Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Advice for Beginning Knitters

Our most recent Learn to Knit class wrapped up last night (congratulations, ladies!) and there was so much enthusiasm from this group of new knitters! 

I believe anyone can knit, if they really want to, but it takes someone special to successfully translate their craft and teach it others.  Our instructor, Sarah, is an accomplished knitter and is very successful in translating her love of knitting to the classroom.  Her patience, ability to adapt to individual learning styles, helping students see opportunities in the challenges, never taking the short-cut, and always injecting a good dose of humor, are all part of what make her so fabulous.

Sarah was recently asked for beginner knitting advice on her blog, below is her response.  Not a beginner? Read on... This advice is also a good reminder for those of us that eat, sleep and breathe knitting, because we all need to be brought back to our roots every now and then.  

Without further adieu...   

I just noticed a question in my blog’s message box.

Do you have any advice for beginner knitters?

Why yes, yes I do. Here are 12 bits of advice — in no particular order — for all y’all newbie knitters.

1) Just keep knitting! Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the better (and easier) it gets.
2) Learn to read patterns. In the beginning, it will be like trying to read a menu in Budapest, but hang in there. Ask for help, take a class if you can & master the art of pattern reading. You will never regret it.
3) Understand gauge. With the exception of the very first projects, knitting requires a firm grasp of gauge. Learn it, live it, love it because it is one of the most important keys to wide world of knitting.
4) Take a class in person at a Local Yarn Shop (LYS). I am biased here since I am a knitting instructor and I learned from an LYS knitting instructor, but hear me out. There are youtube videos and online courses, but nothing, nothing will take the place of having someone right next to you, interacting with you & walking you through techniques & projects. When I teach, I watch & listen as much as I demonstrate so as an individual you learn what will work for you. Classes at your LYS are also a great way to meet other knitters! Look for good word of mouth, small class sizes, and (as with anything in life) remember that you usually get what you pay for.
5) Join Ravelry. This isn’t a recommendation, it’s a requirement. It’ll open a world of inspiration to you. And you will never look back… in fact, an intervention may be necessary to pry you away from it.
6) Get a good reference book. My favorite is Debbie Stoller’s Stitch n’ Bitch: A Knitter’s Handbook, not because it has a racy title but because it has great illustrations and I like Stoller’s sense of humor. The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square is another good one.
7) Take your time. I hear a lot of newbie’s say, “I want to be able to knit really fast” or “I want to be like those old ladies who can watch TV, knit & not look down.”  New knitters are always impressed by speed. When you are beginning though the focus needs to be on getting comfortable with the mechanics of correctly making stitches. If you focus on this, the speed will come in time.
8) Support your Local Yarn Shops. I have supported local yarn shops for as long as I’ve been knitting. They are invaluable to knitters for many reasons; not only do they supply you with fiber options that you can see & touch before buying, the owners & employees at good lys’ are a wealth of knowledge. They provide inspiration, intelligent recommendations, & oftentimes a place for knitters to gather through scheduled open knitting and classes. No one knows yarn & project selection like a good LYS owner.
9) Try a Knit-along. Once you master the basics of knitting, Knit-alongs (KALs) are a great way to push your comfort zone out a bit or try a new yarn. Many KALs are available online & at your LYS. If you are unsure if you have the skills to succeed with it, ask the person running it. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s a good fit for you.
10) Get good tools. When first starting out, we often don’t want to invest of ton of money in tools. Think of purchasing knitting tools like you are outfitting a toolbox. You will re-use needles for years if you care for them, so don’t be afraid to try the good ones. Good tools can make a world of difference.
11) Laugh. All knitters make mistakes from the first day they knit to the last. Approach the learning process with focus & a sense of humor and you will be A-OK.
12) Get a friend to knit with you. It is hard for non-knitters to understand the passion of a knitter. I encourage you to learn with a friend or go to events where you may make stitching friends. There is nothing as enjoyable in knitting than knitting with other knitters.
Sarah can be found blogging here and her facebook fan page is here.

Happy Knitting! 

1 comment:

  1. I agree with all of this (especially #10)! I would add two things:

    2(a)- learn to read charts. It will be worth it many times over.

    13- learn to knit on circulars and dpns before investing in too many straight needles. I have straights in almost every size but rarely use them because I prefer using circulars.