BEGINNERS : Where to start?
So you want to get back to basics! To learn a new skill and make delicious woolly goodies for yourself, your family and friends. To practice mindful meditation, to slow down and relax. Maybe you are in home isolation and have some time on your hands!
"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either." Elizabeth Zimmermann
There are so many reasons to take up knitting & crochet. All are fabulous and we hope we can point you in the right direction.
Q1. What do you want to make? A scarf is great beginner project, cotton washers are very practical and good opportunity to practice stitch patterns, a blanket is super cosy and can be small for a baby or giant for your whole family!
Beanies are a good next step. Learning to knit them flat and then sewing up a seam will introduce the new techniques such as decreasing and shaping. You can still use traditional straight needles for these.
Knitting in the round is one of our favourite types of knitting to create seamless items especially socks, beanies and sweaters. To knit in the round you will need to experiment with circular needles and / or double pointed needles.
A simple crochet hook will be suitable for most crochet projects.
Check out our favourite beginner friendly projects or browse our INSPIRATION menu where we collate our notes and photos of the projects we have been working on.
Q2. What yarn are you going to use? We aim to provide useful specifications for all of the yarns we stock along with pattern suggestions and links to Ravelry patterns that use the yarn. This should be included in the description section of each yarn.
The main considerations...
Fibre : wool, cotton, linen etc... what do you like? We try to stock mostly 100% natural fibres that are ethically farmed and produced. We also like to support Australian producers where possible.
Weight : can be light and delicate all the way up to chunky and robust. DK / 8 ply is right in the middle. Chunky yarn knits faster - instant gratification - however speed is not everything!
Needle/Hook Size : each yarn will have a recommended needle/hook size that suits the yarn weight.
Generally, thin yarns need thin needles and chunky yarns need chunky needles.
As a rule increasing needle size will give more drape. Decreasing needle size makes for a tighter weave.
Care : machine washable vs handwash. Depends on your needs, lifestyle!
The knitty gritty...
A note about Gauge : Look a bit closer at your yarn label and you will see a gauge specification.
This is the measurement of the number of stitches & rows achieved over a 10x10cm swatch of fabric (usually knit in stockinette stitch or UK double crochet). For example DK/8PLY is usually 22st and 30rows using 4mm needles and Fingering/4PLY is 28st and 36rows using 3.25mm needles. The gauge will be different for crochet.
A pattern will also be designed for a specific gauge and will adjust the stitch counts and measurements to accommodate different finished sizes. The pattern will provide a recommendation for needle/hook size to achieve the gauge.
We all knit with variations on tension so it is highly recommended to knit a tension square and measure the resultant gauge to ensure the best results. You may need to go up or down in needle/hook size to achieve gauge! If you have too many stitches in the 10cm then you need to go up a needle/hook size and conversely if you have too few stitches you will need to go down a size.
You should also consider the resultant fabric and the drape or weave achieved. You might like a looser gauge and want to choose to make a smaller size with larger needles hoping that the finished item is your desired size! Experiment and practice is recommended :)
Matching the yarn, pattern, needles/hook and your own tension is especially important for garments. Ultimately you will want your finished item to match the size and measurements you have chosen from the pattern.
A note about Ravelry : Ravelry is one of our favourite online communities for knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, and dyers. It's often our first stop when looking for patterns and inspiration. Most designers have their patterns available through the site - for free or for purchase. It is a valuable resource and is free to use - thanks to the wonderful team at Ravelry and the community that have embraced it.
You can save your favourite patterns, collate them in bundles and add them to your queue. You are also welcome to add your own projects - with notes and photos which act as a notebook for you. This is super useful so you can see how a pattern performs by makers 'in the wild' around the world. Different yarns, colours, sizes and body shapes. The search facility is amazing and we are always finding new and useful criteria and features. We have a Cast off Collective group on Ravelry to share projects. You could join us too.
We hope this helps. Relax and have fun.