Resources for the beginning knitter?
April 8, 2004 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday's knitting post has inspired me. My gf's birthday is coming up soon and I'm at a loss for gift ideas. She has mentioned an interest in learning to knit in the past. What equipment would you suggest for a beginner? Are there any especially good books geared for beginners? Are kits the way to go?
posted by ttrendel to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
stitch n bitch, by debbie stoller. tremendously helpful; i was able to pick up knitting from this book when i never could before. as far as yarns, needles, etc -- perhaps a 'gift certificate' for an excursion for the yarn store? she can pick out what she wants to try and then the employees can help her pick out yarn, needles, etcetera.

and though i love to knit in wool, acrylic, IMO, really is the way to go for a beginner -- it is quite easy to work with.
posted by sugarfish at 10:40 AM on April 8, 2004

For when her needles and scissors start getting lost:
The Organized Knitter
posted by scottandrew at 11:13 AM on April 8, 2004

The only book my wife has is Stich n Bitch by Stoller (mentioned by sugarfish above). She loves it. I've heard several other beginners swear by their copies.
posted by jdroth at 1:39 PM on April 8, 2004

I'd second the yarn store certificate. Check and see if they have classes, as that's a great way to start. For most beginners it's big needles and bulky yarn as it's easy to work. My LYS has a deal where for $60 you get a lifelong membership in their club, and they encourage beginners. Books are great, but can't replace having someone there to help you out.

If the local shop doesn't offer classes you could go for a kit, but you're taking the chance that she'll like the pattern and yarn. Personally I've never bought a kit, didn't when I was starting out. I preferred my own yarn choices.

Good luck!
posted by Salmonberry at 1:41 PM on April 8, 2004

Oh, the club I mentioned is one that meets once a week and has experienced and beginner knitters, plus the shop staff to assist with all questions. It's double the cost of a book, but great value, I think.
posted by Salmonberry at 1:43 PM on April 8, 2004

I'd vote for the gift certificate, a copy of a how-to book (I can't recommend the best book since I learned from my mother 22 years ago), maybe a nice shoulder bag or basket in which she can stow her materials, or maybe if you're feeling especially generous, a subscription to Vogue Knitting or Family Circle's Easy Knitting magazine. These knitting magazines have around 30 patterns in every issue, plus technical tips and articles about designers, and she'll keep them forever.
posted by orange swan at 1:47 PM on April 8, 2004

Great ideas. Also maybe consider a set of Denise needles. She'll be able to work on lots of beginner projects that way without having to constantly buy new sizes. If you do go with straights, note that beginners do better with larger needles but only up to a certain point. I've taught a couple folks and I generally start them out with 5mms. If you get much thicker than a pencil, people start to have difficulty holding them (and as soon as you drop a needle that size, all the stitches fall off).

Other book recommendations: Sally Melville's "The Knit Stitch" and "The Purl Stitch". The pictures and descriptions are great and the designs are a little less "alternateen" than in the Stitch n Bitch book.
posted by web-goddess at 8:03 PM on April 8, 2004

one thing: i wouldn't necessarily go with the denises at first. they're kind of a hefty investment for someone who isn't sure that she would like knitting (around US 50) and not everyone likes the kind of sticky plastic tips.

not that i don't love mine. :D
posted by sugarfish at 8:39 PM on April 8, 2004

I'd also agree that Stitch n Bitch is an awesome, awesome book. The instructions are great and the patterns/projects are way cooler (more trendy, less...ugly) than many other books. I also have Knitting for Dummies, which has some quite nice projects and shows you how to do a TON of interesting texture patterns (including some cable patterns that were fun to try), which is very fun if you want to do something more fancy than ribbing.

I don't like most of the kits I've seen. I'd go with yarn + needles + book rather than a kit. You can get a couple skeins of just a basic solid color you think she'd like (the multi-colored yarns sometimes look like complete ass--"Wow, I didn't realize how much that pukey green stands out from the blues and tans") and a pair of needles (size 7 is a decent starter size, you can do a lot with 'em, but I started with 10s and found it easier to work with larger needles on my very first project). Also, I've found I liked metal needles MUCH better than plastic ones at first--at least until I started loosening up my stitches.

Or, use the needles and yarn recommended for a beginner project from whatever book you end up getting (Stitch n Bitch has a couple scarves that are way easy--and scarves are the PERFECT starter project).

I've successfully taught a friend, my two sisters, and two roommates to knit (after pretty much teaching myself from books). Each started with a little test square (something like a potholder) to figure out how to do the stitches. All of those swatches were equally hideous, but once they started on their first "real" project, they had figured most things out, and could totally pass for "real" knitters. Assure your girlfriend that even if her first attempts look really, really, really bad, it'll get better quickly.

Re: Orange Swan's suggestion about Vogue Knitting: Some of those patterns are awesome, a lot are kinda "ouch, can't believe they made the model wear that!" However, they do have A LOT of really helpful info in each issue. I saw several old issues at a library book sale a week might be able to find a couple old ones for a buck or two before paying $20 for a subscription.
posted by katieinshoes at 9:07 AM on April 9, 2004

« Older Is there a Peep for Windows?   |   Which Degree? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.