Learning to Knit

Look ma, I knit a hat! I'm learning to knit with a friendly pattern from Purl Soho, lovely yarn and the help of a Craftsy class.

Look ma, I knit a hat!

I always knew that the second I got into knitting, I’d have a hard time stopping. It’s like the Tetris of handcrafts. And sure enough, once I started this I was having a hard time putting it down.

It all started with a late night browsing of Purl Soho, which is a rabbit hole of beauty. I’ve bought Liberty fabrics and Sashiko kits from them in the past, and every time I’ve shopped there I ended up buying more than I should have. (Embroidery threads are sooo beautiful, aren’t they?) Sure enough, an hour later I ended up with a mini stash of quilting fabrics and yarns.

For my first project I started out with their Learn to Knit kit which includes a pattern, needles and enough yarn for a hat and handwarmers. The hat is a simple flat project, and it involves just one stitch (the knit stitch) over and over.

Look ma, I knit a hat! I'm learning to knit with a friendly pattern from Purl Soho, lovely yarn and the help of a Craftsy class.

This project is perfect for total beginners because it limits the number of tasks you have to concentrate on until you get to the finish line. That’s a good thing when you know absolutely nothing. I got halfway into the project before I really understood how to hold the needles and keep my yarn from falling down! Finding those basic rhythms are so awkward and slow at first.

I’m an absolute newbie, and I kind of like that. Every term was alien to me. What the heck is cast on? Gauge? My beginner pattern said “slip a stitch knitwise” as if I knew what knitwise meant. I even confused stitches and rows. (I thought each stitch was a row.) And that’s what Youtube is for, right?

Look ma, I knit a hat! I'm learning to knit with a friendly pattern from Purl Soho, lovely yarn and the help of a Craftsy class.

While my pattern had great pictures and instructions on how to knit and hold the needles, it’s hard to learn from photos alone. Watching someone knit is infinitely more helpful! So I signed up for a Craftsy class, Knit Faster with Continental Knitting with Lorilee Beltman. For the total newbs, continental knitting is a style in which you tension the yarn in your left hand and “pick” the yarn with your right needle. I’m a leftie and I’d heard this style is a bit more “hand neutral” than the English style I tried to learn many years ago.

This course doesn’t have projects, but Lorilee teaches all the basic stitches and the class is paced perfectly for a total beginner. She explains everything as if you had no previous knowledge, and knits verrry slowly while phrasing through the rhythms. That’s super helpful if you want to knit along and practice.

Needles are another topic that need explaining, and the class helped with that. My kit included beech wood needles but knitting with these was harder than it needed to be. I felt like I was forcing the yarn off the needle with every stitch, and poking my ribs with the ends which wasn’t exactly relaxing. Halfway into my hat I ran out and bought a pair of metal circular needles, and whoa, what a difference!

knitting my second project in lovely seed stitch | Cloth Habit

I’m already at work on my second project, another Purl Soho pattern made with seed stitch which I just love.

Any other newbs out there afraid of knitting? It really only takes a couple of knitting sessions until you get the swing of things. It definitely helps to work with lovely yarn you like to look at and touch. I blame fugly yarns for losing interest the last few times I’ve tried to learn!

Details:
Pattern: Purl Soho’sLearn to Knit Hat and Handwarmers
Yarn: Worsted Twist (included in kit)
Needles: Size 7, 24” circular needles
Helpful beginner links/videos: Long Tail Cast On, How to Slip a Stitch, How to Join Yarn Ends (you will probably do all of these in your first project)

18 comments

  1. Marie says:

    I’ve been on this very same journey! I started a few weeks back with ‘creativebug’ videos -determined to conquer it after many failures as a youth. I’ve now mastered two hats and a pair of wrist warmers via ‘Ravelry’. Can’t wait to get to socks 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Woohoo! I’m at work on a cowl right now but I want socks next, too. I already have the pattern and yarn. They are definitely going to challenge me.

  2. sallie says:

    I taught myself to knit a few years ago and haven’t looked back! It’s such a nice companion to sewing. But I still feel like I’m a beginner. I’ve been knitting a pair of mittens with colorwork and am well into my second mitten when I had a total head slap moment and realized that I had been inadvertently twisting the stitches of one of my colors. It’s not a big deal, but once I began correcting it the pattern began to look much smoother! It’s good to have activities that force you to continuously learn and experiment. I love your new hat, and the yarn colors you’re using are just so incredibly dreamy!

    • Amy says:

      It’s totally a great companion to sewing! Sometimes I don’t sew because I don’t feel like being stuck in my sewing space, but knitting is perfect—now I have something I can do in any room (any place, really). I’m definitely not at the point where I can look up from what I’m doing but at least I can carry on a partial conversation which I can’t do when sewing. I too love continuous challenges and am so fascinated with the fiber arts… maybe in 10 years I’ll be weaving my own fabric!

  3. Welcome to the wonderful world of knitting! I totally understand not wanting to put the needles down once you begin. Fortunately, in the 8 years that I have been knitting, I have found a better balance between fabric and yarn. Hopefully, you will, too! (However, I still get lost on Ravelry, with all of its wonderful groups in which to participate… including sewing groups!)

    • Amy says:

      Thanks! I had never browsed Ravelry because it was all so foreign to me but now I get it–it’s a rabbit hole! Thankfully I’ve gotten a lot more intentional about what I choose to do in sewing (based on what I’ll actually wear) and my stash grows a lot more slowly these days. Hopefully I’ll bring that intention to knitting and not get overwhelmed/overstashed!

  4. Margo says:

    Cute hat! I learned to knit as a child but I’m still not very proficient at it…. I am slooooooooow. I love that you are learning now, very inspiring!

  5. Sonja says:

    I’m so glad you’re knitting! I can’t wait to see what knitting adventures you get up to! I have ADHD, which I manage pretty well, but at the end of a weekday, I can never sew since I’ve spent all my concentration energy on work and chores. But somehow the rhythmic, physical nature of knitting helps me to calm down and slow down a bit… it’s strange, but it really has helped me a lot!

  6. Jenny says:

    Yes I totally agree with everything you say here! I’m also new to knitting and have really loved being a beginner again. Every little achievement feels like such an accomplishment and is super satisfying. Now that I’ve sewn for a while I kind of take it for granted that I can do it and I get a bit downhearted when things don’t work out perfectly. But with knitting I’m still surprised when my finished makes resemble the pattern and am so proud of them, warts and all! 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Jenny, you say it so well! I also have a lot more patience with myself when I’m learning something brand new. There is a sheer pleasure in the learning.

  7. Cherie says:

    I switch from bra sewing to knitting daily. For me they compliment each other in a unique gratifying way. Knitting is very addictive, I was hooked from the start as well. I find it hard to resist adding to my yarn stash and like many others spend way too much time on Ravelry!
    You are one talented lady, thank you for inspiring me to sew bras. Your tutorials have helped me more than any other resource.
    Cherie.

  8. Sian Thomas says:

    I have two aims this year: one is to learn to quilt (and I got a quilt kit from my parents for Christmas), the other is to learn to knit, and fortunately, I mentioned this to my grandma who bought me some wool, knitting needles and a beginner’s starting document, then brought her years of expertise along with her on Christmas day to get me started! I only learned how to sew a couple of years ago, but I’m now addicted (especially to lingerie sewing!), so I felt like I should give knitting a go, as I’d never so much as held a knitting needle before!
    Well, of course, just 2 days after my grandma had got me started, I got myself in a big mess! I managed to go over and see her yesterday and she sorted it out (phew!) and set me off again. At the moment, this is just a practice on how to learn how to do it and get used to holding the needles and what to do with my hands (like you, I’ve poked my ribs a fair few times!), so it will probably turn out as a somewhat skinny scarf. But I’m looking forward to learning this new skill properly and can’t wait to see more of what you’ve created 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Hi Sian,

      Those were my two aims, too! I bought a quilt kit right along with my knit kit 🙂 There is nothing like having a new craft to re-juvenate old ones, right? I’m getting more practice in and have to say that the circular metal needles are so much easier on me than straight needles—less weight, less jabbing–but a lot of this probably has to do with the way you knit. Have fun, and how great to have your grandma to help!

  9. Laura says:

    That kits looks wonderful. Too bad it’s so expensive. I have tried knitting several times, but I always give up in disgust when I keep dropping stitches or losing count of rows or whatever. I’m not sure if I have the knitting “gene” but perhaps I should try scoping out some more Youtube videos.

    Your hat looks great!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Laura, that’s too bad you had such a discouraging start! It was fun starting with a posh kit but if you don’t need a pattern or needles, I definitely recommend the yarn. It’s so soft and high quality and worth trying. I probably wouldn’t stick with knitting if I was learning with crap yarn. It’s such a tactile craft.

      You probably can’t go wrong with a Craftsy or in-person class… Youtube videos are great but really only good for learning isolated techniques. I just finished a class and learned so much from seeing a project start to finish, and getting feedback.

      And I’ve heard from experienced knitters that dropping stitches is part and parcel of knitting, so learning to pick them back up is a fundamental skill. I actually just let my current project drop a stitch almost 50 rows down on purpose!–just to test my bravery and learn how to knit it back without throwing the project against the wall, ha. Much easier than I thought!

  10. Ruby M says:

    I have been in your shoes! It wasn’t easy starting to knit but once you get the hang of it, you will enjoy it! It really makes your creative juices flow!

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