passing along.

Dear [New Knitter]:

There are a few things that I would like to say to you concerning the craft of knitting. First off, you are about to become exposed to an elite group of persons who spend their free time lurking Ravelry and their favorite yarn shops (online or otherwise). It may seem strange to the average onlooker. And the onlooker should know something: It is strange for this people group when they aren’t doing something relating to fiber, be it knitting or crocheting, spinning or weaving, dyeing fiber or yarn, or even spending time with fiber animals on a regular basis.

The first two guidelines are things that my grandmother told me when I first started knitting.

Don’t knit with bad yarn.

You can always have a “do-over.”

With knitting, you don’t have to worry about wasting a canvas, or making a mistake in mixing paints. You can start over as many times as you’d like, and you can reuse the same material over as many times as you want. But if you start out with bad materials, that’s what you’ll have in the end. (If you need a starting place, wool is a very forgiving fiber.)

Understand gauge.

Gauge is an element to knitting that is just as important as knitting needles and yarn. If you can get gauge, your knitting project will be a success.

Gauge is the measurement of the width/height of your stitches over one inch square. To get an accurate reading, you really need to knit a sample square of knitting (known as a gauge swatch) that is at least eight inches square for a larger project, such as a sweater, or over five inches for a smaller project, like a pair of socks. If you can match the gauge that your pattern lists, your knitted piece will be the same size as the pattern specifies. It sounds confusing here, so here is a link to my favorite gauge “lecture” delivered by Pam Allen (of the yarn company Quince and Co.) and Hannah Fettig (a knitwear design leader). Listen to them here.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

As a new knitter, you aren’t going to know everything about knitting, and you might actually not get it at first. Don’t worry, it has happened to everyone who has done anything. Just know that there is a huge, supportive community out there that has your back. And don’t be frustrated if you can’t get a certain stitch or technique. (I actually couldn’t purl for about a year and a half after I learned the knit stitch. :/ )

I’m trying to keep this short, which is hard because there is so much that I would go back and tell myself. I guess that my last tip is this: Connect with other Knitters.

Knitters are kind. Usually they don’t bite. And they’re going to be happy to support you when you need it.

Thank you so much for your interest in our craft.

If you cultivate your knowledge in this particular area, it won’t let you down. Respect the craft and its lengthy traditions, and you will not be disappointed.



15 thoughts on “passing along.

  1. There is one yarn that is not good for do-overs: mohair. Sticky yarn that gets tangled and stuck on itself. Almost impossible to rip out.

    I’ve been knitting for at least seven years and I still avoid mohair πŸ™‚


  2. Connecting with other knitters is key and something I wish I’d known when I was first starting to teach myself to knit. This time around has been much easier because of all the fun people I’ve met and all the good advice I’ve gotten.


  3. I’ve been meaning to pick up knitting, although I still haven’t aside from one day a year at my school’s Winter Carnival. Yes, with the entire high school a playground, I sat in the library with my friends and knitted. πŸ™‚ Thank you for this post, though, because once I finally do get my own needles and (good) yarn, at least I’ll know where to start. πŸ™‚


      1. I don’t think I do, unfortunately. But there are some in the yearbook, which I didn’t get this year. That’s not very helpful :p


  4. I’d also add to practice your knitting skills. Knit, and purl, sufficiently so that the actual stitchmaking becomes easy, almost second nature. That way your knitting will progress faster and you will feel more able to tackle actual garments.

    BTW – if you’re a real rookie, pick your patterns carefully. Some have much clearer instructions than others and are therefore easier to follow. This is particularly useful if you are trying to knit something for the first time.

    I wouldn’t prescribe socks for rookies, but they aren’t really all that difficult to do, can knit up fairly quickly and have a wonderful range of yarns and colours available.


  5. I like your blog, but I especially love this post. When I started knitting, I don’t have anyone (family or friend) to help me with the beginner’s trouble, and I wish I read this when I started. Thank you for sharing, and therefore I would like to nominate you for The Sunshine Award. Have a nice day πŸ™‚


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