Some tips on getting started learning to knit.
Thinking about learning to knit? Knitting can give you hours of enjoyment plus the satisfaction of making something with your own hands. Here are some tips to get you started.
One of the great things about knitting is that it's inexpensive. Yarn is under $4 a skein and you can make a lot of things with a skein. Knitting needles are also cheap. When you're first learning to knit, all you really need is a skein of yarn and a pair of needles. I would get size 7 needles. That's a nice intermediate, versatile size and you can do a lot of projects with it.
A good place to get knitting supplies is Wal Mart. They generally have a big selection of yarn, needles, and pattern books at low prices.
Should you get someone to teach you to knit, or should you try teaching yourself? Either way is fine, depending on your preference. If you're good at seeing things in three dimensions, you'll probably be able to teach yourself. If you're like me and don't have good spatial reasoning, you're better off getting someone to show you how. I learned from my college roommate.
If you want to learn on your own, there are a lot of good resources. You can pick up an instruction book when you get your yarn and needles. There are also a lot of sites on the internet, such as learn-to-knit.com, learntoknit.lionbrand.com, knitting.about.com, knittingonthenet.com and knittinghelp.com. There are videos on YouTube, and some of the other sites have videos, too.
Once you learn to cast on, cast off, knit, and purl, you'll most likely be able to figure everything else out on your own. Then it's handy to have a good instruction book with lots of different patterns, or you can search for free patterns on the internet. You can try them out and improve your skills.
Even when you're starting out, you'll want to actually make something rather than just practice-knit. A good project is a hotpad to set hot pots on. The type of yarn called rug yarn is good for this. It's thicker and sturdier than regular yarn, but it's still easy to work with. Cast on about 30 stitches on size 7 needles and knit until the piece is about six inches long. You can make it bigger if you like.
To make your hotpad extra strong you can knit two pieces and sew them together. You can do this with the rug yarn and a darning needle. A darning needle is like a giant sewing needle. Sewing with yarn is called darning, and it's really easy.
Another good project is a scarf. This is how I like to make a scarf: Pick out some nice, soft, thick yarn. Cast on twenty-four stitches on size 7 needles and knit two purl two across the row. Do this until the scarf is about four and a half feet long. When you knit two purl two, it creates a nice effect called ribbing, that looks attractive and is really cozy and warm.
I think when you're first learning to knit it's good to buy some pretty yarn in a color or colors you really like. Also, it's good to pick projects you really want to work on. That way if you have problems, it'll be easier to work through them and finish your piece. Remember, too, if you have problems, they're really an opportunity to learn and improve your skills.
Don't be afraid to try new things, especially if you're working on a small project and it won't be hard to start over. The more knitting skills you get, the more different projects you'll be able to do, and the more fun you'll have!
Picture from Wikipedia Commons