Knitting Tips for Beginners

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One of my motivations for knitting would have to be my love of scarves. Summers are great for live music, festivals, food, and fireworks. However, the cooler months in the Midwest are dear to my heart. Starting in late September or early October, I can’t leave the house without at scarf. I love going all out in stylish large sweaters, jewel tone tops, and brown booties. It’s my favorite part of the year where I like to get very crafty making table runners, placemats, and baby size quilts.

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When I first started learning how to knit, I envisioned myself learning how to knit a scarf. Knitting a scarf is a great beginner project. In order to knit a scarf, you only have to learn two basic stitches and those are called “knit” and “purl.” You also have to learn how to cast on at the very beginning and later bind off at the very end. The longer you practice, the easier starting and finishing a project becomes. At the beginning, my fingers were very sore, and it seemed almost impossible that I was going to make anything. I was watching Craftsy and YouTube before work, at lunch, in my car. It just seemed as if I wasn’t getting it, but the more I tried through the first two weeks, the better I became at forming stitches. Eventually, I was knitting everywhere. It was an activity I did to keep my mind focus. Knitting results in something tangible where you could actually see your progress. I ended up making three scarves that season. My creations weren’t perfect, but I couldn’t believe myself after a while.

A few helpful things I learned along the way helped me on my knitting journey.

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1. Start off with knitting with  bulky or worsted weight yarn
As a beginner, I Iearned very quickly that my little fingers were not ready for the pretty lace, finger, sport, or novelty yarn. It was hard to pass up the gorgeous indie dyed yarn, I would see on Etsy, but I just wasn’t ready at first. And, then I jumped right into knitting with curly yarn and somehow I made it. I recommend finding a medium worsted weight yarn or bulky weight yarn to start your first project. Also you want to the yarn itself to have the same texture all the way throughout. Stay away from novelty yarn for your first project. Sometimes novelty yarn, can be too curly making it hard to see your stitches. Bulky weight yarn knits up fast and you can also see your stitches better. I find it easier to see my mistakes before I get too far in my project.

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2. Purchase wood or bamboo Needles
In my experience I was dropping stitches very easily with aluminum needles. They seemed so slippery when I first started knitting. I knit better and have better results with wood or bamboo needles. The wood needles are much more steady making it easier for you to concentrate on knitting accurate stitches. If you are daring and want to use a novelty yarn that’s a bit curly it’s easier to make the stitches with wooden needles.

3. Don’t toss your yarn labels in the trash
Yarn labels are very important. The yarn labels contain the weight of the yarn, the knitting gauge, washing instructions, and drying instructions.

4. Buy enough yarn for your project
Purchase the yarn you need for the project that day. You want to make sure that you get the exact color you need for your project. If you return to the store later looking for the same yarn, the same color could possibly be there, but the color might be slightly different from the yarn you purchased with your project earlier because it’s not of the same dye lot. I hate to run out of yarn when I’m enjoying a project. For me I always purchase extra yarn. To some it might seem wasteful, but it’s just better to be safe and have enough, then to be running around in panic mode trying to think of steps to finish your project.

5. Visit your local yarn shop
It’s important to visit your local yarn shop because the yarn shop owners can provide helpful information to you while you are on your knitting journey. Yarn shop owners are experts. They know yarn because many of them have been knitting for over 10 years or more. They can be very helpful at making suggestions. Many of them offer services such as helping you get started on project or helping you when you are stuck on a project. Most local yarn shops offer classes which leads to you meeting other knitters.

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6. Make friends with knitters
The first person who helped me learn how to cast on my first stitches was a friend who knitted on and off.  She helped me as much as she could getting my fingers together.
Meeting other people who knit gives you a sense of community. Join a knitting circle or make friends through social networking. I remember when I first started knitting, and I posted photos of my progress on Instagram. My projects weren’t perfect, but I received support from people I didn’t know online. The encouragement kept me going.

7. Stitch Markers

How could I almost forget? Yes, purchase stitch markers for your knitting. There have been several times when I started knitting and I didn’t use stitch markers. I regretted each time. Stitch makers are a must. They come in handy when you are trying to learn a new pattern or when you need to remember when to make a particular stitch. Keep some stitch markers in your knitting bag. You never know when you might get interrupted in the middle of knitting.

I hope my tips prove to be helpful to you.  It’s ok to be ambitious. Try new  patterns. Grow! After awhile you are going to get bored with garter stitch. Create your very own knitting journey.

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Knitting through pain

I’ve been knitting since June 2016. I discovered that I like working with my hands, but sewing wasn’t a hobby I could take along with me while away from home. I learned the the answer to my problem was knitting. Sewing is still dear to my heart, but there isn’t anything wrong with learning more than one craft.

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Knitting from a place of emotions

I started knitting coming from a place of emotions. I was having emotional problems, and I couldn’t necessarily escape them. I couldn’t allow myself to act on them either. It was so important at the time that I held everything together.  People were depending on me. I had to fight. Making things with my hands plays a big part in how I deal with life’s challenges. When I get busy making things, I’m more resistant to depression.

When you feel pain, you just want to numb what you are feeling inside. Physical pain is different. As annoying and terrible as physical pain can be, sometimes  it can be subsided with medication. However, I’m what some people may called “an overly sensitive person,” and I never handle it well. I’m a big baby, and I will complain until the end.

However, emotional pain is something that can linger on forever if you allow it to. It’s important to take the time to understand your emotions, but at the same time you don’t want to allow it to affect your life so much that you end up neglecting yourself. You also don’t want to take your negative emotions out on others.  Based on my personality, emotional pain is something that holds me captive. I do my best to try to not stay down very long.  However, your emotions and insecurities can trick you into believing that what you are feeling is necessary and that you must act on it. I had to learn how to put my emotions aside so that I could continue to grow stronger and take care of the matters at hand.

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So, I started knitting in between my breaks from sewing  because I wanted to let go of a lot of negative emotions. I knew that my feelings would eventually create problems, so I decided to resist falling into them. I started knitting my way through areas of life. I called it “knitting my way through life’s obstacles.” I pray to God a lot while I knit so it helps me stay positive. I get a lot of knitting down before work just to ease my mind and prepare my mind for the day.

 

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The Process: Knit 1 Purl 1

It took me about a week to get my hands together in order to learn how to knit. The idea was so foreign to me at the time. It was so challenging that all I could focus on at times was how I was going to make any stitches. Eventually two weeks later I was taking my yarn and needles with me to work.I started knitting in my car before work, during lunch, and breaks. I would sit in bed in knit while binge watching Netflix. I learned that I could accomplish making a scarf by learning how to create garter stitch. However,  I think all new knitters learn after a while that garter stitch can get boring.

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The Plan

I had a plan last summer. I received a Michael’s gift card for my birthday during the end of July. I bought 9 skeins of yarn. My goal was to make three scarves for the fall. I bought  6 skeins of yarn from  Loops and Thread.I also purchased  the last three skeins from Lion Brand’s Homespun yarn. I had three different colors that matched my wardrobe. I also did my research and purchased a specific needle size for all three projects.

Action

I needed to take a knitting classes, so I enrolled through an online class on Craftsy called The Knitting Lab with Stefanie Japel. The goal for the class was to create a lace scarf I believe. However, I wasn’t prepared to make a lace scarf at the time. I tried, but I wasn’t at the level. However, I did learn how to do garter stitch. I figured I would start off small and just knit in garter stitch for a while. I took my knitting projects with me. When I made mistakes, I had to rip it out or I had to live with them. The important thing for me was that I was learning.

Accomplishments

Learning new skills and creating my own scarves proved feasible. During the fall of 2016, I completed all three scarves. Although they aren’t perfect, my family and friends really liked them. I also discovered that the scarves I made felt a lot warmer than what I purchased from a big-box store near me. Garter stitch creates a warm feeling when knitted in bulky yarn. It felt good wearing my scarves to work in the cold weather. I eventually got bored with garter stitch toward the middle of November, so I decided to practicing the purl stitch. I started purling away until I stop twisting my stitches and learned how to move my yarn from front to back while knitting and purling in the same row.

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The more I learned, the more I realized knitting increased my self-esteem. There’s a community of knitters out there. I found myself being connected to people through my experience.  Each time, I learned a new skill, I felt better about myself. Yes, it was a struggle. I made a lot of mistakes.  However,  I felt more independent. I felt like I was making an effort to bring more joy and contentment into my life. I also thought about all the possibilities, I could bring into someone else’s life. Someday, I hope to learn to improve  my skills so that I can give knitted gifts to others. If you are a crafter, then you already know how much junk you can accumulate over the years.

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