by Alice Seidel
One of the things I love about knitting is that there is always something new to know about! So much information is out there, in magazines, knitting books, websites; it can become confusing very quickly if you don't know just what is basic to your knitting needs.
After all, do you really need to know what brand of lighted knitting needles to purchase or which brand of silk yarn will knit up best with that advanced pattern you found, when you still want not-so-advanced information?
In this article, I've searched my files for the best basics for knitters! When you have this knowledge, so much of the rest will begin to make better sense.
Knitting Needle basics. There are the straight needles we all know and use, but what do you do with double-pointed & circular needles? Double pointed needles come in sets of four or five and are used to make items such as mittens, socks, and other round pieces. Circular needles are used when casting on a large number of stitches, i.e. 100 or more, and then you "knit in the round". When you knit a large afghan or sweater, circular needles are wonderful. They are easy on your fingers, and can be taken anywhere.
Yarn basics. Does it matter which yarn I knit with? It sure does! With so many yarns available these days, choosing what to use can be a dilemma. So, I recommend read your instructions and read the yarn labels. There's a whole host of info on those yarn labels. When knitting baby items, use soft sport yarn or fine or fingering yarn. For sweaters use worsted yarn. For afghans, worsted, wool, DK or Aran yarn works best. For rugs or sturdy jackets, use bulky or chunky yarns. Be sure to find out how much yarn comes with each skein, as each project calls for a specific amount of yarn, and each skein/ball of yarn is different. Always buy enough yarn in the same dye lots, even if you have to buy one extra, just to be sure. In time, you'll have quite a stash of extra yarn and that's when you can use your best knitting creativity to use those all up!
Gauge basics. I see the word "gauge" in every pattern I find. Is it that important? It depends. If you are knitting a scarf or place-mats or other specialty items, then gauge is not that important. But, for items to wear or even afghans, it is very important to know how many stitches per inch and per row, you are knitting with. The required gauge is always specified in every pattern, and before you begin that project, make a gauge swatch to measure correctness. If your gauge numbers are too small, try using larger needles and vice versa. Some knitters knit more tightly than others, so never go by what someone else's knitting produces.
It is mastering the basics, whether they be for knitting, cooking, painting, mothering, or brain surgery, that will make all the rest easy to do!
Remember, when you get to know the basics, you can create a world of knitting magic for yourself, that you will find, is just what you have been looking for! Knitting........enjoy!
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