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.)
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.