Please join us in extending a hearty MDK welcome to Lou Horsfall from England, who made her way to these pages via our friends at Arnall-Culliford Knitwear. Lou’s recent journey from lapsed childhood knitter to an impressive array of FOs is inspiring. By jove, we think she’s got it!
—Ann and Kay
When I started work at Arnall-Culliford Knitwear in April, I knew I would soon be knitting. My eldest daughter was learning to knit at school, so working on projects together would naturally follow. And I have a little experience, having learned to knit and purl with my granny when I was young.
Luckily for me, Skill Set: Beginning Knitting was published a couple of months after I commenced my new job. This handy little volume of lessons, complete with clear diagrams and concise instructions, was just what I needed to rekindle my knitting skills.
Other than knowing how to knit and purl, I knew nothing about the long-tail cast-on, types of tools, joining colors, combining stitches, knitting in the round, and other essentials of this great craft. All I had to start my Skill Set journey with were a pair of Granny’s straight knitting needles and some bits and bobs of acrylic yarn from the 1980s. I added in some lovely Something to Knit With Aran from Arnall-Culliford Knitwear, which is a perfect weight for beginners.
After the ceremonial yarn winding, the swatches that came off my granny’s old needles were my first ventures into knitting rib and lace, increases and decreases—I marveled at how I had created them without going too badly wrong. The quality of the instructions and clarity of the diagrams in Skill Set enables stress-free learning. It had already taught me new skills and I could not wait to go further.
But I needed more equipment. Armed with some circular needles, crochet hooks (courtesy of Jen) and dpns, I took up the Lesson 4 challenge of making “a thing.” The little swatches had been the most technical knitting I had ever done; knitting a hat in the round was something else! The biggest thing I’d made in my life was a garter knit square which turned into a toy bunny for our youngest daughter. To knit something to wear was daunting, but I relished the challenge!
Making mistakes was part of the process, however. Each new skill took several tries to get it right. I got my fingers in a twist when first trying the long-tail cast-on, but now the stitches fly onto the needles and it’s a matter of keeping count. The lace swatch took a couple of tries, but I look forward to taking this technique further.
While knitting in the round for the first time, I misread the instructions and was merrily knitting and purling away to get stockinette stitch but ended up with garter stitch on each row—oh my! When the pattern moved to dpns I started knitting on the inside which caused a little confusion, but that’s all part of the learning process.
The second hat, for the stranded knitting lesson, was completed in one go—the only thing I wish I’d done was make the brim longer (note to self!).
I recently completed the intarsia heart lesson. This took three attempts to get going, because I was cutting the yarn as I went, but once I realized I didn’t need to cut Color B on each row, it turned out well. I also worked out how to minimize the number of strands of Color A, which was pleasing.
Now to weave in the ends—I’ll need to find some time for that as I have a lot of ends, as you can see!
Between lessons I have been testing my new skills in pattern reading and particularly in increasing and decreasing. Using hand-dyed yarn by Urban Purl, I knitted Martina Behm’s Hitchhiker (Ravelry link) which I really loved doing. I consulted Skill Set to pick up lost stitches and do some ripping back. I didn’t think I was such a perfectionist!
I have nearly finished the Diagonal Mitts by Karida Collins in MDK Field Guide No. 18: Beginnings in another hand-dyed yarn by Old Maiden Aunt which was a joy. I’m looking forward to wearing them …once the seams are joined. And since Skill Set has “raised me right” (see Lesson 7!), after seaming, I’m on to blocking. I too will block everything!
So, thank you Skill Set for guiding my way back into knitting. The book is easy to use. The book has a cool retro design and the text sets a light-hearted, jovial mood that makes learning knitting approachable and achievable. Despite getting into a few knots early on over some of the fiddlier techniques, it’s all worked out wonderfully and I’m really chuffed with myself. Onwards!