Katy, my fabulous friend from Sugar and Chiffon, asked me in a post to teach her how to knit. I thought that could be a lesson for anyone interested – though I’m going to have to extend it over several posts. Knitting is one of my favorite hobbies, and an easy one both to start and obsess over. It can get expensive, based on the needles and yarn you choose, but there’s nothing like a handmade gift for a beloved friend – or for yourself!
This post will get into knitting basics – your weapons for knitting, should you chose to continue.
You’ll need a few things to get started:
- Yarn. You can go ahead and buy the cheap stuff at Walmart, but it makes a difference, especially in the beginning, to have yarn that just feels nice in your hands. You don’t have to blow the budget on Alpaca With a Twist Big Baby, but oh my when you feel this yarn in your hands, you will never go with a synthetic blend again. There are lots of mid-range price options. My favorite is Cascade 128 Superwash.
- Needles. These come in a range of styles, colors and most importantly materials. Again, it’s easy to get spoiled. My favorites are bamboo needles (I use ChiaGoo ones). I sometimes use plastic, but I’m not a fan – I find the stitches slip off too easily. I refuse to use metal.
- A pattern. When I first learned to knit, I had no idea that there was such a thing as a pattern. I didn’t know how to read patterns, and I had no idea what a gauge was. I still don’t use gauges, but I do have a rapidly-growing pattern collection. Ravelry has been my biggest source of knitting information and help. There are thousands of free patterns on Ravelry, just waiting to be used to make amazing creations. (You can visit my page on Ravelry, too!)
- A tapestry needle. You’ll use this to finish up projects. It really just looks like a giant regular needle – though not as sharp.
- A cable needle. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This is where knitting gets cool: cables are the twists in knitting that add depth and detail to your work. Don’t be intimidated. I got this hook from my grandma, and I love it. And yes, I’ve flown with this, as well as my knitting needles, several times.
- A crochet hook. While I don’t crochet, these hooks are invaluable for picking up dropped stitches. Like needles, they come in a variety of sizes. I keep two with me at all times – a small one and a slightly larger one.
- Finally and perhaps most importantly: a local yarn shop. This might be the trickiest, based on where you live, but if you can find a local shop with people willing to help you out, knitting will be so much easier! Local shops not only have high-quality materials, but also classes and one-on-one sessions. I would not have finished my first pair of socks had I not taken a class on it.
YouTube has also been one of my greatest resources. I search for everything from cast-on methods (how to get the yarn on the needles) to more complicated stitches. The videos are great because you can rewind as much as you want until you master the stitch.
But I warn you, never leave your yarn unattended, lest your cats be tempted: