My Adventures in Knitting, truly my Yarn-escape!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Technique Thursday- Put Your Knit On! How to Knit

While I wouldn't consider myself an expert at knitting (I feel like I'm still learning- lots everyday), I do wonder about the people looking at my blog who might not know how to knit and secretly (or not so secretly) want to. I have lately joined a few book blog memes which means I'm connecting to possibly loads of non-knitters, but I don't think it's ever too late to learn and what an amazing craft to learn late in life anyway. I'm getting this image in my head (of myself in the future):

But I did start in my early 20's learning while in college in the early 80's. I saw my Mom knit (she even told me in her day they could knit in school!). But she didn't teach me- I taught myself using a wonderful McCalls Craft book. These days there are great tutorials online to help people learn and to find projects and inspiration from Knitting Blogs and Ravelry. And if you are a twenty-something or Thirty-something than you will be really "In". Knitting has made a comeback lately and there are many articles on the benefits of knitting from it being a meditation like activity (once you get the hang of it- so don't laugh at that opinion at first!) Theglobeandmail-The Health Benefits of Knitting and Yourself Together

So on Thursdays I'm going to introduce some basic techniques for newbies and wannabes and links to good tutorials and videos to help you also.

Here's some beginners tips and how-tos to get you started. I'm going to send you out to get yarn and needle shopping and show you how to cast on. Leave you with a few tutorials if you are dying to leap ahead (which I wouldn't blame you) and next week I'll pick up with sharing the actual Knit and Garter stitch (which is just knit on every side) and a new pattern you can also knit as a newbie!

The First thing you should do is join Ravelry. This is a community of knitters and crocheters and you will be connected to wonderful ideas and projects. After you join look up the "Patterns" tab on top and click on that. I suggest you fill in something simple like "scarf". When you arrive on the page on the left hand side is a long list of variables. Click on your preferences- do you want a picture? Do you want your pattern free? Only knit? Only made of worsted yarn (that is the most common yarn, the bulky & super bulky ones these days very popular). So you get my drift.

 Click on the different options and browse through. If you like anything (even if too hard for you now) click on it to go to the pattern page- look at the pattern a bit and then click on "Favorites" at the top right if you like it and might want to do it in the future. This way you can collect possible projects. As you do a project you can document your progress by adding it under "projects" and take a picture, name it something unique and fill in the details. Really a nice way to share what you've done and tell others about any modifications you might of done. Later this will be an amazing resource for you to see what others have done- how a particular yarn looks knitted up in that pattern you want. Or someone added length to the sleeve and now you know how many stitches to add. It's great! Ravelry also has direct links to yarn suppliers and to buy patterns.

 Unless you find something REALLY simple, I'll give you a project you can easily do and I used when teaching Elementary kids how to knit years ago. 

OK- say you just want me to pick out a REALLY easy project- let's do a scarf! Or you can free-flow it and just pick out a yarn you like and get needles based on what the wrapper recommends (or just one size up so it has a looser drape). I know it's getting warm where you are, Spring even, but this is Colorado and we still have winter (with lovely bright blue skies) and probably snow for 2 more months. So you can save your scarf for next year (or find a friend in Colorado or somewhere else that doesn't let go of winter so soon- Alaska?).

                                     Basic Garter Stitch Scarf

Optional- Do some Homework to brush up on your yarnology:
                           Knitting Needles - Types and How to Choose
                           Vogueknitting: Knit101: Beginner Basics Here is a guide to the standard yarn weights and their gauge and recommended needles to use- what is found on a yarn wrapper

Read up on your possible yarn choices or let your fingers and eyes make your choice-
Possible yarns that are popular-
Wool-Ease Yarn (worsted Wool and Acrylic blend) Lionbrand- Wool-ease
Wool-Ease Thick & Quick (super bulky wool and Acrylic blend) Lionbrand- Wool-Ease Thick & Quick
Heartland Thick & Quick (Acrylic super bulky) Lionbrand- HeartlandTQ
Heartland (Acrylic worsted)  Lionbrand- Heartland
Hometown (super bulky acrylic rayon) Lionbrand- HometownUSA
Homespun (comes in Bulky or super Bulky) Lionbrand-Homespun (Bulky)  Lionbrand-Homespun: Thick & Quick (Super Bulky)- Homespun is very popular and makes a lovely scarf, but it can be a bit more difficult because of the rough nature of its texture- lovely and soft though!

                               Joann- Wool-ease-Thick & Quick Yarn (Super Bulky)  

These yarns are found at different popular stores like Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Walmart and I find Jo-anns has the largest selection of them. Wherever you go- first search out the store on the web  to find what yarns are at what store and find out what sales are on. I worked at Joann's last year and they (like many stores) will accept the competitors coupons- one for each item not on sale. Sign up for fliers! Get on the mailing list for coupons.  


Go shopping- get a skein you love of yarn (unless you are doing the Basic Garter Stitch Scarf and then get Bulky yarn- remember to look on the back of the package for yarn weights.)

 If you want to create your own scarf and just free-flow it then get either worsted wool or a bulky or super bulky. Take a look at the wrapper- it will recommend what size needle to get. Buy some lovely needles and go home. We're ready.

                                   Lion's Homespun (Bulky)- 20 sts. on size 11 needles

Of course there are many more yarns and this doesn't delve into all these lovely expensive %100 pure fibers. But it's a great place to start with little investment of money. 

 Lion's Homespun Thick & Quick Lovelyyarnescapes- A Prayer Shawl (Super Bulky on #15 Needles)

How thick do you want your scarf? Look at the gauge on your yarn wrapper. How many stitches are per inch? 5 stitches per inch? You got Super Bulky so it's 2 stitches per inch? I found 25 stitches works really well for a wide scarf in worsted wt.. Bulky yarns will need less stitches- anywhere from 12 - 20 sts. depending on the yarn and how wide you want it. By using your gauge on the wrapper you should be able to figure how many stitches you need to use. Some examples of different yarns and needle sizes:                                    

                                        Super Bulky yarn with #15 needles- 15 stitches

Bulky Lion's Homespun (be careful choosing this yarn because the bumpy texture will make it a challenge) on #11 needles- 20 sts.

To start we're going to learn a VERY SIMPLE cast on technique-
  1.  Do a slip-knot and place on your needle- 
  2. While holding the needle with the slip knot on it in your left hand stretch the long end of your yarn towards you and twist your right hand pointing finger from the back of the yarn up under and up creating a loop by twisting your hand from palm side towards you to the back of your hand facing you- put this loop on the needle. Pull snug (but not too tight).
  3. Repeat till you have the desired stitches on your needle.                             

Some different methods to the Simple Cast on- but up to you which you prefer:
Knittinghelp- Backward loop cast-on (this is visually done backwards from my style)

Then once your stitches are on we are going to do the GARTER stitch. A very easy- Knit- Knit style that is effortless (eventually) and makes a nice flat handsome scarf.

                                                                 Hershey- my cat
How to Knit tutorials-
Youtube- How to knit
Youtube- How to Knit
Interweave Knits- How to Knit for Beginners PDF
Lionbrand- Learn to Knit PDF
Dummies- The Essentials of Knitting

Please note- If you run out of yarn it's best to begin a new skein at the beginning of a row- simple knot the ends and leave tails. These you weave in later with a long needle with a big eye found in the yarn aisle (Walmart has them!).
When you have the length you want: to bind off

To do a Garter stitch just knit all your rows.

Great knitting help can be found at Tincanknits- Support
A list of Knitting abbreviations (a must for deciphering a pattern!)Knitpicks- Knitting Abbreviations.pdf

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