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 KnittingHelp.com 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