My copy editor Karen emailed me with this question. After replying, I realized that some of you may be pondering the same issues about knitting.
Last week, I made my way to a local yarn shop. Wow, it was both inspiring and overwhelming at the same time. I’ve been doing some crochet and love it. I’m also thinking of trying a knitting project, probably a scarf. At an estate sale, I scored a large bag full of knitting, crochet and sewing supplies–only $5! So I want to give knitting another try. Do you have any tips for beginners? I’ve tried knitting before and ended up frustrated by dropped stitches, uneven tension and the project taking SO long. Any suggestions?
::If you already crochet::
I’ve been teaching beginning knitting for a couple of years now (crazy to think). One thing that I’ve found is that if a student already crochets, they take more readily to the continental style of knitting. If you are completely new to yarn craft, throwing the yarn is the way to go.
KnittingHelp.com has great video tutorials for both Continental (german) and English (throwing) knitting techniques.
Continental knitting has a similar hand position to crochet. You use the similar motion to “hook” the yarn and pull it through the loop. You also use the left had to hold your yarn when knitting Continental, which is the standard for crochet. Yep Similar. Totally different end results, but similar muscle memory.
Learn how to pick them up. Seriously, this is one thing that really enabled me to tackle anything. Fearless knitting and all that rot. I like to knit mine back up, but you can also work them back in with a crochet hook. (how to pick up dropped stitches–scroll down to “fixing mistakes”)
If you’ve been at crochet for a long time, it can be really frustrating to try knitting for the first time. Not just the dropped stitches and feeling really awkward with the needles, but wow, the tension. A row of really tight stitches, then one loose one bulging out. It takes time. Work all the way through your first scarf and after 2 skeins of wool, your tension will work itself out. Blocking helps relax stitches into place too. And practice. Just like anything, the more you do it, the better you will get.
::Cast on Anxiety::
When I first started knitting, I knit so tight, especially the cast on. One yarn shop lady recommended to get over my “cast on anxiety” and start with bigger needles, then do the next row on the right sized needles. That way my cast on row wouldn’t be so tight it contorted my project.
Did you learn to knit or crochet first? For knitting, do you knit continental or english?