8 things nobody told me when I started knitting (and I’m glad!)

8 things nobody told me

This post could also be called “do what you want!” because I realized my point is that you should try different things, when you want to try them, and nobody should tell you there’s only one way to knit. (And if they do, don’t listen! Unless they’re telling you about twisted stitches. Then you listen, because having lots of twisted stitches can change the outcome of your project. Then after you have listened, YOU decide how you want your stitches. **)

Only use knit stitches

There’s only the two basic stitches anyway, but personally I don’t like the look of garter stitch (knit every row).  If someone told me I have to knit miles of garter stitch in order to learn to knit I probably wouldn’t have. Certainly it is a good way to start.  Purling is a bit more awkward than knitting.  But once you get the hang of it, throw in some purling for variety! (Or don’t!)

Make a scarf to start with

I have now made four scarves in the last 25 years.  The first one was double knit with a complex photographic pattern.  A plain old garter stitch scarf? Even a plain stockinette one?  Never.  Granted, I knit a lot faster now, so it wouldn’t be as painfully mindless as at the beginning, but I think a scarf is too much to tell a beginner to do (unless, of course, that’s what they want to do).

Use only wool from a yarn store

I just read this one recently.  I don’t get it.  It may be there was a time this would make sense, but the yarn manufacturers have put a lot of work into making nicer synthetic yarns in all kinds of textures and sizes.  Don’t get me wrong.  I would love to use $30 skeins of yarn.  But if you’re just starting out and don’t even know if you want to knit, wouldn’t a nice soft $4 skein of acrylic do? And does it matter where it comes from? (Of course, if you want the advice of the yarn store employees or owners, it’s only proper to buy things from them!)

Don’t tie knots

I understand the logic.  But the first time you attach a new yarn and you suddenly have to deal with making sure the tail doesn’t pull out while also making a decent stitch, and then knitting or purling it when you come to it again and making sure the tail still doesn’t pull out AND the stitch you’re knitting into isn’t ridiculously large/loose is difficult.  Tie a knot please.  Make it tight enough to hold, but leave it loose enough to undo later to weave in the ends.  (Or just tie a knot and weave in the ends.) If you want more options for adding a new ball of yarn, 6 ways to join in a new ball of yarn over at loveknitting.com might interest you!

You have to knit continental (or English, or [insert style here])

I was taught a particular way, because that’s the way my teacher was taught.  I stick with it because it works for me. I have modified my technique since I first learned and recently found out what I do is called flicking, a modification of English style that I find to be pretty fast.  It’s best to try the different knitting styles and find the one that suits you. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong.

You have to hold the yarn this way

Nobody told me how to hold and tension the yarn, at all, so I made up my own way.  It works for me.  I have tried other ways people show and I just get frustrated.  Certainly, learning a tensioning method (or more than one even) at the beginning is good.  But this is like knitting style; it’s not one size fits all.

[Insert technique] is hard

This is not to say that I don’t think any techniques are hard.  I won’t say what I do think is hard, because I’ve heard of people who didn’t try certain things for years because they had heard that and were afraid of it!

Several years ago I learned to knit with double pointed needles by making half-finger type fingerless gloves as a Christmas gift. The pattern started at the fingers. That was hard. Since then I’ve learned that you don’t have to jump straight into a project with a new stitch type or technique. Now I often swatch just to try techniques or stitch patterns, so you can do this just to try a new thing, or to practice the new techniques in a pattern you want to knit.

This method or technique is the only way to do it

For example, I’ve heard that magic loop is the best way to knit in the round.  Guess what?  I get ladders when I try to magic loop.  I don’t with DPNs.  So, I would say that DPNs are the best way to knit in the round.  Is that true?  Yes.  For me.  For other people, magic loop.  For some other people, two circular needles. And still another group prefers one circular needle.

Never mind that this statement can’t be 100% true because knitters are still inventing or discovering methods for knitting all kinds of things.


So, now you know. Try everything and go with the things that work best for you. You will end up a much happier knitter!


**Speaking of twisted stitches: I just discovered about four days ago that I have consistently been twisting my knit stitches for years!  The difference between a normal knit stitch and a twisted one is very subtle.  Fortunately it only took a couple of rows of knitting to correct my wrapping technique.

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