Monday, November 19, 2012

So, Do You Want To Learn To Knit...?

But you don't know if you'd like it, if you could manage it, if it's for you at all? And you don't want to buy a bunch of specialized equipment that will sit on a shelf in your closet, mocking you for your failure every time you open the door?

I felt the same way, and I just couldn't bring myself to splurge on a hobby that I was 90% sure I wouldn't be able to master. But I wanted to try it so badly! When I started hanging out with a neighbor who knitted, I was compelled even further but I still couldn't get past my hang-up of being wasteful, and I didn't know her well enough to feel comfortable borrowing supplies.

I was sitting around my house one day, pining for the opportunity. I had some yarn left over from an old crochet project, years ago. But I had no knitting needles! Oy! What's a poor lass to do? Make them, duh!

So, my first set of knitting needles were a pair of plastic hangers. And my first set of dpn's (Double Pointed Needles) were a dowel rod and fingernail polish. If you look around your house, you might find something you can use! I know a girl who learned to knit on plain old pencils and when she was sure she would keep at it, she got herself a pair a knitting needles.

For the record, you CAN get inexpensive aluminum knitting needles at most craft stores or even big box stores, but if you're sitting at your computer right now thinking, "I might like to try this out," go ahead a grab some plastic hangers and get started!

You can cut the bottom rung off of the hanger, but take care to get it as close to the bend as possible - because it's likely hollow inside. Sharpen it with a pencil sharpener, but again - try not to wear it down too far, until you get to the hollow part. Leave the bend on the other end of the rod, to hold your yarn on.
Or, just take a dowel rod and cut it to size. Sharpen one end and sand it well. Apply 3 coats of nail enamel, sanding lightly in between coats. You can put all kinds of things on the other end to act as a stopper.

Now, if I ever learn to make a set of circular needles from stuff around the house, you'll be the first to know!

What are you going to do with some yarn and some ghetto make-shift knitting needles? Watch some videos! These ones are my favorites and I was able to learn from them. These are very, very basic instructions, but it will be enough to get you started. I personally prefer the videos with British instructors, it sounds so much more elegant when replaying their instructions in my head.

Casting on:

There's a rhyme that helped me remember the steps to do a knit stitch, I can't remember where I heard it. It goes, "Through the front door, around the back; through the window, and off jumps Jack."

Choose EITHER continental style or english style knitting to start with. The only difference is the hand you hold your working yarn with, so don't fret that you have to know both. You won't need both until you're well practiced with knitting.

Knit stitch, Continental Style:

Purling is just knitting, turned around. If you take a knitted sweater and turn it inside out, the little dashes you're seeing are purl stitches. You use a combination of knits and purls to make designs.

Finally, binding off so that your stitches are all closed up and won't unravel:

One last tip, because it stumped me even though I had been warned about it - pay attention to the direction that you are wrapping your yarn around. I was wrapping mine the wrong way for the longest time, and my knits would not stretch. Also - this was how I learned the basics. My friendly neighbor started offering free classes at her house and so I got an extra leg up.

It takes time, but it's worth it.
Play around! Get adventurous! Go knit!


  1. Haven't tried it myself but I've been told that, with a little sanding, chopsticks make fine needles.