During lockdown, many people have been taking the opportunity to learn new crafts and skills, return to some they haven’t visited for a while, or build their existing knowledge.
After countless failed attempts in the past that lead to wobbly edges, holes and super-tight stitches, this winter just gone I decided to give knitting another try. This time, I was much more successful, and so I thought I’d share a few resources and tips that helped me.
Try Crochet First
It was suggested to me to try crochet first, as it is simpler to learn. I am so glad I did this! It helped me understand how the stitches are built, which means that when something goes wrong it’s easier to understand why it’s gone wrong. If I can understand why it’s happened, it’s much easier to correct.
I found the book The Crochet Answer Book by Edie Eckman so helpful, especially the ‘Stitches at a Glance’ table.
I made some boot cuffs and scarves with different stitches, and very quickly progressed onto successfully following hat patterns on Pinterest, like this one, which looks very complex but is actually not!
Then I decided it was time to dig out the knitting needles and give it a go. Having an idea of how crochet stitches are built, also helped me see more clearly how knitting stitches are built and why they look the way they do. This helped me to understand how to make corrections without crying/throwing knitting out of the window/reaching for gin. Yess!!!
Careful Pattern Selection
I often want to run before I can walk, so I forced myself to choose a simple children’s jumper pattern as a first attempt and made it for a friend. Next I chose a King Cole Raglan jumper pattern to make for myself. This used only knit and purl stitches and professed to be an ‘East Knit’. And what do you know? It was!
This was so successful that I made two. I made the first one in a greyish blue tweed wool and I used both an off white and a coral yarn in the second one as I was feeling rather confident! This is a great beginner pattern that I would recommend. Although I’m desperate to knit something lacy or cable, I’m trying to find patterns that gradually build on these basic skills first.
I also found it useful to photocopy the pattern (or take a picture of it on my phone) so I could tick off the bits I’d completed without making the original pattern messy.
By my second jumper, I was a little frustrated because I felt I should be getting results more quickly. One thing holding me back was that I was letting go of the right needle for every stitch. I tried holding the needles differently, but nothing felt comfortable. Having searched You Tube I found a few tutorials on flicking. This one is good. I tried it and after the first few rows it just felt very natural, and it’s now how I automatically knit. It really does speed things up!
Tutorials by Wool and the Gang, and VeryPink Knits have been really helpful for researching stitch types, learning about different ways to cast on and off, and sewing seams. They are filmed properly in good light, and go at a slow enough pace for you to see what it happening. There are loads of good tutorials out there, but these are the channels I seem to come back to over and over again.
I hope these tips are helpful! Have you tried any new crafts during lockdown? What knitting resources have you found helpful?