Dana’s Edit: How to Help a New Knitter
My best friend Jessica recently gave in and became a knitter. I’ve been playing a very long and patient game of waiting for her to get hooked on knitting and it finally happened this year. She’s texting me about patterns, yarns, techniques, and tips. So as I am helping her along on her journey into knitting, I started to think about ways we can all help each other as knitters, whether you’re a newbie, intermediate or advanced. I came up with two very easy concepts for us to master.
I know that sounds cliche but too many of us need a reminder to be kind to ourselves. The beauty of knitting is that you are constantly learning new things and no one, I repeat NO ONE, is a master of anything on a first try. The frustration of messing up a stitch or a project can be real, but we also need to be kinder to ourselves when we make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn!
As many sweaters as I have knit—and I’ve knit a lot—I still make mistakes. I take it as a moment to learn something instead of beating myself up about how or why I made the mistake. Most recently I knit a neckhole too tight after I had already reworked it. Instead of being mad, I pulled it back out and took a mental note to do a stretchy bind off in the future.
Knitters say things like, “oh I could never do that” or “I am too scared to try that.” Well, if we don’t try, how will we ever learn to do something new? Every year I think about a new technique I want to try. I usually start with something small like a hat and then progressively work up to larger projects. When I wanted to do colorwork I started with swatches, then a hat, then a cowl, and then a sweater. Each project gives me chances to practice and a confidence boost as well.
When Jessica was looking for another project to work on I suggested we knit the Boxed Pullover by Norah Gaughan together. A sweater for a newbie knitter? Why not? I suggested we knit it together because I’ve knit it before (and wanted a new version), so I know I could answer questions along the way. I also picked this project because it is a seamed sweater, so she can work on pieces and not feel like she’s messing up an entire sweater when maybe she makes a mistake on a sleeve. It’s a little less intimidating.
Plus, it’s a simple pattern with decreases and knit and purl stitches, but it isn’t overly complicated or so challenging she will want to give up. Added bonus, it’s knit in a bulky weight yarn so she can feel like she’s making good progress along the way. She swatched and cast on before I could even wind my yarn and is already making great progress.
As the year goes on and I’m back to writing regularly, I’ll be thinking about some of the different types of projects that you can tackle at different stages in your knitting. My hope is that as Jessica explores her love of knitting more, it will also help really rekindle my love of knitting if I think about it from her perspective. And, please, share tips for knitters (if you have them) in the comments!