Knitting: Some Introductory Ideas

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I’ll be guiding a knitting group in the near future and wanted to collect some of the resources I rely on as a knitter.  At the same time that knitting is a craft and a skill, it also represents an information need.  It works best if you know the properties of fiber, the way fiber and needles interact, and the features of a high quality pattern.

To make some of the touchstones of my knitting available to the people who will join us without forcing them to take notes or carry home a handout, I’m listing these web sites, blogs, videos, and book titles in this post for easy access.

First, Ravelry.  It’s a knitter’s best friend, short of a patient friend nearby who already knows the in’s and out’s of knitting.  It’s a free, searchable database, where you can find patterns that match the yarn you’ve got in hand, and see how patterns turn out in the hands of actual knitters (spoiler alert:  sometimes, though not always, it’s a bit different from the way they look in professional photos used to market patterns).

If you’re trying to sort out the how-to’s, rather than the what-to-knit, there are both books and videos.  I find sources that model the skill useful, whether than happens via short videos or frame-by-frame instructions online.  Two go-to sources for me:  yarn shop Purl Soho, which has both tutorials on its site and a YouTube channel; then, there’s Knitting Help, which is one of the best instructional sites out there.

What if you’re in the mood to chat with other knitters, to see what they’re up to?  Well, aside from your local knitting groups, there’s the virtual chat of the groups and forums in Ravelry, plus other knitters’ blogs.  A few of my favorite blogs, ones I read regularly:

  • Yarn Harlot provides a good read that is often light hearted yet sensitive; aware and engaged.  Interspersed with wildly funny posts, her more meditative commentaries have drawn a massive readership.
  • Baby Cocktails highlights stylish New England design, vintage elements, and yes, cocktails.  The photography is amazing, and her patterns are supremely wearable ones.
  • Kate Davies represents another take on knitting, from Scotland, with gorgeous photography, historical and cultural contexts, and a grand perspective on life and all things fiber.

The world of knitters also offers podcasts and other ways of being amused while working with one’s hands.  You can also check out (or download) audiobooks from your local library.

There are lots of ways of acquiring patterns, whether buying directly from a designer online or browsing books and single-pattern offerings from a local yarn store.  There’s also your public library’s shelves.  These can be a bit thin at high demand times — think spring break or as the winter holiday season arrives — but are a great way to experiment a bit, decide whose style works for you, what sort of pattern works with your life, before committing more fully to developing your own library.  Some designers and resources in print that I’d recommend include:

  • Debbie Bliss and her Knitter’s Book of Knowledge:  She’s got oodles of cute baby patterns, but this is a nicely done, usable reference source on how to do the things patterns tell you to do.
  • Ann Budd‘s spiral bound books of patterns have a wonderfully useful features:  they offer options for building a thing with any kind of yarn you have.  You figure out your gauge, follow the charts, and you don’t have to anguish over wanting to make that sweater but you’ve got the yarn for something different.
  • Are you a Harry Potter fan?  Patterns abound, including a magazine that has been republished under a separate title that doesn’t hint so much at its inspiration.

Oh, and there are stitch dictionaries, books that tell you how to achieve the wonderful textures you see in sweaters, on blankets, etc.  For practice, you can swatch or try them out as wash cloths or panels to build a blanket (the most epic pieced blankets ever may include this recreation of Molly Weasley’s work or this intarsia featured by the ladies at Mason-Dixon Knitting).  One stitch dictionary on my shelf is Wendy Bernard‘s guide to creating stitch patterns, one swoon-worthy title on my wish list comes out this month — The Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible.)

This is, as they say, the merest tip of the iceberg.  There’s so much more to the world of knitting, so many ways of following your interests, style, and more.  I’m hoping that the resources here are useful in getting you started on your knitting journey.  Because knitting is both a journey and something that goes along with you, where ever you go.

P.S.  A nice, free, simple pattern I’m recommending to new knitters to practice some basics is this dish cloth/wash cloth by Staci Perry.  Bonus:  instructional videos, if the techniques are new or unfamiliar!

P.P.S.  If you’re wanting to connect on Ravelry, this link takes you to my profile there.

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This entry was published on October 6, 2017 at 4:54 pm and is filed under knitting. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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