I’m a relative newcomer to knitting. My mother taught me the basics—casting on, knit stitch, and binding off—in my third year of college, but figuring out how to be a grown-up got in the way, and I never got much further than garter-stitch scarves.
Then, last October, when I was struggling to find a baby gift for a good friend, Mom came to the rescue by suggesting I give something handmade. I dusted off my needles, made a pair of tiny booties and a wee hat, and then a second, more complicated baby hat, and by then I was in love.
I still have a lot to learn—but these are the things that helped make knitting rewarding, accessible, and fun for me when I didn’t know K2TOG from SSK:
+ tape measure: Essential for patterns that ask you to knit a certain number of inches instead of rows. I use a bright, bare-bones model from Purl Soho.
+ sharp scissors: Dull desk shears won’t do—believe me, I’ve tried. I like the idea of these foldup snips, because they won’t stab your sofa.
+ StitchMinder: As a newbie, I often concentrate so hard on executing the stitches correctly that I forget what row I’m on. There are ways to figure it out just by looking at your knitting, but I find using StitchMinder, a free iPhone app, much easier. With StitchMinder, you can keep track of rows knitted, pattern repeats, decrease rows, etc. It’s been a life-saver for me, especially during those late-night marathon knitting sessions.
+ Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book: The title says it all. When I’m trying to figure out a new stitch or technique, this is the first place I go.
+ This is the second: YouTube. You can find video tutorials of just about any technique, and if you don’t have a person to teach you to knit, this is the next best thing.
+ purlbee.com: When you’re just learning to knit, the best motivator is a gorgeous, challenging pattern you can’t wait to try. This blog is packed with them. Its authors—employees of Purl Soho—have killer taste and are generous with their patterns. I come here for color inspiration, ideas for handmade gifts, and their well-executed stitch tutorials. (I also love Purl Soho owner Joelle Hoverson’s books Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts.)
+ janerichmond.com: Jane Richmond is another designer whose pretty, practical designs inspired me to learn a new trick or two. In addition to being clear and well-written, her patterns feature affordable yarns. Check out the tutorials section—her “magic knot” technique to join yarns works like a charm.
+ a knit night group: Few activities are more pleasant than getting together with friends and knocking out rows and rows of stitches between sips of red wine.
Once you’re all kitted out, find a well-lighted place with a speedy internet connection and go to town. Be patient with yourself; the worst-case scenario is simply starting over.