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Knitting: How I Learned …

Recently on Flickr, where I share the occasional photo, a lovely acquaintance of mine, Sherry Galey, asked me the question, “How would you recommend a novice start off? I do know the basic stitch but that’s it!” I was going to send Sherry a private email but then I thought this might be something more people might want my answer to, so here goes.

lace scarf ©Diane M Schuller

As most of you are aware the reason I took up knitting at the end of January was as rehabilitation to improve my fine motor skills after having a stroke. Well, not only did it help me with my fine motor skills in my hands and fingers but it also managed to get me hooked on knitting!

I did register for and attend a local learn-to-knit workshop. I have to tell you that it was not at all what I had expected and I learned far more by going online and scouting through video tutorials on YouTube. No kidding. Some videos are better than others but the advantage to the videos, when they are well done, the person shows you slowly and in easy to understand terms. For those who, like Sherry, already know the basic knit and purl stitches, here are the tutorials or people who give tutorials that I highly recommend (see below). But before I leave you with those links, I’ll add a few more thoughts.

knitting www.dianeschuller.com

You need to want to learn and are willing to be an attentive student – seems obvious but attitude is everything. I recommend starting by committing to an easy first project. It could be a scarf, a hat (yes, you can make a hat), or perhaps a cowl or shawl. I would consider each of those as ideal projects for learning. My first project was a hat. While you are working on a project you will learn and most likely will need to watch a video or two to help you get through. The other thing I feel is so important in learning to knit is learning to read a pattern. For me, that was one of the more confusing aspects but after working through that first project, I realized it’s not as difficult as I once thought. And with each project afterwards, your skills in knitting and reading patterns will improve — it’s a good feeling.

And, if after you complete your first project, you want to do more, I have another recommendation. Join Ravelry. It’s a free knitting and crochet community where you can join groups (some are local) and talk to other knitters (including newbies like you), get answers to questions, join help forums, and get all kinds of free patterns! I am RamonasGirl on Ravelry – join and add me as your friend.

Every single time I ran into a problem with my knitting whether it was how to fix a mistake, how to do a particular stitch, how to do a different cast on or bind off, or any of the other many things that seemed impossible to me, I went to the computer and searched for a solution. There was always an ideal video available to show me the way. I still use those videos.

You have no idea that joy of completing a project. I’m proud of myself because I’ve made something with my own hands. It always feels so soft and squishy to the hand plus [excuse the cliche] that warm fuzzy feeling inside. Even when I knit something with a few mistakes (like my recent Multnomah shawlette), I still love it and what a feeling of accomplishment. It’s relaxing, almost meditative, and the hand feel of the finished project is like nothing else.

multnomah shawl - www.dianeschuller.com

Right now I’m knitting a Nae shawl and what a treat to sit and work on it. The yarn feels amazingly soft as I work with it and the resulting fabric (I’m just over half finished) is absolutely sensational. This is going to be knock out. I then plan to begin knitting the gifts I plan to give my son and grand daughters for Christmas. Oh, and if I have one single tip when learning to knit it’s this: only knit one project at a time. Finish one and then begin the next, don’t try to knit multiple projects at once, especially when you’re beginning. If you don’t get that positive reinforcement from completing a few projects first, you may not continue.

Nae shawl © Diane M Schuller

I hope this has been helpful for those of you who are thinking you may like to give knitting a try. Don’t forget, I’m still a beginner myself but I hope that my experience at getting started may be of some benefit to those wanting to also learn to knit.

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lisa - September 22, 2014 - 4:14 pm

Oh my goodness, thank you so very much, Diane!
Like Sherry, I can do the basic stitch (and actually a few more than that), but as far as making anything, I am not beyond a basic scarf. I will surely make use of these links.

Again, I thank you.

Have a wonderful week, my friend!

Sherry - September 22, 2014 - 6:00 pm

Oh Diane, thank you for answering my question so thoroughly and beautifully. I was so excited to see this. It’s just what I need to help me get started. I will take your advice to heart and start with a small project that I can handle. I am so impressed with how far you have come so fast and the beauty of your creations. I hope to start this winter. Your images are so soft and compelling. It will be hard to wait. Thanks again, sweetie!

Celia - September 22, 2014 - 11:32 pm

It’s great to read about how knitting has helped you regain the movement in your hands as well as helping you to relax. Your shawls are beautiful – meditation, exercise and creativity.

Susan - September 23, 2014 - 10:49 am

Thank you Diane, this is just what I needed. I had already decided to make learning to knit a winter project. I want to have something accomplished when I crawl out of my den in the Spring.

Leigh - September 28, 2014 - 6:16 pm

What a great post Diane! I always enjoy reading the story of “how I learned to knit”! Great links too 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful week. xo

Candace - October 11, 2014 - 10:55 am

Diane, those pieces are all so beautiful and perfectly done. I can imagine the feeling of accomplishment upon finishing one. I’m not sure knitting would be for me but I certainly admire those of you who do this.