A lot of people are taking the opportunity to learn a new skill. With so many people not able to work right now, we need to occupy our time with something right? And keeping our brains active will help a lot with what we are all collectively going through. I have picked up both my guitar and my violin, which I haven’t touched in about 2 years. Poor things. I have them both tuned up and sounding great….until I start to play it and then well, you know how that story goes with a beginner on an instrument. Let’s just say I keep my windows closed when I practice, because the neighbors don’t deserve that. haha! But, a lot of people are picking up knitting and crocheting. Which, I of course, think is a great idea. That raises the question of, where do I start?! You could spend hours just watching You Tube videos, or you could just dive right in. I learned most of the basics when I was a kid, from my grandmother. After that, I put it all away and didn’t pick it up again until I was almost 30. It was like starting over. When I started, I picked up a little “How to Knit” kit from Michaels. It came with a little booklet and needles. Just the basics.
When you are just starting out, it is important to not put pressure on yourself. It can seem daunting. A lot of people will say to start with making a scarf, because it’s just a long rectangle. And while it is easy, it can seem like it is never going to end. Honestly, I prefer to start people off with a dish cloth. Just a little 4X4 square….ish. It will vary depending on how many stitches you want to start with. Really, you just want to end up with something kind of square. No pressure here, remember? Having the knitting needles in your hand, and controlling your yarn can seem very cumbersome at first. Depending on the needles you have, they can get tangled in your clothing, stuck in the arms of your chair, and just make you feel like you are fumbling through things. That is because most people start with those long straight needles. And there is nothing wrong with them, but they are longer than you need. That is because needles have to be multi-taskers to allow you to make a variety of things on them. So, those long needles you are using for your skinny scarf also get used for blankets. If you are using those needles, just be patient, and know that it’s not you. 🙂 I still use them from time to time and they still get caught in my clothes, or on chair arms, or even my own arm. haha! One of the things you will find with knitting, is that there are a lot of things that come down to personal preference. These needles are great to start with, even though they are fiddly, because they are super easy to find at craft stores that sell yarn. As you learn and progress, you can investigate other needle options that could make it much easier to knit, but when starting out you don’t want to have to invest a ton of money to get going. Also, there are a lot of needle sizes, in terms of how big around the needle itself is. You will find that most have a US size and then a MM measurement. When you get to the stage of looking at a pattern, be sure you go with the MM sizing, because the US sizing isn’t as strict. The MM will be an exact measurement and will give you a better result. When you start out, one of the best sizes to buy is the US 8/5mm. This is a very common size, that you will use a lot for larger yarn. It is large enough that you will be able to get a good grip on the needle. It also creates a fabric that is much easier to see the stitch definition, which will help you learn.
Now that you have needles, what yarn should you get? You will find that there are numerous sizes and types. Yarn has improved a lot over the years. Acrylic, while it still has a bad wrap has improved greatly. It’s not as plastic feeling as it was in the 80’s, although some of the cheap ones can still be like that. However, when you are starting out, you don’t want to go super expensive on the yarn. I like acrylic for a few reasons. One is the price. It is much cheaper than a lot of the fancier yarns, which is great if you are doing a large project, like a blanket. Next is that it is super washable. Again, this is fantastic for blankets. If you are able to get in to a store, or when you are able to get back out to one, the best thing to do when choosing yarn is to touch it. Yep, get your hands on it. If it feels scratchy, it will stay scratchy. Walk away from that one. If you touch it and it’s soft feeling, then give that one a try. The feel of it in it’s balled state at the store, is what it will continue to be. You might be able to make it softer by soaking the finished project in hair conditioner, but you will have to work with that scratchy yarn during the entire time you are knitting. In case you are not able to get out to a store, here are a couple yarns I like that are a great price tag: Knit Picks Brava Worsted, is a great price tag. It’s very washable, and it’s soft to work with. I use this a lot for large blankets. This is labeled as a worsted weight yarn, which is a good all around yarn for scarves. It’s a medium weight, and depending on the length of your scarf, you will need 2-3 balls of this yarn. If you are wanting to go with the option of making dish clothes, then a great option is either Dishie or Dishie Multi. The difference between these two are the colors. Dishie is a line of solid color cotton yarns, and the Dishie Multi is a multi colored cotton yarn. One ball of this will get you a couple dish clothes, depending on how big you want to make them.
So, this is your material basics to get you started. But, now you need to know HOW to knit. I plan to put up a post in just a couple days on the act of knitting. I will be posting pictures, and links to videos on how to knit. For now, you can definitely head over to YouTube, and search How To Knit, and you will find many many videos. My goal is less about reinventing the wheel on the basics, and more about giving you a lot of the details that I found were missing when I came back to knitting. I will continue to get more in-depth on how to knit, to help you progress in your skill.
Thanks for reading!