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Knitting 101

By Christine Beals

When some people think of knitting they picture little old grandmas slowly passing the hours away, but not anymore. Knitting is a wonderful hobby that can provide anyone with a plethora of pleasure and relaxation – not to mention adorable blankets, scarves, hats, clothing and more! You can learn to create handmade knits for yourself and for all the people you love with just a little practice and patience. When you give a lovingly knit gift, part of you goes into it, which in turn creates a one of kind, unique treasure. Your time, talent, the vivid color of yarn you select, even the sentimental thoughts and feelings you have as you work all become a part of your beautiful knitted gift.

One of the earliest known examples of knitting was found in Egypt. Finely decorated cotton socks were found in the end of the first millennium AD. Although experts belief this was the origin of knitting, the first knitting trade guild was started in Paris France in 1527. Today, knitting is a popular passion and hobby for people of all ages. Statistics according the Craft Yarn Council of America show that in the United States the number of women knitters age 25-35 increased by 150% in the two years between 2002 and 2004. It’s become so popular today that there are now many groups and classes forming to share this recreation and hobby with others.

While some people prefer to join a group or class others enjoy knitting in the privacy of their own home. With that in mind before starting a new knitting project, there are few things to keep in mind. First find a comfortable, cozy chair or couch where you feel comfortable to work for long periods of time. Make sure the chair has good lighting surrounding your work area as well. Another important thing to remember is to read through any directions or steps before you start. Always keep in mind that learning a new skill, such as knitting, requires lots of patience and practice. But most of all you should remember to have fun while you knit. If you get stuck or discouraged, take a break with a brisk walk, have a snack or even just take a deep breath before going back to your current knitting project.

Knit Easy!

The first place many knitters start is with a cast-on stitch. Casting-on is the term for making the foundation row of stitches on your needle. This type of stitch is recommended for beginners, intermediate and even experienced knitters. Also, keep in mind, there are many different methods of casting-on. Other methods to casting on are: the single-stitch, the double-knitted, the crochet edge, the long-tail, and the cable cast-on. Experts agree that is recommended to learn the knitting cast-on as your first method because it’s simpler than the others and leaves your project with an edge that stretches well. As you become a more experienced knitter, you may wish to explore the other cast-on methods.

Once you have your stitching down, the next step in exploring knitting is the knit stitch, which is also known as the garter stitch. To put it simply, knitting is the art of creating a fabric by making interlocking loops of yarn, with two basic ways of creating these loops. The first way is ‘knitting’ which is the action of inserting your needles through the bottom of a loop and pulling a new loop down and the through the first loop. The other way is known as ‘purling’, or the action of inserting your needles from the top of a loop and pulling a new loop up and through the first stitch.

Gauge is another important factor to knitting. Gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows a knitter makes per inch using a certain type of yarn and needles or hook. Gauge greatly varies from person to person, so it is very important to make sure you are achieving the gauge of your particular pattern. Basically, your gauge determines the size of your finished piece. Hence if you don’t get the proper gauge, the garment will not come out to the intended size. If you are knitting with a thick yarn you’ll make bigger stitches and have very few stitches and rows per inch. If you are knitting with a finer yarn, you’ll make smaller stitches and have more stitches and rows per inch. To determine a proper and accurate gauge swatch, cast on or chain enough stitches to equal approximately four inches and work in pattern for four inches. Take your stitches off the needle and, without stretching the fabric, place a tape measure on your work and gently pin where the tape measure reads one inch.

When addressing gauge, you should also be conscious of the different varieties and types of needles to knit with. Classic circular needles are a popular choice with knitters today. Another popular choice is the double pointed needle. There are even needles, such as the straight needles that are great for lace knitting. The tips on these needles are specially tapered to make it easier to dig into a stitch. Each type of needle offers different advantages and should be checked out accordingly to what you’re looking for and what type of project you’re working on.

After you have learned the basics of knitting you can start to think about and focus on ribbing. Ribbing is a border that is commonly used on the cuffs of those cozy sweaters, hats, and scarves you will be knitting. It is used because it produces a stretchy fabric and it is made with a combination of those knit stitches and purl stitches we touched on earlier. Ribbing can be done with any number of stitches, but two or three is what is most common.

There are many important steps, and stitches, along the way when acquiring the skill of knitting. What’s so wonderful about knitting is the variety of options that are available to be made. Many different colors, yarn types, needles, stitches, patterns, and looks can be uniquely created by you and only you – making your knitting project a perfect work of art that can never be duplicated.

Christine Beals is a professional writer who provides information for The Knitter’s Niche where you’ll find information on knitting and other crafts. The Knitter’s Niche is a part of the Go! Blog Network.

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