Learning to knit

jennAugust 17, 2007

I went to Joann's last night to buy some yarn for a baby quilt I'm finishing today. In the same aisle I saw some booklets to learn how to knit and crochet. I did a little knitting years ago and actually finished an easy baby blanket which I gave away as a gift.

I'm yearning to learn to knit well enough to make any project, so I bought the Learn-to-Knit Lion Brand Yarn Booklet to get started. It explains the common stitches, repairs, and finishing methods, and also includes several easy projects.

My first projects will be winter scarves. I can't think of a better way to practice and perfect the stitches than something as straight-forward as that. I can wear them in winter and give some as gifts.

Beyond this booklet, what would be the best way to continue to learn? Should I take a class at a local shop, or get another book with more details and clear instructions/photos?

The booklet projects include two sweaters for beginners. Can a beginner really complete a sweater without additional training beyond this booklet? I'm willing to learn on-line or through books, though I think a hands-on classroom approach with an experienced teacher can provide instruction possibly not found in any book.

I'd appreciate any suggestions to get started and continue learning.

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If you do your projects in the booklet as you say you will, you will not need any classes. Making a sweater will show you how to read and follow a pattern, and your tension will be fine by the time you finish your first or second scarf. Making a sweater is not all that difficult if it is a beginner's pattern. All you need to know will usually be explained in any pattern book. Go for it. But if you want to join a knitting group of folks who get together regularly to just knit and chat and share, that might be the best idea for you in more ways than one. Enjoy.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 1:34PM
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Thank you. I'm looking forward to getting started. The Lion Brand web site has a lot of patterns and instructions there too.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 4:53PM
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You can get a lot of free help on the web, including technique videos. A class really isn't necessary but if you take one, a smaller class of 2 -3 may be better than a larger group. A basic book is also very useful, such as Vicki Square's Knitter's Companion or Nancie Wiseman's Finishing Techniques.

Here is a link that might be useful: Knitting help

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 6:03PM
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jenn, I'm a novice knitter, and am entirely self-taught (at least so far!). I just started a pair of socks (dpn's! knitting in the round! yikes!) :) and, like you, made a bunch of scarves and some baby blankets as a way of getting used to k & p and some other general techniques (for example, the baby blankets were lace knitting, and I made a scarf that has short rows). There is SO much great help on the internet, through instructional videos and websites, in forums like this, in knitting blogs, and there are tons and tons of free patterns, so that's mostly what I've relied on. There are also lots of great books! However, I've thought of taking classes -- partly for the social component and also because, like you said, sometimes you pick up things that you wouldn't learn otherwise. It really depends on how you like to learn.

I've gotten acquainted with the owners of two local yarn shops and they're terrific -- very helpful and not "pushy" to get me to buy things (although of course I can't resist some of those great yarns!) -- and they both encourage people to come in with their knitting and sit and knit and chat and get help if they need it. It's really delightful. So don't hesitate to go into a yarn shop and talk to the people there and get to know them a little.

Also, one thing that helped me, is to try not to over-think a pattern -- I always want to "understand" what's happening in a pattern but I discovered that sometimes I just don't "get" what it's saying until I actually try it, and then suddenly it makes perfect sense.

The most important thing is just plunge in! and when you have questions, you'll find the answers, here or elsewhere. Knitters are the greatest -- I've emailed total strangers to ask them about something they knitted and posted on their blog and they've always answered. Have fun!!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 8:36AM
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There are some knitting clubs on sites like meetup.com or a local yarn store might have a list of them. It's always helpful to find someone who can give you tips and help you through a problem.
You can always find a local yarn store that might be able to help you with some questions as well. In the begining even if you feel like you need to buy something at the store it's worth it.
If you are trying it on your own stick with the basics and build on what you know. I have been knitting for along time and still learn something new with every sweater I make.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 6:46PM
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Thanks everyone.

I've been watching the videos at KnittingHelp.com. They are very helpful. I'm doing the casting on over and over and finally am getting that, and I'm trying a little knitting from that now. I take it off the needle and start over again. I'll do this until I'm confident enough to make something to keep.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 12:03AM
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jenn, another thought: easy first projects are dishrags -- they're quick to make, fun, and if you make mistakes, you can just keep going, because it's just a dishrag and it doesn't matter! That way you can be productive and feel like you're making something while you're learning. Frogging gets old after awhile (I know, I do it with every project!) :) There are tons of dishrag patterns on the internet and most of them are quite easy and a good way to learn a new stitch or two. And the cotton yarn is very inexpensive, about $1.30 a skein, and usually makes two dishrags. Such a deal! :)

Here's an easy one (see link) that uses garter stitch (all knitting) with an easy increase and decrease that makes a nice edging. And, I might add, it's a tough little workhorse of a dishrag! :)

Anyway, have fun!!

Here is a link that might be useful: grandmother's favorite

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 7:30AM
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Carol Ann, thanks for the link and other suggestions. I think that's a great idea to get started with those to practice.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 9:53PM
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OK, I knit and ripped and knit and ripped and knit and ripped last night until my eyes were burning and tired and I was starting to drop stitches. I ripped one last time and put it away until tonight. However, my stitches are getting better and faster. I'm not tugging on the tension now (see my other thread on that subject), just moving each stitch to the next needle. I'm finding the purl stitch more cumbersome for some reason, the knit stitch feels more natural. All I've done so far is cast on, knit, and purl. Oh, and rip, LOL. Tonight I'll move on and learn something new from the little booklet I bought.

I've found so much help on-line that I may not need an in-person class. That, and the pros in this forum should be all I need to get going. :-)

Now, at last, I'm heading out to Michaels and the needle art store so check out their stash.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 2:38PM
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How you go about learning mostly depends on your learning style. Plunging right in and learning as you go - by trial and error - may take a little longer than taking a class. But some people (like myself) just learn better figuring it out on our own. If you tense up or get nervous with someone looking over your shoulder, you may do better learning from a video or book at your own pace. I bought a simple "How to Knit" booklet and went from there. I progressively moved up to more complicated patterns and challenged myself to continue. I used reference books to look up techniques I didn't know (back before the Internet!)and practiced until I got it. I learned how to crochet the same way. I am now an accomplished knitter, but still learning and seeking new challenges all the time.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 4:45PM
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I just discovered the show "Knitty Gritty." It's on HGTV, and also DIY network. Not only are there ideas for knitting projects - some great, some not - but the designer of the pattern shows, close up and slowly, how to do the stitches. I like seeing the different knitting methods, too.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 10:27PM
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