Learn, Love, Knit: 4 Dos and Don’ts of Learning to Knit
|Sponsored| The journey of a thousand sweaters begins with one stitch, and learning to knit is about getting lost, backtracking, and stumbling onto the right path. We are about to kick off a stitching journey of our own with the folks over at Knit & Stitch Creative, and hope that you will join us!
Once you sign up for this awesome knit initiative, you’ll receive three Knit & Stitch Creative magazine issues along with 6 balls of Crea yarn, the needles and needle holder to get started, and clear step-by-step instructions. The tools to get you knitting will be delivered directly to your doorstep with this crafty subscription service, with 4 issues arriving on a monthly basis.
Before you know it, your inspiration to learn, love and knit will propel you into the handmade life. But take it from me, you’ll want to go over my tips on how to best begin. Don’t make the same mistakes I did as a rookie – know before you knit!
Stitching up a Knitting Journey
My grandmother showed me how to knit and purl as a kid—raise your hand if your grandmother first put needles in your hand!—but it didn’t catch on until my early 20’s.
My second teacher might surprise you: it was my boss, who showed me the basics over lunch in our office in a fancy Times Square high-rise. Neither of us knew it was the first step toward a whole new life.
To get me started in knitting, she sent me off to her favorite yarn store to pick up supplies and find a pattern. That’s where my real learning began, though I learned as much about what not to do.
Learning to Knit: Dos and Don’ts
Being intimidated by the knowledgeable yarn store staff and patrons (which was silly of me), I didn’t ask a lot of questions. Here are the things I wish I had known before stepping into that store:
Do: Choose a smooth, easy-to-see yarn to start.
Especially when you’re learning what a knit stitch looks like, give yourself the best chance of understanding your work.
Avoid these yarns, at first:
Each of the below yarns take a bit more focus. I’m not saying “never use them”, but it may be best not to propel yourself out of the newbie knitting gate and straight into these choices.
Splitty (easy to poke through with a needle)
Very fuzzy (makes stitches hard to see)
Dark (hard to see without strong light)
Choose these yarns:
Strong (holds up to ripping back—because you will!)
Elastic (feels good in your hands, even if you knit tightly)
Medium thickness (easy to handle and shows progress easily)
Don’t do what I did: I wandered around the store, picking up soft chenille, fluffy bouclé, and very fine yarn, and chose the least expensive thing I could find. It was wool, somewhat elastic but very splitty, and so thin that it took forever to make any fabric.
Know Your Needle Needs
Do: Get a set of needles to match your chosen yarn.
It can come as a surprise that you’ll need more than one set of needles—or even that the needle has to match the yarn. Needles can be an unexpected investment to start, so plan to build a set of all the needle types and sizes you need.
Don’t do what I did: I chose the least expensive needle set I could find. Luckily, the store owner noticed that the needles would have been way too thin for the yarn. She pointed out the mysterious symbols on the ball band. I was disappointed when I needed a different set of needles for my next project.
To Learn More, Start Small
Do: Choose a small, manageable first project. This is exactly the manner in which you will start with Knit & Stitch Creative. Your first project will be to stitch a square that will be the first piece of a gorgeous, reversible knitted throw.
Part of the fun of knitting is witnessing the progress toward making something. Even if the first thing you make isn’t useful on its own, the satisfaction of completing it makes knitting feel worthwhile.
Don’t do what I did: I decided to make a scarf for my first project, which was simple but a big commitment of time and yarn. And when I made a mistake, sometimes I needed to frog, ad nauseum.
Casting On for Knitting Success
Do: Learn a basic, useful cast-on that will serve you indefinitely.
Casting on can seem so complicated, there are a few great cast-ons simple enough for a beginner and versatile enough to use for almost anything.
Don’t do what I did: I had my boss-teacher cast-on for me. I took my scarf to work every day, and she would look at it and wince. Sometimes she ripped back a few rows, but more often, she raveled the whole thing, cast-on, and handed me back the needles to try again. Off I went, knitting row after row until the next day.
We kept at it until Thanksgiving, when I looked forward to knitting vacation time! By then, I was obsessed. So when I made another mistake with no knitters around, it was time to venture out of safe territory and strike out on my own. It was time to learn to cast-on.
One of the best cast-ons is easy to do once you know how to make a knit stitch. It’s elastic, strong, and easy to understand.
Begin by making a slip knot loop about 4¾” (12 cm) from the end of the yarn. Place it on one knitting needle—this will count as the first stitch.
Two Needle Cable Cast-on
This is an attractive all-purpose cast-on with a neat, firm edge. It has a certain amount of “give” but won’t stretch out of shape.
Place a slip knot loop onto the left needle to create the first stitch. Insert the right needle through this stitch, from front to back. Take the yarn around the right needle.
Bring the yarn through the first stitch so that it forms a loop on the right needle.
Take the new loop from the right needle and place it on the left needle to make the second stitch.
Insert the right needle between the two stitches. Wrap the yarn around again, pull the loop through and place it on the left needle as before.
Repeat to create as many stitches as you need, keeping the loops as even as possible.
For a neat edge, keep the cast-on gauge relaxed and even. This prevents the cast-on edge from becoming too tight, making it easy to knit the first row smoothly.
Knit & Stitch Creative Makes it Easy
What I didn’t know during this learning process is that I could have really used an all-in-one learn-to-knit package: yarn, needles, pattern, and directions, with videos for learning new stitches (even at midnight).
Their subscription kit is all about knitting one square at a time, and you will build a designer afghan as your skills progress. Over the next few months, the Interweave editors will be working on the Knit & Stitch project.
We will be exploring our favorite reasons why the knitting journey never ends.
Join Crea Crafts on a stitching journey that will empower you to learn, love and knit along the way.