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Knitting 101: Class 1

October 29, 2010

Over the next several weeks, I, along with several of my friends, will be sharing tips, tricks, and how-to guides for some of our favorite gifts to give for Handmade Christmas 2010.  Today’s guest post is from my dear friend Kelly who blogs about her recipe trials at Brownies and Zucchini. Today Kelly will be sharing part 1 of a two part series on how to start knitting.  Heeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Kelly!

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When I was in elementary school, I became especially interested in arts and crafts.  My mom, who worked at the school I attended, would meet with some friends and knit on Wednesday afternoons after school.  Most days, I would join them.  Usually I worked on homework, or played on the computer, but I was always interested in how one strand of yarn became a sweater, or a blanket, or a hat, or a scarf. One day, sometime in middle school, I decided that I wanted to learn how to knit.  I went to a couple of my mom’s knitting gatherings after school, and learned how.  I did not learn by reading a book, or by taking a class – I learned by experience. 

After that, I knit on and off.  I would get frustrated with what i was working on and stop knitting for a while, and then pick it back up months later.  In the past few years I have gotten back into knitting.  I really love doing it, and it always amazes me what I can make out of a string of yarn. 

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Heather asked me to put together a “knitting 101” post for you, in case any of you were thinking about learning how to knit.  I will warn you, I am not book taught – so it might not be the most precise terminology, but I’ll do my best.

What do you need to start knitting?
Here are some things that you should collect before you start your first knitting project.  As I go through and list the materials, I am going to assume that you are making a scarf – since this is probably the easiest thing to make, and a very popular beginning project.

If you are still weary about where to begin after reading my instructions I highly recommend this book:

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Yes, this book is made by a company that makes children’s project books, but don’t let that concern you! This book has fantastic instructions and is really great for a beginning knitter of any age.  Plus, it comes with all of the materials you need – including multiple patterns, yarn and needles!

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Pattern
Where do I find a pattern?  One of my favorite pattern resources is Ravelry.  The number and variety of patterns on that site seems endless.  They have tons and tons of free patterns, as well as patterns that cost a small amount of money.  (You do have to sign up for an account, but it is FREE!) 
Of course there are many different books with patterns, as well as websites of yarn companies.  There are even some yarns that come with free patterns.

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Needles
Knitting needles are made with different materials:  metal, plastic, bamboo, stainless steel, etc.  You do NOT need anything fancy.  With time, you will discover which varieties you like best, but until then, I would recommend that you find something budget friendly.  Personally, I prefer the bamboo needles, but there is nothing wrong with the plastic or metal needles either – and they tend to be a lot cheaper than the bamboo. 

Knitting needles also come in pairs of straight needles or circular needles.  For simplicity, start with a set of straight needles.  Circular needles can make things easier in the future, but no need to start with them.

Knitting needles come in different sizes.  Most scarf knitting patterns use about a size 9 or 10 needle.  Here is where it gets tricky.  “9” does NOT stand for 9mm or 9cm or 9in.  However, a size 9 will always be a size 9 no matter what brand or style of needle you buy.  In other parts of the world they use the diameter as the “size” of the needle (like 9mm) so you will see that number on the package as well, just don’t confuse that number with the needle size.  Often they will say US size and UK size.  You are looking for the US size.

Once you start knitting more, you might notice that you tend to knit tightly or loosely. These factors will change what size needles you knit with in the future,  but for now, just buy whatever size it says on your pattern, and it should work out alright.

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Yarn
If you are a beginner, I highly suggest finding a pattern that suggests you use a specific brand and type of yarn.  This makes it more likely that you will succeed with your pattern, and also easier to pick out which yarn you are planning on using.  There are lots and lots and lots of yarns out there, it can be kind of intimidating trying to decide what yarn you will use, so for at least your first project, taking the easy way out might be your best bet. 

If your pattern does not tell you what kind of yarn to buy, look for something that is think about the function your scarf will have:
Do I want it to be purely for fashion?  Choose whatever pretty yarn you like, this thinner yarns will give it a lighter, lace-like feel, but they also tend to be more frustrating to knit with. 
Do I want it to keep me warm walking home in cold Wisconsin Winters?  Choose something that has at least some wool in it.  I know I lot of people don’t like to knit with wool yarn because it tends to feel scratchy on the skin.  Even if the yarn only has 5% wool, it will keep you warmer than something that has no wool at all – and it will be softer than something that is 100% wool. 

Again, I highly recommend that you find a pattern that tells you what type of yarn to use.  The type of yarn you use will also determine what size needle you need, so finding a pattern makes that easier as well.

Now that you have all of your supplies, its time to learn the stitches! Stay on the look out for Knitting 101: Class 2, coming soon!

 

Until then, Have you ever tried knitting?  Share your stories of how you started, the favorite project you ever made, or if you haven’t yet knit, what you dream of one day being able to complete!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2010 6:30 am

    I LOVE THIS!! I LOVE KNITTING!! weeee!!!

  2. October 29, 2010 7:44 am

    Excellent post. I love knitting – that’s the “needles” in my blog name!

Trackbacks

  1. Handmade Christmas 2010 Update #2 « Brownies and Zucchini
  2. Knitting 101: Class 2 « Then Heather Said

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