There are plenty of fun and interesting skills to learn on the journey to become more self-sufficient and sustainable. Knitting is one of my personal favorites.
I learned to knit many years ago at a conference. I remember looking through the program and noticing a knitting circle as part of the morning’s activities. While I attended out of curiosity, but found myself fascinated by the concept that yarn could be looped to make beautiful clothing. The people at the circle were kind enough to start me off with yarn, needles, and a simple pot holder pattern. I’ll admit, my first project didn’t go so well, but I was very proud of it anyway! Regardless, I was hooked on knitting. It’s a great way to make gifts for loved ones or just yourself.
You don’t actually need a knitting circle to learn to knit (though they can be fun). As long as you have a chunk of time to devote to learning the basic skills and a few basic materials, then you’re set. I’ve pulled together a set of videos and free patterns that you can complete in a weekend. By the time you’re done, you’ll be on you way to becoming a knitting pro!
Before you start, you’re going to need a set of #7 knitting needles. I recommend a set of 16” inch circular needles if you think you’d like to make hats and headbands one day. You’ll also need two skeins of worsted weight wool (like this one) in whatever color you like best and a tapestry needle.
I’m a big fan of Darn Good Yarn. Their products are high quality and created to last. I like them so much that I’ve become an affiliate of theirs, so I can even offer you 15% percent off if you subscribe.
The whole knitting process starts by casting on the knitting needle. Casting on is the process of looping yarn on the needle to create a base for the rest of the knitted project. To begin, make a slip knot on the left needle. Insert the right needle into your loop and create additional loops on the right hand needle until you have as many as you need.
The New Stitch a Day: Knitting 101 series is a great place to see this technique in action. This sequence is a little different from how I learned, but I think it’s an even simpler way to get started.
Knit and Purl Stitch
Let’s go over the two most common stitches in knitting; the knit stitch and the purl stitch. Once you have these down, you’ll be able to complete almost any pattern. To complete the knit stitch, start with the yarn in back and then slip the left hand needle through the front of the right hand needle loop. Wrap the yarn around the front of the left hand needle and slip the new loop onto the left hand needle.
For the purl stitch, start with the thread in the front. Slip the right hand needle through the the front of the left hand needle. Warp the yarn around the front of the needle and pull the loop through onto the left hand needle.
Once you’ve finished your piece, you’ll want to keep it from unraveling by casting it off the needle. To bind off, knit two stitches and then pull the loop on the left through the loop on the right. Continue until you’ve cast off all loops. Pull the final loop through and cut it off with a three inch tail. Weave in the excess with an embroidery needle.
Pattern Number One: Potholder
Keep your first project simple. Check out these simple knit and purl combination pot holders to find one you like.
Project Two: Your Choice!
Once you’ve gotten the pot holder down, you can move on to slightly more complicated projects. Check out these for one you like, and get started. Let us know what you picked in the comments!