Hi and welcome! I second joining Ravelry, a social network for crafters that allows you to find and organize everything from yarns and free patterns to people and interest groups. It could be overwhelming at first but inspiring nonetheless.
As I was told, there are about 50 million knitters in the North America, so there must be someone your age
And you could search for local knitting groups too.
And it's wonderful that you have an experienced knitter by your side. She would be the type who will be thrilled with a knitted gift and find it very special indeed.