Looks like it’s time for another of these posts. I’ve been knitting since October and I’m having a lot of success with it. I’ve learned a lot since my last 5 Knitting Tips for Beginners post, but I still have a lot to learn (like switching colors–still not there yet. It’s on the list of things to do as soon as I finish this afghan I’m working on).
Knitting can be frustrating, though! Especially when you’re starting out. So here are five tips that will hopefully help get you through your first project.
(Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.)
1. Don’t judge your work until you have at least 5 rows.
Preferably you’ll wait until 10. Especially if this is your first project. I still have to remind myself of this one, though. I’ll look at the first two rows that I knitted and they look awful. They’re loose, they’re uneven, and it looks like I dropped a few stitches (even though the count is right). Stop looking at it. It’s going to look like that until you get a few rows in. Creating more rows will force the previous rows to “toughen up.” They’ll even out and everything will look OK.
2. Don’t expect to be able to move quickly or watch TV when you first start.
This is something a lot of people do when they knit–catch up on Netflix. It’s a great way to do it, because you’re actually accomplishing something while you watch your shows. Here’s the thing about beginning, though: knitting isn’t hard, learning to knit is. Getting your hands to move in the right way without dropping stitches can feel impossible sometimes. When you first start, keep the TV turned off and move your hands slowly. It will help you concentrate on what you’re doing, get your muscles used to moving like that, and then later you can watch all the TV you want. Plus you’re probably going to need to watch some videos while you learn. (YouTube is a life-saver.)
3. Start with small projects.
They’ll help you learn new techniques, but you won’t be stuck with it for months. If you want some easy patterns that will help you learn as you go, I have some right here. There are also some free patterns at Craftsy.
4. Don’t worry about it if someone tells you you’re doing it wrong.
If you’re getting the results you want, then you’re not doing it wrong, you’re doing it differently. And a lot of people (too many people) associate “different” with “wrong.” There are many ways to knit. The most popular way is the English Method, which means your work is in your left hand and you’re knitting with your right. The Continental Method, which is the opposite (work in right hand, working needle in left), is becoming really common, though.
I learned with Continental, even though I use English now. The only reason I do it this way now is because someone who had more experience than I did (but who was not more knowledgeable) told me I was wrong. After reading, I found out he was wrong. There are just many means to the same end. But now I”m used to the English Method and I don’t see any reason to switch back.
Also, if you’re left-handed, don’t listen to anyone who says you need to learn how to knit backwards. These people are probably of a generation that was raised to believe being left-handed means your brain is wired differently. Modern society realizes this is incorrect.
Maybe crochet is different, but knitting involves using both hands no matter how you do it. Learning to knit backwards makes zero sense and will only make learning more difficult for you. Instead, ditch the mirror and try learning Continental. Since the work is done with your left hand, it might make it easier for you.
5. Practice, practice, practice.
After I posted my first set of knitting tips, I received this message: “My problem with knitting is I always knit waaaay too tight… and I don’t have the patience to improve.” That is word-for-word what she said, I copied and pasted.
My response was this: “Without the patience to improve, there’s really no advice I can give you (though there are definitely ways to fix it).”
I never received a response, which Zach said was because I was too mean. Here’s the thing: I don’t care if it comes off as mean. Some people need mean in order to understand the lesson. She wanted to blame the problem on knitting, but the problem was actually caused by her. And I can’t stand it when people want to play the blame game instead of taking responsibility for their thoughts and actions. Knitting does not control how much patience you have, you do.
When I first started, my stitches were really tight, too. First, it’s easy to make them tight when you use metal needles. Using wood needles can fix this. However, I didn’t switch to wood because they’re more expensive. So how did I fix my too-tight stitches? By practicing. By ripping out my stitches and starting all over again. I would do this for hours (cast on, knit a row, tear it apart, and start all over). For the first few weeks of learning, this was all I managed to get done. Yes, it was frustrating, but you have to get a little frustrated in order to get better.
Even if it means making the same stupid dishcloth over and over again, practicing is everything in knitting. If you never practice, you’ll never get better. You would think this was common sense, but it’s amazing the number of people I talk to who tried it once or twice, got sick of not being immediately great at it, and gave up. No. Knitting is not something that comes from being naturally talented. It comes from being patient and having a willingness to work at it.
That’s it for today! I doubt this will be the last time I post knitting tips.
Are there any tips you would give? Any advice you need? Leave it in the comments and I’ll try to help!