I was asked recently by a beginning knitter if I had any advice when it came to learning the craft and art of knitting. What was funny, was seeing how their face twisted into inquisitive when I was mentioning things that I don’t think they considered, nor had seen in pamphlets. Because I treat knitting as a more metaphysical accomplishment, my concepts on ideas for the novice knitter are a shade different than what you might generally hear.
1. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. There are some knitters out there that will smack you down for not knowing every stitch or technique there is. Smile, remind yourself they were once beginners, too, and carry on with your path. But always smile 🙂 You are learning!
2. Scarves are amazing, but go big when you first learn. Scarves can be a great way to learn basic stockinette and garter stitches, but after a while, I think you get stagnant. You can get easily bored. Go big! Think of a sweater, or socks, anything that will constantly keep you on your toes and learning new things every time you pick up your work. You’ll be surprised at how much you retain, and how much you learn so fast if your brain is open and looking for the next technique needed to finish your first prized piece.
3. Learn to listen to yarn. Go to your local yarn store, pick up hanks and skeins and FEEL them, and listen to how you react to them. A relationship with yarn is no different than it is with people. Some yarn you are immediately attracted to. They feel good, they look right….but, holding it for a while can tell you something different. It can be difficult, demanding, and hard to work with. Looks aren’t everything. Listen to your yarn, see if you agree with each other.
4. On the same hand, don’t dismiss yarn. Just because it is acrylic doesn’t mean it’s bad. Acrylic has an important place in projects. It can be washable and puke friendly (as I like to call it, for the baby’s sake), and can feel quite comfortable. Don’t hesitate to go make a blanket with acrylic. It actually makes more sense. And don’t hesitate to treat yourself to some really good cashmere or alpaca if you have extra cash. Every yarn (like people) have a place in this craft. Don’t dismiss something because it wasn’t made “organically” or isn’t made of “natural fibers.”
5. Learn to be patient with yourself. You will make mistakes. Mistakes are one of the best lessons learned in life. You learn what works, what doesn’t. You learn. So as you work up some of your first pieces, you’ll pull them apart realizing how badly you screwed things up. That’s life, isn’t it? You get something wrong, you try again. You don’t toss the whole thing in the trash and say, “Screw it!” Nope! You see where you went wrong, you learn from it, and you correct it, and begin again.
6. Tithe with your knitting. Your first desire is to knit yourself something. The minute you get the hang of it and get a feel for those needles, your mind leaps instinctively to knitting gifts for others. AND THERE IS A REASON FOR THAT! Knitting is a craft of giving. Always will be. Every time you knit a stitch, you’re putting into life, into reality, a moment of kindness. Whether its a blanket, or a scarf, or socks, you are putting into motion the art of giving. Someone will receive your work. So, as you work up things for yourself, and things for others, be sure to be generous with your new craft. Knit something up for charity sometime, knit up kindness for those in need.
7. Don’t be a knit snob. As the first piece of advice told you not to be intimidating, once you get a handle on things, don’t boast about it, don’t claim yourself a higher degree on a knitting scale. Be proud, but not a braggart. Offer help and advice for anyone struggling. Keep the community close. Anyone who attempts to learn this craft already has a particular gift of giving that should be cultivated and nourished, not dismissed. And no matter how much you learn, there is always MORE to learn.
8. Never knit angry. Your emotions bleed into your work. No matter what is happening in your life, you’ll see it in your gauge, in your stitches. Things going bad? Step back, breathe, pick up those needles and remember, you knit to give of yourself…and the last thing you want is your work to hold all of your bad energy. Listen to music that makes you want to dance, or a show that makes you laugh. But, never knit angry.
9. Hear your thoughts. Knitting can be a moment of meditation. Hear yourself, listen to yourself. It can be a great place of quiet in your mind and appreciate that. Hear closely to the whispers that pop into your head while you knit. You’ll learn so much about yourself.
10. Enjoy yourself. Don’t take this knitting world too seriously. And people who do are probably not as impressive as they appear to be. The action of knitting can be incredibly enjoyable, watching your pieces come to life in the form of a sweater, or a teddy bear! But, the better part comes from finishing it up…and handing it over. You are going to have great moments knitting. You’ll love seeing it all come to fruition, but I promise you, nothing will give you greater joy than watching the smile on the face of the recipient of what you made. Your life, your love, your giving will all be rewarded by that one smile on their face, and it will be beautifully addictive. As a knitter, your great reward is giving. Enjoy that idea while you’re knitting! It should make you smile and knit more!
Remember that when you start to cast on, you’ve already tapped into a better part of who you are, a more giving part, a more connected part of the world and it’s crazy people. And your finished product is your moment of love shown in form.
By all means, share this bit of advice from one old knitter to a new one. This is one of the best communities you could ever be part of.
Now, go cast on!