So this started me to thinking on the beginner knitter.
With soooo many options for yarn and needles, how does someone know where to begin? My immediate answer is to befriend someone who knits. They will either teach you, or give you some decent yarn and needles to learn on. Most likely BOTH will happen. But- some people don’t have this luxury. When I decided to teach myself to knit – I knew NO ONE who knitted. Which is odd, because I was living in Pennsylvania at the time. And being that I now live in the South- the pervasive line of thought is that the further North you travel- the more knitters and yarn shops you will find. Pretty much if they normally get more than 6 inches of snow each winter- you can’t throw a snowball without hitting a knitter (or crocheter… you get the picture). So what did I do? I went to Wal-Mart.
I bought myself a huge pair of size 11 Boyle Metallic Pink straight needles, and some gray yarn. And a book called something like the Knitter’s Bible. After all- it should have everything I need, right? It’s a Bible! Right? *crickets chirping*
Yeah. I was wrong. New knitters- don’t EVER buy something with ‘bible’, ‘encyclopedia’, ‘treasury’, ‘compendium’, ‘mastery’, or ‘master’ in the title. Just don’t. You will save yourself a lot of headache, heartache, and cursing. I quit knitting at least 12 times with that cursed book, and that was just getting the yarn on the needles! So I went BACK to Wal-Mart and bought one of those Learn To Knit kits. I also bought a special book called Stitch ‘n Bitch.
The kit was meh. I still use a few of the little notions that came with it, but I absolutely HATED the needles that were included. They were some sort of plastic/casein size 7 straight needles, BUT the tips were rubbery and awful. So I ignored them. (I gave away most of my straight needles in 2009, so they are happily looooong gone!) However- the Stitch ‘N Bitch book turned out to be an invaluable resource. The instructions were clear, and the author didn’t talk down to me like I was some inept idiot for not knowing how to knit. It only took me 30 minutes this time, but I finally cast on and had stitches on the needle! And they looked like the pictures!! So whenever I come across copies of this book (by now- usually only in clearance bins and used bookstores)- I buy them and give them to anyone who wants to know how to knit. Debbie Stoller has probably made hundreds off of me.
I learned something else that day, too. I am a tight knitter. And tight knitters, plus big pink metal needles, equals gray yarn that gradually starts turning pink, because the color is starting to sweat/rub off onto your yarn. But I still have that… well it was supposed to be a scarf, but ended up being just washcloth-sized. And I still have those big pink needles. The end caps have fallen off and been lost, but they are still around.
And for the record- yes I did look at the book that came in my Learn To Knit kit. It didn’t work for me. That’s why I switched to the Stitch ‘N Bitch book. So I guess I would advocate for new knitters to take a class. Or hit YouTube. But don’t give up, if the first person’s video you come across on YouTube doesn’t help. Some people are really good. Some are not. But the internet is your friend. Hang in there- you’ll get it. It took me a week, and I didn’t even think about turning to the internet for help…