Today I present to you a Guest Blog by my good friend Jacinta. She has recently taught herself to knit, and has progressed faster than anyone I know! Enjoy.
Hello all of Tamara’s followers, I hope you like my post that I am lucky enough to share with you. I am inspired week after week watching Tamara do so many crafty things that earlier this year I decided to take up knitting as a hobby. I have seen Tamara knit so many beautiful things since I have known her and I thought I should give it a go.
What do you need? Well I decided to start where any beginner needs to start; with a single set of knitting needles (8mm) and a big ball of practice wool (12 ply). I also purchased a “learn how to knit book”, some small scissors and a small crochet hook (to unpick mistakes).
I happened to get all this just from Big W for $20-$30 but there are a lot of places that stock this with Lincraft and Spotlight being most well-known. A friend at work recommended also going to local charity shops that tend to have second hand wool and needles – a cheaper option if you are unsure of how committed you want to get.
I have learnt that wool thickness is measure in ply with 8 ply being most common. 12ply is thicker wool and 4ply is thinner wool. You want to start with thick wool and larger needles to get the hang of everything. Thinner strands of wool in 4ply will be harder to work with and take longer to progress through a project so I haven’t advanced to this yet.
I took my needles and worked through the book learning how to cast on, do the basic knit and purl stitches and cast off. Not all the images in the book could convey what to do so I also Googled videos on YouTube and asked for help from Tamara. Between this and practice I was soon able to make small basic squares. I started to look through my beginner book and try to make some of the simple patterns it recommended and use the same techniques to master these. I would recommend practicing any pattern first on your practice wool before you start a project so you are comfortable with the technique and the final look. At a beginner level, most patterns are made up of a combination of knit and purl stitches which result in the final pattern.
At my work I found out my old boss was pregnant as well as a fellow employee – both due around the time. With 5-6 months before they would go on maternity leave, I set myself the goal of making two baby blankets for a present for each of them. We have a knitting club at work that meets once a week and joining it led me to a group of women who had great tips and advice. With their suggestions and my own creative style I designed a nice looking baby blanket made up of individual squares. Without knowing the sex of the unborn babies I decided to purchase light yellow and cream wool for the project. A friend in the knitting club suggested that I go online and buy the wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills. They have a wide range of colours and wools to please any knitter.
After I had drawn up my basic pattern I decided all the cream squares would be a basic garter stitch and the yellow squares would be a basket weave pattern with the instructions adapted from this Ravelry pattern.
I also decided to do a small border on the project in basket weave. Each knitted square had 24 stitches cast on and 24 rows (13 squares in total). The basket weave squares were also 24 stitches cast on and I repeated the pattern to get 7 rows of the pattern (11 squares in total). The edging was the basket weave pattern with 2 rows of the pattern. My knitting club recommended I use 5mm needles so that the squares would be nice and tight for a baby blanket.
Next step – knit. Then knit. Then knit some more. Knitting everything took a few months since I was just learning how to do it all. Once I did finish the 25 squares I had to sew in all the ends using a wool needle and then sew all the squares together. This sounds easy written in a sentence but it took a while to complete. Finally when I was all done I washed the blanket and blocked it to dry. Blocking is a process of wetting you wool creation and stretching it out to the final shape you want so when it dries it stays like that. It helped me make everything look a little squarer. Then I was finished :)
After the first blanket, I found the pattern a lot easier to knit but disliked the amount of time I had to spend knitting everything together. To speed things up I changed the colour of the wool to join the different coloured squares as I went. I ended up with 5 panels of the 5 joined squares and then only had to join the panels together and the edges. This made the second blanket a little quicker. I just had to ensure I started the basket weave pattern on the correct side so it would look the same in each square. Each square would take me approximately an hour to knit and with 25 squares and edges and joining this is definitely a work in progress project. As a beginner you have to start somewhere and I think squares to make a bigger project are a great place start. You achieve a manageable part each session to make up the blanket in the end. Good luck to anyone who chooses to give this a go and just remember that each small step will get you one more square closer to the end project. Happy knitting!