Saturday, August 7, 2010


My Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn arrived this week. I keep looking at it. Squeezing it. It almost seems a shame to destroy those beautiful big balls of rich colour and texture. And the colour-cards are a-calling.....

The problem is, to me they scream KNITTING.... and (unlike Kate, who started knitting the same weekend that I did, but has taken to it like a duck to the proverbial wet stuff) I'm still a scarf-knitting beginner who can't read a pattern. So far I've got casting on, plain and purl and casting off. I have no idea what stocking stitch is, how to increase, decrease or use fancy-schmantzy circular or double-pointed needles.

Ravelry leaves me feeling overwhelmed (mostly by the gap between what I'd like to be making and where my skill level lies), and frankly, I haven't had the brainspace to wade through forums or patterns online (suffering a bit of computer burn-out here). I just want to cut to the chase and learn the essential bits to get me to the next (non-scarf) stage.

Baby-steps is where I'm at. Don't worry, THERE ARE BOOKS ON THE WAY (and doubtless I'll be consulting You Tube and bothering knitty friends from time time for tips on technique). What I'm after is a few simple, non-intimidating kids' garment patterns for me to use as a base for learning.... little-by-little. A new trick (or two) at a time... with quick results (read: instant gratification will encourage me to move onward and upward).

So far, I have this..... but find it intimidating. See my problem? Any recommendations?


flamehair said...

I know you said previously that Ravelry leaves you a bit overwhelmed but it such a fantastic resource for yarn crafts. There are so many basic patterns there, you just need to work the search engine to your advantage and fill up your queue with a few different things to mull over.

A Peppermint Penguin said...

If you send me your search criteria - what yarn you have, sizes, basic shape, worked flat, seamed vs worked in the round (which is what that etsy pattern is) I'd be happy to wade through Rav for you.

I just wish I could pop round and show you how to do stuff in person!

For learning new skills Debbie Bliss Baby knits for Beginners is a good book and the results make nice gifts for those without a baby on hand to knit for!

I can appreciate you wanting to make things for your wee girl though.

Stocking Stitch

knitting on circular needles, where you are joined to make a tube (like with socks), every row knit.

knitting on circular needles not joined, so there are side edges, or on straight pins
right side knit every row
wrong side purl every row


Thing I liked about the Debbie Bliss book when I was teaching my friend is that all the projects are graded, garter stitch scarf is first and a raglan sleeved cardigan with collar and button bands was last. So you learn new skills with each make. Also since they are baby things, they are pretty quick to complete. (I'd give the blankets and cushions a miss!)

Let me know if I can help!


Anonymous said...

If you can knit and purl, you can do any pattern, it's all just a variation of those two basic stitches. Stocking stitch is just one row knit, one row purl. Repeat. It comes out smooth on one side (usually the "right" side) and bumpy on the other ("wrong") side. Easy peasy.

Have a look at the Learn to Knit pages at, there are some good explanations with graphics.

Have fun!

Buy Design said...

I don't actually remember learning to knit. I think I was about seven though so I probably just copied my mum and made it up along the way. Therefore I have no real advice to offer other than to just go for it. When I learned to crochet though I started with little projects for the instant gratification and worked my way up from there.
How about toys? Small ones will probably cover lots of different stitches, increases, decreases and sewing up etc. If anything goes wrong you can always invent the one legged, three winged chicken..

Fiona said...

Nikki, if you can do plain knit and purl, then you're 95% of the way there - it's just about how you put them together and your pattern tells you that! The Stich'n'Bitch book is a really good one for a beginner - everything is explained with clear illustrations and there are patterns included that will get you away from just scarves. That yarn looks great - have fun!

sooz said...

Hey maybe we could do a lesson? I have an excellent pattern stash. And I'm off to email you something...

Amanda said...

Told you Bendigo was deadly. Yum yum I think I had some of those colours at some point, don't know if I still have them though they might have got chucked 2 clean outs ago (sacrilege I know) but then again I might find them when I go through the next two cupboards in the sewing room. Everyones comments are right, once you have knit and purl down pat your on your way. My first big project was a fairilse angora rabbit wool cardigan when I was 18 (think it took about 6 years to finish but it is still hanging in my wardrobe) No I haven't worn it as angora rabbit wool is like 3 layers of thermal underwear lol. But I am all for stretching my abilities, why walk when you can run.

Melbourne Vintage said...

I think the Stitch and Bitch book is great too - and for a beginner project I recommend doing a neck warmer/shawl that you can just knit in the round. Get some circular needles, cast on about 80 stitches and keep going knitting round and round until you have a finished neckwarmer! Something like this

And then move on to other more complicated stuff. And don't worry you will get the hang of it in no time!

Gillian aka Silly Gilly said...

Hey Nikki... I'm in the process of making this for my poppet...
I'm a beginner knitter too... Am referring to youtube and ravelry VERY often.
Yes it's from Ravelry but it's very simple.
Good luck. And I agree with the others... The stitch and bitch book is a very good place to start!

Susan L (lily40au) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan L (lily40au) said...

Lots of wonderful suggestions from others and I'll add the suggestion of the Lime Scarf from Ravelry.It's good for beginners ... a beginner friend recently made it and did a great job. This is my copy of the Lime Scarf in purple. I've made it twice recently and I can recommend it.

The pattern is a 10 row repeat, with only 3 rows of lace ... and to make it even simpler two of the rows are identical. The other seven rows are purl which can be knitted without changing the look of the scarf ... a great introduction to knitting a pattern that isn't too difficult and doesn't include the casting on and off to create a garment.

If you want to talk needle size and yarn I'd be happy to help, and you can always bring it to NCB.

Happy knitting.

Gypsy said...

Oh Nikki, I too have just started knitting (after learning the basic knit and purl a few years ago) and I have been trying madly for the last week to follow a pattern to make a scarf! I have unravelled it 4 times so far, but finally I seem to be winning. I just can't put it down, even though it's a struggle. I love your yarns, just keep persisting, and consult the www, a lot!

zofia said...

I am a very basic knitter, absolutely still learning. I have made that top, love it! It is easy one to start with. Just have a look online for some tips about joining in the round.
The circular needles are so easy, nothing to sew up later!
Love to see what you come up with.

Running Thread said...

Can I put in a huge plug for crochet. I've tried to knit but "computer says no"!

So one day, not long ago, I picked up the hook, followed some instructions and figured out how to crochet. I'm still a beginner ... but I've made things! Awesome feeling .... I'll try knitting again but right now I'm hooked on the hook.

Mary said...

First of all, don't worry about comparing yourself to Kate, or to anyone else, for that matter. Some people just have a natural affinity for a technique and as soon as they start, it makes intuitive sense. The rest of us have to learn every step!

Everyone else has given you great advice. If you can cast on and off, knit and purl, then you are home free. Get used to those, and how they work and look on the needle. Down worry about circular and double-pointed yet; you have to walk before you run.

Stocking, or stockinette, stitch is knit all rows on one side, usually the right side, and purl all rows on the other side, usually the wrong side (knit side is smooth with the usual "v" shaped stitches, the purl side has bumpy loops). Garter stitch is knit all rows (both sides look the same, wavy, snake-like loops, hence Garter, like the snake).

Easiest way to think about increase is to think of knitting 2 stitches together into one stitch, making an additional stitch on the row. Decreasing is knitting 2 stitches together, to make one stitch. Usually, you do this on each side of the same row, like when shaping for a sleeve or armhole. Doing it every row would change the size quickly- like in a sleeve cap- or you could do it slowly- like for the sides of a skirt- by increasing or decreasing less often, like every fourth row or every inch (sorry, every 2.5cm).

Playing around with it will help you get comfortable. I will tell you what I make my students do. I make them rip out their work and start again at least 3 times. Don't get married to what you are doing. Yarn rips out and rolls back up really easily. Try thing out, and if you don't like it, rip it out and try again, or try something different.

Enjoy it! Knitting can be calming, but NOT when you are learning to do it!

Kate said...

Wow, that is gorgeous looking yarn!
I know what you mean about it screaming knitting and I think that's what prompted me to learn.
My advice to you is to not let it intimidate you. Just go for it I say. Choose a pattern you like a lot (that one is great for a beginner) and start. When you come to a bit you don't understand ask Mr Google lots of questions, email the designer or ask someone online. Don't expect it to be perfect straight away. Undo it and redo it. Enjoy the process. Leave your perfectionist streak out of it.

Fer said...

Ha! You said you weren't going to join Ravelry!! ;)

It's been a very very long time since I've bought some Bendigo wool, I think you've re-wetted my appetite!

Good luck with the pattern, looks like you have lots of willing helpers so I'll keep my mouth shut. :D

our shabby cottage said...

Oh Nikki, you have turned to the dark side!!!!!

Tania said...

If you haven't already been showered with all the help you can handle, then yell! Or at least you know you can yell in the wee small hours and I'll probably be on the other end. That cap-sleeved pattern is perfect. It was one of the first things that I knit after scarves. Not only that, they seem to be quite versatile. Weirdly one I knit works on the oldest AND the youngest.