I have been thinking about the things that you need to get started with knitting. Before I get into that, I should share some of my sentiments about knitting. I read somewhere just the other day that knitting is good for the brain because it gives you a chance to think on a level you wouldn’t otherwise. I completely agree. In addition, it is very calming, like a form of meditation. On top of all of that, it is also fun, because it is something I can take with me no matter where I go.
I have also made new friends thanks to knitting. Knitters are good people. Any time I have had a problem or a question, someone has been more than willing to help me out. Make knitting friends, they will be good to you.
Last but not least, knitting is cool. It is the new black. Not only are you being crafty, you’re being practical. You can make things for your friends and family, and if you are lucky – they will use them! Or you can knit for yourself. Either way, you will end up with something you can use.
What do you need to start knitting? Very basic items. All of which you can purchase at your local Wal-Mart, Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.
– Yarn. I recommend a “worsted” weight. Something in a light color, so it is easy for you to see your stitches. Buy ONE skein of yarn. Do not buy the super fancy yarn, nothing with eyelash texture, just get some plain yarn. Personally, I like Lion Brand’s Woolease yarn. It isn’t too expensive, it has some wool in it, which gives it a little stretch, and it won’t break the bank.
– Needles. Buy ONE pair for now. One. I know, there are a million out there to choose from. Don’t do that yet. Just get one pair. Look on the back of the skein of yarn – there is a key there that tells you how many stitches and rows you should get from a 4″ swatch with a certain size of needles. Look for the “US” needle size, although most here are marked with millimeters too. I would recommend a US size 8, but your yarn may need a different size.
– If you are teaching yourself, you might want to check out a book. I tried to teach myself with the Stitch n Bitch book, but I couldn’t do it. (I taught myself how to crochet years ago, so I was annoyed I couldn’t do that with knitting.) Personally, I like the instructions given in The Knit Stitch book. If you’re not sure how you are going to do, check a book out from the library. Don’t invest in them until you are sure you want to knit.
– A knitting friend or relative to help you out when you get stuck. These are normally free, because we all love to share our love of knitting with others.
And … that’s it. You need yarn and needles. Maybe a book. I’ve even heard of crafty people making needles from a straight stick off of a tree. (Grandma teaching a kid to knit.) I realize there are a million fancy, pretty, shiny things out there and you will want them all. Don’t do it. Why? Because your tastes will change. I guarantee it. I bought yarn in February, right after my first knitting lesson, that I haven’t touched yet. I will eventually, but it would have been smarter if I had just waited.
My other big mistake was hitting a great sale at Hobby Lobby within a week or two of starting and buying a bunch of gadgets. A month later, most were unused and I ended up returning the ones that were not opened yet.
Speaking of returning things: if you buy yarn, make sure you know the return policy of the shop where you are buying it. Especially if it is a yarn store, which tend to be more expensive. Some stores have a no return policy. All say you can not return something after you have wound it into a ball. Books and needles normally can not be returned either.
Want to knit, but concerned it will be too expensive? Twisted Knitter wrote a great post about this a few months ago. It is as expensive as you make it. Fiber is yummy, but more than any other craft you can make things as gifts rather easily.
There is a great knitting community in the blogosphere. Take advantage of that fact. Look for tips on patterns you are making, recommendations on books or yarn, or just general reassurance that it will all be ok when you have to put your knitting in time out because it is not behaving.
Don’t start out with a project at first. Just pull the yarn out of the center of your ball and make a sample swatch. If you want to turn it into a scarf or washcloth, great. But for now, don’t put that pressure on yourself. Just play. Figure it out. Accept that it is ok if your stitches are too tight, too loose or both. Just knit. There is no wrong way, there is just your way.
Once you have a swatch or two under your belt, move on to a scarf. I think it is a right of passage to knit a scarf. Everyone does it. I would recommend a feathery (not eyelash, but something like Bernat Boa) yarn, or a thick and thin yarn for this first project. Not only are they fun, they will hide any flaws. You don’t have to worry as much then about being even, just click the needles.
From there, my next project was a bag knit in the round and felted. Again, if I screwed anything up, felting hides it. The Booga Bag or Sophie would be a great start. A hat is also a good option, if you live somewhere that you would need a hat. (Houston? Not so much. I knit a purse instead.)
After you finish that project, what is next? Well, the sky is the limit.
Have questions? Ask them in the comments. I have some ideas for my next post on this topic, but your feedback will help!