More newbie questions

jennAugust 25, 2007

If the way we learn to knit defines our personality, then I must be pretty boring. I'm still knitting/purling and ripping. I'm hesitant to dive in and just do something, thinking I need to learn to increase, decrease, slip-slip-knit, yarnover, etc. etc. first. Why??? I don't need all that for a simple scarf or dish rag. I saw a Leisure Arts booklet of cute dish rags which all include hearts somewhere in the pattern, but decided to just practice simpler stuff instead. Sigh!

Anyway I have a couple of questions:

1. What size crochet needle to fixed dropped stitches? I went to Joanns to get one, not expecting to see a dozen sizes. I considered getting a size somewhere in the middle, but wasn't sure..... (do you see a pattern here?).... so I decided to ask what size would be best for that. I guess it depends on the size of the yarn, and I'm not going to use skinny crochet yarn, so a medium size seems fine.

2. Can you recommend an excellent book to learn by, including good illustrations and directions and attractive projects? Actually I don't care if it has projects, I'd just like it to be accurate with good illustrations or photos.



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Jen, I love your enthusiasm! I'm no expert by any means so others will probably have more and better advice, but here's what I do:

I generally use a mid-size crochet hook for most of my knitting stuff -- actually, at the moment the one I use the most is MIA :) so I can't tell you the exact size but it works for most everything I do, except perhaps fingerling weight yarn. The hook needs to be large enough to gently hold the yarn while you guide it through but not so large that it's hard to use in the fabric you've knitted, so the yarn weight and density of the fabric do make a difference, but like I said, a mid-size one has worked for me. Now if I can only find it... I need to finish binding off a scarf and I like to use the hook!

As for books... there are so many great ones... try a bookstore (or even a used bookstore, lots of good books turn up there and at a good price) and just browse through a stack and see what appeals to you. I have about 6 I just borrowed from the library, too, so that's an option if you don't want to buy one right away (or want to look at several during your spare time). "The Knitter's Bible" seems like an especially good one and I like "Vogue Knitting" for general information and stitch patterns, etc., but to be honest, when I have a question about a particular stitch I often look first in those little bound pamphlets that they sell at craft stores. I have one from when I was a kid (yikes! do you know how old that thing is?) :) and a couple I've picked up recently at a craft store and used book store. Maybe others can help you more with specific books.

Anyway, keep having fun! That's the main point! I'm off in search of that crochet hook.....

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 2:40PM
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The crochet hook size will depend on the yarn weight you use. The Susan Bates are inexpensive so you might want to get a couple of sizes. Also useful to have more than one when they get misplaced or you want one for projects you take along with you.

The library is a good place to start but some yarns stores and Barnes and Noble have nice selections you can browse. It will be hard to find a consensus on best books since it depends on your learning style, project preferences and age/style. If you are younger, you may like the Stitch and B*tch books which are written in a breezy, witty way and have more hip projects (I'm middle-aged and I like them!). More traditional knitters may prefer Sally Melville's books. The big Vogue Knitting is a great reference book but can be a little overwhelming for beginners.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 5:09PM
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Thanks so much for your suggestions. Lots has happened since I posted my questions this morning, and I'm happy to report that real progress is being made.

I finally decided to start a real project this morning. I chose Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth from the link Carol Ann posted for me the other day (thank you Carol!). I'm using Lion Brand 100% mercerized cotton worsted weight (natural) which I already had on hand from a quilting project. Anyway it's coming along nicely -- only had to rip out and start over once. It's easy and it taught me how to yarn over to increase the stitch by one on each row. I really like the lacy effect that yarn over technique is creating.

I just returned from Joann's where I used the new 40% coupon to purchase another ball of the same yarn in red, plus the instruction pamphlet for dishrags with a heart pattern in each one, and a crochet hook. While I was there I looked at a learn-to-knit book that explained how to determine the size of the crochet hook based on yarn size. They had every size but the one I needed so I bought the next size up which should be fine for this project since I don't plan to use yarn any thinner than this.

Lastly, I found a book at which I am planning to buy. I looked through it at a bookstore a few months ago and liked it a lot. The book is Teach Yourself Visually Knitting. It appears to be ideal for a visual person like myself, and it has many excellent reviews from others who said they learned to knit from this book.

So I'm off and running with enough of this yarn to make about ten dish cloths. By then I'll be bored to death and looking for something new, and it will be time to start a scarf.

Now I have a new question: I almost purchased the gauge ruler but I'm wondering if my regular sewing ruler will do. The gauge ruler looks very handy and gives more information than just inches, but do I really need it or would my little plastic sewing ruler do just as well?


    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 6:46PM
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Hi, again, Jen! Glad you found things that are working for you -- and yes, the dishrag is fun to make -- I just finished another one yesterday (I like quick projects -- it makes me feel like I've gotten something done in short order). I also did a ball band dishrag while we were watching a movie last night; they're really cute, too. (Look up "ball band" on flickr or google images and you'll see all sorts of color combos, very cute!). It's also very easy, although I had to keep the pattern by my side until I'd done a few pattern repeats. (I'm really not a dishrag fanatic... I don't think :) I just find them fun, and really useful!).

But, I digress... to answer your question: A ruler works just fine so don't feel like you have to get a gauge. The gauge guides can be handy because of the size and additional features; I have one that includes needle-sizing holes, which I've used several times (some needle sizes aren't marked on the needle), but they aren't a necessity.

There's almost no end to the stuff you can buy to support your new hobby :) so just get what seems most useful to you as you need it. I don't regret anything I've purchased so far although I haven't gone overboard. I do like the little things you can put on the end of the needles to keep stitches from falling off (especially handy when I want to take my knitting when I travel), and stitch holders (or big safety pins) have come in handy, and I've used stitch markers a few times. But if you want to improvise you don't have to spend money on any of these, just use what you have around the house!

PS never say never... knitting can be a bit addictive... I swore I'd never knit socks but I just cast on and started my first pair and I have yarn for several more. Argh! I'm hopeless! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: ball band dishcloth

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 8:08AM
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Hey that dishcloth is very cute. And I can actually interpret the knitting instructions! :-)

I had to rip out three times last night because I forgot to yarn over after the first 2 stitches. That's the only variation in every row, and I got on a roll and just kept knitting without thinking. Argh. And I think my needles are too short.... they are only 9" long and that's about the length of the longest finished row. I'l see if I can work with them crammed onto the needle once I reach the full length... if not, then I'm heading back to Joann's today. I will not quit! :-)

Thanks for your comments about the ruler and other items.... I'll just see what I need and get it then, hopefully when I have a Joann's coupon.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 11:53AM
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