Knit One, Curse One – Learning to Knit (Part 1)

Last night I dug my mum’s old needles out from where they had been abandoned several years ago and sat down with the intention of learning to knit. I had grand visions of creating a beautiful phone holder in knit 1, purl 1 rib stitch that would have a different colour edge and a handy little pocket for any little cards or notes that I may need to stash. After an hour of casting on, knitting one, dropping one, swearing a lot, frogging, casting on again and repeating the process over and over like some woolen circle of Dante’s hell, it would be fair to say that things did not go to plan. My temper was beginning to fray, I had accomplished nothing more than creating a mounting pile of yarn next to me and I was beginning to fear that if I didn’t put the needles down soon, someone was going to get seriously hurt. I abandoned the idea of learning from a book and Googled some video tutorials. Still nothing. The purl stitch had defeated me.

My mum's old knitting needles

My mum’s old knitting needles

I decided to crochet some African flower hexagons while I cleared my head and let my blood pressure return to normal. How was it possible that someone who could find crochet such a breeze, could find knitting so impossibly confusing? The knit stitch itself wasn’t too bad, but the purl seemed utterly alien. Would this mean that I would have to spend my life limited to garter stitch? As the pile of orange flowers grew beside me and my temper cooled somewhat I realised that this didn’t have to be the case.

Some African flowers brightened my mood

Some African flowers brightened my mood

I remembered how I had taught myself to crochet. Namely, I used a huge hook and very chunky yarn. This had the double benefit of allowing me to become familiar which the construction of the stitch- what it looked like and how it was held together- while I got used to the motion of hooking. It also meant that projects worked up quickly. I remembered that it was only after months of crocheting that I finally began to work with double knit yarn, so I wondered why I was putting myself through that torture now I was trying to learn another new skill. I put down my crochet hook and prepared to start again.

It was clear that the idea of the mobile phone holder may have to be put on ice. I also ditched the forest green dk yarn and switched to a soft, chunky, pastel mint colour instead. The 3 1/2 mm needles were switched for 6mm ones. I cast on 30 stitches with the intention to just familiarise myself with the knit stitch for a few rows. It seemed sensible to let my hands get used to holding and tensioning the wool differently, for my fingers to get used to the new actions I was expecting them to perform and for my head to let go of the idea of a particular project and to enjoy the process instead.

My knitting

My knitting

Once I let go of trying to control where I was heading, everything else seemed to fall into place. I managed to produce a reasonable piece of knitted fabric. There wasn’t any dropped stitches, the rows looked even, all in all a pretty fine job. As of yet I have no idea what it will become but that doesn’t matter. What it represents is the first step towards learning to knit and that is enough for now.

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