Encouragement for New Knitters

I learned how to knit in college, when a friend taught me the basics: loop cast-on, knit stitch, purl stitch, and binding off.  For the next several weeks I worked on a practice square.  I tried to do a row or two every day.  My square was only fifteen stitches across, but during those first weeks one row took me about ten minutes.  I realized that I was improving when I saw that my rows were gradually getting tighter, especially on the ends.  When my knitting looked smooth enough, I unraveled my practice square and began my first project.  I continued to learn more skills by reading books, trying patterns, and watching technique videos online.

I feel for new knitters that I meet.  It seems that most of them are beginning their knitting career by making a scarf in garter stitch.  They have been working on it for what seems like forever.  They are discouraged, they don't see how they will ever improve, and they want to give up.  If this is you, I have several ideas that I hope will encourage you:

1) Learning how to knit takes time.  When you're just beginning to learn, don't expect to be presenting hand-knit gifts to your admiring friends and family a week later.  Have realistic expectations for yourself so you won't get discouraged by what might feel like a lack of progress.  Just enjoy the process of learning as knitted fabric slowly develops between your hands.

2) Persistence is the key to mastering knitting techniques.  There have been so many times that I would spend days agonizing over a new skill I was trying to learn.  I just kept trying, and eventually I got it figured out.  If the directions you are using are confusing you, try looking up that technique somewhere else.  The internet is full of pattern and video resources.

3) For your first project, pick something small.  I do not recommend starting with a scarf in garter stitch.  Garter stitch makes a bulkier fabric that is very warm, but it also takes longer to reach your desired length.  I think a dishcloth would make an excellent first project.  You can finish it sooner and put it to use.  Succeeding at projects will give you the boost you need to keep learning and growing as a knitter.

4) Enjoy the process.  There have been a few projects where I have had to undo large portions and start over.  If your only focus is the finished product, you will be discouraged when a project takes longer than you thought.  Instead, see mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve.  Enjoy the beauty of what your hands are creating.

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