Sewers, Crafters - need your advice….

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by LittleDudesMom, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    *I've been thinking about this for years and finally decided this morning that I am going to do it!

    I want to learn to knit. There's a great little shop nearby that offers classes but they are sooooooo expensive.

    Could I get some advice on whether this is something I can teach myself via a series of books or youtube or any other recommendations?

    What about needle size/type and the best yarn for a first project? Maybe a scarf?

    I know you all are so talented, I know you can help me!

  2. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    I taught myself to both knit and crochet through booklets sold near the yarn and crochet thread, Sharon. If you google "learn to knit" you will find all kinds of information on how to begin. I became quite proficient, and grew to love the rhythms in knitting or crocheting. It is calming, almost a form of moving meditation. With menopause, I developed allergic asthma. The dyes used in the yarn or crochet thread set off a reaction, and I needed to stop.

    I still miss it!

    You will love it Sharon, once you get through the initial frustration of learning.

    I brought my crochet thread down with me. One day, I am going to try, again.

    I am happy for you. This will be such a good thing!

  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Sharon, how exciting! Knitting and crocheting are my FAVOURITE hobby.

    Depending on your learning style, there are tons of resources out there that can help you learn without taking a class. Here's a sample:

    This video has great camera work, and really demonstrates the techniques clearly. However, the presenter's voice is a bit annoying and the cheesy background music (chick-a chick-a bow wow, etc.) was driving me a bit crazy. Just do a Google search on "youtube knitting tutorial" and you will find lots and lots of items. Go through until you find a presenter that suits you. Many of them are quite good.

    There are also lots of great books available, and online patterns, knitting forums, etc. A great one is

    For a first project I would recommend something small and manageable, that doesn't have too much complex design involved, such as a scarf. Why?
    1. It's a consistent width so there are no increases or decreases.
    2. The rows are short, so the work progresses quickly.
    3. Winter is coming, so when you finish your project you can wear it right away.

    Needles and yarn:
    It's probably best to start with materials that are easy to work with, that give you good yarn control. Here are a few things to think about when you're choosing your supplies.
    1. Gauge -- this refers to the number of stitches per inch, both horizontally and vertically. Most patterns identify a gauge. It's very helpful to do a test swatch to determine whether your knitting tension (how loose or tight your stitches are) matches the pattern gauge. The thicker the yarn, the fewer stitches per inch.

    For a first project, I would recommend a thick yarn, such as a "chunky" or "bulky" weight. Usually listed as #5 or #6 on the skein of wool. Check the label for numbers, since the labels are not always used consistently. Thicker yarns work up quickly, and they make for a nice warm fabric.

    2. Needle size -- choose a needle size that's appropriate for the thickness of your yarn. If you're working with bulky yarn, for example, you'll need a 6.0 mm or 6.5 mm (or 7.0 or 8.0, or even 9.0), depending on how loose or tight you want your stitches to be. Usually the label on the skein provides some guidance as to the needle sizes that work best. Size numbers can be confusing. The number doesn't necessarily translate to the needle thickness, and UK sizes are different from U.S. ones. Look for sizes in millimetres (mm), which actually tell you the thickness of the needle.

    3. Needle type -- needles are usually made of acrylic, metal or bamboo. Acrylic and bamboo are slower moving, but give you more yarn control. Metal needles are slippery and offer less control, but the work moves much more quickly. Go by preference. As a beginner, acrylic or bamboo might be less frustrating as you're less likely to drop stitches etc. My preference is metal, because I don't like my needles to slow my pace of work (I knit very quickly).

    4. Fibre type -- as in: wool, cotton, acrylic, silk, bamboo or some blend. For a first project, I would suggest a nice, basic wool. Wool is lovely to work with, and the nap helps bind your stitches together which again makes it less likely that you'll drop stitches. A more slippery yarn like silk or cotton can take some getting used to. The most important thing is to pick a fibre that suits your project. Is it stretchy, will it maintain it's shape, etc. This is worth a chat with the staff at a yarn shop. Some online distributors I really like are Tanis Fibre Arts and Expression Fibre Arts. Both are artisans who hand spin and dye their yarn collections. And they are beautiful.

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Hope it helps.
  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    ^^^ What she said ^^^

    I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to teach myself to knit. I'm the sort that needs to sit with the person and watch them a million times. lol mother in law had the patience of JOB with me, no doubt, but she managed to teach me the basics.

    Instead of a class, you might want to start asking people if they knit. You might be pleasantly surprised. There are folks who have known me for years but didn't realize I crochet and knit. lol You might be able to sit and watch them and learn or at least have someone to go to if you mess up along the way. (in my opinion this part is critical as I seem to have to do something the wrong way a dozen times before getting it right)

    I just have the basics. I still want to continue learning. I still plan to continue to learn. Going to try again after xmas. Doing it with xmas projects just puts to much pressure on me for it to be perfect and I get too frustrated because I've not done it in so long.

    Go for it!! :)
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I recently took a class at JoAnns. It was about $40, but they have a day with classes at half off about once or twice a month, usually on a weekend. I was the only student and it was very helpful. The instructor told me to go to youtube and search for The Knit Witch's videos. They are really clear and well done. I don't really know the needle size, but others have given you good info on that. Here is her youtube page:

    I hope this helps.
  6. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thank you all so much! I went and got some really nice (thick) bright blue wool blend and needles (#6) and a book with great pics. I am going to crack the book about 20 minutes. I've company for dinner tonight and I made a batch of chicken chili (a new recipe with tons of veggies) and I have jalapeño corn muffins in the oven that I need to take out.

    *I can't wait to start!
  7. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I wish I could help you, but I learned to knit before I really remember. My grandmother taught me and I read books and went on from there.

    If you are just starting out, I highly recommend bamboo needles as they are "slower" and you won't drop as many stitches.

    I do remember watching my grandmother's hands in a mirror as she was left-handed.

    I've developed my own knitting style which is halfway between European and UK. I carry the yarn in my right hand for basic knitting, but I don't wrap the yarn around the needle for each stitch.

    Instead, I "pick it up" like one does knitting European style. It's confusing and I always draw interested knitters who get totally confused watching me knit.

    I can knit "pick" as well and that comes in handy for knitting with two or more colors as I can carry the yarns in both hands.

    A book I can recommend for you is called "Knitting Without Tears", but Elizabeth Zimmerman.

    I taught husband to knit when he was confined to quarters for 6 weeks after breaking his foot. It was a case of either teach him to do something with his hands, or strangle him.

    He used to knit a lot of socks on 4 needles as they are small and very portable. He could roll up a sock in progress on with the needles and ball of yarn, and stuff it in a pocket in his fatigues.

    I know husband had no hangups about his masculinity as he would pull out his knitting in a tent full of Army Rangers without a qualm. What I found interesting is that quite a few of these tough guys were interested in learning to knit.

    husband knitted European style (carrying the yarn in the left hand) I taught him both styles of knitting and he chose the one as his primary style.

    I had to show him a lot of stuff, but I resorted to a lot of books and magazines as he used to get confused watching me knitting away in personal (and "weird" to quote a lot of experienced knitters who watched me knit) style.

    It's not really difficult. I find knitting to be easier than crocheting which I learned as a teen. I'm not sure if that is really the case or if it's that I've been knitting since I was a toddler.

    I don't know about videos as all of this predated the internet.
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Start with a fairly large needle and a heavy gauge yarn. While you're learning you tend to hold onto everything so tightly that small needles and thin yarn is very hard to deal with. Keep your yarn loose.

    Make your first project "not a project". Cast on (you'll learn) 20 - 30 stitches and knit. You'll drop some. I never figured "picking up stitches" out. As you finish rows, count to be sure that you have the same number of stitches as you started with. It's easy to split the thread and add a stitch or drop a stitch. Then pull it all off of the needle and start over and purl.