Friday, April 13, 2012

Letter to a New Knitter

Dear New Knitter:

I've been knitting for a very long time.  I wanted to let you know that you're not alone, and you'll be fine.  If you're pulling your hair out, you're probably on the verge of your next knitting breakthrough.

A few words of advice: 

Use the best yarn you can afford.  This doesn't mean to use the most expensive yarn!  You want to use the yarn with a nice, springy loft, and a high twist.  Most of the yarn you'll find in a craft store doesn't meet that criteria.  Unsure of what to use?  Bring an experienced knitter with you when you're shopping.  The springy, high twist yarns will help you avoid a variety of problems, and you can just focus on the knitting.

Choose a light to medium color.  It is very difficult to sort out any mistakes you may make on dark colors.  Until you're very comfortable with your knitting skill, avoid the navy blues, blacks, and pine greens.  Just trust me on this.

Use wool unless you're violently allergic.  Wool is the best behaved fiber for new knitters.  it goes a long way to evening out your stitches, and when you're new, this makes your work look much better.  A truly even stitch takes between 5000 and 10,000 stitches of practice to create.  Interestingly, this is the same range of stitches in most scarf patterns.  (This is why so many new knitters start with scarves.)

Choose needles that feel good to you.  Not every needle is made for every knitter.  Some of us love metal needles, some plastic, some wood, and some bamboo.  Some like sharper points, some duller.  Some like long needles, etc.  What matters is that these needles are going to be in your hands for many hours in your future.  If you don't like them, you won't enjoy your knitting very much.  If you know people who knit, they will likely be happy to loan you needles to play with until you find a pair you really like.  Several shops also offer this option.

Connect with your inner patient person.  Knitting rarely offers instant gratification.  Knitting creates fabric one fraction of a square inch at a time.  Finishing your project will take time.  It is definitely a process-oriented hobby, not a strictly results-oriented hobby.  If you need instant gratification, order at a drive through.  Then, get back to your knitting!

Have a sense of humor.  Read knitting blogs or tweets by knitters, and you'll see that we all have little knitting demons fighting out forward progress.  Sometimes it's your pet, who decides to "taste" your yarn.  Sometimes it's your child, who "helps" you knit.  Sometimes it's a riveting TV program, and you mess up your pattern because you were distracted by the story.  I've been known to spill a coffee into a project bag.  Successes are sweet, and problems are a fact of life.  A sense of humor will get you through things that might make you want to cry in a weaker moment.

Keep at it.  You won't love every project you finish.  You won't always feel like knitting.  The yarn and the needles won't judge you if you spend evenings with your other hobbies for awhile.  But like most skills, knitting skills rust and dissolve with disuse.  When you get back to it, you may take a few days to get really smooth and comfortable again.  Putting it down for a few days or a week will be easier to overcome than setting it down for a year or two. 

Knit with friends.  It's great to have the support of other knitters.  Join a knitting group, drop by your local yarn shop and knit a few rows, or just knit in public.  Knitting in a cafe will attract other knitters like flies to honey.  They'll want to know what you're making, and they'll readily tell you where to find a good knitting group to visit.

You're among friends.  We knitters are nice people.  Join in. 

Best wishes,


1 comment:

f1bercat said...

Where is the "like" button for this post?