delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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delirium happy
From time to time, I consider taking up knitting. Generally, however, I get put off by people telling me that the best way to learn is to have someone demonstrate it to you in person. Which I don't have. However, based on comments in this thread, it would appear that it is, in fact, possible for me to teach myself.

So, questions for all you knitters out there:

1. What equipment do I need? I am at least vaguely aware that I need knitting needles and wool, but that's about it. If there are different types of wool or different types of needles (as I suspect there are) then I'd be totally lost. I also suspect that I'd probably need several things I'd not even considered, like sticky-backed plastic or sacrificial goats.

2. Where do I get such things? Ideally, somewhere where I could order online would be nice, since that would involve the minimal of human interaction, but failing that, what sort of actual three dimensional shop would sell them, and how would I find such a thing?

3. Does anyone know of any nice "teach yourself knitting" type guides? Preferably online ones, preferably ones with lots of pictures or videos, and preferably ones aimed at the terminally inept, who need to be told repeatedly to remember not to stab themselves in the eye with knitting needles.

4. What question am I failing to ask here which is vitally important, and more importantly, what's the answer to it?

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1. Really, when you're first learning, all you really need to needles and yarn. You might want a crochet hook, but any good beginning to knit guide should give you a basic list of tools.

2. I'm not much help, seeing as though I'm on the other side of the pond and I don't know what stores you guys have, and I don't generally buy my supplies online.

3. My mom thought me, but I have the book "Stitch n Bitch" which I've heard is great for learning. I bought it for the patterns. :)

Equipment: Some form of knitting needle, and some form of yarn. It's also helpful to have a crochet hook and a tapestry needle.

Needles come in three basic shapes -- there's the standard straight knitting needle (long thin stick made of wood or metal or plastic, with a point at one end and a knob at the other to keep stitches from sliding off); there are circular needles (two short thin sticks with a flexible cable between them); and double-pointed needles (short thin sticks with points at both ends).

You probably don't need to worry about dpns at least to start with; whether you go with straight needles or circular is a matter of preference. Circular needles can be used for round knitting like hats or sweaters or socks, but they can also be used for flat knitting. On the other hand, straight needles may be easier to learn on. I prefer circular needles because there isn't the long end to deal with, but it's really personal preference.

...and needles come in lots of different sizes. As does yarn, everything from super-chunky to lace (or gossamer, I think? really thin, anyway). For starting, I'd recommend worsted weight yarn -- which is kind of "standard" yarn size -- and needles of, oh, hell. American size 8 or so, but I'm not sure what sizing is used where you are. Heh.

...material for the needles (wood vs bamboo vs plastic vs metal) is a matter of preference, as well; some materials are more slippery than others, which can be good if the knitting's tight (so the stitches move on the needle) or bad if it's loose (they might fall off). Material for the yarn also varies, and some of that's a matter of preference and some is a matter of how you want it to behave. (If it's something you want to machine wash, then untreated wool isn't good because it'll shrink. Different yarns stretch to different degrees, or show stitch definitions better, or are easier or harder to knit with.) Novelty yarns -- the sort that have bobbles or eyelash-fringes or whatever -- aren't really good to start with, for the record. :)

The other things I mentioned -- crochet hook, which is used for crocheting but also can be used to rescue a slipped stitch, is less vital. Tapestry needles, which are big thick needles with a yarn-sized hole, are used for weaving in the ends or seaming two pieces together. ...If you get into cables, you might want to get some form of cable needle, but I wouldn't suggest starting out with cables. :) (There are also lots of other equipmenty things you could have -- stitch holders, for placing stitches that aren't actively being worked on, and a knitting gauge size ruler thingie which probably has a better name, and row counters and stitch markers, and blah blah blah. But the basic tools are knitting needles and yarn.)

In terms of where: Many general craft shops will have stuff, as well as yarn-specific stores. If you have a local yarn store, and feel like interacting, you can go in and ask for their advice for what to get, both in terms of needles and in terms of yarn. Otherwise, there are /lots/ of websites that sell yarn. is a good website for learning stuff, since there are videos that explain a lot of the things. There's also a forum where you can ask questions. (I sort of ... spend way too much time there. *cough*) I /will/ warn you that in addition to the variety of needles, yarn, etc, there are two ways to knit -- English, where the yarn is held in the right hand, and Continental, where it's held in the left, and the mechanics of the knitting differ between the two. Neither one is inherently better; I use English, but it depends on what you find easiest.

and I'm babbling horribly, and not really providing much useful information, but feel free to poke me about knittingy stuff any time \o/

1. A pair of needles and some yarn is good to start with. I recommend circular knitting needles, even if you're not going to be knitting a tube, mostly because circs take the weight of the yarn off the outsides of your wrists and put it in your lap, which is good for those of us who have carpal tunnel problems.

Needles come in various sizes and lengths. A good starter pair of needles would be these: 32" size 8 Addi Turbo circular needles.

Yarn comes in different weights, too. (There are six major recognized categories of yarn weight.) Worsted weight is a good weight to start with: not too bulky and hard to wrangle, but not too fine and fiddly. Worsted weight generally is knit on size 7 through 9 needles to make the right kind of fabric. (If you use, for instance, a heavier yarn and a smaller size of needle, you get very dense and stiff fabric; thin yarn and big needles gives you something more airy.)

My favorite yarn to give a beginner is Plymouth Encore (cheap, durable, easy to work with, and pretty high-quality for a semi-acrylic). Another option, more expensive but much nicer, is Noro Silk Garden, which is my favorite yarn ever, but it's way more expensive. (It does, however, hide mistakes a little bit better.) Stay away from poofy yarn, eyelash yarn, or any of the "fashion" yarns, because they're a bitch to 'read'; you can't tell what you just did that fucked things up, because all the glitter and glitz is in the way.

For a scarf (which is probably going to be your first project -- it's everybody's first project) you'll need about 300 yards of yarn, more if you want it wide or long.

Come pick my brain on AIM if you want more specific buying advice -- I have a lot of it. *laugh*

2. Being over here, of course, I don't have specific recommendations for the UK, but you can try googling "yarn shop" or "yarn store". There are yarncraft-specific boutique stores, often known as the LYS ("little yarn shop"). They're much better to get supplies at than a corner of a department store or craft store, because they sell better supplies and they have far more knowledgeable employees. (Many of them also offer learn-to-knit classes, which will generally be very reasonable, and the employees will give you help when you fuck up.)

3. -- it's got videos, it's got every technique you could possibly want, and the woman who demonstrates it is very competent and reassuring. You might have to watch the vids a few times, but it's where i've picked up most of my technique from.

I concur with what everyone else has said.

I quite liked Stitch 'n' Bitch books (if you can stand the dreadful puns) for teaching yourself how to knit. It goes through different types of yarn, different techniques and has some good advice. I used it to remind me how to knit and also how to crochet from scratch.

I agree with the majority of people here. As a Brit, I recommend a size 6 needle, which is what I unforgot to knit on, and I recall that kimble was a size 6, too. Of course, you can go for instant satisfaction with scarves with holes in by going with giant, chunky size 20. :D Also invest in a decent pair of little scissors, as it's nicer to be able to make clean and easy cuts of the wool.

As for where, ebay is your friend. You can get lots of needles and cheap wool on there. Otherwise, small knitting shops, craft shops, John Lewis and maybe Wilkos. I got needles from Wilkos a few years back. On that note, we have a chain round here called Boyes which has a haberdashery, you might have a Boyes or something similar near you. You could try haberdashery in the yellow pages.

Welcome to the dark side!

You'll be wanting some 4.00mm needles to 5.00mm for Double Knit weight yarn or 5.00mm to 6.00mm for Aran weight yarn which is thicker. The UK and US have different names for weights of yarn, US knitting needles have a numerical system outside of the metric system and US crochet hooks have a letter system that bewilders me. So I'll give you the UK equivalents. You can find online comparison charts when you need to convert one to the other.

I recommend using actual wool yarn rather than an acrylic. Acrylic has a tendency to 'squeak' and doesn't feel so good as a final fabric. I have a super cheap online mail order source of great quality wool for £1 a ball. It's the bargain of the century and it's at here. I'd get some Aran weight yarn and a pair of 5.50mm or 6.00mm needles. You could try some circulars and some straight needles in the same millimetre size (the circular needs to be 80cm or 100cm long) and see which you prefer working with.

I started out making sample squares from a stitch pattern book to learn my stitches and practice getting good tension. I recommend the Stitch and Bitch as a guide to learning, as well as as above, and the first Harmony Guide as an initial pattern and stitch sampler resource.

Try making something other than a scarf as your first project. Making squares in a variety of colours in Aran weight wool with different stitch patterns makes a really nice bag or blanket when you've finished them all.

If you want to have a look at some fun and inspirational free patterns, is a great resource.

Lemme know if theres anymore info you need. I actually teach knitting, crochet and dress-making these days, so any excuse to infect someone else with the meme is goooood.

My mother just donated her spare copy of the Harmony Knitting Guide to my learning-to-knit project. It looks far more comprehensive than some of the other guides I've seen, most of which seem geared toward selling the publisher's product more than teaching the novice how to knit.

I'm inspired to get the rest of the Harmony series, which I believe includes two or three more knitting guides and at least two crochet guides.

Good luck with learning to knit, Rho. I'm enjoying my first projects immensely.

Hello! emmavescence pointed me to this post, saying I would probably be able to give some input

Some people will say to knit a scarf as your first thing. This suggestion seems to be made because scarves are simple rectangles and don't require many techniques, but OTOH they're big and can take a while. People starting out in someone new generally want quick results. For this reason, I'd recommend trying a small project.

To start off with, I'd recommend just knitting plain rectangles 20 stitches x 20 rows - enough to work on your speed, consistency and evenness. When you've achieved that (a couple of weeks, perhaps, doing some each evening) I have a simple hat pattern which takes 2 weeks even for a relatively slow knitter such as myself. (Hmm, perhaps a knitting glossary for that would help. )
Whilst I'm at it - that site has loads of ace videos. I've learned a couple of new techniques from watching some on there.

Re needles and yarn - I gather you're meeting up with Emma later in the week. I have loads of spares of each and will happily donate some.

Further to this - it doesn't really matter what yarn or needles you use when first starting out. That said, it's best go with something cheap so that it doesn't matter if you make mistakes.

I have about 20 spare pairs of needles and a load of acrylic stuff. Any preference of colour? (I have most of white, black, purple, neon green, yellow, bright red)

Ooooh, yay. Thank you!

Going to wait until the comments have stopped trickling in before attempting to digest all the advice, but thanks so much for the offer of free stuff is very much appreciated.

As for colours, black, purple and red are all good, but really, I'll be grateful for whatever.

I've been wanting to learn, too, so I bought a cheapo kiddie set:

I bought it from a seller and paid exactly $7.05 for the whole thing. Not a bad price. Even if I suck at it (which I do so far) I haven't wasted much money.

I find the diagrams to be completely full of shit, though. I knit best from an "overhead" view, which you can't illustrate. Knitting is baffling to me so far and I've been at it for a few days.

I also got a crochet book from the same company and I'm learning to crochet much faster and easier. It's a lot of the same thing -- I can still make a scarf.


1) Equipment:
Isabeau's given you a good overview of needle types. US 8 is the equivalent to 5mm - UK/Canadian sizing isn't used any more, and we just use metric sizing. I prefer circular needles, then bamboo straights, but it's a personal preference thing.
I'd suggest picking something like Rowan Summer Tweed or All-seasons cotton for your first yarn. You're really looking for something that you can see clearly what you're doing, and that's not covered in bits so when you have to rip back, you don't have to spend ages unpicking each stitch and weakening the yarn each time.
The flamewars of knitting tend to be fought over yarn content - natural fibres vs acrylic, and like most flamewar material, it comes down to personal preference. I'm not especially fond of bargain-basement acrylics as I don't like the way they feel, but it's up to you and your hands as to what you like using.

2) Aquisitions:
I find it really helpful to go to a local shop and feel the yarn. This map should help you find your closest shop. Otherwise, I'd strongly suggest Get Knitted. Don't use, as their customer service is bad at best, and you can be left waiting a very long time for your order. Also, Get Knitted send you presents along with your order.

3) Learnings:
Good resources for learning are:
Knitting Help - their videos are clear and easy to follow, and cover every step.
Stitch and Bitch - I learnt to knit from this book, and it's a staple of knitting. Good instructions, well-written information and some pretty interesting patterns
brit_knits - lots of UK-specific stuff, and considerably less wanky than the knitting comm. A good place to ask questions.
Ravelry - currently in beta, when it's open it'll be a gigantic resource of patterns, yarn and info. I find I'm using it daily, if just to check out the forums. It's probably worthwhile signing up for the beta now, if just so you have that resource handy.
Knitty - Loads of fantastic patterns that are free-to-use. A great place for inspiration and ideas, once you've got the basics. Or even while you're mastering them.

Also, if you're in London any time soon, I'm happy to meet up and see if I can help you out.

4) Other:
Can't think of anything right now. Perhaps - don't stress? It can take a bit of practice to learn, but it comes in time. There's nothing that can't be fixed.

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