on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 5:09:00 PM
Knitting has been experiencing an up and down roller coaster
ride with American women for over a century. Once factories began machine
knitting everyday items like socks, knitting began to take a back seat as a
needed, and started appealing to women as a craft or art—less a necessary way
to keep warm and more a way to show off skill and creativity. Surprisingly, the
“down” periods seem to coincide with times when women were experiencing more
rights and newfound freedoms—the 1920s, 1940s, and 1970s. One thing is certain,
all people have the right and the freedom to knit, and it’s not some
old-fashioned hobby. If you like the idea of knitting, don’t let anything stop
With so many new knitters on the scene, there are bound to
be those who need help getting from novice to knitting pro. With that in mind,
we present these 5 tips for new knitters. While not a step-by-step guide or
path from never-held-a-needle to knitting-up-a-storm, they just may be able to
help you break through to the knitter you’ve always wanted to be.
Tip 1 – Start Big
Start with a big needle, or even your arm. Starting with a
bigger needle, say a size 13, will allow you to create bigger stitches, which
in turn will allow you to see exactly what you are doing. Using arm knitting
puts it into perspective: you’ll notice that when you “knit” the needle and the
yarn do this, but when you “perl”
they do that. Anytime you want to
learn a new stitch or pattern, break out those old big beginners’ needles and
give it a try. You’ll find that being able to see and understand exactly what
you’re doing is better than trying to figure out in miniature.
Tip 2 – Start Small
Choose a simple, small pattern to begin with. A baby blanket
in only one or two stitches or a cap all in one stitch make perfect beginners’
projects. Shy away from the more complex and complicated patterns available
until you have mastered the basics. You’ll be less likely to give up in
frustration. Also, start with only the materials and supplies needed for that
first, small project. If you don’t need those fancy bamboo needles, leave them
in the store. Who knows if you’ll even enjoy the feel of them? Same thing goes
for notions and gadgets, too. Stitch markers, knit tallies, cable hooks, yarn
needles – all may come in handy someday. But if you don’t need them for that
baby blanket or cute cap, don’t spend your money and time on them.
Tip 3 – Learn the Language
If you need to, keep a card with abbreviations handy on the
side table as you sit and knit. Watch YouTube videos of others so you can see
what each stitch and supply is called, and what each abbreviation actually
stands for. You wouldn’t expect to take up computer programming or app coding
without knowing the lingo first, would you? What makes you think knitting is
any different in terms of technical pursuits? You may be unplugged and covered
in yarn, but you are still creating something. Knowing what’s what will go a
long way to avoiding frustration, as well as seeking help when needed.
Tip 4 – Keep it Simple
We’ve already discussed keeping supplies and projects to the
bare minimum of basic. Now let’s talk about yarn. There’s a reason we’re
discussing yarn after learning the lingo. Yarns can be classified by the fibers
used to create it. You can classify yarn by weight. You can even classify yarn
into various types. Knowing what a worsted weight, a pom pom, or a cotton/poly
blend type of yarn actually is can go a long way to not only educating you, the
new knitter, but also in helping you choose the right yarn and the right
project to begin your knitting career.
Choose a medium worsted weight yarn for your first project.
This yarn doesn’t separate, doesn’t snag as much, and can take the beating your
new knitting skills are going to dish out. (Let’s face it—you’ll be doing more
unknitting than knitting at first.)These medium weight yarns form the bulk of
most yarn selections, so don’t worry about finding it. Also, keep in mind that
you are just beginning. Don’t expect miracles or great things right off the
bat. Never judge your progress for at least 5 or 6 rows. Don’t try to talk or
watch television when first starting out, either. Keep your focus on your task
at hand. Keep it simple and you’ll soon be producing row after row of knitting
all while keeping up with Dancing With the Stars and Skyping with your sister
knitter in Topeka.
Tip 5 – Don’t Go it Alone
Whether you join a knitting club or find a favorite channel
of YouTube videos, there’s no reason to attempt this whole knitting thing on
your own. You can learn. You can inspire (and be inspired). You can encourage
(and be encouraged.) So what if none of you are experts at knitting? You can
learn and grow together. While knitting may be a solitary thing you do to
relieve stress at the end of the day, you can still be “social” in your pursuit
of knitting skills. Girls used to learn at the knee of their mother or
grandmother. Whole groups of women would sit and knit together over a pot of
tea and a plate of cake. There’s no reason for you to lock yourself away and
fret over your knitting in isolation.
And the best tip of all: NEVER GIVE UP! When you reach the
point that you want to commit your needles to the kitchen for kabob skewers and
the yarn to a lovely bonfire, take a breather. Consult a more experienced knitter.
Watch another (or the same) video. But don’t, whatever you do, stomp off in a
fit of frustration and declare that you will never knit another stitch again.
Knitting is a wonderful, useful, creative pastime. It does take skill, time,
and effort. But once you finish that first lumpy cap or that first not-so-lumpy
sweater, you’ll feel the pride and joy that makes knitters keep reaching for
their needles and perusing the yarn aisles in search of their next conquest.