Over the past few months, I have been fortunate enough to learn the skill of knitting. Let me tell you, it was not easy. Knitting and me were not exactly the best of friends. The reasons for this are many:
- I seldom read instructions (Knitting typically requires the use of patterns, and I am guilty of not even learning how to read those).
- I can’t focus for long periods of time. (The second I lost focus, I would accidentally drop a stitch, and it became a constant game of picking up my dropped stitch.)
- I like to start over when I make a mistake. (Knitting was particularly challenging in this regard, as many mistakes were made).
- I rarely have a lot of time on my hands. (Knitting is time consuming, even more so than I thought at the beginning).
However, despite these struggles, I am incredibly grateful that I took up knitting, and even managed to knit my own infinity scarf (without following any particular pattern of course.) The trials were gruesome, and perhaps my own stubborn attitude added considerably to the difficulty level, but nonetheless, I found a way to power through and come out with a final product I am happy about.
(Me, happily wearing my finished product).
Skills I learned (Pertaining to knitting)
Over the course of this project, I tried to learn something new for every post. I was actually more or less successful in that endeavour.
- How to make a slip knot : this is perhaps the most important thing to learn, because without it, you can’t start knitting. It’s the very first stitch of any project! (My mother later told me I could just use a simple knot, but I decided to do things like the videos told me!)
- How to cast on: (You will find that a lot of my skills were learned from one video). This was by far the most frustrating part of my experience. I spent longer learning how to cast on than I did on any single paper in University. It was nearly the end of my knitting journey, but I persevered. (In addition to the video, I had a lot of help learning this part from my sister and mother)
- The knit stitch: This was another frustrating part of my journey. When I first started, I somehow picked up extra stitches, and randomly dropped stitches. My first few hours, I had very little to show for, but I knew I was improving. (The picture on the left is what I had to show for my first few hours. The picture on the right is after I got the hang of it.)
- What to do when you run out of yarn: Contrary to popular belief, or at least my original belief, running out of yarn is not a reason to go into a state of full on panic. As the video shows, there are easy ways to join a new ball of yarn to your project. However, they leave pesky tails hanging out of your scarf, as can be seen in the following picture.
- How to bind off: Although I had a video to learn how to bind off, my sister happened to be visiting, and I found it much easier to ask her how to finish my project. Luckily, I got this on my first shot, and didn’t have the same frustrations as every other step.
- How to weave in loose ends: Once again, I chose to take advantage of my sister being around to learn how to weave in my tails. However, I figured including the video would allow anyone else hoping to learn how to knit. (See my blog post on my final steps here)
- How to link both ends of my scarf: Admittedly, I did not use a video at all for this. My sister simply told me it was the same as weaving in the tails from when I added yarn, and away I went. The picture is when I have almost completely finished attaching both ends.
Now, although I feel like I have come a long way, there are still two skills I would like to learn:
- How to purl: Although it was in the video, I chose to not learn a second stitch during this project because I really wanted to achieve mastery over one stitch before learning a second.
- How to read patterns: As I do plan on knitting in the future, it would be crazy not to learn how to read a pattern. Even if I am not a big fan of instructions. Patterns seem to be important, and my decision not to learn how to read them may very well have made my journey that much longer.
Other things I’ve learned:
- Knitting is for everyone: I learned that knitting isn’t reserved for older ladies. It can be a fun experience for kids, and it is extremely exciting to finish your first project. I guess you can’t believe everything you see on T.V.
- You will make mistakes: At first, my mistakes were limiting. Every mistake I made, I felt I had to start over. And so I did. It was only after a few hours that I decided to keep going when I made a mistake. That is when I really started to see progress.
- Knitting requires some focus: When I picked up knitting, I thought I would be able to do it absent-mindedly, sort of like when I use a fidget toy. Turns out, I could, if I was okay with making a lot of mistakes. Which, I wasn’t.
- Patience is a necessity: I am not always a patient person, especially when it comes to myself. I always get over-excited, and try to rush things, and knitting is not something you can rush easily.
- Time: Knitting requires time. I always thought I could come away with an amazing final product with very little time invested into knitting. I was wrong. This simple scarf I made required more hours than any other project I have attempted in University. It took time, patience, and perseverance.
- Following a pattern might make life easier: Although I willingly chose not to follow a pattern, I have a feeling that if I did, my scarf would have turned out much better. Or at least, I may have learned more about knitting than I actually did.
- I am a very hands-on learner: Although I used videos for most of this project, I found out that I learn a lot better when someone is right in front of me, showing and explaining the steps. Then, I have to attempt it by myself. Videos are a great way to learn, but for me, they were far from optimal.And perhaps the most realization I had from knitting:
- Knitting is a metaphor for life. Every single stitch represents a different moment, a different decision, a different day. Most stitches happen as expected: They are easy, and they look as they supposed to. However, sometimes, you will make mistakes. It might be dropping a stitch, or picking up an extra stitch. Those feel horrible and might be preventable. But ultimately, they can be fixed. In the end product, you can hardly tell where I made such mistakes. Finally, some things are out of your control. Sometimes, the yarn has a tight knot in it, or it will split. At the time, it feels bad, and it seems like it’s the end of the road. However, there are ways around it. There are a few times, when making my scarf, such a thing occurred. Not going to lie: I was ready to give up. I thought it was the end of the world. Instead, I decided to keep on going. To find a fix, and keep knitting. Now, looking at my scarf, you can hardly see where these things occurred. It’s just like life. Sometimes, you will make mistakes, and other times, things will happen to you that are out of your control. They aren’t the end of the world, and looking back, they make up a rather small blemish on the entirety of your life. These small blemishes aren’t worth ending and starting anew. Actually, they are more a mark of perseverance. When things got tough, you kept going, knowing that in the end, something much better awaited.
Knitting gave me a lot of time to look deep inside myself, and discover something that has been missing all along. Knitting taught me that in life, accidents will happen. Sometimes, you can fix them, others you can’t. But the most important thing is to keep going. To not give up, and realize that no matter how big a mistake may seem at that time, it is small in the grand scheme of things.
So, you want to be a knitter too?
Over this experience, I have explored a number of sources, despite only really using two resources for my project:
- YouTube: YouTube is amazing for learning anything. There is a how-to video for every skill under the Sun, and knitting is no exception. For this project, I relied primarily on one video from Hobby Lobby on YouTube. However, that particular channel has a number of different videos pertaining to knitting, and other hobbies that I may check out in the future.
- A real, live knitter: The greatest resource I had was having someone near me who knows how to knit. Whenever I was stuck to the point of frustration, I was able to have someone explain/show me how to proceed. I highly suggest finding someone who knows how to knit before embarking on this journey. But, if you can’t, other resources work too!
- Ravelry and LoveKnitting : These are two sites I was planning on using, but didn’t due to opting not to use a pattern. For my next project in knitting, I will likely find a pattern off of one of these sites, as they have plenty of different options to choose from.
- The LoveKnitting App: This app has both Ravelry and LoveKnitting included. It is designed for you to keep patterns on your Smartphone. These patterns are found on the aforementioned websites. It is a nifty little app, that makes finding the pattern you’ve been working with a cinch.
This is the end of my knitting learning project. When I first started out on this journey, I never would have dreamed of getting as far as I did. The first weeks were frustrating, and the mistakes were multiple. I learned so much, both about knitting, and about myself as a person/learner. I hope this project inspires others to take up knitting, or at least give it a shot. Nothing is more satisfying then completing your first project, even if it is riddled with errors.