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Teaching myself

HNYMAMA | Posted in Knitting and Crochet on

Okay I have decided I must learn how to knit & crochet,  I bought a Learn How book today,  some needles and yarn. 

Which would be the best to teach myself first?  Any tips,  suggestions,  advice would be greatly apreciated. 

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 mama to Marie, Katie and Amie


  1. sewphaedra | | #1

    I would start with some inexpensive cotton yarn (sugar and spice is one brand) and do dishcloths or washcloths. They're smaller than scarves so they go faster. You can practice different designs. When that feels comfortable then do a scarf with a nicer yarn. Then maybe a hat so you can do decreases. After that a sweater!

    1. HNYMAMA | | #2

      Oh dishcloths sound nice,  I am needing some new ones:)  Would you try to do them in crochet or a knit first?  I have been reading my book and I am anxious to start (but it has to wait till the girls are asleep for the night,  so I am getting mentaly prepared now)

      1. sewphaedra | | #3

        If you're trying to learn to knit then I'd knit them. Knit is a little more flexible than crochet, right? I prefer knit for dishcloths and crochet for potholders.

        1. HNYMAMA | | #4

          :)  Thanks I will start with the knitting tonight,  hopefully I pick this up quick.  I am really good at other needle type crafts (sewing and embroidery) so hopefully the knitting & crocheting will be something I understand and catch the hang of easy. 

          Edited 1/8/2003 2:58:16 PM ET by Honey

  2. Jean | | #5

    Dishcloths are a good place to start.  For the first one just cast on a bunch of stitches and knit every row until you get the hang of it. When it's fairly square, bind them off and there you are.  The next one do the same thing only purl every row. (The finished product will look the same, but you're doing this for practice, remember).

    When you are proficient in these two stitches you can learn to combine them.

    Check out this site for unlimited variations. :) Some of these woul make wonderful wash cloths too.  Think of all the gifts you can make between now and next Christmas.  Have fun!!


    1. HNYMAMA | | #6

      Thanks for the link and the tips:)  I am anxious to start.  And I had not even thought of the gift potential from this skill,  what fun.

      1. carolfresia | | #7

        FYI--the cotton yarn is actually Sugar'n Cream (not spice, though you can make dishcloths as spicy as you like once you get started!)--you can find it practically anywhere, so look at Walmart or Joann's or Michael's. And while dishcloths may seem slighly lowly, I personally quite like those cotton knitted ones--they really function well, are slightly different from the run-of-the-mill type, and can be quickly and inexpensively replaced. Plus, I love it when a trial run or practice piece can turn into something so useful.

        I guess my opinion would be to try knitting first, though I don't know if there's any logic behind this. Crochet might be slightly easier to start out with since you don't really have to cast on, and it's easier to fix mistakes if you, say, drop a stitch. However, there's something lovely about those gently clicking knitting needles...Either way, have fun, and don't forget to ask for help from our expert members. We were all beginners once (I still am!), and are delighted to help if we can.


        1. HNYMAMA | | #8

          I saw that brand of yarn at Wal-mart today,  I bought 3 skiens(?) of Red Heart,  one in a baby weight (the colours was just so pretty) and 2 in a worsted weight,  plus two sizes of knitting needles and 3 sizes of crochet needles.  Does it show that I am excited about starting this LOL

          The dishcloths are a great idea,  maybe knowing that will take part of the stress off that I get when I want everything to be perfect and help me learn faster.  I am sure I will have lots of questions once I get started.  This board is great to get help and answers:)

          1. sewphaedra | | #9

            I guess I'm more of a fan of knitting because I only recently learned to crochet and I still can't get my gauge even. Even so, knitting does seem to have more possibilities, plus it's faster. I'm always so impatient to be finished! Good luck, let us know how it goes.

  3. rjf | | #10

    How goes the knitting?     rjf

    1. HNYMAMA | | #11

      So far it is a slow learning curve,  but I am trying.  I seem to keep losing stiches LOL but I know I can get it.  One of my neighbor ladies said she will help me with the crochet.  I think if I can watch someone it will help a lot,  hopefully I can find a knitter close by too:)

      1. SusanSz | | #12

        I taught myself how to knit just this past summer.  It took me forever it seemed!  I kept on adding stitches, so that 40 cast-on stitches became 42, and then 47 in no time.  It was the strangest thing.  And, I had "taught" myself a really odd way of holding the needles that was extremely uncomfortable, and was probably the cause of the added-on stitches as well.

        However, through the help of the wonderful people on this board (thank you!), and four different books, and on-line web pages, I FINALLY got the hang of it.  I think that if you've got several different illustrations to look at, all trying to demonstrate the same thing, you get it.  Or at least, I got it, lol!

        My first piece was a cotton dishcloth, that was a basic k1, p1 pattern.  I am now making a scarf using "fancy" yarn, and will soon move on to a hat using (gasp) circular needles!  It's all very exciting!

        Teaching yourself is both frustrating and rewarding.  Way to go!


        1. HNYMAMA | | #15

          Nice to hear from a self taught knitter,  sounds like you picked it up quick:)  Right now I am still at the frustrated stage but I am determined so that has to count for something

        2. sewphaedra | | #18

          I taught myself how to knit also. My big resources were local knitting stores. I would buy their patterns and yarn and then go in ask them questions whenever I got stuck.

          It took me a long time to learn that knitting is an art, not a science. You wing it a lot, like when the instructions say "pick up 32 stitches" but you've got a gap left, then you just pick up 34, usually it's no big deal. That's one thing I like about it, the winging it. You don't do that as much in sewing.

      2. rjf | | #13

        I wonder if your library has a tape or video on knitting that you could look at.  Seeing someone doing it would be a big help, I think.  But when you succeed, it gives you the confidence to try anything!           rjf

        1. Jean | | #14

          Did I forget to post this linK.  It's a must see for learners.

          Animated stitches.  You'll all love it.


          1. HNYMAMA | | #17

            Oh that is a great site,  thank you so much.

          2. betsy | | #37

            Regarding  a posting from quite a while ago,Your link to the animated knitting instructions is fabulous! My daughter and I know how to knit, but I had to call my mom for over-the- phone instructions for casting on stitches. That provided much entertainment for both of us, but I like your method much more. Now if I can just find my knitting needles...Thanks!

            Edited 2/22/2003 6:36:59 PM ET by Betsy

        2. HNYMAMA | | #16

          Thanks I had not thought of looking for a video,  that would be a big help.

          1. rjf | | #26

            Is your knitting progressing?    It's always nice to hear that people have been successful at teaching themselves to knit or crochet or tat or counted cross-stitch or whatever.                                         rjf

          2. HNYMAMA | | #27

            Well I seem to be slow at teaching myself but it is progressing,  definetly getting better:)  I think by next winter I will be making cute scarves and hats for my girls.

          3. SusanSz | | #28

            I'm finally biting the bullet and asking a real live person for help this week.  Teaching yourself only goes so far, and I've managed to solve all previous problems by myself, but this one....ick.

            I'm making a scarf with a wide rib.  I cast on 26, and then I K2 P2 one row, then P2 K2 next row, over and over and over again.  When I stop for the night, I always make sure that the next row will be the K2 P2 row.  But I was knitting while watching Law & Order (drat!  will never do that again), and somehow messed up, so my ribs went over one while I wasn't looking.  I unraveled about 10 rows, but then...oh oh.

            Do I K2 P2 on the row, or P2 K2?  And, when I put the scarf back on the needles (after unraveling), I think I reversed it somehow (or something), and when I thought I had figured out that I needed to K2 P2, it wasn't right.  AND, it looks all backwards or something.  Ack!

            So, I'm going to the knitting store where I bought this scarf yarn, buying some yarn for a dishcloth, since I want to start experimenting with two colors in one pattern (intarsia?), and I'm also going to bring my messed-up project.  Hopefully she can help me.  The woman who owns the store seems really super-nice.  I hope she can help.

            And that's where I am with learning how to knit.  I hope that you keep me posted on how you're doing too, Honey!  Right now I'm very frustrated.  Frustrated enough to ask for help, and that's saying a lot.  Sigh...


            PS - But I did make three hats on circular needles recently!  And, I did them in stripes, so now I know how to weave in strands, and how to change colors at the end of a row, etc.  Whoo-hoo!

            [Edit: The scarf is so skinny because I want to make one of those trendy 6 ft. long ones that all the movie stars seem to have wrapped around their necks lately.  Of course, by the time I finish it, it  will no longer be in style - lol!]

            Edited 2/10/2003 5:38:03 PM ET by Susan S.

          4. Jean | | #29

            Next time  you make a k2, P2 scarf. Cast on a number of stitches that is divisible by 4. 24 or 28 st. rather than 26, for example.  That way you always start every row with a K2 and you won't get confused. When  you become more experienced you will be able to just look at it and know what you are supposed to do. K the K and P the P.  You'll know, trust me.

          5. rjf | | #30

            Jean's right.  If you recognize a knit stitch and a purl stitch, you're all set for that scarf.  Your pattern is just "work what you see".  So if the next stitch you see is a knit stitch, that's what you do.  Same for a purl.  24 stitches would  be easier because it's divisible by 4 so it's always start with K 2.  The 26 stitches make the scarf symmetric.       rjf

          6. SusanSz | | #31

            Thank you so much rjf and Jean!  Guess I'll be unraveling the whole thing again and starting over.  Good thing I only have about a foot done or so.  This is the second time I've started over.  The first time I cast on 52 stitches and was just knitting the whole thing.  It looked smaller on the needles, until you stretched it out!  Then it was just a big ugly flat thing.  I knitted in three balls (skeins?) until I realized that I would never wear this if I finished it.

            The skinny wide rib is much more flattering.  I'm also going to take a closer look at these knits and purls to see if I can tell which is coming next.  I'm not that good yet....getting there.

            But I still want to experiment with two colors at once.  Now that looks fun!


            [Edit:  Another question- Is it possible to put your work on backwards on needles after unraveling?  Or am I just seeing things?  Not just an individual stitch - I'm figuring that out, but the whole darn thing.  And if I did put it on backwards with a K2 P2 pattern, would that mess me up?  The problem with learning from books is that no book (or website) seems to have a very good troubleshooting section.  Sure, they all teach you how to do things, and basic fixes, but nothing "weird", really.]

            Edited 2/11/2003 10:03:27 AM ET by Susan S.

          7. Jean | | #32

            Yes it it possible to put it on wrong.  You need the loose yarn at the pointed end of the needle. If you do it  wrong,  just slip your row onto the other needle and you'll be OK, or use a circular needle to start with, then you don't have to worry about it,  either end will be ready to go. :)

          8. rjf | | #33

            A circular needle has another advantage.  You can sit in an armchair and knit comfortably because you won't have straight needles bumping into the arms.    rjf

          9. SusanSz | | #34

            You need the loose yarn at the pointed end of the needle.

            You know, I only needed to do that once to figure it out - lol.  Before I unravel the whole scarf to cast on 24, I'm going to take a close look at it and see if I can't tell a knit from a purl.  I like the whole idea of symmetry, like rjf pointed out...We'll see.

            Thanks again!  Back to the cooking board...  :-)


          10. sanderson | | #36

            Not to be a spoiler but if you haven't started over yet you may want to consider an extra knit stitch on each end.  If you always slip that first stitch and knit the last stitch it gives your edge a very neat...well. edge.  I think that idea comes from Elizabeth Zimmerman.  Probably from her "knitting without tears"...I love that book.

          11. User avater
            ehBeth | | #35

            whoooooooohooooooo about the hats!  that is good news!

            circular needles are great to work with - easier than anyone expects at first.

            congratulations!        <big smile>

  4. eaclaggett | | #19

    Hi Honey, how did it go, have you figured out either the crochet or the knitting?  I taught myself to crochet a year ago (right before 9/11 actually) and I think it's easier to teach yourself to crochet than to knit.  Guess I'm not very coordinated so keeping those two needles going for knitting is very frustrating.  So I've been a successful crocheter for over a year now, can do any project basically I want (now considering lace), but when I went to learn to knit, oh what a mess!  I finally went to my MIL and she showed me, but that was after failure even with "The Idiot's Guide to Knitting and Crochet".  Pretty bad when you can't learn even with the dummy's guide!  =:-)

    I was able to find places on the web with detailed pictures for each step of the crochet process.  Once you've learned one step, you've basically learned them all as they are all variations (more loops, blah blah) so it's really not hard.  I know when I tried I thought dishcloths would be a great idea, but for some reason cotton and I didn't get along and I had a TERRIBLE time!  I ditched the cotton and decided to just make little blankets (doll blankets for my girl).  So now my daughter has a spiffy bright pink doll blanket that was the very first thing I ever crocheted, and she doesn't mind if it's not perfect!

    I'm 26 and I LOVE to crochet.  There's something to mindlessly thrashing out your emotions.  I made a whole baby blanket during the day of and following the September 11th ordeal.  I know knitters like those needles clicking, but maybe it takes more arm strength than I have right now to hold both of them up.  It's also easier to correct your mistakes (or see them for that matter) on crochet than it is on knitting. 

    My tip of the day would be to not stock up on lots of yarn.  I've got all kinds of yarn (from yard sales, sales, etc., it's easy to become a yarn junkie!), but it's frustrating when you can't make the yarn you have work well with the pattern you're wanting to make (ie. it's too fat and you need thin yarn or vice versa).  It's really not as simple as just changing the size of the hook, because when you change the hook and yarn, the effect changes too. 

    I think where I got the links for instructions was http://crochet.about.com and I'm assuming there's a corresponding site for knitting.

    Well, welcome to the world of knitting and crochet.  I'm sure whichever you chose you'll be great at and find very enjoyable!


    1. HNYMAMA | | #20

      Well I have the chain stich figured out for crocheting,  and I am tickled with that:)  Now to just make it wider,  hopefully his weekend I will have some time to play around with my needles and yarn and figure out some more.  I did some of the first steps to knitting,  not sure yet which I am finding easier.

        I bet your daughter loves her doll blankets.  I sew and my 3 girls love the things I make them.

      LOL I willl try and not stash to much yarn,  goodness knows I am bad about that with fabrics. 

      1. eaclaggett | | #21

        Good for you Honey!!  I found some links like what I was telling you about. 

        http://crochet.about.com/library/bl_starting_chain.htm  Step by step pictures of getting started, in case you've already forgotten.  I know how frustrating that is!  :)

        http://crochet.about.com/library/bl_singlecrochet.htm  Single crochet-detailed photos-great!

        http://crochet.about.com/library/bldoublecrochet.htm not detailed pictures, you might be able to find better elsewhere.  Once you know the single and double crochet and practice them a while, you'll be able to figure out anything!

        You know, when I got started I got a sampler book (you know the $5.95 books of patterns at michaels, hobby lobby, etc.) and it had in the front diagrams for each of the common things (sc, dc, tc and so on).  I refer to this OFTEN, so it might be worth keeping your eyes peeled for.  Nothing more frustrating than doing a whole project full of double crochets only to be left not remember how to do a single crochet!

        I found cotton to be hard initially because it drags on itself.  Later I came back to it and was fine, but when I first started it was really frustrating to work with.  BTW, that first doll blanket was only maybe 5"X10"... I was using a simple washcloth pattern using Red Heart yarn (acrylic), not realizing that you're supposed to use COTTON for washcloths!  LOL.  Anyways, after that I got more brave, since I liked how it looked anyway.  I tied some little tassels all the way around to make it look bigger and voila, blanket for very small dolls!  Trust me, after 5"X10" of single crochets, you'll KNOW how to single crochet and will be ready for something else!  :)

        Have fun.  I've decided for knitting I'd rather look into the Ultimate Sweater Machine.  I got the idea while I was researching around here and have been reading on Joann's and other sites and it seems to be very popular.  I haven't knit enough by hand to say, but it does seem to be slower than crochet and sometimes it's nice to be able to whip out something fast, so the machine might just fit the bill!  I read somewhere it can be had at walmart for just $100 which isn't bad considering the cost of needles, time saved, etc.

        Happy yarn working and congrats on your progress!  :)


  5. KnittinK | | #22

    Hope you are knitting up a storm!!  I have been knitting on and off for about 30 years and I love to explore new types of stitches or techniques.  It just takes the "magic" word or phrasing to make it click.  I was trying to learn about "entrelac" knitting and it took at least half a dozen tries before I found a book that made the technique clear to me.  Maybe the same will be true for you as you are learning . . . one knitter will explain things her way and it may or may not click.  Keep trying!  It's well worth the pleasure.  

    1. HNYMAMA | | #23

      I will practice get frustrated because I am not doing what I am supposed to,  then in a day or two I will be doing something else and all of a sudden I realize what I was supposed to do so I run get my yarn and needles and I can do it.  So I am slowly getting it.

      Of course I have been sewing a lot here lately and taking smocking classes so I have not knitted as much as I am wanting but I am really enjoy learning.  I am wanting to be able to amke,  mittens and hats and scarves,  plus some throws.  It really is a peacefull thing to sit and do (well when all my stiches are making sense).  I found a couple of books at teh library (Basic Knitting and Knitting for Kids) that have helped me so much.

      1. KnittinK | | #24

        I was browsing online and found one site with short animated snippets showing how to do certain stitches.  It was wonderful!  I thought of you and searched for the basic "just learning" knit-purl.  Unfortunately, they only had a handful of  more advanced stitches.  I know I've barely scratched the surface of info re: kintting out there.  If I coe across something like this, I'll post the info for you!

        1. HNYMAMA | | #25

          Thank you:)

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