WIP Wednesday: A Crocheter Learns to Knit

Crochet has been my craft of choice for years. I find the hook reassuring, the motion soothing, and the look of crocheted fabric delightful. Then one day last week, I had a seemingly innocuous conversation with Joni Coniglio, senior project editor of Interweave Knits and knitscene. When that conversation ended, I had a pair of size 11 needles and some bulky white yarn in my hands. One day later, I had my first knitting lesson with project editor Laura Huslander, in which I learned the knitted cast-on and the knit stitch. Today, I find myself perusing Interweave.com and Ravelry for suitable beginner projects for a crocheter-turned-knitter.

Thoughts of learning to knit had flitted around my mind for a couple of years now, because I work at Interweave and get to see all our books and magazines. Working on a beautiful book such as Yumiko Alexander’s Rustic Modern Knits involved handling projects and watching the book come to life, but I didn’t know how to re-create her striking designs. Finally, I’ve started down the yellow knitted road.

How can you start your own knitting journey? Here’s what I did:

1) Talk to a Knitter

These folks know a lot. Between all of the knitters here at Interweave, there is a wealth of experience available. I started with Joni and Laura who gave me the tools. Then I watched different people handle their needles and yarn. Some picked, some threw, some even purled Portuguese style! The point is, talk to them and watch them. Very closely. Visit your local yarn store or tap into a knitting guild, where you’ll find yarnaholics who’d love to help you get you started.

2) Find Needles and Yarn

Books and articles have been written on how to begin knitting, and first you have to select yarn and needles. There are so many options, it can be difficult to choose. For me (someone already familiar with yarn), a bigger set of needles and thicker yarn made more sense. I love working Tunisian crochet on wooden hooks, so wooden knitting needles sit more comfortably in my hands. Find friends who knit and test out their needles. Or begin a needle collection and work with different materials to find what suits you. Also, I avoided cheap yarn and delved into my stash for Lion Brand and Cascade because are much nicer to work with. If you’re unsure of which needles to use with the yarn you choose, make sure to check the ball band’s suggested needle sizes!

Practice and Experiment

When I first picked up the needles, my crochet background became very, very apparent. I wrapped the yarn around the fingers of my left hand and used my right hand to work the needle in and out of the fabric. I also kept forgetting that I had two needles in my hands (as opposed to one crochet hook) and repeatedly dropped the left knitting needle! I kept forgetting it was there! As a seasoned crocheter, it was both exciting and frustrating to tackle another yarn craft that is conceptually somewhat similar. But putting that knowledge into needle action blew me away. So I practiced over lunch last week, bought a pair of needles for some bedtime knitting, and became familiar with the feel of needles and how the yarn transformed into linked loops.

Purling while holding the needles like a crocheter caused me to drop stitches. This problem forced me to experiment with my hand position. I tried different methods of picking and throwing (butchering the first 3 feet of my bulky yarn) but I stumbled across a picking method that worked for my crochet sensibilities. I’m sure as I continue beyond these first five days, I will experiment more and discover easier ways to create knitted fabric.

Don’t Be a Cowardly Lion!

I admit that I was scared to try knitting. I was comfortable sticking to crochet and making beautiful crocheted things. But once I got my hands on some needles, I regretted not doing it sooner! After five days of practice, I feel comfortable with casting on, knitting, and purling. I’ve made a swatch of stockinette stitch and reverse stockinette stitch. I’ve made some wonderfully textured garter stitch. As you can see from the pictures, my initial forays into garter stitch were a little patchy. I created what looks more like a pelt than a piece of fabric, but that’s okay. The second swatch came out much better. It was a relatively quick transition to knitting, and one that I’m glad to have made.

Now that I’ve broken the knitting ice with swatches, I really want to get my needles on something I can wear like the Tweed Scarflet or cuddle with like the Four Square Pillows.

Have you learned a new yarn craft? What was that experience like? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to share our journeys in yarn together!

—Lisa


A Crocheter Learns to Knit