Learning to knit is fairly easy but does require some practice. It is best to start out with small projects that will help you to perfect your stitches. Martha Stewart suggests starting out with a simple project like a basic scarf before moving onto a more advanced project like a matching hat.
A scarf is a good project for beginners because you can focus on the stitches and the tension without worrying about a specific pattern, although there are more complicated scarf patterns available. You can practice basic garter or stockinette stitches, or move onto other stitches such as the moss or broken rib stitch. What is most important in your beginning projects is to learn to keep a loose and consistent tension on the yarn.
Elizabeth Zimmerman, author of "Knitting Without Tears," says beginning knitters tend to try to knit tightly to make the work look neat, but that it is a very bad habit that should never be practiced. Once you are comfortable with the basic stitches and have a consistent tension, make a striped scarf to help you to practice changing colors of yarn.
If you want to start with something smaller, there are many patterns available for washcloths and dish towels that are simple and quick to make. Any pattern that involves simple squares or rectangles is perfect for the beginning knitter. An envelope purse, baby bib, baby blanket, drink coasters, hot pads, potholders or doilies are all very easy projects. Larger projects such as an afghan, poncho, shawl, wrap or table runner are also well suited for beginners.
An easy way to quickly get through an entire knitted scarf quickly is to use bulky yarn and thicker needles. The thick needles mean that fewer stitches need to be made, helping you to get through your first projects in short order.
If you feel comfortable using double-pointed or circular needles, you can take on more advanced projects that are still relatively easy. Mittens, socks and hats are easy knitting projects when you use these types of needles. Baby booties are not only easy to knit, but are welcome gifts as well. Most patterns require double-pointed needles, but there are some two-needle patterns available.
Stick with cheap, synthetic yarns when starting knitting your first projects. You can unravel a knitted piece and reuse the yarn if it the finished product does not turn out as planned. Doing so, however, tends to stretch the yarn out and it may become unusable after doing this several times.
If you want to bring more colors into your first knitted pieces but are not comfortable changing yarn colors, try some variegated yarns in different colors.
- Martha Stewart: Knitting 101
- "Knitting Without Tears;" Elizabeth Zimmerman; 1971
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