My Girl Scout troop taught me to knit when I was in fifth grade and emphasized various things to consider before knitting. At the time, I didn’t know knitting would become one of my favorite and most stress-relieving hobbies; yet, today I just curl up under a blanket, turn on a Cary Grant film and start knitting. The products at the end may be well-worth the time and energy that goes into preparing them, but before you set out making that afghan, check out these things to consider before knitting!
1. Circular or Straight Needles
Things to consider before knitting include the needles used; whether it’s a circular or straight pair, and how they may facilitate knitting a work. Circular knitting needles are made of a pair of straight needles attached by a thin, translucent cable whereas straight needles are not connected. The benefits of circular needles are that they allow you to knit in circles which can be helpful while knitting a hat or sleeve. I like circular needles even if I am not knitting in a sphere because the wire between the two needles holds stitches in larger works, for example the 150 stitches I am currently knitting for my roommate’s blanket. Straight needles work well for scarves where there are a limited number of stitches, though you run the risk of losing one needle.
2. Needle Size
The size of the needle you use to knit your friend’s’ gifts are very important. Smaller size needles are used for fine yarn to help make a more detailed piece. If you use a thicker yarn on smaller needles, your baby hat may look more appropriate for an adult. It’s helpful to take this into consideration because the thickness of the needle establishes how much yarn will be needed for a work, for example a blanket, and if you want a smaller knit to the blanket than it will require much more yarn. Online resources or in-store help can direct you to the right needle size to make your piece perfect.
3. Yarn Thickness and Amount
Once you have decided which needle size to use, it’s time to look at the yarn. The thicker the yarn, the more space it takes up. If you are knitting a scarf with a thicker yarn, it will require less spools than a medium to small size one. But thicker yarns aren’t always the best fit. Blankets knit with thick, spaced-out yarn can leave gaps between stitches that you may not want there. Labels on yarn and Internet directions can help you determine how far your spool will take you, so do your research before hitting the store.
Knitting is not for the impatient. It requires dedication in the case of large works such as a sweater or blanket, patience in case you drop a stitch and need to pick it back up, and perseverance in case it takes longer than you anticipated to finish your work. Gauging time can be difficult because it varies based on the thickness of the yarn, the speed in which you knit, and the length of the piece. If you are looking to make a Christmas gift for a friend and don’t have time to focus on knitting a larger piece, try knitting something smaller such as a hat, scarf, or mittens! These alternatives are thoughtful, quick to make, and useful.
When I look at the various patterns of knitting out there from diamonds to multicolored to embroidered with pictures of trees, I am amazed. The different stitches that develop these qualities can be researched either through Google where you will find photos of each step attached to the written directions or through Youtube where video tutorials will guide you through each movement. It may seem scary to explore patterns when you are used to knitting straight rows. But even by switching yarn colors and creating a color scheme you may just find yourself with the Irish flag before you know it.
If you run into problems, it’s important to know where or who to turn to for help. Ask friends who knit to get their opinions but don’t be disheartened if they can only tell you so much. You can even ask around to find out if neighbors or mutual friends could help. Employees at yarn and knitting supply stores may be able to assist you. Even more, there are various websites dedicated to knitting that may have the answer that you’re looking for. No matter what knot you find in your yarn, there are many places to turn in times of need.
Knitting is a fun and creative way to stay social. Knitting clubs can be found on college campuses or in the community. It’s a great way to meet people, swap knitting advice, and connect with your peers. Also, it’s a hobby that can travel with you. If you go to a friend’s house to watch a movie, bring along your knitting and the two of you can knit and watch for hours. Or, it is a smart way to spend time on long car-rides.
To me, there is nothing more satisfying to the crafty facet of myself than completing a blanket, hat or scarf. I’m currently knitting a black, teal and purple blanket for my roommate. What are you knitting?