Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Newbie Knitters Guide (Part 1)

I received a few qestions about learning how to knit over the past few weeks so I thought I'd share a little today about how to get started. I shared earlier in the week about how I got my start, but I thought I'd also share about the helpful bits I've come across and what I would tell my newbie knitting self now that I have three years of knitting behind me.

The Newbie Knitter's Guide, Part 1 - Getting Started

Learn from great resources.

On the ravelry boards you can read about a TON of different ways that people have learned to knit, but it all seems to boil down to a few certain methods:

2. Videos from or youtube.

3. A friend or relative or Local Yarn Store (LYS).

For me it was a combination of books and videos. I don't know many people who knit in real life that are also local to me, so I essentially taught myself using books and videos. I'm pretty visual, so between those two resources I was in great shape.

I have learned a few really great things at my LYS though, including a super stretchy bind-off for socks and also got help with sock construction when I was having problems with my heel turns.

And because I simply can't move on to the next section without mentioning this life-changing site, go right now to and sign up. I'll wait until you get back- promise! If you're on the fence about whether or not knitting is for you ravelry will convince you- online access to thousands of patterns, many of them free, just about every bit of yarn information you could ever need, super helpful forums...

Just go.

Sign up.

Thank me later.

Use decent materials.

Your knitting experience highly depends on the materials you use. Certain yarns and needles are more comfortable than others (and this is slightly different for different people) so it's important that you use materials that offer you the best experience.

In my experience helping new knitters get started wool yarn and bamboo needles are the most forgiving. Wool has a little bit more ease to it than other yarns and the bamboo needles "grab" the yarn a little so that you don't have a heart attack due to stitches sliding off the tip of the needle.

You don't have to spend a ton of money to get started!

I have always been on a serious budget for hobbies- my sewing and knitting purchases come from birthday/Christmas/mother's day gifts almost exclusively- so I know what you're thinking when you're looking at all that yarn and noticing what looks like the very same blue for $5 cheaper. There's a reason that yarn is so much cheaper- you're getting what you pay for, and it's not very easy to work with.

I know, I know-- you don't want to put a lot of money into a hobby you might not stick with. But spend that $5 extra and knitting will be a truly different experience.

For the budget conscious, take a look at Joann's and Hobby Lobby if you have them close to you. Joann's runs regular 40% off coupons in the newspaper and I used these coupons to slowly acquire bamboo needles (Clover brand). You can also find some wool there (I like Wool-Ease). Hobby Lobby also runs good sales on their needlework section periodically and they also carry clover needles. Hobby Lobby has a store brand of wool that I like called I Love This Wool that is a nice beginner wool

If you don't have either of those stores near you another great option is They have yarn in a variety of prices, but their Wool of the Andes worsted weight is about $2.00 per ball. Their shipping is reasonable and purchases over $50.00 have free shipping.

I mentioned before that needles are a preference, but bamboo has a little more grab than other types of needles so it is a little easier for most beginners. There are also acrylic needles and metal needles available, with varieties of each type.

I own and regularly use Boye metal needles (I use the double point boye needles for socks) and I have Addi Turbo Click interchangeables that I use as often as possible. I do use my bamboo clover needles some (especially in larger sizes of double points for sleeves and such) but mostly stick with the Addi's now. Knitpicks has a "try it set" of needles that includes 1 set of each type- acrylic, metal and wood- if you'd like to try knitting with each kind.

I'll be back tomorrow with more tips on getting started.

Do you have something to add to this post? Have you found a great starter yarn or a bit of advice to add? Any questions you want to make sure I answer?

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