I have a confession –I have had knitting envy for years. Yes, although I’ve been crocheting for close to 20 years, I have secretly (and not so secretly) longed to learn how to knit. I love crochet, it is versatile and good for making decorative elements, blankets, toys, and accessories, but if you want to make clothing…well, most of the crocheted clothing I’ve seen looks like it is for hippies rather than hipsters. If my desire to make a sweater I would actually want to wear was to come true, I realized I needed to learn to knit.
And I have tried to learn to knit a few times. There was the sweet little old lady who taught me to cast on, there was a free lesson that got me as far as learning the stockingette stitch, and I even tracked down a copy of knitting’s modern cult classic book Stitchin’ Bitch. But it became rapidly apparent that if I continued in this vein I would never learn to knit. No, what I needed was a class so I could learn with other people.
Last Tuesday was my first knitting class and I like this place’s approach already. Rather than starting us out making a scarf we’re going to make a sweater vest. Okay, not the most stylish item, but I’m told there is an option for putting sleeves on it and I think I could work with a cardigan. No, the nice thing about the project they have us working on is that we will actually learn how to read a pattern, shape clothing to fit, make buttonholes, increase, decrease, and a few other skills I’m forgetting. If I’m going to shell out for a class, then at the end of it I would like to feel I have the skills necessary to tackle easy patterns on my own.
My next big realization was that I had been using the wrong tools in the past when I tried to learn to knit. I figured that it didn’t make sense to spend much money on needles and yarn since I didn’t know if I would even like knitting. So I used acrylic yarn and cheap, straight knitting needles. Bad move.
The yarn shop where I have my class teaches exclusively on circular needles because they are more ergonomic and your finished product looks more professional, without those stretched out stitches that you can get with straight needles. Since I had worked only with straight needles before the circular ones looked strange and complicated, but they really weren’t and I felt like my clumsy little hands had better control with them than with straight needles.
And, at this shop, they prefer students to use natural fibers when they’re learning to knit because wool is easier to work with than acrylic. I was highly skeptical because it seemed like it couldn’t make that much of a difference when you’re just learning, but I was so wrong. Wool really is easier to work with. I don’t know why, it just is.
By the end of the first class my classmates and I were able to cast on, to knit, and to purl. For homework I had to cast on and knit in the garter stitch the first inch of the back panel for my sweater. This is what I have so far. I wonder what we’ll learn in the next class period.