Learning to Knit

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Knitting is an excellent skill to learn and one which allows you to be that much more self-sufficient, so you can avoid spending money on low quality mass-produced clothing made in sad factories 7000 miles away. Proven to reduce stress levels, it is very relaxing after a long day of running around after your children. It is also very transportable; you can knit on car rides with your handsome pipe-smoking husband, sitting on the couch while listening to your favorite podcast, or in lieu of watching some horrid television show. Knitting can also be social, which makes it such a lovely hobby for women. Invite your friends over, have a cup of tea, and chat about your latest community-building efforts while you knit yourself that fair isle sweater you always dreamed of.

If you’re new to knitting, here are some resources and tips to get you started. The Craft Yarn Council is a great resource. Start here to learn about yarn weight, needles, and how to read yarn labels and patterns. Once you have done that, choose a pattern. Ravelry is a great website with lots of patterns. Choose one that is simple, like a scarf in stockinette or garter stitch and uses only one color. Use the advanced search filter to find free patterns and to limit results to those that use needles size 10 or larger. Larger needles are much easier for beginners to use while your hands learn how to knit and purl. Once you have some more experience, then you can try those size 1 dpns!

After you have chosen a simple, uncomplicated pattern, you are ready to buy your needles and yarn. There are so many knitting supply sources on the web. If your pattern specifies a certain brand of yarn and needles, be sure to follow that if possible; needle size and yarn weight are critical in determining gauge, and gauge will determine how your final project looks. If your pattern does not specify a brand, and you know the yarn weight and needle size, you can venture out and try whichever brand you like, depending on your price point: Lion Brand, Nordic Mart, Purl Soho, and even chain stores like Jo-Ann Fabrics will have an extensive selection. You can order your yarn online or visit your local knitting shop.

In terms of needles, I recommend using wooden ones as they just feel nice in your hands, and since knitting is very tactile that’s quite important! They also look beautiful, and why not try to make everything in life aesthetically pleasing, right? I prefer circular needles, because you can use them for a variety of projects and they work well for flat pieces like scarves or circular ones like sweater collars. Additionally, they help so your stitches won’t fall off the end or get scrunched up while you try to finish a row. We want this to be a low stress activity.

Once you have your materials in hand – you’re ready to start knitting! There are lots of instructional videos out there. Learn the basics – how to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off – and just jump in. Knit a few practice rows and take your time. Make sure to read through your pattern a few times so you can visualize what will happen, much like when you try out a new recipe. You don’t want any surprises halfway in! When you feel ready, you can start your first project and feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with making your own garments. Once you have a few basic projects done, you can move into more complicated territory like cables, lace, socks, and of course that dreamy fair isle sweater.

Happy Knitting!

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