I think learning to knit is like learning to dressmake. And probably learning anything. You don’t know what you don’t know.
At first you don’t know much and the only thing is to complete a garment you can pull on over your head and wear. This is my limited objective. Thankfully, I have had lots and lots of great advice. Thank you so much, my knitting-sewing friends! Right now some of that advice is beyond me, at this stage in my development. Some of you suggested I may have chosen the wrong pattern, the wrong yarn, and the wrong style of casting on and knitting. I fear you may be right. But now I have made those little squares I am going to dive right in.
However, as I have found before, easier said than done. I had no idea
- How to choose a suitable pattern
- How to create a tension square
- how to “lightly press” it
- how to measure it
- what the abbreviations mean
- what the equipment list means
- how to actually knit with two stubby needles joined by a plastic thread
- how and where to sit and get a good ergonomic posture
- how to mark the beginning and end of a row when knitting in the round
- how to count stitches and rows
- when to pause (at the end of the row, I presume?)
- how to put the knitting away (I push the stitches onto the nylon cord so they won’t slip off)
- how to join the wool
But as you can imagine, I have already made several mistakes.
I bought the wrong equipment. I ordered the wrong size of needles – how I did this I have no idea. I didn’t know how long the loop should be, between the miniature knitting pins. I failed to purchase a “cn” – cable needle, as I didn’t know what it was. I thought the cable was the piece between the in-the-round knitting needles. I have since bought a second hand one from Sharon on the market but it is slightly slimmer than my main needles. I am assuming this doesn’t matter much.
Steph did warn me that my tension (which is not consistent as I am not an experienced knitter) would be looser in the round than on ordinary needles. This is because the stitches are much harder to control with those little needles. I am used to the long ones I was taught to tuck under my arms when I was young. Certainly the sweater knitting looks looser than the practice squares.
The cable pattern
After about 25 rows of knitting and purling, I tried to follow the cable pattern instructions, but after one row I panicked.
Help at hand
I bought a book for £1.75 at Cancer Research.
It’s nice, but not enough. I decided to do what Stephanie had suggested. I phoned a friend. Well I emailed one – Nat from Made-in-Home and asked her to join me a lunch-and-knitting-advice date. As Nat is learning to become a nutritionist I thought she might like to try Japanese Vegan food at Itadakizen in Kings Cross. She loved it (so did I). As we tucked into the miso soup I said “I bet you are going to tell me to pull it all out!”
The next photograph captures Nat’s horror at my beginner’s mistake. Can you see what I have done? I had no idea until she pointed it out. “I’m sorry, but you will have to pull it out!” she confirmed. She advised me to pull it out quickly and reknit it. If I don’t she warned that the jumper will go onto the UFO pile and that will be that.
Of course the problem is that the whole jumper is twisted like a Mobius strip. After casting on I had somehow managed to allow the stitches to roll creating the beginnings of a garment that could not be worn.
Nat reassured me that the tension looked OK and that the knitting was even enough. She also told me how to mark where the stitches change row (with a bit of coloured yarn) and how I should mark the cable pattern with different coloured yarn. She also examined the pattern and said that the method of doing the sleeves is not the best and that it would be very tricky for me to get this bit right on my own. Luckily she offered to help me deal with that once I get that far, with another lunch date.
This weekend I got back on the horse. I cast on and ensured the knitting wasn’t twisted, and I knitted with confidence, almost to the stage I was at last week.
Have you ever made such a horrendous beginners error?