Learning to knit from a pattern

by Liz Beavis
Over the past couple of winters I've been teaching myself to knit.  Actually my grannie and mum taught be to knit when I was young, but I had to relearn some of the details and teach myself to do more than just knit back and forth.  I made a few simple items, I tried knitting "in the round", ribbing, stocking stitch and started a sock.  So far though I had not managed to follow a pattern and I was still confused about the terminology.  My ultimate aim (apart from finishing two socks) is to finish a vest, from a pattern, so it was time to learn what all those letters meant!


I asked Penguin to send me a knitting book to review and they sent me The Big Book of Knitting.  This book has 100 knitting patterns, including jumpers, cardigans, socks, gloves, scarves and toys.  Not all of them interest me, and not all of them are easy enough for me, but there are plenty for me to chose from!  All the patterns are beautifully photographed.  Strangely, all the patterns are listed at the start of the book, and all the instructions are at the end.  Its doesn't really matter where they are though.  The instructions cover all possible options for casting on, casting off, increasing, decreasing, even cabling and knitting with beads.  Each step of each stitch is photographed in detail and large enough that they are very easy to follow.  There is also a table that explains each abbreviation in the patterns.

The illustrations are very detailed and helpful


As I followed the first pattern that I chose (arm warmers), I was able to flick to the table to check what the pattern meant, and then to the photograph of the stitch if I wasn't sure how to do it.  Sure all of this is on the internet, and I have looked it up there before, but its much quicker to be able to stay put on the couch in front of the fire and flick through the pattern book instead of getting up and looking at the computer, and searching for a decent diagram or youtube.

Disappointingly, there were some mistakes in the pattern I chose, and the left thumb turned out larger than it was supposed to (and the hand too tight), I will be unpicking that and fixing it now that I finished the right hand and it fits perfectly.  Actually, even though it was frustrating, it was good experience to use a pattern with a mistake as I was suspicious when the number of stitches didn't add up, and then as I was knitting mirror images, I was able to figure out where the mistake was as I knitted the other hand.  

Apart from being annoyed that I will have to unpick the first thumb, it was kind of interesting to dissect the mirror-image pattern, which I may not have done if they had turned out ok in the first place.  I had to think about each step far more than I would have had to do if I could have just blindly followed the instructions.  I may be able to spot mistakes more easily in future, I'm sure they are quite common in knitting patterns, it must be hard to check every line of every pattern!  I will also not use stripes on a new pattern, as its much harder to unpick and fix mistakes without wasting lots of wool.

The left thumb of my armwarmer is too large, but it was good practice


By the way, the wool is from the haberdashery stall at the Nanango markets, so it didn't cost me much, and I only had a ball of each colour.  I have a bit of a stash from that stall, its good to have some cheap wool to experiment with while I'm learning.

The only thing missing from the book is a women's vest pattern!  But I have plenty of patterns from the op shop and I should be able to follow them with the help of this book.  I just have to finish those socks first.....

Are you knitting this winter?  What are you making?  Any tips for beginners?

See below Amazon Affiliate links for a few knitting books that I find useful including the one I mentioned above.  If you buy through these links I get a small commission at no extra cost for you.  If you're reading this on email or blog reader, you will need to visit my blog to see all the links.

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