I have decided to start documenting the wisdom I acquire as I proceed as a knitter, in hope to enlighten other emerging knitters. Some of these may seem laughably obvious to many of you, but as a self-taught knitter I had to learn these lessons the hard way!
- Do not attempt to knit a scarf in stockinette stitch unless you want it to curl into a roll. With the right yarn and expectations this can be a nice effect, but otherwise you will get five inches into a scarf and wonder what tricks the laws of physics are playing on you.
- Straight needles are passé. They are what people used in the time before circular needles. Circulars are more ergonomic, keeping the stress off your wrists because your work lies in the center instead of one hand or the other. You can use circulars to knit two or three dimensional projects, already making them twice as useful as straight needles. For knitting in the round in smaller sizes you can use two circulars together instead of DPNs, which can cause laddering between needles if you are not careful. You can find nice sets of circulars with interchangeable tips and save yourself some money.
- Experiment with different needle materials – plastic, wood, bamboo, metal, resin, et al – and find which ones you prefer. I started buying bamboo needles because they appeal to my aesthetic paradigm. I like the idea of honing the needles over time, conditioning them with lanolin off my wool projects. Passing on old, dented, loved needles to children and grandchildren. But I decided to give metal a chance after someone mentioned what a difference there was between the two – as far as I was concerned the only difference was the appearance! Since I tend to knit tightly, using metal needles was a great switch for me. Yarn slides on and off with dramatic ease, and I have become a much faster knitter. I also know that the needle material can be beneficial depending on the fiber of yarn or intricacy of project. I can see how bamboo needles would be preferred for a tiny lace project.
- If you are knitting intarsia and plan on felting, make sure to leave the crossover strands plenty loose. Otherwise your work will pinch when you felt.
- Allow knitting to be a creative experience and free yourself to making mistakes and being experimental! Until then, you will be stuck making garter stitch scarves!