Monday, January 12, 2009

To New Knitters

Soulemama asked her readers today for advice to new knitters. I waxed loquatious, so I'll repost here what I blathered there. Also, Wendyknits says it's delurker's day. I guess that goes for me too - I come from the shadows to post and not lurk!

I'm a child of the digital age, and knitting and crochet came as a hobby at the strangest time of need. I needed to destress during my last semesters of college and while student teaching. My grandma crocheted all through my childhood, but by the time I was ready to take it up in earnest, her hands had turned on her and her memory failed as well. So I did the next best thing I could figure in my age, I googled it. I had an online friend who knew how to knit and had inspired me to pick up the pointy sticks, so she was a sometimes resource, though her webcam caused as many questions as it answered.

But, for new knitters (says the self-taught knitter of 4ish years), I would say:

1. Find needles that feel good to you. Pick wood if you like them in the store, plastic if you think they are fun. Don't look so much at price, go with what feels good. If you are serious, then price will not make any difference down the road anyway. You'll buy what you want, no matter the cost.

2. Buy yarn that you love. And learn to knit with it. Don't pet it, put it aside, wait for the day your skills are perfect. It won't come. I promise. I'd still be waiting for the "perfect" cast-on for that cashmere silk blend I bought myself on a tough day. Buy a smooth yarn that feels nice to your hands. Don't fret over the content (even if it's 100% acryllic). Love the yarn you learn with. It will make the learning easier. And more enjoyable.

3. Read a few books. Check your library or go to a book store and pile up a bunch of knitting books. Sometimes just flipping through the pages will help you understand a skill. Flick through a stack and see which ones you love, the pictures, the writing, the patterns, and then buy that as your reference. Elizabeth Zimmerman would be a great read for a new knitter, she'd teach you to be fearless from the first.

4. Have NO fear. Do NOT let a single soul tell you how hard socks are, or how scary lace is. Personally, socks seem easy and lace scares the pants off of me, but that's me. Many people I know are afraid of even socks, but will knit a full man's sweater. You pick out your patterns and projects (don't start with a scarf - they NEVER END!) and decide what seems hard to you. I cried for 30 minutes on night trying to cast on for a square. I couldn't get the yarn to stick to the needles right. I forgot the slip knot - so don't be afraid. Nothing is terribly hard to do, otherwise it would have been lost to the ashes of times gone by. Simplicity sticks to us, we only keep stuff that's simple and easy to pass on. Think of the thousands of poorly educated people of the past and realize that if they could do it without the Internet to hold their hand - you sure can do it with the wealth of resources we currently have in our data rich society.

5. Remember, knitting is s'posed to be fun. Well, that last one, I stole from Mason-Dixon Knitting. But it still holds true. So don't let it become a chore or something you "HAVE" to do. Only do the things you enjoy or that challenge you in a good way. Never say you'll make something for someone out of guilt. Those are the WORST projects. Ask me how I know. :D

Other than those ideas and that knitting content, things are still busy and happy here. Running like the headless chicken and all, but happy while I go. Work is good still, new quarter brough 5 classes a day for me. Three of which are back to back, a solid three hour and 15 minute block of me talking and talking and talking. Blech.


Anonymous said...

That's really great advice! Try not to fear lace - it's just knit and purl, with a few yarn overs thrown in for fun. Stitch markers are your friend!

My first ever knitting project was a pair of sock with handspun. My second was a lace shawl with handspun.


I second that! For me the challenge is entrelac (sp?) can get throught the base row fine and dandy, but those triangles on the ends of the upper rows get me all the time if I'm not careful!