I learned to knit somewhat randomly. After camping, I went to a laundromat to wash my sleeping bag. I was bored, so I wandered around the shopping center next door, and found a yarn store. I stepped inside and was immediately impressed by all of the pretty yarns, and I couldn’t believe that it was possible to knit the projects! I bought some yarn and needles, and the owner sat down with me and showed me how to cast on and knit. But it just wasn’t making sense to me! I’m left handed, and I do most things in the mirror image of a right handed person. So I tried to make up a way to knit left handed, without really understanding what I was doing. So it didn’t work, and I was frustrated, but stubbornly determined to learn.
I looked at several knitting books before one finally “clicked” with the way I learned. It was “Stitch ‘N Bitch” by Debbie Stoller. That book had really clear written instructions, as well as helpful diagrams. Debbie had learned to knit as an adult, and she remembered all of the things that were difficult to her, so she addressed them in her book. Also, I liked the style of the patterns (I learned to knit when I was 20) and I appreciated that the patterns referenced back to the tutorials, in case you needed to review a technique.
Since I was self taught, I often figured things out “the hard way”. I’m going to share some resources and tools that really helped me become a fearless knitter, because I knew that I could fix any mistake and tackle any technique with them.
I loved “Stitch ‘N Bitch”, but there were some other references that were really helpful to make me a better knitter. I always recommend Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book to knitters, of any skill level. Whether you are learning to purl, or designing a sweater, you will find helpful information in this book. This is probably the knitting reference book that I refer to the most, and you don’t “outgrow” the information.
Also, I love Knit Fix! This book explains how to fix almost any knitting mishap that you could create, and gives you really helpful diagrams and text that explains what you did, how to fix it, and how to avoid repeating it. It’s really helpful to be able to flip through this book and fix your mistakes, especially if you like to knit at midnight and your knitter friends are sleeping.
There are also tools to make it easier to execute a difficult stitch pattern. Row counters keep track of where you are in a stitch pattern, and stitch markers can mark stitch repeats, decreases, or anything that you need to pay attention to! It took me a long time to discover these tools! When I knit my first basketweave scarf, I kept track of my knit and purl stitches and rows by making tons of tally marks on a piece of paper. Using stitch markers and row counters speed up your knitting, and help you spot a mistake quickly, because you are less likely to get lost in a pattern.
Also, if you notice that you’ve dropped a stitch, or made a mistake a few rows down, it’s easy to drop your stitches down, fix the mistake, then knit your stitch back up with a crochet hook. We even have an “emergency” crochet hook that you can attach to your keychain or knitting bag, so you can fix mistakes on the go! What’s nice about knitting is that almost every mistake can be fixed.
Additionally, do you all know about our tutorials page on the website? It’s filled with free tutorials, and it’s a really good place to check when you are teaching yourself a new technique.