You’ve decided you want to get crafty and learn how to knit and we say power to you!
As any knitter will tell you, knitting is about more than creating unique handicrafts, jumpers and tea cozies; it’s also a fantastic way to de-stress. Studies have found knitting has a calming effect and can reduce the impact of depression. One study even found knitting can lower your heart rate and give you a similar zen feeling to yoga!
We are telling you this because when you first start knitting you’ll probably face a few trials and tribulations; your heart rate may go up not down! But persist, and you’ll join the ever-increasing hordes of people who swear by knitting as a fun, calming and sociable activity.
So you’re keen to start, there are a few things to think about.
- Choosing your yarn
Firstly you’ll want to think about the type of yarn to use. You have a huge range of fibers and fabrics to choose from: wool, alpaca, polyester, rayon, acrylic and cotton, to name a few. However, we suggest you start with wool or a wool acrylic blend. Wool is perfect for beginners because it’s very smooth and has a natural stretchiness, it makes those unfamiliar knitting maneuvers that much easier. Some knitters swear by a wool acrylic blend; you still get the stretchy factor but the blended yarn tends to stick a bit better to the needle and won’t slide off (can we say this is super frustrating!).
One you’ve settled on a material, we recommend you buy what’s known as ‘chunky yarn’. At 12 ply it’s almost the thickest ply yarn you can get. There are a couple of reasons for going chunky, firstly, as a beginner, it’s just so much easier to see what you’re doing when you use thick yarn. Secondly, a thicker yarn means faster progress. You’ll see your creation coming together much quicker with a chunky yarn than with say a cobweb yarn. When you’re putting in the effort to learn a new skill it’s nice to see some results!
- Selecting your needles
Just like yarn, needles come in a variety of materials. We suggest you opt for bamboo or wooden needles simply because the surfaces are not as slippery meaning you can focus on your technique (not on trying to keep your stitches from falling off the needle!)
We assume you’ll start your knitting career with a small project so you won’t need extra long needles. This is good as longer needles are harder to work with. Generally if you opt for a chunky yarn (12 ply) you’ll be looking to get 6.5mm needles. If you’re unsure, your local knitting supplies or craft store should be happy to point you in the right direction.
- Deciding what to knit
You’ve probably given this some thought and arrived at the conclusion that an extravagant lace shawl may be out of your league. Most new knitters opt for the humble scarf. It’s long so it helps you build muscle memory and it’s a chance to simply practice the knitting technique without worrying about shaping or using double-pointed needles.
- The knitting begins!
The knit stitch is the simplest stitch to learn so we reckon it’s a good stitch to start with. The first step you need to learn is how to cast on. You’ll find tons of step by step tutorials on YouTube that will take you through casting on and executing the knit stitch. Better yet we suggest you consult a knitter friend. There’s nothing like having someone there talking you through the process and correcting you when you go wrong. Don’t know any knitters? Sign up for a beginner’s lesson at your local craft or knitting supply stall. Make new friends and learn a new skill!