My older daughter is new to knitting. She just began at the Boston Knit Out this past fall. So far she’s done several foofy garter scarves for herself and her friends (first lesson in casting on and the knit stitch); a 42-stitch hat (using DPNs to knit in the round, decreases); and a felted bag (more reinforcement of knitting in the round, plus making a larger project, and I-cord, and picking up along an edge).
You’ll notice that all of her finished items were all-knit/big yarn projects. She wanted to “graduate” from all-knit and learn purling. She also wanted to use smaller needles. So we talked it over, and she suggested doing a pair of ribbed fingerless mitts. In fingering weight yarn. On US #0s. Without a pattern.
Now, did I tell her that many adults break out in prickly heat at the thought of using DPNs, let alone size #0s? Or that a 56-stitch around wristlet can contain as many stitches as an entire big-needle sweater? Or that I’ve seen grown women cry when someone suggests they knit (gasp) without a pattern?
Naah. What she didn’t know couldn’t daunt her.
So she cast on and began knitting. And knitting. And knitting. She plugged away at her mitts every evening after homework, while we (as a family) played video games. At first, being new to purling, her stitches were loose and wobbly, with ladders in the corners between the DPNs. But practice soon took care of that:
For everyone who has ever said to me, “I tried DPNs but I couldn’t manage them,” or “It takes too long to learn something new,” I present her learning progression. She worked the bottom one first, then the top one, both using the same yaran, stitch count and needles. You can see how her gauge, stitch accuracy and general neatness improved steadily throughout the project.
Sure, one’s bigger than the other, but both are wearable, and she does wear them proudly.
Knitting takes time to learn – there’s no getting out of that fact. Some people DO learn faster than others, but everyone who wants to learn IS capable of doing so. The key is practice. Unfortunately practice is a dirty word in today’s instant-dissolve, short attention span world.
Not satisfied with how something is turning out? Keep at it. Do something small and inconsequential that uses the same skills. Work out the kinks and bugs on the practice piece rather than the luxe yarn you chose for your “real” project. But keep going. You CAN do it. As the Target Child says “No stinking piece of string was going to defeat me!”
Here’s her pattern. (She?thinks her fingerless mitts look like the disc-shooting zapper gauntlets worn by a character in one of her favorite PS2 games).
About 150 yards or so of a smooth non-itchy fingering weight sock yarn. This pair was knit in some remnants of On Line Linie 6 Supersocke 100 Cotton, but any sock yarn will do.
5 DPNs, Size US #0 (2mm)
Gauge: Approximately 9 stitches = 1 inch (2.5cm), measured over K2, P2 ribbing.
Cast on 56 stitches (14 stitches per needle). Join to continue working in the round. Knit six rows. Change to K2, P2 rib and work until piece measures approximately 4 inches long (10cm).
At the beginning of the next round, bind off 10 stitches. Continue working around wristlet. You should have one needle with 4 stitches on it, then three needles each with 14 stitches. When you get to the hole created by the bind-off, flip the work over and head back in the other direction. Work five more rows of K2, P2 rib this way – flat, ending at the right side of the growing thumb hole.
On the next row we return to knitting in the round. Start Needle #1 by casting on 10 stitches (all needles should have 14 stitches again). Continue in established K2, P2 ribbing pattern, working in the round until piece measures approximately 1 inch (2.5cm) measured from cast-on row above thumb opening. Bind off loosely in pattern, and darn in all ends.
(More in the cast-on series next week, I promise. Looking up all those links is more work than I have time for right now mid-deadline.)