This is the time of year that lots of sewists decide to try out a new craft: knitting! What’s not to love? It’s cosy, you can do it on the sofa while watching TV and it brings all the snuggly autumn/winter feels. However, I don’t think it is the most accessible craft to get into. If you asked a UK sewist how to get into garment making, I think many of us would suggest picking up a Tilly and the Buttons Pattern or their beginners book ‘Love At First Stitch’. I couldn’t find such a unanimously loved resource to help me get into knitting, everyone I asked told me something different and so I muddled through and made some big mistakes early on that I am surprised didn’t put me off knitting for good!
I am not saying this is the definitive learn to knit guide, I am just listing some resources I wish I had known about when I started knitting!
My mum showed me how to cast on, knit and purl, but everything else I have learned through YouTube tutorials. It can be frustrating watching long videos that don’t show you want you want to know or poor teachers/bad camera quality wasting your time. After two years of learning new techniques, by far my favourite tutor is Stacey of Very Pink Knits. Still today when I am looking to learn a new technique I check if she has a video on it first as I know it will explain well and show me close-up what to do. If you are learning to knit – this is the tutor you want to watch, she has videos on everything!
The world of knitting patterns can be a strange place – they look like they are written in another language! I started with this very basic hat and it is one I would still recommend today if you want to use a chunky yarn which allows you see the BIG stitches and works up quickly. The pattern is free and you can read my blog post on it here. If I was learning to knit now, I would use The Simple Collection from Tin Can Knits. They have thoughtfully written a series of FREE patterns that take you through being a complete beginner to making a beautiful sweater or cardigan. They are modern designs, incredibly size inclusive, these patterns include baby sizes right up to size 5XL-6XL and they are well drafted, well written patterns. If anyone asks me where to start, this is the direction I will point them in. I have just used the Rye Light pattern from the Simple Collection to learn to knit socks and it was the perfect way to learn!
Yarn and Needles
For me, when learning a new hobby I would always start buying supplies at a charity shop, particularly with knitting – they get a lot of knitting supplies donated! Many charity shops don’t keep their knitting needles on display for safety reasons but if you ask at the till I guarantee they have lots and would be happy to sell some! They probably have yarn too – I started with acrylic yarn I bought from the charity shop and regret nothing. It makes starting a new hobby affordable and fun (and you’ve given some money to a good cause!). Of course charity shops are closed as I write this (we are in Lockdown 2.0 here in the UK) and many people don’t have the time to sort through the treasures within. To start with, I would choose the pattern you want to make first and then go to an affordable knitting website to get your yarn/needles from. My favourites for budget yarn in the UK are LoveCrafts, The Knitting Network and Wool Warehouse.
Once you fall down the rabbit hole of knitting I am sure you won’t want to come out again! But then how do you learn what sort of patterns you like and techniques you want to try? The knitting community of course! Instagram is a huge source of inspiration for me, there are so many incredible pattern designers, test knitters, yarn dyers and knitters to follow and be inspired by – check out hashtags like #KnittersOfInstagram or #KnitKnitKnit and go from there! Another place which has been a constant source of inspiration has been Ravelry – although do be careful, lots of users have reported suffering headaches, migraines and in some cases seizures since the website has been redesigned. If you are photosensitive in any way maybe stay away from Ravelry or proceed with caution. It is an incredibly useful database where you can see patterns made by a range of knitters in a range of yarns and can give a good idea of what patterns look like on different bodies and in different colour schemes. I hope they listen to feedback and make it safe for all to use soon!
I hope any budding knitters have found this useful! I wish I had known about some of these things when I had started! If you are thinking about starting to knit and don’t have any clue who to start following to get those ideas flowing and get some inspiration for how modern and cool and gorgeous knitting can be, I’m going to leave you with my Top 10 Instagram accounts for knitting inspiration (I could easily think of 10 more so hit me up if you want more!):