The new year is a great time to learn a new skill. If your resolution involved knitting or crochet, you might find some of these tips helpful.
- Invest in quality supplies.
I totally understand the impulse to spend as little as possible on a new hobby, especially if you’re not certain you’ll enjoy it. But trust me, using cheap wood needles and acrylic yarn with no give can make learning more of a struggle than a joy. If you are looking for a good set of needles, check your local yarn store or the internet. Personally, I am partial to Chiao Goo needles, which are metal. They have a nice sharp tip and the circular needles have smooth joins so the yarn doesn’t get caught. Even better, they only run about $10 a set. If you are more comfortable with straight needles (what most knitters learn on) Brittany makes wonderful, smooth wood needles good for learning.I would avoid Clover needles (I find them to be too rough and grippy), as well as Boye and Knitpicks circular needles (the joints are very bumpy, and I’ve broken 2 sets of Knitpicks within days of purchase). Both companies make decent straight needles, though, and they are reasonably priced.
In terms of yarn, I would pick a smooth wool blend, like Berocco Vintage, Knitpicks Stroll, Shine or Comfy. If acrylic is your only option, Carron Simply Soft is a good place to start. I wouldn’t use anything with an eyelash or fancy texture, and would steer clear of Red Heart, as it has little give when knitting (which makes it hard on the hands), and anything that has a bumpy or eyelash texture.
- Join Ravelry
Commonly referred to as “facebook for knitters,” Ravelry is a social media website where you can connect with other fiber artists in the forums, join groups of like-minded people (there are groups for every hobby, from Firefly fans to readers, to groups for nurses or people who live in specific regions). You can ask questions and learn from other knitters, as well as browse an extensive pattern library and track all of your projects, stash, and needles in the notebook feature.
- Learn from patterns, but don’t feel constrained by them.
Patterns are a great way to learn how techniques work or to give guidelines for the right fit. But don’t feel like you need to follow them word for word–or stitch for stitch. Don’t be afraid to pick your own colors, add or remove decreases to make an item fit you better, or change out motifs.
- Take copious notes
Especially if you’re changing a pattern. Stick post-its to your pattern, or loop garage sale price tags directly into your work to mark the exact placement of the change. You can always snip them out later.
- Don’t be afraid to rip back
- Relax–every mistake can be fixed
We’re talking about knitting here, not international diplomacy or brain surgery.
- Be creative
- Be patient with yourself and your work
Like all new skills, it takes practice.
- Youtube can be your best friend
You can learn anything on youtube, from how to cast on to fancy stitches to how to size a garment. You can also find lots of free knitting videos on knittinghelp.com.
- Beware of cats
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