I'm writing this blog basically as a letter to one of my good friends who is a beginner. As I was compiling a list of all of the random things I wish I'd known I figured other people might benefit too so now it's a blog instead of an email.
There are so many different approaches to knitting. I think most people learn like I did, by having someone let you watch what they are doing and try to copy a few stitches. Then we all progress into the inevitable scarf. My first scarf was very long and very blue and was entirely stockinette stitch and rolled up constantly(I had no clue blocking was a thing). It was very Dr. Seuss I don't even know what happened to it. I even mastered knitting in the round without much supervision. My first sweater as mentioned in my first blog post was a disaster. I knit the whole thing on giant long straight needles like some sort of a cartoon charter and then I used the cheapest ( not very exciting yarn) all in one color from my local yarn store sadly it was dk weight so it took forever. It also had to be totally sewn together at the end which is how the sleeves got put on upside down making it the bat wing sweater. From that one project I can already come up with a whole list of things that I wish someone had told me.
Look into interchangeable tip circular needles. I knit the bat wing sweater all on super giant straights. It was breaking my wrist by the end and kept wanting to pop off. Interchangeable circulars knit just like straights no pattern changing but all of the weight is on the cord and it doesn't pop off the needles
- Check out the Knit picks website. Yes I know I'm a small business who sells yarn telling you to go to another website to buy yarn. I sell handspun yarn, they sell the best deal on commercial yarn I've ever seen. So it's really apples and oranges. I sure hope you love my handspun and buy it and make beautiful things out of it, but that doesn't at all take away the need to have professional commercial yarn to buy. They are a north west company that works directly with the yarn and fiber producers and cut out the middle man. I have never gotten anything from them at I was anything less than thrilled with and the prices are so good it really makes it hard to shop at a local yarn shop.( which kind of makes me sad). There is no excuse to buy yarn from craft stores unless it's the Lillys cream in sugar cotton(which I love and is another story for another day). They also sell the most fabulous wood needles and sets(also really cheap) I've ever seen. Also they have a really cute podcast if you're into that sort of thing. I made a really fabulous sweater with my handspun as the trim and then ordered this great blue tweed from knit picks. I think I had $30 in the whole thing(minus my handspun) I would encourage you if you fall in love with some really cool handspun and don't know what to make out of it, find the closet gage and buy some cool neutrals from knitpicks and go to town. I have some really fun neon handspun that I plan on paring with some soft black yarn from KP and making stripy arm warmers.
- Find the best needles for you. Some people knit really tight so metal tipped needles work best. Others (like me) knit really loose. This is why I'm obsessed with the wood needles from KP not only do they feel great to use but they really help to keep the yarn on the needles.
- Don't start out with cheap acrylic, it's really slippy get some nice wool or at least a blend. Same for cotton, linen silk etc. It doesn't have the stretch of wool or alpaca so the drape can be a bit harder if your'e starting out.
- Don't knit your first larger item on any yarn smaller than worsted weight, it will take forever and you'll get burned out. I would suggest getting something variegated so you can use one yarn but it changes colors for you .
- Join Ravelry!!!!! I had no clue this was a thing till one of my best friends(thanks Jamie) told me about it and it changed my life. It's a social media site for yarn people. You can search a huge pattern data base so if you have a weird amount of yarn you can search by weight (under advanced search ) and find what you can make out of it. You can meet other people who are as excited about yarn as you( because let's face it your loved ones probably think you're a bit of a freak) Also you can search your area and find a local knitting group.
- Join a local knitting group!! Even if you don't like people and you prefer to be a hermit. Just do it. I think most people in Stitch and Bitch groups are hermits who don't like people so you can all hang out and drink and eat and knit and talk about how much you don't like people together. Also you will make friends which is hard to do as a grown up. They are also the single best place to learn things while having fun. Thats where I learned pretty much everything I just typed. So hop on revelry an find a group. Even if it doesn't look that exciting on the web, my group doesn't post hardly anything on Ravelry but I looked them up on facebook and they have a very nice facebook group and that's how we met. I never would have found them with out searching groups on Ravelry.
Ok I think that's enough for now. I"m sure I"ll come up with more things I wish I had known next time I'm washing my hair because that's the only time my brain works these days(thanks kids)
Please let me know if I left anything out