Stitch and Bitch
August 9, 2014 5:32 PM   Subscribe

I have just bought the Stitch and Bitch knitting book. It's going to take a couple of days to arrive in the mail so I'd like to know what I need for the first couple of projects so that once the book arrives I can start straight away.

If you own the book what type/ size needles does she recommend and what type of wool? I'm a complete beginner so you'll need to be quite specific.
posted by poxandplague to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There are a lot of patterns in that book--are you planning on, like, making them in order?
posted by leesh at 6:03 PM on August 9, 2014

Sign up for a free Ravelry account and then go to the book's project page. You can see the yarns and needle sizes people chose for the different projects and pick the ones you liked the most.

The umbilical cord hat and the Go Go Garter scarves are the easiest overall, but you'll need giant needles for the Go Go scarf that you're not likely to use again.

I would get three circular needles in these sizes: 4.5mm, 5.5mm and 6.5mm, about 60cm length. Get one in bamboo, one in aluminium and one in plastic. These are workhorse needles that you'll use over and over for lots of projects, and a good way to see what you prefer before you buy lots of needles. I love Clover's metal and bamboo for example, can't abide Addi.

Get a packet of stitch markers and a darning needle with a blunt end - often these are sold as a pack under knitter's notions. That's all you'll need to start.

And then get really nice wool for the first go. Don't start with cotton or silk or acrylic because they have less give. Machine-washable wool (superwash is usually the term) is easy to care for and delightful to knit with. You can buy wool online or at a local knitting shop (Ravelry can tell you what stores are close to you, and who stocks the yarns you want) and the yarn always comes with a guide to what size needles work with them.

I would get 4 balls, 3 in one colour, 1 in another, of the same wool to start. I lovelovelove Rowan wool, but it all comes down to what's available locally for you. Very nice wool should cost about $6-$15 for a 50g of wool (unless you live in New Zealand, where you are so lucky and can get great cheap wool!). Don't get a dark colour - it's hard to see the stitches, or white which with all the reknitting a new knitter does can get a bit grubby, and not a colour-striped one just yet.

That will knit you about 1 hat and 1 long scarf, or three hats and the start of a knitting obsession that will fill your house with yarn, keep your hands warm and bring you hours of quiet delight. After the first six hours of despairingly untangling yarn and wailing at the sky "Why, why did I do this?" :-)
posted by viggorlijah at 6:14 PM on August 9, 2014 [10 favorites]

Oh, btw straight needles can only be used for knitting flat pieces, circular needles can do tubes and flat pieces. It's easy to switch to flat if you learned on circulars, but harder the other way so I always start new people on circulars.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:15 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're going to need to be on Ravelry if you aren't already, so go check out the Ravelry pattern pages for all the patterns in the book. The detail pages for each pattern will list the recommended yarn and needles.

It doesn't list them in the order they appear in the book, but a lot of them have page numbers, so you could probably figure it out by looking at them all carefully.

You could probably also ask on the group for the book.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:15 PM on August 9, 2014

Recognize that the yarn they specify is sold in local yarn stores, aka LYSs. When I got that book lo these many moons ago, I was really confused to not find any of the listed yarns at my cheapo craft store. There are equivalent yarns available, but as a beginner I'd stick with what they tell you if I could. A worsted is not always a worsted.

You'll also need more than one size of needle. The recommended needle size is just that: a recommendation. You may knit tighter or looser than the gauge required, and that will mean that you need to go up or down a size or two.

Personally, I'd buy circular needles. They're way more versatile and comfortable than straights; you can use them for flat pieces too.

You should take a little time to knit some flat swatches and see how you knit before you start any of the projects. I've seen a lot of new knitters accidentally drop and pick up stitches here and there and get different stitch counts than expected.

Agreed on the Ravelry rec. This is a great book to start with; it gets you all jazzed up to make cool stuff that's pretty accessible. Have fun!
posted by Madamina at 6:21 PM on August 9, 2014


The very, very first thing I made from that book (which taught me how to knit) was a scarf - she calls it the "Go-Go Garter Stitch Scarf". This is perfect for a first project, because it uses big horkin' needles and big horkin' yarn, so you also finish faster.

For needles, you want "number 17" size needles - these are pretty big. As for yarn - you want anything "extra chunky" or "extra bulky". If you go into a craft store, ask them to show you which yarn is the right size - or, if you pick up the ball of yarn and look at the label, and you see a little picture of a ball of yarn on the label with a number on it, make sure that the number is number "6". You will need a total of 135 yards of that yarn - probably about 2-3 balls of yarn all together.

Some of the yarn in this size will be pretty expensive, if it's all made of fancy wool or alpaca. But you can also get nice acryllic yarn that's this size too, and that will be cheaper. (Look for "Lion Brand" in particular - their acryllic yarn isn't bad.)

As for what colors - well, that's up to you. The book will be telling you to get two or three different colors and switch every so often, and you can do that - but you may also fall in love with a yarn that's got all different colors already in it, and want to just stick to that one yarn and leave it at that. And you can totally do that!

That'll be a place to start; for more projects, I'd wait until you get the book, because she also walks you through how to shop for what you need.

Good luck!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would not advise starting with wool yarn. It's expensive, and you're going to make mistakes as you start, and some wool does not bounce back very nicely from being knitted then pulled out.

Honestly, to most beginners I would advise buying acrylic yarn and aluminum needles. Both inexpensive, both easy to work with. Aluminum needles tend to be slightly more slipperier (wow, I can't believe that's a word) so stitches will move along it more easily, and it will make learning easier. I would personally try and learn on about a size 8 - big enough so that it won't take forever, but small enough so that you can practice your tension.
posted by dithmer at 8:48 PM on August 9, 2014

It's one of the books included in Kindle Unlimited so if you have that you can see the Kindle version of the book in advance.

If you don't have Kindle Unlimited and/or if the above answers don't give you the answer you need, MeMail me and I can look it up on my own Kindle Unlimited account.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:25 PM on August 9, 2014

I would not advise starting with wool yarn. It's expensive, and you're going to make mistakes as you start, and some wool does not bounce back very nicely from being knitted then pulled out.

Honestly, to most beginners I would advise buying acrylic yarn and aluminum needles.

I just want to offer a counterpoint to this.

In my experience, wool yarn is way more forgiving than synthetics, especially of issues with your gauge which will hide a bit in the bloom. Also, if you're going to spend a kazillion hours making something, the end result should be something you actually want and will like. I knit my first sweater out of acrylic and after several months of work, I had an acrylic sweater -- something I would never have even considered buying in a store and which wasn't worth the time I spent on it.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:54 PM on August 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

To re-direct from Jacqueline's point -

Some acrylic yarn really is shit. Seriously. But some is quite good. That's why you'll get a lot of differing opinions about acrylic yarn; on the plus side it will be cheaper on the whole than wool, but on the minus side is the fact that some brands of acrylic really are shit.

The best thing to do is to feel the yarn first when you are buying it - seriously, pet the ball like it was a kitten or something, or grope it like it was a lover's hand - and if it's something you love the feel of, and can afford, then it's the right yarn, and it doesn't matter if it's acrylic or wool or unicorn hair or whatever.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:51 PM on August 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you're shopping online and the weights are confusing, look at the needle size recommended for the yarn on the ball band (paper around the yarn ball). You'll want something with a gauge of 20-24 stitches per 4", meant for needles from 4-5mm for your first projects. Sometimes these are listed as DK or sport. The beauty of the baby hat and ribbed scarf project is that size is flexible, so if you get the gauge wrong the first time, it'll still be a nice hat or scarf. Don't get anything with glitter or eyelash or fuzz the first time - smooth is easier to see what you're doing. Rowan, Cascade, Debbie Bliss and Sirdar are reliably good brands.
posted by viggorlijah at 11:11 PM on August 9, 2014

Also recommending circulars. They're more portable and allowed on planes. I did not find the stitch & bitch book particularly helpful in learning to knit. If you find yourself having trouble with beginning stitches, YouTube is your friend!
posted by quixotictic at 11:25 PM on August 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Right - I think I'm set. I've bought 3 sizes of circular needles and the big ones for the scarf and some wool. I think I'm quite lucky in terms of wool/ yarn. I'm in Australia and the prices seem quite reasonable (I'm also Kiwi so when I go back home for visits I can stock up if I need to).

Thanks for all the help :)
posted by poxandplague at 5:34 AM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're in Australia, then Bendigo Woollen Mills is worth knowing about. They sell wool relatively cheaply (~$12/200gm), and they post you sample cards every year.
posted by kjs4 at 7:39 PM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're in Australia (and I realize it's a big place) you might contact Mefi's own Web Goddess, who is an AMAZING knitter.
posted by Brittanie at 11:49 AM on August 11, 2014

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