Saturday, August 30, 2008

Knitting Basics: Casting On, Knit, Purl, Stockinet, Garter...

First and Foremost.

I think the best thing for beginners to do is to use light weight, sizes 7-10 needles and medium to thick yarn when starting up their first lessons. Thicker yarn promotes faster results and larger needles are less hard on the fingers and also help pick up speed. The trick is finding a needle size that has a diameter closer to that of a pencil or pen.  Most people  are very familiar with the girth and weight of such a utensil and holding a needle of similar size will make learning a bit easier. Another thing is buying metal needles over plastics for smoother surfaces that will allow the yarn to slip off more easily. Beginners have a tendency to knit very tightly making it difficult to move the yarn from one needle tip to the other. In essence, the more comfortable you start out the better. Becoming frustrated can turn the craft sour, undesirable and more likely to be dropped.


BE PATIENT. Two thing this craft will do is teach you some much needed patience if you are lacking in such virtue or make you hate it with all your heart.

Of course, the very first thing to learn is Casting on. Without it there can be no knitting. I have come to understand that there are a number of various ways to Cast on. I, however, have only learned two methods; the Knit-on Cast-on , and the Single Cast-on.
I personally prefer the Single Cast-on method since it makes for a much faster casting on and creates a "cleaner", neater, and more even looking edge for the project. The down side to this method is that it will slow you down come time to knit the first row since the cast on falls on the needle so tightly and does not make for easy "picking".
The Knit-on Cast-on, on the other hand, will at first take a bit more time and will not look as nice. The perks to this method is that it is actually the very first row of the pattern itself and allows you to continue knitting a lot more easily and faster since the first stitches are already there and falling looser on the needle.

Try both and see which one fits your fancy.

There are two main stitches to live by in knitting: the Purl and the Knit. For clarity sake I've recorded two videos showing how to make both the purl and knit stitches and posted them up here: How to make a Purl stitch, How to make a Knit stitch. In most patterns they are usually abbreviated P for purl and K for Knit.

Knit stitches will take on the shape of multiple V's (\/), while purl stitches generally look like horizontal dashes (----).

 To the left is a photo of a 30x30 row purl stitch swatch... 

To the right is a photo of a 30x30 row knit stitch swatch..

Stockinet stitch.
The pattern needed to get the two opposite sides shown in the above photos is called the Stockinet Stitch. It is one of the simplest of knitting patterns and can be done by knitting only knit stitches for one entire row, purl stitches in the next, and then continuing the alternation until the desired length is reached. This pattern creates two distinguishing sides. Meaning that there will be two visible and textural differences between opposite sides as seen again in the photos.

The Garter Stitch.

The Garter Stitch is the next pattern and by far the easiest of all. It can be done simply by knitting with only knit stitches or purl stitches for every row till you reach your desired length. It looks very similar to the all purl side of the Stockinet Stitches and can be very hard to tell apart. If you look hard enough in between the stitches, though, the Garter Stitch will have purls stitches further away from its preceding purl stitches below it. To the left is a photo of what Garter Stitch should look like.

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