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Learning to knit from a pattern

Over the past couple of winters I've been teaching myself to knit.  Actually my grannie and mum taught be to knit when I was young, but I had to relearn some of the details and teach myself to do more than just knit back and forth.  I made a few simple items, I tried knitting "in the round", ribbing, stocking stitch and started a sock.  So far though I had not managed to follow a pattern and I was still confused about the terminology.  My ultimate aim (apart from finishing two socks) is to finish a vest, from a pattern, so it was time to learn what all those letters meant!

I asked Penguin to send me a knitting book to review and they sent me The Big Book of Knitting.  This book has 100 knitting patterns, including jumpers, cardigans, socks, gloves, scarves and toys.  Not all of them interest me, and not all of them are easy enough for me, but there are plenty for me to chose from!  All the patterns are beautifully photographed.  Strangely, all the patterns are listed at the start of the book, and all the instructions are at the end.  Its doesn't really matter where they are though.  The instructions cover all possible options for casting on, casting off, increasing, decreasing, even cabling and knitting with beads.  Each step of each stitch is photographed in detail and large enough that they are very easy to follow.  There is also a table that explains each abbreviation in the patterns.

The illustrations are very detailed and helpful
As I followed the first pattern that I chose (arm warmers), I was able to flick to the table to check what the pattern meant, and then to the photograph of the stitch if I wasn't sure how to do it.  Sure all of this is on the internet, and I have looked it up there before, but its much quicker to be able to stay put on the couch in front of the fire and flick through the pattern book instead of getting up and looking at the computer, and searching for a decent diagram or youtube.  Disappointingly, there were some mistakes in the pattern I chose, and the left thumb turned out larger than it was supposed to (and the hand too tight), I will be unpicking that and fixing it now that I finished the right hand and it fits perfectly.  Actually, even though it was frustrating, it was good experience to use a pattern with a mistake as I was suspicious when the number of stitches didn't add up, and then as I was knitting mirror images, I was able to figure out where the mistake was as I knitted the other hand.  Apart from being annoyed that I will have to unpick the first thumb, it was kind of interesting to dissect the mirror-image pattern, which I may not have done if they had turned out ok in the first place.  I had to think about each step far more than I would have had to do if I could have just blindly followed the instructions.  I may be able to spot mistakes more easily in future, I'm sure they are quite common in knitting patterns, it must be hard to check every line of every pattern!  I will also not use stripes on a new pattern, as its much harder to unpick and fix mistakes without wasting lots of wool.

The left thumb of my armwarmer is too large, but it was good practice
By the way, the wool is from the haberdashery stall at the Nanango markets, so it didn't cost me much, and I only had a ball of each colour.  I have a bit of a stash from that stall, its good to have some cheap wool to experiment with while I'm learning.

The only thing missing from the book is a women's vest pattern!  But I have plenty of patterns from the op shop and I should be able to follow them with the help of this book.  I just have to finish those socks first.....

Are you knitting this winter?  What are you making?  Any tips for beginners?


  1. Hello have you joined or heard of Ravelry its a great site for knitters! Also I found verypink a useful blog/vlog to help me knit socks! Well done on your knitting. My gran and mum taught me to knit as well. At the moment I am working on a simple lace top. Ginny x

    1. thanks, I find Ravelry a little overwhelming! I never know where to start, but it certainly an excellent resource.

  2. I'm still working on a cowl from last Winter. I tend to stop knitting in the warmer weather and have only just picked it up again. I have actually just started a series on the blog about learning to knit for beginners. Here's the link

    1. thanks for the link :) great collection of links, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

  3. A friend of mine made me some knitted socks as a birthday present last year. They're now my favourite on cold rainy days :) I'm not really that much of a knitter myself but I can really appreciate the effort, time, and craftsmanship that goes into hand knitting a piece. I think it took a full day for my pal to knit the two socks!

    1. wow, if I could knit socks in a full day, I would be very proud of myself :) your friend must be a good knitter!

  4. Woo Hoo! Well done Liz! They look great!

    1. thanks Linda, still working on those socks, but I will get there!

  5. I can knit a scarf , Liz..but that is as far as I have got. When I started knitting scarves , I realised I didn't know how to finish knitting ( my grandma had only taught me how to start when I was a kid ) a quick jump to you tube and googling 'how to finish knitting a scarf ' helped me out. It looks like a good knitting book - I struggle with the terminology etc...most of these books tend to assume you can already knit .

    1. I had the same trouble when I knitted a head band, I got the end and thought "now what"! I had to find a youtube to help too.... and the terminology results in constantly flicking back to the diagrams to see what they mean again...

  6. You did a great turn your too large thumb inside out and just stitch a seam up the side to make it can use a needle or a machine.
    I love to knit it relaxes me .... I recently finished a coat. I always have a project going...keep on knitting and before you know it you will be a pro!

    Cathy G


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