Knitting tools and tips

Word Lily knitsI’ve had a couple requests for a post about knitting tips for beginners. So, here goes. :)

First of all, knitting is one of those things that many people find it easier to learn hands-on. Even for me, who has eagerly learned from books for so much of my life. When it comes to learning something I’ll be doing with my hands, it’s really nicest to learn hands-on, person to person. If you don’t have a friend who knits who can show you, or even if you do, a local yarn shop (LYS) can be useful. They often have classes, specifically for beginning knitters, to help you get started. These classes are often three or more hours, and from everything I’ve heard, they’re generally worth the expense. Also, for what it’s worth, when I said “local yarn shop” I didn’t mean Michael’s or Joann’s. Those definitely have their place, but in my experience, you’re more likely to get good help from a smaller local place (non-chain) that specializes in yarn/fiber/textiles.

Speaking of local yarn shops, how local “local” is can really vary. I have two yarn shops about 45 minutes away, and I sometimes go to them, but my favorite yarn shop — that I consider local to me — is two hours from home.

If you have a local yarn shop or a knitting friend, you’re pretty much set. They’ll be there to help you get started (and pick out yarn and needles) and later when you get stuck, or when you forgot something.

If you don’t, though, or if you want a little extra reassurance, places that have been helpful to me: KnittingHelp.com, YouTube, and — of course — Ravelry.

When I’m first learning a new stitch or technique (or need a refresher), the first place I go is KnittingHelp. They have quality videos of tons of knitting skills, plus comparison photos of increases and decreases, etc. The videos are short, and sometimes I watch the one I’m studying over and over, pausing as I complete that step, then viewing and copying, pausing, etc.

On YouTube, it’s good to search for the specific skill you’re looking for, rather than just for knitting, because there are lots of vids for specific advanced skills. If you’re first starting out, that might be:
• stockinette stitch,
• the knit stitch, or
• purl.
And it’s often helpful, on YouTube, to watch several videos that come up in a search, since quality differs, as can explanations. Obviously, some videos/teachers are better than others.

Ravelry has tons and tons of patterns (easily searchable), plus so much more. It’s actually so awesome and useful that’s it’s hard to describe. There’s a database of yarn, with users’ ratings and comments. The patterns include users’ projects, and project notes and photos. YOU can keep track of your yarn, needles, patterns you own (or even keep a digital copy in your Ravelry library), projects you’ve made and notes about them. And there are forums. Sooo many forums. There’s a group for nearly everything you can think of, and if you get stuck, you’re likely to find help there when you need it.

Another option altogether for the actual learning-to-knit part is to take an online class, like this one:

Annie Modesitt (@modeknit) is offering a free how-to-knit class on Udemy, a new online teaching platform. She will be teaching Combination knitting and traditional western knitting.

Now. I’ve given you many, many resources, here are a few tips:

  • In general, start with basic, smooth yarn (not the trendy ruffle yarn or anything too fuzzy), in a medium weight, probably worsted. Hopefully in a color you like. Made of something somewhat stretchy, probably wool or acrylic.
  • I’d also recommend needles in a medium size, anywhere from size 6 to size 8 (4-5 mm).
  • A person is more likely to stick with learning a new craft/skill if the project is one she really wants to make, rather than just a “learning” project, so pick a pattern you really want to make! Something that really draws you in. My first knitting project, I learned a year or so after I made it, was supposedly an intermediate level project, rather than a beginner project, because it used short rows. But since I didn’t know it was supposed to be hard, and because I really wanted to own the finished object, I made it, without too much difficulty.

That’s it! Any more questions? I hope you feel empowered to start knitting today.

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7 responses to “Knitting tools and tips

  1. Fantastic suggestions. Isn’t it interesting that by not knowing something is supposed to be hard you were just fine with it. Now to figure out what I want to make…

  2. I’m so glad you wrote a post! Thanks for all the great advice.

  3. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    This is a fantastic and helpful post!

  4. Pingback: Knitting Supplies: What Do You Need to Knit Properly? | How to Do Knitting

  5. Pingback: 30 Blogs for Beginning Knitters | Full Time Nanny

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