Tips for Beginner Knitters

Once upon a time I was a beginning knitter. It surprises some people when they find out it was only 11 years ago that I learned to knit. I've been messing about with crafts of some kind my entire life, but knitting only arrived on the scene in 2005. It took me awhile to get the hang of it. I have spoken before of my first scarf. It took a lot longer than I expected but it was the beginning of the journey and sometimes that first step is a LuLu.

Once upon a time, too, I wrote a blog post about what to do once you've gotten started on your own knitting journey. I thought about that post this week as I was preparing for this Saturday's Beginning Knit + Purl class. I'm super excited about this class I was thinking that I wanted to do everything I could to make sure it's a good experience for my students. That's when I realized I've never really written about what to do when you decide to take up knitting...

Tips for Beginner Knitters

Are you a total rookie, thinking of learning to knit? Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your efforts.

1. Take a class. Of course you know I would say this. I believe so strongly in the importance of learning from someone who can look at what you're doing and catch your mistakes (or your lack thereof) and keep you going in the right direction, that I put my beliefs in action and teach as much as I can.  If you can't find a class, ask for a private lesson.

2. Learn from a reputable source. This applies to both your use of an instructor as well as any online learning you might seek out. Let's face it--anyone can put out a Youtube about any topic, whether or not they are trained to teach or even know what they are doing. Look for a site you can trust. The ones I always recommend are and the tutorials over on the KnitPicks website. Red Heart yarns is now adding some instructional videos featuring the very likable Marly Bird, as well. When it comes to instructors, anyone who understands the basics of knitting could very well show you how it's done. However...I once tried to teach Fair Isle knitting to a woman older than me who had been doing basic knitting for 40 years--INCORRECTLY. Her grandmother had taught her and somewhere along the way, not sure if it was Granny's fault, but this sweet woman was knitting every single stitch through the back loop. This ought not to be, my friends. To this day I worry about that knitter and how twisty all of her projects are turning out. So, please, for me, make sure you learn it the correct way!

3. Start small. Sure, there are some of you who will tackle a lopi sweater right off the bat (like my lovely knitting friend Christina),  but if you start small--a scarf, a washcloth, a bookmark--you can learn all the basics (cast on, knit, bind off) quickly and hopefully without too much trouble.

4. Choose your tools wisely. Never bring a dark color to my Beginning Knit class. Please know that I have walked that path and nothing good can come of it. My first socks were a dark navy and I couldn't see WHAT I was doing. It was crazy. Knit with something bright so you can easily see your stitches. Needles matter as well. If you have a hard time holding on to the needles, then you will have an unnecessarily difficult time knitting with them. Choose smooth, light-weight, strong needles like bamboo. Bamboo is an excellent choice for beginners because the stitches won't accidentally slide off your needles as much as with metal needles. Plastic needles are just kind of weird, in my opinion. Too much drag on your yarn can be just as bad as too little.

5. Be prepared to practice. Knitting has lately come into the spotlight as a "slow" craft. Well, yeah, it IS. Part of this is that it takes practice when you first get started. Not many people pick it up and are Master Knitters within the first year. If you're used to being able to conquer things quickly, here is your chance to step outside your box and conquer something slowly, after much practice. Believe me when I say, I understand and it's totally worth it!

6. Don't go it alone. Find a group of knitters you can hang out with and learn from. Naturally I have a certain group in mind. If you don't live here, ask around where you are and find out where the knitters congregate. Don't be afraid to admit you're new to it all. The encouragement you receive on your kntting journey will be worth the effort it takes to find your tribe

7. Ask questions. Start now. Have any questions on starting your knitting education? Ask away! knitoasis at gmail dot com



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Knitting and....Watching (Netflix or otherwise)

The author of a recent article making the rounds on FB meant well, I'm sure. Probably the article was assigned by the editor and was merely a matter of deadline, rather than personal interest or information. So, with that assumption I can forgive the amazing lack of depth in this bit of news that isn't really news.

Knitters have been knitting and watching things since before the days of Netflix or even the days of television. Before "binge-watching" entered the lexicon, some of us would even spend hours in front of things like TCM's Summer Under the Stars; sporting events like the Super Bowl, World Series, Olympics; or catching marathons of our favorite throw-back sitcoms on TBS. I realize this admission might date me as an older knitter and maybe the intent of that article was to make knitting seem to be more hip than is commonly thought (do young adults still use the phrase "hard core"? I wonder...). I'll grant that the relative hipness of knitting has ebbed and flowed over the course of its history. It is that very history, ignored by the author, that shows how little research was conducted for the piece.

In this country during WWII (ancient history, I know, since anything that happened before The Walking Dead is considered unimportant), knitting was embraced by young adults and encouraged as a positive way to help during that global crisis. Etiquette guidelines of the day admonish knitters to be respectful of others when they are knitting at the movies or during speeches, plays or concerts, because they were expected to carry on their knitting no matter the situation.  The etiquette of knitting while watching something has been an issue for hundreds of years, in fact. 

Knitting as a way to stay occupied is nothing new either. When I first took it up I spent a lot of time waiting for my daughter during dance lessons, and since this was before the era of smart phones, knitting became my time-filler. I knit so much during lessons that if other parents saw me without my needles they would ask if I was alright. There was also that brief flirtation with knitting at long, rush hour stop lights while driving, but we won't go into that now...

And what about those Netflix socks? That was an easy link to include and the original article failed us there. Maybe it was because there was technical know-how involved...the sock knitting is just the first step. The second step involves an accelerometer and a soldering iron. (I kid you not.) Maybe the author was so astounded at the young people of today doing something other than just watching copious amounts of TV that the thought of them building electronics was too much to take. The folks I know in the generations younger than mine are pretty darn clever--not sure who that author has been hanging out with.

And lastly, I disagree with the statement that the trend of knitting while watching TV (via Netflix or anything else for that matter) is a) A trend, or b) Unexpectedly on the rise. It's all been around for decades and it's not going anywhere anytime soon. Back in 2006 I made this list of knitting seen in movies that I watched while knitting. That was 10 whole years ago. I'm pretty sure Netflix was just a DVD by mail service in those dark days. Also see this and this.

The bottom line? Netflix and knit is not a cultural phenomenon nor is it anything new. If anything it's free publicity for the streaming service and that's good. Maybe now they can afford to acquire more seasons of The Great British Baking Show.  I, for one, have a scarf to finish.  

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Free Pattern Friday: Big Hit Beanie Hat

It's been a hot summer here in Charleston. Our normally somewhat mild (though humid) summer days have been replaced with temperatures and heat indices of 100+ degrees (and still humid).


When I was a kid, one of my strategies for surviving scorching Texas summers was to read books like "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and pretend it wasn't quite so hot where I lived. Fast forward to today and you'll find me knitting winter garments, pretending it's not quite so hot where I live. Some things really don't change, do they?

If you, too would like to escape summer by preparing for winter, here is a free hat pattern for you!

Big Hit Beanie Hat

Pattern by Tamara Goff


KnitPicks Brava Worsted (100% Acrylic; 219 yards/100 grams) one skein orange
US Size 7 (4.5mm) circular needles, 16" 

US Size 7 (4.5mm) double pointed needles, set of 4 or 5.
Yarn needle for weaving in ends.


Approximately 4 stitches to one inch in Stockinette Stitch in the round.


Fits adult sized head, approximately 22” around.


With circular needles, CO 91 stitches.
Place marker to mark beginning of round. Decrease one stitch when joining—slip the last cast on stitch onto the left needle and knit it together with the first cast on stitch.  This will prevent the gap left when joining in the round. Join in the round, being careful not to twist stitches.

Work in K3P2 rib for 2.5 inches.
Knit every round (stockinette stitch) until piece measures 7 inches or to desired size, then begin decreases. The decrease rounds will add another 2.5 inches.
Note: As you knit decreases, it will become harder to knit comfortably on the circular needle. Transfer your stitches to the double pointed needles when needed.

Round 1: *K7, K2tog; repeat from * – 80 stitches remain
Round 2 and all other even numbered rounds: Knit
Round 3: *K6, K2tog; repeat from * – 70 stitches
Round 5: *K5, K2tog; repeat from * - 60 stitches
Round 7: *K4, K2tog; repeat from * - 50 stitches
Round 9: *K3, K2tog; repeat from * - 40 stitches
Round 11: *K2, K2tog; repeat from * - 30 stitches
Round 13: *K1, K2tog; repeat from * - 20 stitches
Round 15: *K2tog; repeat from * - 10 stitches

Cut yarn, weave through stitches still on needles, pull closed and weave in ends. Block as needed. 

If you'd like a free pdf of this pattern, visit my Ravelry shop or use this link.

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KnitOasis Knitters...OK?

Knitting groups are fun! It's a chance for knitters of all ages and skill-levels to gather and well, knit. There's always a lot of encouragement, usually some commiseration, and show and tell is a must. We stitch, we swap knitting stories, we catch up on life. We eat and drink (and this varies depending on location and time of day) as needed to keep our strength up for the tasks at hand. 

I have hosted knitting groups for years and every so often they get tweaked. Due to a change in the schedule of my favorite son, it's time to tweak knitting group again. For July and August, Monday Morning Knitters will still meet (July will be second Monday, due to Independence Day and August will be first Monday as usual), but starting in September, get ready for.....

KnitOasis Knitters-Wednesday A.M.


That's right--we're moving to first Wednesday mornings (still 10-11:30 am)(still at Panera). We'll still have knitting (crocheting, etc), coffee, conversation, and I'm going to just go ahead and officially make "occasional charity project" part of our description.

Dates for KO-K: WAM  for 2016: 





Then.... one evening a month we'll have KO-K: After Hours, formerly known as Knit Night. The locations and evenings will vary so keep an eye on the Facebook events page for scheduling. 

Until September, please plan to join us for the last two MMK meetings--July 11 and August 1.

Both MMK and KO-K: WAM will meet at

Panera Bread
1070 International Blvd
N. Charleston


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