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Wellbeing - Knitting


Section 1a Intro.
1a) These notes are for those completely new to knitting.
b) Section 1b is a few words about needles, yarn and tension.
c) That is followed by 7 YouTube clips I've selected covering the minimum you need to know to start.
d) And a list of a useful things to have to hand.

2. Read the notes and watch the clips first, just to get an overview.

3. Get yarn, needles and the other bits and pieces suggested in Section 1d) towards the end of these notes.

4. Watch the clips repeatedly and follow the instructions.
a) Cast on 20 stitches for your first samples.  TIP  Using a circular needle, cast on a few batches of 20 stitches (cut the yarn leaving a tail after each batch), or ask a knitter to do that for you
b) Be willing to ditch first attempts when things start to go wrong. Just pull the stitches off the needles and cut the work away from the ball. Start the exercise again. Remember it is all good practice and remember what Mary Smith says below, "DON’T BE AFRAID TO MESS AROUND AND / OR MESS UP - IT’S ONLY PLAY!"
c) Once you can knit rows comfortable work on getting your tensiong even. This can only be done by practicing knitting. See the Mary Smith quote and the link under 'Tension'. Make tension squares using different sized needles and different yarns.

Section 1b  Needles, Yarn & Tension
i) NEEDLES.    Start with English size needles 9, 8,7 & 6. (3.75mm, 4mm, 4.5mm & 5mm). Keep them in same size pairs. Don't get long needles as they will make learning harder. You only do short rows till you get the knack. Make sure you have points that are good enough to lift the yarn, but not so pointed they irritate your skin.

Good places to get knitting needles used are charity shops: they are kept under the counter and you need to ask for them. If you find any circular needles (two points connected by a flexible tube) you might buy them too. I like circular needles as they are compact to hold and you don't drop a needle as you learn to manipulate needles, yarn and stitches.

Knitting Needle Size Guide: English to Metric to US Conversion Table

Nowadays there is a huge variety of yarns available in all hues, thicknesses and fibres. It is important to use yarns which are suitable for the garment you are making. But you will explore more about that once you are knitting.

Initially you need a couple of balls of yarn in different colours while you learn to knit. Best to use light colours so you can see the stitches and how they loop together more easily. Start with a medium thickness, smooth, but not slippery, yarn, similar to the yarns used in the YouTube clips mentioned below.

If you're able to visit a local wool shop you will can get advice on good yarns for a beginner and pick up a couple of balls from their clearance bin. Also browse the yarn section on Deramores' website. See the variety of yarns available and feast your eyes on the colours. Be inspired.

It is good to get into the habit of reading the labels round balls of yarn. They give helpful information. Below is the information I copied off one label:-

Brand  Hayfield 
Blend 100% Acrylic
Yarn weight DK
Length 280m 
Ball weight 100g
Tension 22 stitches, 28 rows to 10cm on 4mm needles
Needle size 4.00mm
Care instructions Machine Wash - Wool Wash - 40°C Dry Clean
P Bar - Can Tumble Dry - Low Heat Dry, Flat Cool Iron

* [Tension in knitting is vital to achieve good results.]

It is important to use yarns which are suitable for the garment you are making. But you'll think more about that once you have mastered the basics of looping yarn into even, structured, knitted fabric. And to do that well you'll have control of the yarn and get an even "tension".

So what is tension? It is the number of rows and number of stitches to a given measurement. When I learnt to knit it was the number of rows and stitches to the inch. Now, as you will have read from the above label it is the number of rows and stitches to 10cm.

Many new knitters think knitting a tension square before getting stuck into a new project is a boring waste of time. Not so. The tension square is key to getting it right.

To quote Mary Smith, "Think of swatching as PLAYING WITH YARN. It can give you inspiration, experience, knowledge, ideas. A beautiful yarn that you fall in love with in the ball may be no fun at all to actually knit with - and you’ll never know until you start knitting with it. It’s fun to buy single skeins of yarns just to play with - no finished item that needs to be completed. Try different needle sizes, different stitch patterns (Barbara Walker’s four books of stitch patterns are highly recommended), different color combinations, different yarns knitted together as one strand. Put hangtags on your swatches with yarn name(s), date, needle size(s) and stitch pattern(s) and save them for future reference. If it bothers you to have a lot of knitted squares or rectangles floating around doing nothing, sew them together into a blanket. DON’T BE AFRAID TO MESS AROUND AND / OR MESS UP - IT’S ONLY PLAY!"
(From Understanding Knitting Gauge: Some FAQs and Facts, Advice and Opinions by Mary Smith. earthguild.com)
The rest of Mary Smith's article is worth reading. (Swatch = tension square. Gauge = tension.)

Mount your swatches on card, labelled with the information Mary Smith suggests and file in your ring binder.

Once you are knitting, use your ring binder to keep notes about the items you knit. Keep knitting, labelling and filing those tension squares. The ring binder becomes a personal resource.

Section 1c) 7 YouTube clips covering the minimum you need to know to start knitting

Holding the needles and yarn        

Tensioning the yarn     

How to cast on    

How to do knit stitches

How to do purl stitches        

How to knit stocking stitch       

How to cast off  

Section1d) Useful items to have

a) medium size crochet hook - useful for picking up dropped stitches

b) cable needle - short double pointed needle, useful for holding dropped stitches. (Later will be used when knitting cables; advanced stuff)

c) darning needle, a sewing needle with a blunt point and eye big enough through which to thread the knitting yarn.

d) small pair of pointed embroidery scissors. (Do not use for cutting paper as will get blunt)

e) tape measure

f) small bag to hold a)-e)

g) notebook and pen, ring binder and card (cornflake box thickness) to mount samples you make. [Don't groan, it pays dividends and is worth the effort]

h) project bag to keep all the above in.