Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pep Talk and Virtual Knitting Lesson #1

{This post is part of kick-off week for our month-long Knit-for-Good Knit-a-Long. If you're just jumping in, you might want to check out the post that explains it all. }

So. You want to learn how to knit.

In concept, knitting is simple: it's just pulling a loop of yarn through an existing loop-- and all those connected loops make a piece of fabric. There's nothing magical or mystical about it.

More good news: there are really only two stitches in knitting: knit and purl. For the most part, everything else is just a variation on the basics. Once you've got knitting and purling down pat, the rest is easy.

You can do this.

It might be kind of hard at first, but it's a difficulty along the lines of learning to ride a bike-- hard because it's new, but almost anyone can learn and once you do you'll never forget.

Your brain and eyes and fingers are going to work together in a way that they probably haven't had to before, and you can bet they'll protest. But you're the boss of those pesky fingers and eyeballs and brain. Show them who's in charge and they'll submit before long. And you'll be plenty proud of yourself and have all kinds of warm cozy handknits to show for it.

I recommend that you make a promise to yourself that you'll give three projects your very best shot before you decide whether or not knitting is for you. Chances are that if you can stick with it that long you'll be off to the races!

Let me reassure you again. You can do this. And the results in the end will be more than worth the patience it took to learn.

Okay now, it's time for your first knitting lesson.

Are you excited? I am!

Today we're going to cover the two most basic techniques of knitting: long-tail cast-on, and the knit stitch.

And what the heck, we'll throw in bind-off while we're at it and you'll be all set for your very first project.

{Sheesh. I was hoping that being in a blog video would magically make me more coherent and less dorky than I actually am. Not so.}

I'm using circular needles in the videos. If that's a new/bizarre concept for you, you'll want to tune in on Thursday for a discussion of needle types.

Video #1: Long Tail Cast On

Cast On
is Knitter-speak for putting your first row of stitches on the needle. There are many different ways to cast on, but the one I'm going to teach you here is probably the most common.
Also, I'm not very clear about it in the video, but a good rule of thumb, according to Amy of KnittingHelp.com is about 12 inches of tail for every 20 stitches that you're going to cast on.

Video #2: Knit Stitch

Knit Stitch
is the first stitch you'll learn in knitting. I'm teaching Continental Style here. Also, you'll hear/read about knit stitch and garter stitch. I mention this in the next video, but knit stitch refers to the way you're manipulating the yarn and needles. Garter stitch is name of the fabric you get if you knit every row.

Video #3: Knit Stitch continued and Bind Off

Bind Off is knitter-speak for taking your stitches off the needle and linking them to keep them from unraveling-- the last step in a piece of knitting. Just like with casting on, you'll want to make sure that you don't bind off too tight. If that's a problem for you, try binding off with a larger size needle or with two needles held together.

Got it? Now just watch these and practice along over and over and over again until you get the hang of it. If there's anything unclear or confusing in the videos, or you have any questions about your knitting, please don't hesitate to shoot me an email, or mention it in the comments and I'll see what I can do to help.

If you get really stuck and start to feel so frustrated that you want to gouge your eyes out with your knitting needles, try getting some help at your local yarn store. You'll almost always find the staff there friendly and helpful and more than willing to give you a hand with learning.

Ravelry is also a great online resource for knitters of all experience levels.

Up Tomorrow: Knitting Lesson #2; purl, stockinette, and rib knit

No comments: