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View Full Version : What do you wish you had known from the start? Tips 4 newbie


minnesota_girl
10-14-2006, 12:01 PM
I'm a beginning knitter, and I'd love to have a list of things you long-time knitters have learned along the way. What do you wish you had known when you started that would have helped you avoid knitting disasters/headaches or wasted money/time? What should I look for in yarn/patterns/needles and what should I avoid?

Thanks so much for your advice! :muah:

Sara
10-14-2006, 12:20 PM
I would have bought an interchangeable needle set. I wouldn't have ever bought straight needles.

As far as techniques, I wish that I had known to cast on with two needles held together and then slide one out in order to keep my cast on from being too tight.

Welcome to the club!

Jan in CA
10-14-2006, 12:36 PM
Hmm..have to think about this, but here's one thing I do remember was very helpful. Learn to tell the difference between knit and purl stitches by looking at them.

rebecca
10-14-2006, 12:38 PM
I, too, wish I had known about both interchangeable and addi turbo needles. Of course, now there are the KnitPicks Options interchangeable set! I wish i had known that you can knit with circular needles exclusively, I would have saved a good deal of $ because I bought many straights, good, expensive straights, that I ended up selling on Ebay.

I wish I had known about www.knittingpatterncentral.com and all of the tutorials that are found on the web.

Organization....keep everything organized from day one!

Stretch your hands/fingers before you begin to knit and about every 15-20 minutes. Take breaks during marathon knitting or you will end up with shoulder pain!

kemp
10-14-2006, 12:54 PM
I have to agree with buying an interchangeable set. Also, be sure to relax every couple of minutes...it seemed like in the beginning when I was concentrating so hard I would end up with sore shoulders and hands in a death grip on the needles!

Marie-Louise
10-14-2006, 12:58 PM
I wish I'd used lifelines earlier.

knitqueen
10-14-2006, 01:00 PM
Hmm..have to think about this, but here's one thing I do remember was very helpful. Learn to tell the difference between knit and purl stitches by looking at them.

Oh my gosh, YES...that is my #1 wish. Related to that, I wish someone had told me earlier that a knit stitch on one side produces a purl stitch on the other side, and vice versa. Things made a lot more sense once I realized that and it wasn't, like, HUH? anymore when a pattern told me to knit the knits and purl the purls.

Mo0nAngel
10-14-2006, 01:05 PM
I, too, wish I had known about both interchangeable and addi turbo needles. Of course, now there are the KnitPicks Options interchangeable set! I wish i had known that you can knit with circular needles exclusively, I would have saved a good deal of $ because I bought many straights, good, expensive straights, that I ended up selling on Ebay.

I wish I had known about www.knittingpatterncentral.com and all of the tutorials that are found on the web.

Organization....keep everything organized from day one!

Stretch your hands/fingers before you begin to knit and about every 15-20 minutes. Take breaks during marathon knitting or you will end up with shoulder pain!
omgoshh thank youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug:
Had I known that earlier!!! my hands and shoulder wouldn't hurt so bad!! :rofl:

Denise in Michigan
10-14-2006, 01:29 PM
Acquiring skill takes practice... :wink:

aineepooh1
10-14-2006, 01:35 PM
I wish I would have ignored the rule of thumb that Beginning knitters should start on sz 8 needles and with worsted weight yarn. :wall: :wall: I have been kintting approx 4 mos now and I have learned FOR ME that knitting on larger needles (sz 11,13, 15) and chunky/ or superchunky yarn (sz/wts 5/6 ) ARE SO MUCH EASIER TO WORK WITH AS A BEGINNER!! I know MANY people prefer sz 8 and smaller but I was FOREVER trying to figure which bump went where, what loop went in the front and what went in the back) When I tried LARGE needles and LARGE yarn I coulld SEE what I was looking at/for so much easier .. especially as a new knitter when everything looked like such a complicated mess!!! :?? :??
also my teacher at Michaels taught me a trick that helped to knit with the working yarn and not the other yarn. I was taught the long tail CO method and so I always had an excess on the left side needle. When I just pinned up or tied the extra yarn loosely in a knot I QUIT knitting with the wrong yarn and started knitting with the working yarn (yarn from the ball).. I hope this didn't confuse you too much. .. If it did just remember TRY LARGER NEEDLES AND YARNS AS A BEGINNER... IT WAS SOOOOOOO MUCH EASIER TO START WITH!!!

janelanespaintbrush
10-14-2006, 01:42 PM
The lady at the LYS recommended worsted weight yarn and size 7 susan bates straight needles to start so that's what I ended up with. When I found KH (googled for knitting videos because the book I was using was bogus), I saw Amy's comment about how size 10 1/2 needles are ideal for a beginner and how it's preferable not to go below 8. Well, was she right! The yarn I first bought was also mainly acrylic, and not very stretchy. Once I got some larger Denise Interchangeables (nice because they weren't as slippery as metal), and some decent wool yarn, I had a much easier time knitting.

To sum up:

Avoid metal needles to start -- too slippery
Use at least size 10 1/2 or larger needles
Find a nice stretchy yarn (like wool) -- it is much for forgiving than cotton or acrylic.
Avoid novelty yarns and dark colors.
Make use of Amy's videos on KH. They are the best!
Come to this forum when you have questions. Everybody's really nice!

DreamWeaver
10-14-2006, 02:03 PM
I think the best thing to learn in the beginning is gauge. Mostly just know that if you use a chunky weight yarn and size 15US needles, your scarf will be much bigger (unless the pattern calls for chunky weight yarn and size 15 needles. In that case, use the latter). Don't worry about stiches per inch or anything, just use the same needle size and yarn weight as in the pattern. They know what they're talking about.

And HAVE FUN!!!!! That's the most important part. :happydance:

psammeadred
10-14-2006, 02:37 PM
Don't buy super-cheap circular needles! They're completely unusable.

Any pattern/garment is possible if you take time to read and understand it!

Knitting stuff you really need: needle gauge (more than one if you take your knitting with you), tape measurer, tip protectors (although you can use the erasers that you put on pencils)

Knitting stuff you don't really need, but people will try to sell you:
Stitch holders - size 10 mercerized cotton works GREAT for these
Stitch markers - the plastic coil ones will melt in your car, and paper clips or loops of yarn will do the job just fine

Cheap yarn is not necessarily bad, but it's not necessarily good either. Yarndex.com is your best friend.

Novelty yarns may look pretty in the skein, but unless you like lots of monotonous stockinette stitch, they're not much fun to knit with, because their fuzziness can obscure almost all stitches.

Oh, and knitting needles look cool in a tall glass vase from the thrift store!

dustinac
10-14-2006, 04:01 PM
:happydance: gotta go with the interchangeable set and no straight needles... and learning how each stitch works together... once I realized how my sts worked together I could then fix my errors without having to frog everything... not to be afraid of trying a new techinque cause its labeled advanced knitter, try it all... also when I first started I would rip it out and then start back and rip it out... finally brendajos told me to stop ripping it out and just continue with it... this way I could see my improvements...

newamy
10-14-2006, 04:33 PM
I wish I had known not to buy Lion Brand Homespun. Ick.

The interchable set suggestion is good, but they are expenisve and it seems daunting to purchase something so expensive when you are only a beginner, but if you really think you'll stick with it the earlier you purchase it the better.
But in any case, always buy circular needles. I only have a few straights and don't know what to do with them- though one set is bamboo and I just like the look and feel of them, but don't use them except for when I first got them.

On the Knittinghelp web site it's helpfult to read the how to forums even if you don't understand what they are talking about. Several times I have done projects where I need to do something and I think "Oh yeah, I've read about that", so either I remember the gist and understand the instruction or I know where to look for the answer.

Have fun and good luck.

Chel
10-14-2006, 06:01 PM
I have only been knitting since January, but here are the things I have learned that I truely value.

1. Stockinette stitch curls-if you plan to use it for a scarf, plan to add a border.

2. Put tape over the mouth of that little voice that says a pattern is too complicated for you. If you can read, you can follow instructions. As Ingrid says, "Trust the pattern."

3. Don't be afraid to ask questions. :heart: KH :heart: :muah:

4. Cheap chenille yarn is NEVER worth the price you pay-even if its free. One washing and POOF! You are left with a pile of shaggy string and lint on everything else you own.

5. Use lifelines. They call them lifelines for a reason. Many a project could have been saved by just a few inches of scrap material. Which leads me to # 6...

6. The best lifeline is fishing line. Easy to thread, doesn't slide out, doesn't affect stitch size, pulls out effortlessly.

geekgolightly
10-14-2006, 06:53 PM
i also never use my straights anymore. if you dont want to plunk down 50-60 bucks for a set, buy once circular needle (preferrably an addi turbo or a knitpicks options) size 10 1/2 24". I use the 24" the most it seems. able to knit most things on it and not too much wire.

if youre freaked out by the circular, (and i was as well) ask someone to teach you how to use it. this way you dont waste money on straights.

and when trying to knit a scarf, be sure to check that last stich at the end of the row to make sure that the stitch hasnt fallen towards you and youre actually about to knit into the back of the stitch (there is one stitch in the front and two in back) my first scarf ended up wavy because i kept adding stitches and had no clue WHY. i finally figured it out after like three weeks of being totally unsuccessful at knitting. i did teach myself the k2tog that way though; i thought i made up k2tog by myself and was surprised that every knitter on the planet knew about it. :roflhard:

Liliyarn
10-14-2006, 08:13 PM
I taught myself knitting, so there are a lot of things I could list. However, here's my two cents:

Careful which interchangable set you buy. I have needle master and *hate* it.
Pricey yarn is worth it usually in the long run. Although there are some that still pill. Yarndex is a friend. So are yarn reviews.
Take breaks and stretch. It is a lifesaver.
Get a good how to for help. This site is great!
Find a knit group to join in person. It's great meeting people with the same interests.

MAmaDawn
10-14-2006, 09:16 PM
My #1 thing is that you should go with what you like the best, for instance I love all of Lion Brands yarns, I know many other don't, but I do so that's what I buy.

I also love my interchangable set It's Needle master, but I had a bunch of Boye's metal needles before that so I knew I liked it. I tried others becasue so many people said they were great but for me it was just a waste. So go with what you like.

I agree with the life lines they are the best thing you can do

And learning what a knit stitch and a purl stitch do, this helps also when you pick up work that you havn't done in a while and figure out where you are in it.

Learn how to knit backwards (unknitting) because you can fix a lot of problems that way

Little hair ties make GREAT stitch markers and if you have daughters then when you are out and need them you have them (You do take you knitting EVERYWHERE right :wink: )

And last but not least I also agree with reading the how to questions and answers. You will learn a lot that way.

carollovesyarn
10-14-2006, 09:33 PM
Try out different types of needles and sets before buying, if possible. I like my Denises, but I would have only bought Addi Turbos and bamboo in different sizes if I had my choice. Now, I would probably just buy KnitPicks Options and bamboo needles. Oh, and I like some of my straights. I got most of them at garage/estate sales and I find them useful for some things and they are handy to leave projects on them.

Try out different yarn fibers and different brands before deciding you hate all cottons, or you'll never use acrylic. Not all wools are equal either, nor are all hemp yarns.

Some lys owners are helpful and will steer you toward the right yarn/pattern. Others will rip you off (ask me how I know). Get to know yours. They can be a lifesaver if honest.

Check out pattern books before buying if possible - otherwise you'll be trading/selling them soon. There are alot of free patterns online and some are just as good if not better.

Don't ever hesitate to ask for help!

Cristy
10-14-2006, 10:17 PM
learn to knit to your dropped stitch and then correct it using a crochet hook instead of frogging back down!

Never use straights (even though I have to admit that using them looks cooler...it's amazing how many people think you're doing something insanely hard or unusual when you use a circ...)

don't be afraid to work on more than one pattern at once...it keeps you from getting bored and burnt out.

HamburgKnitter
10-15-2006, 07:33 AM
What an excellent thread! :cheering: Thanks for asking such a good question.

miccisue
10-15-2006, 08:48 AM
I wish I had been taught how to hold and "throw" the yarn properly. My method works, but it's not nearly as speedy as I'd like it to be. Projects seem to take me forever!!! I wish I'd been taught how to correct mistakes....I still struggle with that, figuring out which part of the stitch to slip back on the needle to go back a stitich or two. :doh:

Stitch
10-15-2006, 09:36 AM
i taught myself to knit using this website, and i so wish i had taught myself to knit continental first, rather than english. i cant for the life of me knit continental now....im still trying, but i think if you learn how to do that FIRST, it'll help so much in the long run.

trust the pattern!!! especially as a newbie...sometimes i look at a pattern and think..."ok that HAS to be wrong" but DONT make changes unless you're experienced!
I've messed things up bc I thought it just had to be wrong...turns out...I was wrong! :roflhard:

DONT buy a bunch of cheap needles and a bunch of cheap yarn. test out different types of yarn/needles...DO NOT stock up on red heart just bc its cheap!!! LOL

If you're confused about something....ASK.....dont just try to figure it out! lol
you'll save a lot of time!

buy yarn online....its a lot cheaper, but you still get quality...


and ditto on the lion brand homespun...never buy it...its pure evil in the form of yarn

10-15-2006, 11:25 AM
2. Put tape over the mouth of that little voice that says a pattern is too complicated for you. If you can read, you can follow instructions.

This is an excellent tip!! :thumbsup:

cgd
10-15-2006, 03:18 PM
I'm a newb too, only having done this for a few months, but I have to agree with the circular needle praise. I don't have interchangeables yet, but maybe someday. I love bamboo circulars and use them almost exclusively. Unlike some others, I enjoy acrylic and cotton. Be willing to experiment with different types of needles and yarns to see what works for you. If your SO asks, the answer is NO, you can't have too much yarn or too many needles. There simply is no such thing!

jodstr2
10-15-2006, 03:26 PM
1) relax and take frequent breaks.
2) tension will be very erratic for a while, just be patient until you find your groove.
3) start with plastic needles and something heavier than worsted weight.
4) practice purling as soon as you are comfortable with knitting.
5) don't freak out out too hard about patterns, as most of them are full of variations on the basic knit and basic purl stitch, and if you follow them line-by-line slowly, you will do okay.
6) be adventurous, sometimes you need to jump in a try something that you don't think you can do, as you will surprise and amaze yourself with your ability.
7) good lighting and a comfortable place to sit are key.

Old Knitter
10-15-2006, 03:31 PM
I wish I had learned to always slip the first stitch and knit the last one....no matter what pattern you're doing. I makes miraculous edges.

Freyja
10-15-2006, 03:54 PM
Make color changes nice and smooth looking.
When changing colors in a Pearl section or K2,P2; knit the whole row of the new color, then go back to the pattern in the next row.

Stitch
10-15-2006, 03:55 PM
oh, and i completely forgot....

knit a lot looser than you think you should!!!!

as a new knitter, i ALWAYS tugged at the yarn to tighten it...it just seems like something you should do...but dont!!!

Limey
10-15-2006, 05:31 PM
Hi and Welcome

I'll stick my two pennyworth in and disagree totally about the straights -

I must admit I do have (what seems to some) a weird way of knitting - I keep my right needle under my arm - its an amazing way of keeping wrist movement to a minimum and easing strain.

I wish I could find a video of this way of knitting because it must sound peculiar - I've always knitted English but can now do Conti - still using a long 14" needle and still holding the needle the same way.

Best tip? - for me it was learning to TINK - (undo your last stitches if you've just made a goof-up) - I like to know how to get out of trouble as fast as I got in it.

But whatever, enjoy yourself!

All Best Wishes

Limey

knitqueen
10-15-2006, 06:11 PM
I haven't read all the responses so this may have been mentioned already, but I wish someone had told me earlier about mattress stitch for seaming. My first few projects were whip-stitched together and it was NOT pretty. :teehee:

cgd
10-15-2006, 08:16 PM
I'd like to add something I missed before. Don't expect to be perfect after a few weeks. I tend to be too hard on myself, and I got discouraged early on, but thankfully didn't let that stop me. I hung with it and have gotten better, even produced some things others have admired (simple stuff like scarves, caps, and dishcloths, but hey, I've only been at it a few months).

Hildegard_von_Knittin
10-15-2006, 08:57 PM
I wish I had learned about KH sooner! It would have saved me a year of aggrivation.

I wish I had recognized the importance of gauge and learned how to properly make a gauge swatch from the very very beginning.

I wish that I had spent HALF of the money I spent on crappy yarn, or one random balls of yarn without any clear project in mind for it... I could have spent that money on yarn for 2 or 3 projects instead. Now I just have unused stash.

pezjunkie2001
10-15-2006, 09:15 PM
i write repeating patterns like fans and stuff with one row on each index cards and loop a swatch of the pattern threw a hole in the top of the index cards. so i can turn over the index card after i finshed a row. this keeps me from reading the wrong line on the pattern print out, and the swatch helps me remeber what the pattern is supposed to look like. :teehee:

gimmesanity
10-16-2006, 12:15 AM
1) Knit with yarn that you enjoy.

2) If you're not enjoying your project, rip it and find something else that calls your name. Knitting should be for fun, not a chore.

3) Learn to read a chart. It's one of those things that looks way more complicated than it really is, but it makes things so much easier.

4) Don't be daunted by patterns that look too complicated. Try them - if you feel like you may be over your head, then wait a little while, work on a few more things, then go back to it. Chances are, though, that you'll find even the more complicated looking patterns are nothing more than loops, loops, and more loops.

Debbie
10-16-2006, 04:38 AM
Enjoy the PROCESS !

janelanespaintbrush
10-16-2006, 06:02 AM
i write repeating patterns like fans and stuff with one row on each index cards and loop a swatch of the pattern threw a hole in the top of the index cards. so i can turn over the index card after i finshed a row. this keeps me from reading the wrong line on the pattern print out, and the swatch helps me remeber what the pattern is supposed to look like. :teehee:

That's a great idea! Thanks for sharing it. :thumbsup:

minnesota_girl
10-16-2006, 08:49 AM
Wow, thank you so much for all the great tips. Keep them coming! :)

lindakh
10-16-2006, 09:33 AM
I wish I had knit more things "just to frog" in the beginning. I spent so much time concentrating on getting everything "perfect" in the beginning that I didn't enjoy the process as much as I should have. After I got over my fear of mistakes (and realized that the world won't end if I have to frog several hours worth of work) I enjoyed knitting a lot more.

Also - I second the reccommendation for circulars. I knit an entire sweater on straights and ended up with sore wrists and an achy shoulder for weeks. All of my pain has stopped since I moved to circs.

mwedzi
10-16-2006, 11:06 AM
What great advice throughout! I agree with almost all of it, so I guess no need to repeat it. Or at least I'll just repeat the one that first came to mind when I saw the title of the thread, and that is to spend less time being afraid of unfamiliar techniques. Just go ahead and try. And if it doesn't work out in the first 2 minutes you're trying it, have a little patience.

But learning how to fix mistakes is really important, too. I actually tried to learn to knit shortly after I learned to crochet some 8 or 9 years ago, but after being unable to fix mistakes gave it up quickly. Go ahead and drop a stitch on purpose, then knit a couple of rows more and learn how to pick that dropped stitch back up. Once you know you can fix mistakes, you'll be a lot less anxious of making them.

slgn
10-16-2006, 11:58 AM
well others already mentioned the two things I wish I had known but it's worth repeating:

consider buying an interchangable set -
I scoffed at the cost, thinking I would never need all those sizes/needle options. Now that I have been knitting for some time I found I have bought just about every circular and/or douple-pointed needle (dpn) set out there. I would've saved myself quite a bit of money and gained some organization with an interchangable set. Now buying one just seems redundant but I'm still considering it.

use a life line -
thread an alternate cord or yarn through a row as a marker/stitch holder so that if you have to rip out your work you can go back to a certain place rather than undoing the whole piece. One: this is brillant and will save your sanity. Two: I wish I used it more often for even 'simple' projects and not just lace for which it is heralded.

1to1
10-16-2006, 02:51 PM
Make a copy of the pattern--it keeps your book/magazine/etc looking nice, plus you can write on it.

I slide a magnetic board with the copied pattern on it http://yarn.com/webs/0/0/0/0-1064-1088-1445/0/0/2453/ inside a sleeve and just move the ruler down the pattern on the outside of the sleeve. http://www.staples.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/StaplesProductDisplay?prodCatType=1&storeId=10001&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&productId=19768&cmArea=SEARCH

Post-It Notes are your friend!!

Stiney
10-16-2006, 02:53 PM
For complicated rows and repeats, I write out (at least once) exactly what I'll be doing, and account for all stitches BEFORE starting the row. That way, when I get confused halfway, I have something to check against.

Anne
10-16-2006, 03:15 PM
I have thought about this question for along time before it was posted.

1. I would not take beginner lessons with a group as i found most of the gals in my class were way ahead of me.

2. I did not need to purchase everything the LYS owner showed me, She saw me walking in the door and soon discovered i bought anything she suggested.

3. Did not need to spend $25.00 for one skein of yarn to knit my first scarf.

4. Wish i was told what the word gauge meant.

:hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: