So you've decided to join the wonderful world of knitting? Welcome to the club, we've been expecting you! Before you start your first project, there are a few important tips that you need to make your knitting journey run as smoothly as possible.
Below are a few of our essential tips that we think every budding yarn aficionado should know...
1) Start with a small project.
It's tempting to get caught up with ambitious ideas for your first knits when you're first starting, but it's important to scale down your ideas at first and take on an achievable project. Good starting projects for beginners include a chunky knit pillowcase, a washcloth, or a simple cowl.
It's also important to think about the right equipment you need to use when you're first getting started, especially when it comes to the needles you use. We would recommend that beginners try starting their projects with larger needles, just until you are comfortable with the movements. There are a variety of needles out there and it changes with each knitter as to what they prefer, here in the studio most us prefer interchangeable needles, these needles have a cable that runs between them and allows you to knit 'in the round', meaning you're able to knit sweaters, hats and many other projects in one piece. This is great as it means no going back and forth and no sewing together required! You can also change the length of the cable to suit your project. Other types of needles are straight needles (the ones that most people recognise) and DPNs (Double Pointed Needles, useful for knitting small projects 'in the round', also cuffs and socks).
2) Use chunky yarn.
Put simply, chunky yarn means bigger stitches, which means quicker projects. As a beginner knitter you're going to want to go for instant gratification and that means starting with a quick project that won't traumatise you and put you off knitting forever!
3) Pay attention to your tension.
Tension is one of the most common issues beginner knitters encounter. Tension or gauge is the term used to describe how tight your knitted stitches are. This tightness dictates how your piece will turn out as it impacts the size, thickness, and fit. Tension is largely determined by the following three things:
A) Knitting needles. If you knit on chunky needles your stitches will be larger, therefore making your garment into a loose fit. In contrast, knitting on thinner needles will result in your stitches being smaller and your piece a bit more ridged.
B) The way you hold your yarn. New knitters generally tend to pull their yarn too tightly. This then makes it harder to knit the next row and slide the stitches up and down the needle, which causes the project to be too tight, curl up and not come out the correct size. Other knitters may not hold their yarn tightly enough, which results in loose stitches and an ill-fitting garment.
C) The thickness of the yarn. It's important to make sure your yarn is the correct thickness for the pattern you're following. If you fail to do this, your garment will fail to come out the size you want. Which leads us on to our next point...
4) Follow your knitting pattern
Even seasoned knitters follow a pattern and it's essentially there to tell you everything you need to know about creating your garment of choice. Think of it as your recipe book. Your pattern will tell you the right yarn and needles to use and will act as a guide for the correct look and size of your garment. Just make sure you pick the right pattern for your skill level! We also find that making sure you actually follow the instructions is pretty essential, this sounds obvious but it can be tempting to assume what the designer is doing and go a bit off-piste!
5) Takes notes
Once you get going and the knitting bug hits, it's not uncommon to start other projects before finishing the one you are working on. This is bound to happen at some point in your knitting life, so we would highly recommend taking notes as you follow the pattern, even if it's just a note of which step you have reached or a tally of how many repeats you have done. As you become more confident and start to adapt patterns you can also note down what you have changed so you can either apply it to the other sleeve or save it for when you want to knit the pattern again.
6) Join a community or head to YouTube at the very least!
We're now in the midst of an age where you can access information and tap into a global community that relates to every interest and hobby you can think of. If you're new to knitting and want to share your frustrations and tribulations with other knitters, go out and look for a local group to join. Ravelry is a particularly good network for knitters. Alternatively, if you're just looking for some quick accessible tips, YouTube is the perfect place to get short, digestible how-to videos that will tackle even your most complex issue.
We're on Ravelry, so feel free to reach out to us on there and check out our updates.
We hope you found these tips helpful!