Learning to Knit – Again
About a year ago a friend and I tried to pick up knitting. She took to it pretty quickly and made it a decent way through a scarf, but I never made it past casting on and the first few rows of a knit stitch.
Maybe it’s the season, or maybe there’s something about having a little one on the way, but I recently decided to try to pick it up again. Sadly, I’d forgotten everything I’d learned last year. And, I hadn’t left myself any helpful notes or clues as to what I’d found helpful while learning the first time around in my only blog post about my efforts.
I decided that this time I’m going to walk myself – and, thus, all of you! – through my lessons as I go. That way if it’s another year before I pick up my knitting needles again, I’ll know where to start. Or, if any you are also feeling the urge to learn to knit, perhaps these notes and videos will help you, too!
Since I lost steam pretty quickly last time, I decided to start with a pattern this time so that I’ll have an end goal to keep me motivated. I’ve chosen a small project in the hopes that it will actually be achievable before I get distracted by the holidays or the impending arrival of the little one. What pattern did I chose, you ask? The Pixy Newborn Hat by Palak of Make It Handmade, which is a free online pattern. It seems easy enough – cast on, knit two purl two for the brim, and then knit, knit, knit for the bulk of the hat.
So far, I’ve made it through the brim, plus a little extra. Here’s how I got where I am.
First, I needed to find the loose end of the yarn from the skien of Lion Brand Yarn in a lovely (and what I’m considering gender neutral!) charcoal color that was kindly gifted to me by a good friend back when I lived in the Bay Area. I used this video to find the start of the yarn:
This method seems pretty simple, just pull from the center, not from the side. Although maybe it was just my inexperience, but I had to pull quite a lot from the center to find the start of my yarn. I ended up making quite a mess! Are there better ways to prep yarn? I’ve seen a lot of yarn balls out there, but if the yarn pulls nicely from the center of the skein once you get it started – and it seems to based on where I am now in my knitting, I’m not sure why you’d want to go through the extra effort to wind a yarn ball. Any advice out there from the knitters?
UPDATE: I’ve now heard a few times in the comments that pulling from the middle tends to make a huge tangled mess when the skien collapses after there’s too little yarn left in the middle to hold it together. Good to know!
Next, I needed to cast on 40 stitches. I watched a few different videos, but here’s the one I ultimately followed to learn how to cast on:
Other videos used one needle and a long tail, two needles and an entirely different way of handling the yarn, and more. Is there a best method? Or, are there just a variety of different methods with everyone preferring their own particular style?
Now, I’m hoping to make a hat, not a scarf, so I needed to knit in the round. I’m choosing to use double-pointed needles because they’re what I had, and right now I’m trying to keep new supplies to a minimum. I’m not sure how well I’ll take to knitting, especially considering I haven’t touched it in nearly a year! Plus, I’m still trying to finish up a few projects from my last job, which means I’m working for free these days and only bringing in a small paycheck based on tutoring and other small jobs I’ve been able to pick up in my spare time. Couple that with a new baby on the way, and you get a tight budget!
So, anyway, double-pointed needles it is for now. After I cast my first ten stitches onto my first double-pointed needle, I paused and followed this video to add a second double-pointed needle:
I then cast on another ten stitches, added a third needle, and repeated until I cast on all 40 stitches.
But, at that point I still had a long stretch of cast-on stitches, not the loop that I wanted. I found this video helpful for creating the join between the first cast-on stitch and the final cast-on stitch:
Next, because I wanted to make version of the hat with the cute little hem band, I needed to learn how to knit two knit and two purl stitches for the first several rows. Here’s a video I found that shows how to knit two, purl two:
The trick for me was learning to pull the thread to the back before beginning each set of knit stitches and then pulling it to the front before beginning each set of purl stitches, each time making sure not to loop the thread over the needles in any way that would create an extra stitch. I can’t tell you how many times I started over because I just couldn’t get it down before watching this video.
Now that the hem band has been completed, it’s just a matter of knitting the knit stitch for a total of 35 rows. Oh, yes, and then stitching up the top, but we won’t go there yet! Except, maybe it is just my inexperience, but doesn’t it look like there’s some other type of stitch at the edge of the brim? Maybe a row or two of pure purl stitch? Anyway, even if there is, I’m just a teeny bit past that now and don’t have the courage to go back and try to change anything unless I find some sort of major mistake. A bit of brim trim that no one will even know should be there in the first place does not currently count.
Anyway, wish me luck! And, let me know if you are inspired to learn to knit along with me, or if you already know how to knit but have better resources than the ones I’ve posted here. I’m all ears!