Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Dear New Knitter

Today is a historic day in a few ways. My son turns 29 today. You know what that means? IAMTHEPARENTOFA29YEAROLD!!!!!! And I want to know where the time went.
(maintain low tones, young Cone)


The other young cone (if you've seen Coneheads, you'll get the reference...) is getting married next month. What the actual.....?

Gordon Downie passed away last night. Maybe you have to be Canadian to get the meaning of that, but we called them "the 'Hip" and they were icons. While not entirely unexpected, it still comes as a shock when something like this happens.

I have been working on some presents as is usual for this time of year. The guys are getting socks and hats, and I've got my sister's yearly yule hat done. I'm not really getting much done, at least, not as much as I want to, but c'est la vie.

I've been knitting for roughly 30 years- give or take. My across the street neighbour taught me, and she's a fine teacher, because she succeeded where many failed. Rather, I failed. But I needed something to do while the baby was sleeping, other than laundry, and it was a blessing on so many levels. It's given me joy, frustration and many hours of creativity. It's brought many friends into my life, both online and for reals.

So, what advice would I give to a new knitter? Or someone who wants to learn everything in 5 minutes? First, it's a hobby (more of a lifestyle to most of us) that you never master, in terms of knowing everything.

1. First, while knitting can be inexpensive, in general terms, it's not. Even budget-friendly yarn, when you need enough for an adult garment, is going to run you a few sheckels, and yes, you can buy one at Old Navy cheaper.

2. Which brings me to this: if you feel this is something that you love, and want to keep doing, invest in the best tools and yarn that you can afford. That doesn't necessarily mean the most expensive either. You will quickly learn what suits you, and what you're not so happy with. Also, different yarns require different needles. If you go for the cheapies, you will get what you pay for. Trust me.

3. Learn how to read a pattern. I don't always recommend that you study the entire thing, because alot of it won't make sense until you're actually at that stage of the game. But patterns are usually a shorthand- and you'll see the same abbreviations over and over, so it's not scary. Unless the "designer" makes up his/her own, and that's, well, pretentious.

4. Know how to identify a K (knit) stitch, and a P (Purl) stitch. Familiarize yourself.

5. For the love of all that is holy- if you disregard everything here, learn how to use Double Pointed needles and how to read a chart!!!! Knitting fads come and go, but when you want to finish off a hat, or knit some glove fingers, you'll be grateful you know how. I know that magic-loop is a thing, and I can see it's benefits, and I have nothing against fans of the technique, but there will come a time when the rubber hits the road, and those dpn's are vital.

As for anyone who says "I don't knit from charts..." all I can say is that more and more patterns are charted, as it's easier from the standpoint of the writer, especially lace. It's also easier to see where you are with a chart, in colorwork and cabling, so don't dismiss it. You'll be essentially cutting yourself off from roughly half the patterns on Ravelry.

6..Ravelry. 
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7. I bet it was recommended that you make a scarf. You'll soon be bored with that. Your next project should be something that incorporates increases and decreases, perhaps a buttonhole. You can next start with a raglan sweater, top-down if you want, and if that intimidates you, how about a child's sweater. People are always multiplying, and it will come in handy for the next kid that comes along.

8. Come to terms with gauge. You have to make a gauge swatch. Yes, you do. Your knitting is unique from everyone else's and you may be one of those lucky ones who can achieve the gauge in a pattern, but chances are you are looser or tighter. If you want this thing to fit or come out the recommended size, you are strongly advised to take the time.

9. And yes, the only real way to correct an error, is to rip back. And that may mean the whole sleeve, or back of a sweater, but I never mind, because it's teaching me something. Admittedly, I rip back alot less than I used to, but it happens. It can be soul destroying, but think of it as experience.

10. Collect books. I love anything by Elizabeth Zimmermann. Even better are the videos. But start with "Knitting Without Tears"- highly readable, and very reassuring to the unsure.

11.Things like cabling and socks are suprisingly easier than you think. You'll impress the handknit socks off yourself. Treat yourself to some self striping yarn and watch the magic happen.

12. This brings me to the inevitable "oh, you made that? Could you knit me one?" Never mind that you have spent alot of time on that item, and are eager to show it off. The muggles have no idea what goes into your creations. And nothing takes the fun out of something more than knitting to order. If you finish something and feel you want to gift it to a worthy person, then great. But my advice is don't do it. Next thing you know you'll be knitting for a family of Yeti's, and resenting every stitch.

Clearly, I have much to say on this subject, so I'll continue next time.

Fleece Out

4 comments:

  1. Congratulations to Miss Mew, and happy birthday Alex. Time seems to be slipping away more quickly every day.

    Great advice to new knitters.

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  2. Excellent advice! I agree with all of it. I'm struggling with reading charts, but can do really basic ones relatively well at this point.

    OMG the Coneheads! I always liked that they were from France, and that the daughter's name was Connie ...

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  3. Great advice! I especially love the "can you make me one?" part. I just finished a shawl (took me 2 years of off and on knitting) and a friend hinted that she'd like to commission me to make her one. I replied with an estimate of how much it would cost in my time alone. Sorry. Yes, you're my friend, but I want to keep you as my friend and not resent you.

    Congrats to your family on all counts!

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  4. After ripping back my Lett Lopi sweater about a half dozen times, if not more, I said F it. I am now knitting it and if too big {doubtful since my tension keeps tightening up} I will wear something baggy. If too small well I have been losing a bit of weight and I have a child who wears all the sweaters that are too small for me.

    Excellent advice all around. Tho gauge. Gauge is a bear and sometimes entirely out of your control. EZ once wrote about our fingers being wise and knowing when a too thin or too thick needle appeared and adjusting. Our fingers sometimes say this yarn at this gauge thank you very much. In which case math is your friend. And thanks to EZ we do know the basics of math. Or just throw in the towel and knit on for the pleasure of knitting!

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