Saturday, September 29, 2012

Knitter's Guide to the Galaxy

I have been toying with the thought of typing up a basic little guide about the world of knitting, and when it occurred to me that nowhere, in this SWAMP of musings, is there any talk about crafting as of late. And really, you can't get much more crafty than this. THIS, my darling little gods and goddesses, is the ultimate step in calling yourself a spinster. Or future crazy cat lady.

So, I present my tips and hints and explanations and worldly expertise:

Needles. This was my first step when I began knitting, and I got size 10. Size 10 is the best starting size of needle, since most yarns require that size, or are near enough to that size that it doesn't matter (yarns that require size 9 through size 11 will work  fine, just knit tighter for a smaller size and looser for a bigger size. Because that's what poor people do). Later on, you will feel the need to get a more specific needle for projects that require super big or super small needles, but until then, size 10 will suit you just fine. I would recommend buying them in the short kind (there are two different lengths; I will show you below) because they're more practical for everyday projects, and I would also recommend you buy the bamboo instead of metal. Though it's more expensive, these are ones that you will be using most often, so it's best to splurge and pay the extra dollar. However, with the ones that you will only be using on special occasions (such as large, size 13+ needles) I always buy the colorful metal ones because they're cheapest. Another reason I recommend bamboo, or at least plastic, for your everyday needles is because they are lighter than metal, are less noisy, and can be brought with you through airports!

Yarn. Once you have chosen your needles, yarn is the next step! Be sure to get a yarn that follows these guidelines: is soft (this sounds strange, but try holding the skein against your neck to see how it feels against sensitive skin, because your first clothing project should ALWAYS be a scarf; it's easiest!), and should match the size needle you have (I'll show you where to look below to find out that information). Oh, and it should be a plain yarn, not fancy fuzzy ones; those come when you're more adept. Other than that, you should be good!! TIP: The worst brand as far as softness goes is Red Heart! Avoid it!! And until you're an expert, keep away from mohair and Homespun from Lion's Brand (it looks harmless, and is super pretty, but is extremely weird to work with. It bunches horribly). Also, not that wool or alpaca is hard to work with per say, but when it slips naturally through your fingers as you are knitting, it rubs your fingers totally raw. Not the softest by far, but 100% natural!!

Organization of yarn. You're probably thinking "What is she TALKING about??" Well, I'm talking about how to easily manage your yarn. Your yarn probably looks like this when you first buy it:

That's not the best way to keep your yarn. The best way is definitely to turn it into a ball of yarn when your first buy it; that way, you can roll up any extra and store it away with no worries about tangles!! Plus it looks super adorabubble.

Here's how:

Types of stitches.  For me, the easiest way to stitch is the traditional knit stitch , which looks like this:

You probably thought that knit stitching looked like this, correct?:

 Actually, that is what Stockinette Stitch looks like, and it is complicated. How you do it is by knitting one row, purling the next row, then repeating. I can't explain, so here's a how-to on stockinette stitch and purl stitching/knit stitching:




A Tip or Two.  I have one last tip for you future knitters out there: BUY A KNITTING BOOK!!  I found the Knitting for Dummies book to be extremely helpful as a general book to refer back to for minor hiccups or questions, and I love my pocketbook edition. Also, if you have to look up how tos on Youtube or in a book, make sure that it's for your type of knitting: If you hold the yarn in your right hand while knitting, then you knit English Style. If you knit with the yarn in your left hand, you knit Continental Style. English Style is the best way to learn because not many people do Continental, so it's harder to learn because few people teach any other way than classical English, although I've heard that, once mastered, Continental is much faster. Oh well, it seems complicated and it goes against our natural instict, no matter if we're left or right handed! Good luck!!!!

Knitted Jake!!!

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