Yesterday I talked about how a person could gather supplies and information to enable them to learn their first knitting project. Today, I’m going to talk about how to take that further.
Once you have a couple of projects under your belt, and have mastered knit and purl well enough to do them without thinking about it too much, it can be tempting to jump in and try for something exciting. Then, when the latest project goes wrong for the third time and you throw it away in frustration, it can be easy to give up. That’s where most people end up, and it’s the reason so many people relearn the basics over and over again, without ever getting to the point where they can make something more complex than a plain scarf.
One of the best resources you can have is a good support network to lean on for help, advice and encouragement. But where do you go for that, if your friends and family aren’t crafters? Once again, the internet steps in,
First, don’t rush. When you pick a new pattern, there will be a list of stitch abbreviations at the front. Note these, and if there are any referring to techniques you aren’t familiar with, go back on Youtube and I guarantee there will be at least half a dozen videos made by knitters, showing you how those techniques work. Bookmark those, save them to a playlist, and watch them as you work on the pattern, until you’re comfortable enough with the techniques to have them memorised.
I mentioned Ravelry yesterday, specifically as a resource for free patterns, but they offer much more than that. In addition to keeping databases of patterns and different types of yarn, Ravelry provides a community. The first and most logical step is to make sure you create a project on Ravelry to help you track each knitting project you take on. This can be linked to the yarn you’re using, the pattern, and updated with personal notes detailing your progress, as well as photos. You can then easily compare your project to those made by others working on the same pattern, to see if anyone else has had similar issues.
But best of all, are the “groups”. Joining different groups on Ravelry gives users access to miniature forums themed around different issues. I, personally, belong to several including a group for UK spinners, a group for plus-size women trying to make their own clothes and several groups specifically for getting advice, and for helping learners. I recommend anyone taking up knitting (or indeed crochet) join Ravelry and get involved with the groups on there.
But maybe you’re not the sort of person who likes chatting online. Maybe you’ve watched all the videos but still can’t make sense of something, and you need someone to guide you through the work. Meetup,com may be the website for you. Meetup is a website designed to help people find like-minded friends and get together in groups, usually themed around mutual interests. There are local Meetup groups for people that like walking, for writers, for dog-owners. And there are Meetup groups for knitters. Most groups get together regularly, with group members paying some token amount like £1 to cover the cost of hosting the group. It is well worth browsing Meetup to see if there are crafting groups in your area.
Next step is going to be expanding your collection of supplies. As soon as you move beyond beginner patterns you’ll find yourself working with different yarn weights and different sized needles. I’m going to suggest you go straight back to Ebay for your knitting needles, but this time look for bamboo needles sold as sets. I said yesterday that, aside from the knitting needles I inherited from my grandmother and a few lucky finds from charity shops, my entire needle collection is bamboo, That’s true, but I didn’t buy them in individual sizes. Instead I grabbed listings like this one, this one and this one. For less than the price of a new bra, you’ve just found a full set of sizes for all three types of knitting needle, which will provide you with the materials you’ll need for almost any knitting project.
Once you have these, it’s really only the yarn that’ll cost you money. That, and sometimes there will be a knitting pattern you want that costs money. I highly recommend asking for vouchers for online knitting shops and even for Ravelry for your Christmas and birthday gifts. Also, watch sales on Ebay. There are always knitters selling bags of unused, labeled yarn in perfect condition. Pick up bargains as you see them and keep them at home for the perfect project. Just make sure the yarns are of a weight you’ve knitted before, or that is required for a pattern you’ve been wanting to try. There’s nothing worse than having a massive stash of lovely laceweight yarn, when you’ve found you don’t have the patience for anything finer than DK or worsted.