On Christmas morning I found a gift bag with my name on under the tree, full with yarn and knitting needles. I’d mentioned to mum previously that I was keen to give it a go, as herself and my Grandma can both knit and I wanted to learn from them. I also saw some amazing knitted gifts given at baby showers I went to during the year and decided that I’d like to create some special presents too.
So, about a month on, I’m obsessed. I was paid today and I’ve found myself scrolling through pages and pages of yarn on knitting websites. There are a million different sizes, colours and materials. I’ve always gotten on well with hobbies which result in a physical ‘thing’ being made, as it’s an obvious accomplishment. Yes, I’m like a child. I’m partway through my first scarf (which has taken this long as I unravelled my very holey, oddly shaped, first attempt) and I’m already planning my next project.
I think that knitting can be tough to learn if you have no-one to demonstrate for you. My mum and grandma showed me, but it wasn’t until I had lots of practice and watched a few video tutorials that I really understood. That’s the biggest difference for me, learning an old hobby in a modern time – I have access to hundreds of videos, websites and blogs to help me learn how to knit and the various techniques. The most helpful videos for me when learning how to get started were found here at Sheep and Stitch. They also demonstrate a far easier cast on method than I was taught by my relatives.
Learning the stitches
To begin with you want to master the cast on, a knit stitch and a purl stitch, which are very similar but give a different effect. You can then alternate these to create various results. For example, you could knit a row, then purl a row, and continue alternating. This is called a stocking stitch. If you alternate every stitch you’ll want to knit, purl, knit, purl, and this creates what is called the seed stitch (below, left).
There are many combinations you can try, like the moss stitch (above, right) which I just learnt, which creates small diamond shapes. Just practice, practice, practice, and remember to keep your loose yarn on the correct side of the needles! It’s something you’ll understand when you start to watch tutorials, such as the one I watched to learn the moss stitch here.
My knitting projects
For my first scarf I’m simply using a standard knit stich right the way through, to help my hands get used to handling the needles and the newly formed fabric. It’s quite a wide one, which is as I like my scarves, so I cast on 30 stitches (this determines how wide the piece you’re knitting is) using a chunky wool and I’m going to keep going until I’m happy with the length or run out of yarn.
My plan is to knit throughout the year and put finished projects away, before wrapping them up and giving them as presents next Christmas. Of course I’m only knitting basic things at the moment, so I’ll be making lots of scarves and blankets which will enable me to try out different stitching techniques and various types of yarn. I’m keen to have a go at knitted bunting which looks unusual, and once I’m feeling confident I’ll try socks, fingerless gloves and mug cosies. A lot of my ideas are coming from Pinterest, and from there I can Google for patterns and tips.
I’m planning to knit a baby blanket using yellow and grey wool (see above image) but being such a newbie I haven’t quite worked out how much wool I’ll be needing! I’m going to get started and figure it out as I go. I also picked up the purple wool as it’s such a great colour but I don’t have a plan for it yet. It’s a much softer, thinner wool than the yarn I’m using to make my scarf.
I’m in danger now of having several projects on the go at once (is that okay?) but I’ll update you as things are finished. I’ve lost count of the number of times my housemates have called me a grandma, particularly when I shun the pub for a night on the sofa clicking my needles. I guess it’s an old hobby, but it’s one that I’m excited to carry on with and hopefully teach to others one day!