Saturday, January 21, 2006

For Jamie, you know I love ya

My dear friend Jamie has admitted to Yarn Envy, that longing of the uninitiated to become one of the few, the proud, the yarngeeks...yes, folks, she wants to take up knitting!!! Yay, Jamie!! She's asked for book recommendations for the brand-spankin-newbie, so if anyone out there has any suggestions, please feel free to post a comment. In the meantime, Jamie, I don't have any personal experience with the Knitting/Crocheting for Dummies book, so I can't really say on that one. However, I can highly recommend Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Knitting, as well as Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet (and also her Encyclopedia of Needlework, should you ever choose to go that route too). I also like the cheesily titled I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting (also a knitting version) books from Walmart. They're really slim, and only have a couple projects, but the instructions are clear, concise, and the crochet one is all I used to learn, so many moons ago. Another great knit resource, imo, is Mother of Purl, by Edith Eig. She seems really into name-dropping, which can be annoying, and I'm not entirely fond of the patterns, but the instructions are fabulous, and she's very detail-oriented (like as in how to get as professional a finish on your sweaters as possible...very handy!). That was the book that made English knitting click into place for me recently. Y'know, while you're at it, you should check your local yellow pages, or google for local yarn stores in your area. I've not known a yarn store yet that didn't offer lessons, some for very cheap, and there's always somebody really knowledgeable around to help you through any rough patches you may have. Oh, and check your local library, too...that's a GREAT way to try a new book before paying for it, and libraries often have classes in such things too (ours has knitting & crochet classes for less than five dollars, which is a steal).

Now, on to your tools...Walmart carries a decent selection of needles (for knitting) and hooks (for crochet). Pretty much everything at Wally World is either aluminum or plastic...personally, I prefer the aluminum, but that's just me. Once you get into it, you'll find that there are bamboo, birch, rosewood, basically all manner of gorgeous tools out there, but for just starting out, the walmart cheepies are perfectly suitable. Hooks are dirt cheap at walmart, too, so that's a bonus. Choosing the right yarn for a beginner is fairly important, since aggravating yarns can discourage a newbie pretty quickly. For right now, stay away from the neat homespun yarns (it actually says homespun on the label, so you'll know which ones I mean), and also avoid the fur types. You want a nice worsted weight wool or acrylic, which you can find in millions of colors at either Walmart, JoAnns, or Michaels for a very reasonable price. Personally, I started out on Caron Wintuk yarn, but it's entirely up to you. I'd avoid the walmart brand Mainstays, though, as it has a nasty tendency to come untwisted, and occasionally break. Not fun. Anyway, pick whatever color thrills you, though it doesn't have to match anything, since you're just going to practice for a little while anyway. On the paper wrap, called the ball band, there should be a series of symbols telling you what size needles & what size hook are appropriate for that particular yarn. Most worsted weight yarns are likely to call for G or H hook, and 10 1/2 needles. (Hooks have letters to designate size, needles have numbers.) Pick up a hook or some needles, depending on which you want to learn, and you're off!

Oh, and one more thing I'd like to stress...see if you can't set aside a small corner of your house that's just for you. You KNOW how tiny my apartment is, but my beloved created a warm, snuggly, inviting corner for me in the bedroom, and suddenly needlework is just SO much more enjoyable now! There's a comfy chair, a good lamp, a side table for patterns & books & tools, a little shelf to hold my drink, and all my books are near me...it's just wonderful! I can even watch tv while I knit. It's turned knitting into a sort of escape for me, a comfy little sanctuary where I can create, and when I'm done, leave the knitting out & waiting for me to return (rather than put it away so people might actually sit on my couch, like I used to do). Of course, that's a good thing to have whether you knit or crochet or not. Even just a little reading corner is so very valuable, in my opinion.

Okay, I think I've babbled enough for one post...I hope this has helped get you going a bit, Jamie! If you ever have any questions or anything, please feel free to email, too. Good luck to ya!

10 comments:

bornagain said...

Did you know God loves you?

Shanelle said...

Excellent advice and recommendations! Another invaluable resource is http://www.knittinghelp.com. There are videos, pictures, written instructions, all sorts of very helpful tools.

Have fun, Jamie. Knitting is the best addiction you could possibly develop. :-)

KathyMarie said...

Dude, God spammed you.

Jamie said...

Oh my gosh, a blog just for me. I am SO excited! Thank you Heather! I am going to head to Wal-Mart one night this week to look for the book, needles, and yarn. Can you believe I am nervous. I am SO not good at learning new things(yup, this coming from a former teacher!). But I need to do something just for me, and I like your suggestion of having my own spot to do it in. Although I must warn you...if I do get started, your inbox may be overflowing with HELP ME emails! Thanks for getting me started. I'll let you know when I actually pick up a needle. Oh my gosh...why am I nervous??? I'm such a dork!

Heather said...

LOL Jamie! Seriously, feel free to pester me as much as you want to. Do you have my phone number? You can call anytime too, ya know. ;) Oh, and the Can't Believe I'm Knitting (or Crocheting) book ought to be at Walmart, but if not, it'll be at Michael's. The others will likely be at Borders or Barnes & Nobles. Also, try googling your city, knit, crochet, stitch & bitch, that sort of thing. I'm betting there's probably a group near you that you could hang out with. There's one main one here, which meets twice a month, and another one that meets once a week at the local yarn store. There's even a local knitting guild in our teeny town! I'm sure you can find something similar in your area, and omg, it's like tons of instant friends, too. :) Yarn geeks are pretty universally friendly, and most are more than willing to help a newbie with questions.

Which are you going to do first, knitting or crochet? Each is equally useful, and enjoyable, but they are decidedly different. In my opinion, knitting is best for fitted garments, like hats & sweaters, and crochet is best for large items, like afghans & such. You can do both with both, though. And don't be nervous, girl! There are no yarn police, no one will come & beat the snot outta you for not being perfect. Granted, some of us are raging perfectionists, but we learn to work with it. ;)

I'm so excited to have corrupted you! :D Really, I think you'll like this little addiction...it's deeply rewarding, and you even get something nice to show for all your efforts!

Kerrie said...

Don't forget, you can often find lessons at a local Michaels - they have their schedules up at the registers and they're really reasonably priced. I've noticed they tend to be mostly crochet, but you can find the occasional knitting one in there.

I improved my knitting dramatically by taking one lesson at a little yarn shop - I loved it because it was much smaller, only 4 of us including Kristy and me, so the teacher was really able to give one on one attention and work with us only on the things we were having problems with.

If you're able to find a small local shop and you do take a lesson there they'll often let you come in with your project if you're stuck and help you right there on the spot too! :)

Oh, oh, oh, and I didn't read all the way through Heather's blog, but she did mention to get yourself some nice smooth bamboo needles that are balanced correctly, right? Those metal ones will turn you off knitting for life. :p

Good luck girlie! (And good job Heather! :) )

Jamie said...

But you guys...I am a social wallflower, remember? Joining a group alone would terrify me and set me up for an anxiety attack. Although maybe...just maybe...I'll think about it. Because I just know I'm going to need HELP! Ok, now I don't know which to start with...knitting or crocheting! AHHH...have I also mentioned I am the Queen of indecision? I told Tom I'd like to run to the library tonight to find one of the books you suggested(too close to budget this month to buy one)and pick up yarn at Wal-Mart. I'm actually excited(is that sad?)but I know myself well enough to know I am going to struggle. I am so not good at learning new things on my own. I need step by step instruction. I need to see someone do it. I told Tom he'd have to read the book, learn how, and then teach me. Oh no...I think he may be willing!! He's a bigger geek than I am!!!

WillBdone said...

Go Jamie!! With a coach like Heather, you can't loose!!

I suppose you could look at it this way...At least with knitting, if you realize you are screwing up, you can start over. With my hobby, once I pour the cement, any flaws that occur are permanently frozen in stone....lol

Jamie said...

http://spaces.msn.com/members/jsoran/

Jamie said...

Oops, hit send before finishing...

Heather...check out my blog for details on my first attempt. Planning a trip to VA any time soon???