Re-learning to knit
April 14, 2020 6:43 PM   Subscribe

I learned some very basic knitting skills and finished a few projects about 15 years ago, and I've barely touched my needles and yarn since. Now that I'm spending so much time inside, and I've eaten most of my Easter candy, how can I re-learn to knit?

I'm barely more than a novice. I've finished a couple of scarves, a baby blanket, and a couple hats. My friends taught me the first time I learned, and I've struggled to learn from books. And, I think my friend would normally cast on for me, because I could never quite get it. So, this is closer to "explain knitting like I'm 5" than reminding me how to do something. My knitting was all pre-internet life for me. Where are the best places to learn? Or, what are the best video guides to beginner knitting? Are there apps that help?
posted by gladly to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I just started knitting regularly last year. YouTube is the best. Honestly, I can't even really recommend one channel over another because there are so many good ones and it really depends on what you want to do. There are tons and tons of super clear, SUPER slow tutorial videos for even the most basic things AND you can keep rewinding if you miss it the first time.

If I had to recommend one resource, Purl Soho's free patterns and their tutorials are super comprehensive. Maybe try doing another baby blanket or two, or a tea towel or something, just to get back into the groove? After having knit a number of scarves and a toque, I pushed myself to knit a chunky sweater with circular needles - it was way easier than I expected and learned a ton. I got through it by googling the pattern symbols when I didn't know them and then YouTubing the techniques I didn't know. Also learning how to fix mistakes was a game changer (again, just YouTube!) because I didn't feel like I had to completely dump a project every time.
posted by thebots at 6:52 PM on April 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

I love They seem to have a "how to knit" tutorial, which I've never watched. I've used them for particular techniques, like stitches, increases, and cast-ons, and their videos for that are really clear. One thing to know is that they show everything for both English and Continental knitting, so you need to figure out which one of those you learned. So, for example, here's their video about how to cast on using the knitting-on method (a good one for beginners) in English knitting. Here's the same cast-on in Continental knitting.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:05 PM on April 14, 2020 [4 favorites]

I like Very Pink Knits technique videos. The basics series.
posted by Joleta at 7:07 PM on April 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Youtube is good for knitting. I can't recommend a specific channel, just that there are a lot of options, and video is actually pretty good for teaching knitting.

I just had a quick look, and found this tutorial for a dishcloth. It seems pretty good, nice and slow. But if her teaching style doesn't suit, try someone else.

The main issue with learning to knit is making a mistake and not being able to fix it yourself. Lighter coloured, reasonably thick wool (at least DK weight) makes it easier to see what is going on, but you may find that you have to do a lot of unravelling or thinking (unknitting each stitch one at a time), without a nice helpful person nearby who can do a quick fix for you. There are some videos on youtube about fixing mistakes, which can be useful to watch, but mostly mistakes become easier to fix when you understand what it should look like.
posted by kjs4 at 7:08 PM on April 14, 2020

I'm not sure a bunch of hats, scarves and blankets qualifies you as a beginner, I think that you will get into the rhythm of it again very quickly. And once you do, can I recommend Ravelry? They have amazing resources for searching patterns and yarns. You can search the patterns by difficulty, and they have lots of beginner patterns.

There has been an explosion in the number of ways to cast on in the last decade, I recommend looking at YouTube tutorials to find one that works for you.
posted by Lycaste at 7:24 PM on April 14, 2020 [5 favorites]

Youtube for sure. Make a playlist on there so you can save items and subscribe to channels that you like their style. If you're wanting to pay, then Skillshare. Ravelry has free and paid patterns. Some of the free patterns link to a Youtube tutorial. (I crochet, at a beginner ish level.)
posted by Crystalinne at 7:24 PM on April 14, 2020

My personal suggestion is to find small projects that'll give you joy when you finish them, because let's be honest, this is not the time to dive right in to something that's going to be a long tedious slog. Dishcloths or washcloths or bath scrubbies are great, very satisfying to do & a nice feeling when you use them (I made this!) but knitting with cotton yarn can make your hands stiff & sore - there's very little springiness to it (unlike wool, which is really boingy). Hats are good too, and this is a great time of year to knit mittens or fingerless gloves because you're not gonna be in a hurry to get them done. If you're feeling bold, try some nice cushy house socks in heavier yarn like a DK or something.

oh and yeah, you need Ravelry :) it's a super place to be
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 7:39 PM on April 14, 2020

Yes to all of the above! Also, if you're still not getting the hang of casting on, can I suggest Jeny's surprisingly stretchy cast on? It's essentially a series of slipknots, and while it's not always the best cast on to use, it's my go-to for hats and top down socks regardless of which cast on the pattern says to use.
posted by kiripin at 7:49 PM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I came across this collection of patterns a few years ago while searching for a way to get back into knitting and while I can’t vouch for them directly, it’s a nice collection that clearly tells you what skills you’ll be adding with each pattern and includes the necessary tutorials.
posted by MadamM at 8:55 PM on April 14, 2020

I have also liked Very Pink Knits, though I didn't start with videos and have used VPK for more advanced stuff. Videos really are so much better than books. I think if you made a few hats and scarves, you'll find your hands have some memory of it and it won't take long. There are techniques I learned and then didn't use for a while and though I had to look them up, they came back very quickly.
posted by less of course at 9:11 PM on April 14, 2020

Scarves, blankets and hats tells me you've got pretty much all the basics down - casting on and off, a few stitches, seaming, decreasing, reading a pattern. I really don't think you have much to worry about "re-learning". I think the best way to set yourself up for success is to find a project you're really excited about and throw yourself into it. Ravelry is my go to for patterns, so many for free too! Just filter down to the materials you have (needle size, yarn weight) so that you can get started right away. Procrastination and indecision was always my nemesis when it came to knitting (and hobbies in general).
posted by like_neon at 2:28 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you do run into a problem you can’t figure out how to fix on your own memail me and I’ll try to help! Or just post on Ravelry, someone will be able to help you there for sure.
posted by mskyle at 4:20 AM on April 15, 2020

For dealing with mistakes: It took me a while to figure out how to "tink" (k-n-i-t backwards) without twisting the stitches but they can be untwisted as you redo the row. Also, if the pattern is a bit complicated you can add a "lifeline" by sewing a thread through the stitches on the needle every few rows. Then, if you spot a mistake, you can "frog" (rip it, rip it) just back to the thread without have stitches run all the way down. There's also the fun jargon.
posted by Botanizer at 5:15 AM on April 15, 2020

I find Jeny’s cast on to be fiddly and hard for beginners. I recommend using the knit cast-on as your go-to cast-on at the start. It’s much easier to remember because it’s almost the same as making a knit stitch.

Just do straight knitting till it’s super comfortable, then add the purl stitch. Try to learn one new skill with every project and you’ll be an expert before you know it!
posted by rikschell at 5:48 AM on April 15, 2020

While relearning, consider different knitting techniques. I found continental style knitting to be not only faster, but easier on my hands/forearms compared to the English style which is how most in NA are initially taught.
posted by nobeagle at 5:51 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

New Stitch A Day: Knitting and Crochet VIdeo Tutorials
I am a crocheter, not a knitter, but this is one of my go-to sites for learning stitches and techniques.
posted by TrishaU at 12:17 PM on April 15, 2020

Down, down the rabbit hole.... let's add some more sites.
Sheep and Stitch: 9 knitting tips and 11 more knitting tips. These work for us crocheters, too. Good job!
The basics by RJ Knits: how to knit for beginners, and easy purl knitting.
Really, I'm starting to get excited here. I've got a blanket to finish (I usually do fiberart in the cold weather), then I might be getting into this. Or not, since the yarn stores are locked down. Dammit.
posted by TrishaU at 1:32 PM on April 15, 2020

Ravelry's Local Yarn Shop finder allows you to search for yarn stores in your vicinity. Some of them have given information about how they're doing sales during the coronavirus crisis. For instance, my LYS is doing phone sales with porch pickup. (My stupid state does not have a stay-at-home order, because they're stupid. But I think porch pickup is probably pretty safe.) This is actually a really good time to support your local yarn store if they're doing mail-order or something similar, and I bet they'd be happy to help you find the right yarn if you explained the project you were planning and let them know your yarn preferences.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:29 PM on April 15, 2020

There are a lot of different and quite simple pattern stitches like ribs, moss stitch and basket weave that you can knit on a sampler to get the hang of and turn into a blanket or a scarf when you understand them. They can also help you understand how to follow a pattern by working out what the previous row was doing so that you can se where you’re going wrong on the row you’re working. Once you get the hang of that then you’ll see the same logic in things like sock heels and raglan sleeves where the increases and decreases all line up on top of one another.

Basically you’re teaching yourself, in small steps, how the pattern hangs together, and once you get it you pick up on your mistakes in the moment, rather than rows later, and save an amazing amount of frustration because of mistakes - and believe me when I say we all make mistakes.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 10:49 PM on April 15, 2020

Response by poster: AskMe is the very best. I think I took something from every single answer, and I'm so glad that I didn't donate my knitting supplies when I last moved. I watched a bunch of YT videos, made a play list, and now I feel really good about doing the long tail cast on. You guys were right, remembering the stitches was muscle memory, and they came back to me. Plus, knowing that there are so many resources for patterns and supplies makes me really excited to keep going.
posted by gladly at 6:11 AM on April 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

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