This is one of my favourite parts of knitting – Teaching others how to do it. We have started a knitting group at a pub near my home town The Ebrington Arms.
What advice would I give to beginners to keep them knitting…?
Stear clear of everything acrylic!! It maybe cheep but it’s cheep for a reason – it’s squeeze and sweaty and is much more difficult to knit with than wool or cotton.
Don’t fall into the trap of buying cheep grey metal needles…. You are much better off spending an extra £2 and buying a pair of wooden or bamboo needles. The problem with the grey metal needles is that they’re coated and can make the yarn stick… I find that when teaching it is best to go natural.
It’s possible to get everything you need to start knitting for under £11
Right this is very important, you need to get a colour or colours that are going to keep you interested.
There is a really good selection of yarn on the Wool Warehouse website. I would recommend something like the 100g hanks Cascade 220 DK weight. It comes in a really wide variety of colours and it’s perfect for hats, mittens, socks, jumpers the whole lot! It’s also been super wash treated so you can put it through the washing machine… bonus!
As you can see in the picture above there is a list of information. This tells you what needle size you need to get the best out of your yarn, the composition of your yarn – in this case 100% wool and how many meters you get to a ball/hank.
So now you have your wool you can pick your needles – we know that for this yarn we need 4-4.5mm wide needles. If the needles are too small you will have really tight difficult to knit stitches and if they’re too big you will end up with a really loose knit and bigger holes between your knitted stitches.
Different thicknesses of yarn:
Arranged by thickness…
Lace – Very fine yarn to knit traditional shawls and other light weight items,
4ply – Thin light weight yarn used for shawls, socks, hats and some jumpers.
DK – More traditionally used for jumpers, hats and scarves.
Aran – A thicker chunkier yarn great for jumpers.
Chunky – Encompasses lots go different thicknesses heavier than aran, chunky scarves are a great way to knit up items quickly and effectively.
Lets Talk Needles…
When everyone starts knitting they think that they need some long strait needles – It’s the most traditional way to start knitting. I moved from strait needles to circular needles for ease a long long time ago and it revolutionised my knitting.
Bamboo Strait Needles – 4mm (suitable for double knit yarn) £3.99
Wooden Strait Needles – 4mm – £6.19
If you are looking to move on from strait needles or you’re looking for some nice eco friendly and sustainable made ones have a look below –
Lantern Moon – “We pay fair wages from our initial interactions and incorporate any increases as community economies require. We audit our suppliers to be sure that health and safety are maintained in the production of a Lantern Moon product. We aspire, through our work with these communities, to strengthen independence and promote self-reliance.”
Brittany Needles and Crochet Hooks – “We pride ourselves in being an environmentally-minded company and try to minimize our impact at every stage of production.”
I knit on circular needles back and forth like others use strait needles… I like knitting on circulars as it reduces repetitive strain on my hands and means that my knitting is so much more portable (no long needles sticking out of handbags). There are a few companies to choose from when you’re looking at circular needles I use ChiaoGoo you can find more information on why I use them in my post on needles.
It’s so easy to get carried away with things when you’re shopping for knitting accessories… I do! When you first start out it helps to have yarn, needles, a tapestry needle for weaving in ends and if you’re working stripes or working to a pattern a stick marker and row counter can help.
Good shopping starting places are –
The Wool Warehouse – Based in Leamington Spa and Online they have a really wide selection of yarn and different needles.
Meadow Yarn – An online store with a good selection go luxury yarns, especially some more funky colours and finer sock yarns.
Etsy – a great place to find indie dyers and small businesses that hand dye their own yarns for you to knit and spin with. I can highly recommend looking at River Knits her yarn is beautiful and service is fantastic.
There are a couple of really good pattern sourcing websites here are just a few that you might find useful in your search for your first free patterns or just some inspiration.
Ravelry – It’s a free sign up website that gives you access to an amazing wealth of patterns published by other knitters/crocheters all over the world. It’s worth signing up for an account. You will find forums and all sorts to loose hours!
Knitty – They publish an online magazine with free patterns and information on different techniques etc…
You Tube – A fantastic resource… If you’re having any difficulties with techniques this is the best place for you… & when you fall a little further down the knitting rabbit hole there are loads of great podcasts from other lovely knitters where they discuss patterns and projects that they’re currently working on.
Tin Can Knits – This is a lovely company, they design and write patterns but they’ve recently designed a great series of free patterns for new knitters!! Their patterns are just gorgeous and really well written.
How to Knit…
Now down to the kitty gritty… How to knit! I taught myself to knit using books… (I learnt a long time ago before Ravelry, YouTube and the internet!). When I’m teaching I usually cast on for my students first so that they can get used to the process of knitting before having to cast on etc…
The two basic stitches that you’ll use in knitting are knit and purl… One creates a bump at the front and one creates a bump at the back… The stitches create different effects depending on the sequence they’re used in.
The most important thing I can teach anyone when it comes to knitting is that you need to relax and enjoy it… If you get stressed with it then your stitches will get tighter and tighter and you’ll end up not being able to get the needles in or with holes.
Good luck and enjoy the process of creating amazing things!