Nostalgia, my old friend. When I look back at when I was a beginner knitter, there are so many things that I just wish I knew when I started, things that would have made my trek from a total beginner to where I am now so much faster.
I’ll be honest: being a beginner (at anything) sucks! You’re confused, you don’t know what you don’t know, and you feel like a fraud. But if you happen to figure out what you’re going to be wishing you knew 7 years later when you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll have a head start. To save you the trouble of having to build a time machine and wasting good knitting time, I’ll just tell you what I wish I knew when I first started knitting -about 7 years ago. Ready? Get out some yarn and needles. Actually, wait for my first tip before you do that.
Tip One: Only Knit with Circular Needles.
First, let’s talk needles. I would suggest knitting only with circular needles. You can knit everything on circular needles. Knitting flat is simple, allowing you to make anything from swatches to sweaters and shawls. You can use the magic loop technique to knit socks, gloves, and any other smallish round things you can make with yarn. Sweaters can be knit in the round, hats can be knit on 16″ circs… you can knit everything on circular needles.
Only knitting with one kind of needle will save you a lot of money, too. However, circular needles have lots of different cable lengths. My tip? Get a good set of interchangeable needles. They should have a smooth join, be comfortable to work with, and suitable for lace, cables, and everyday knitting. My favorites are the Addi Turbo Click needles. They are high quality and will last you a good portion of your knitting life. If you want to knit socks, you can either buy the 40″ sock rockets or get the Hiya Hiya interchangeable set with sock sizes.
Tip Two: Mind Your Notions.
Get a nice tool kit with the all the knitting notions you need. This includes cable needles, different stitch markers, yarn needles, sewing needles, a tape measure, scissors, point protectors, and a few crochet hooks. You can get these on amazon for around $10. My favorite kit is the one The Sexy Knitter sells. It’s cute and has most of the essentials a beginner knitter would need.
Having all the notions you need means that you’ll be prepared for any late night “I must cast on a __ right now” urges you have. When that shawl calls for stitch markers, you’ll have them! Need a cable needle? Grab your notions kit.
Tip Three: Yarn Matters.
Please, please, please stop knitting with that bright pink dollar a pound acrylic. There are better things for you out there in the land of Knitting. If you are worried about price, check out Knit Picks. They sell amazing quality yarn for knitters on a budget.
Knitting with low-quality yarn is just going to hinder you. Even if you are an amazing knitter, it won’t show very much when you’re knitting with budget acrylic.
You don’t have to knit with wool, either! If you find even the softest merino scratchy or you’re vegan(like me!), it’s totally possible to build a vegan yarn stash(and yes, it’s OK to stash.)
Also, knitting with acrylic for babies isn’t safe. Acrylic is flammable and melts. If you knit for a child, anything meant to be worn at night or while sleeping should be knit in wool (a flame retardant fiber) or a plant-based fiber like linen or cotton.
Tip Four: Challenge Yourself!
You’re not going to improve as a knitter if you don’t start knitting things that push you out of your comfort zone. Like the quote goes,
Life is about growing and improving and getting better.
It’s OK to knit socks, lace, or a cabled hood as a beginner. Yes, you’ll make mistakes. But it is way better to learn from those mistakes early on. There is no excuse to not challenge yourself. As long as you are willing to look for learning resources, you really can knit anything you dream of (including a knitted version of a Monet painting.) Youtube is an amazing way to learn new things. Use it.
Tip Five: It all Gets So Much Better.
You are going to improve, I promise. To be a good knitter, you don’t need “talent”. You don’t even need creativity to knit! All you need is a spark inside that draws you towards creating a yarny life.
Also, there’s more to life than knitting! As you progress as a knitter, you may delve into other fiber arts. Spinning is my second passion, but for you, perhaps you love to crochet, or maybe dyeing yarn makes you feel so… alive. Designing is amazing, too, and you might find pleasure in doing it like I did.
Knitting has a special kind of wonder, but it’s not just knitting. Experiment and play. Remember: it’s just string and sticks. What can go wrong?
You are already a knitter with a capital K. And if you haven’t picked up knitting? You should. It’s fun, on the other side. We have yarn.
Are you a beginner knitter or a seasoned pro? What are the things you wish you knew when you first started? Let me know in the comments below!