Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Be Encouraged, New Knitter!



My Old Time fiddling friend, Jeremy, over at the Myerstown Farm, left a comment on one of my long, past blogs in a galaxy far, far away wondering, "How long does it (knitting) take to learn and does she (his bride, Brandy) have any hope of learning without someone to show her?" I decided to answer his question as a regular post since there may be others struggling with the same question.

Learning anything new requires firstly, the determination to learn it. Any kind of skill that is a "hand" worked skill, like knitting (or fiddling! - right, Jeremy!?) requires enough patience on one's part to get through the teaching your fingers to the point of muscle memory. It's how we learn to write and to type, play the piano or the guitar. So until you have achieved "finger memory" you will think that you will never learn and what you do manage to knit up took so long, that it hardly seems worth it. But I say, keep on going. To help you, especially if you don't have anyone to be a live body teaching you... Lookie over there in the sidebar and you'll see the button for "Knitting Help". This is a wonderful website that teaches knitting and you can watch their free videos, right online. It's almost as good as a live body. There are also lots of demonstrations on YouTube, too.... search "knitting" and "yarn" or any technique you might need to know in the search box.

Here's what I recommend -

Use size US 7 or 8 needles and a light color worsted weight yarn. A light colored yarn is much easier to see the construction of the loops/stitches and rows. Using bulkier/big yarn and bigger needles can sometimes add to the awkwardness of learning. 

Don't worry about "making" something right away, just practice. Cast on and go. Knitting is only 2 stitches - knit and purl - and really, they are the same stitch, just opposite sides of the same coin. The important word here is "practice". Take your little practice piece with you everywhere you go. Use the opportunities in waiting rooms, when you are the passenger in a car, before the movie starts at the Cineplex, anyplace that affords you a moment, just knit a couple of rows, or even a couple of stitches. Keep it in the kitchen and while you're waiting for the pot to boil, knit. Remember, you're working on finger memory.

Don't worry about what it looks like, or if it gets all jumbled up. If you inadvertently added stitches, so what, and vice versa, if you subtracted stitches, keep on going. It's only yarn. Nobody is bleeding, nobody died. 

I like to see my progress. Knitting sometimes seems as if it is just going and going and never getting anywhere. When I sit down and pick up my work, again, I place a safety pin just below my needle and soon, it's easy to see how much progress I've made during that particular session. It satisfies my need for goal achieving. 

Don't worry that it may be slow. This is hand work. It harkens to a slower time. Breathe deep and keep it relaxed. I'm really not that fast of a knitter. That's okay. I knit to please myself. I knit to honor the Creator, by creating and enjoying the ability that He has given me. I am, still, amazed that string, manipulated on sticks, becomes fabric. I never get over that. That is SO cool!

Then, one day (and it will be sooner than you think), you will suddenly realize that you are not really thinking, anymore, about what your hands are doing. Surprise!

If you can, find a group of other knitters to hang out with (at least every now and then). Check your local Barnes and Noble or independent book store, check at your local library to see if there is a group meeting there - The B and N near me hosts one once a month. If there is a yarn shop, near you, check to see if they sponser a knit night or morning sit and knit. Check for Adult Education classes or if there is something going on at a college in or near your town. Start a group somewhere, at your job, or church or school. You might be surprised to find out who else knits and then you've created your own knitting buddies/friends!

When I learned to knit, I taught myself from books and magazines. I didn't have "videos". I did not know anyone who knew how to knit. But the most important things I did, I think, are A: not giving up; B: not being afraid to make mistakes (and, boy, were there goofy looking things and a lot of things that didn't fit the person they were intended for); and C: relishing the process, even if I didn't "get" it.

Be encouraged! 


Today's Bible Verse:
"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ..."  Colossians 2:2

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