and have picked up Continental in the last month or so. I switch between the two for different purposes.

The knit and purl stitches are be foundation of knitting.  All the different affects that you see in knitted garments are a variation in how they are manipulated.  Once you get these down, you're pretty much set.  Sure they get a little more complicated but we will get to that later.  

So now you have an idea of how it's done.  What do you buy to get started?  No need to get fancy needles or yarn.  Just head to your local craft store and buy some.  If you want specific advice get a set of 14" US 8 single point strait needles and a ball of wool yarn, like Patons brand. These needles are a good all around size and perfect for practice swatches and scarves. As you progress you will notice that you will need different needles (as in size and types) for different projects, but again more on that later.  If you're concerned about budget aluminum needles are cheaper, but they are slick and for a new knitter it could be frustrating to keep the yarn on.  Bamboo needles keep the yarn on better.  Don't worry about all of the other fancy stuff you see on the self.  All of that can come later.  You should just start simple.

Now you should learn how to cast on using the long tail method, which is the go to cast on for most projects, and go to town.  Do as many rows of knit stitches until you feel comfortable and have it down.  Then switch to purl. This is where the real fun comes in. Just knit.  If you make mistakes it's okay.  Switch between knit and purl in the same row. Alternate rows between the two.  Just experiment with your yarn and stitches. You may notice that the fabric looks different depending on how you arrange your stitches.  If there is ever a point that you come to where you are frustrated, just put the work down, walk away and come back to it later.  I was messing up like mad when I first started, got frustrated, and couldn't understand what was going on in the videos.  But if I quit for just a while (usually a day) and came back I started knitting like I have been doing it for years.  So perhaps it would work for you.        

So the take home message is this, experiment, don't be afraid to make mistakes, be patient, practice, and have fun with your knitting.  This is just the beginning.

No comments: