Why did I start knitting? Because my mind was doing back flips from work-related stress that I couldn’t escape and I had a desperate need to feel as if I was accomplishing something concrete while I freaked out.
So I signed up for a knitting class at my neighborhood knitting emporium (now a Starbucks!). I had done some basic sewing, but had zero skills in the hand-to-eye department, so I was a bit wary about my ability to actually tie a series of knots that would end in anything else but tears.
Did I mention that I was desperate? So I purchased my size 7-gauge needles (good for beginners, makes a medium-weight knit like a Shetland sweater) and a ball of worsted wool (again, like a Shetland sweater and REAL easy to see your mistakes on), sat down and prepared to re-learn my left from my right. Surprisingly, it wasn’t so hard. If you can tie a slip knot, you’re on your way. There are two methods to basic knitting. The one I favored is the traditional two-handed technique, where you use your right hand to pass the yarn over the needle. The other — French! typical! — involves winding the yarn around your finger and passing it over your needle from there. Actually the results are identical; it’s only what feels right to you.
By the end of that summer, I had made a number of swatches. The amazingly easy knit/purl jersey stitch (you’re probably wearing it now — it’s like a basic sweater or t-shirt — one flat side, one bumpier side) was a favorite, but under close supervision I was knitting away at more complicated patterns: cables, seeds, the sky’s the limit. In an ambitious moment, I decided to knit my niece a blanket (still unfinished — whoops) in a freaky and complex pattern.
Make your first project small and accomplishable.
The satisfaction of actually completing something is important for continued interest and success.
Find a shop or source for really interesting wool.
It helps if, after you’ve invested numerous hours and frustration in creating an object, you actually want to wear it. (In NYC, great yarns can be found at the Greenmarkets)
Find a laid back shop or friend to walk you through the beginner steps.
Remember this is a task designed to reduce stress, not exacerbate it.
Scarves are really easy and satisfying. There are also some simple hat patterns that can be done in a day or two. Anything that involves a straight line is possible (big bag? shrug?). Remember last winter when every magazine was showing chunky knit hats, scarves, bags and sweaters? Chunky knits up easy — the bigger the needle and wool, the faster it goes. Relax, listen to the radio and use your time to make something for yourself. Handmade doesn’t mean perfect. That’s the point.