Do you remember when you first starting your fiber journey? I was around 7 when my mom taught me to crochet and my grandma taught me to knit. I made dishcloths, scarves, and maybe a baby blanket or two, but then I took a long break until I picked it back up in college. Thanks to a YouTube video, it was pretty easy to get back into it but there was a lot I didn’t even know I didn’t know LOL. I’m still learning new techniques and new ways to do things I already knew each day. Here’s a short list of the basics that I wish I knew from the very beginning, though! Hope it helps you. 🙂
Yarn weights and needle sizes
When I started knitting again in college, I only used big needles and super bulky yarn. I knitted a bunch of infinity scarves for myself and friends with straight needles and seamed the ends together. I had no clue what I was doing. I could only do a knit stitch so since I was using straight needles, it was garter stitch. Each scarf was definitely unique and different LOL. And I used one type of Lion Brand yarn from Walmart, which is actually pretty good yarn! I had no idea it was super bulky weight 6 or what that even meant. When I wanted to make a dishcloth I grabbed some cotton yarn and a small metal hook. I had no idea what worsted weight 4 yarn was or what size hook I was using. I remembered single and double crochet.
Needless to say, you don’t need to know everything to start knitting and/or crocheting. The best thing to do is just get started the best that you can! But when you’re ready to branch out and make more, there are some things you might want to know. The Craft Yarn Council is a great place to look for information about things like this. The page I have linked here has your basic yarn information as well as coordinating needle and hook sizes. The gauge section is very subjective and can vary depending on your tension, type of hook/needle, yarn, etc. so don’t worry about that. What’s gauge? Let’s chat below.
What the heck is gauge?
Gauge is annoying but important. It is important because we all knit/crochet slightly differently, and not just because of tension. Simple things like whether you pull your yarn from the center or the outside of a skein can affect gauge. Knitting Continental vs. English style can affect gauge. Wooden vs. metal vs. plastic can affect gauge. Straight or circular needles. The list goes on. You get it. Because of this, your finished item, whether it be a hat or a sweater, can come out the wrong size if you don’t match the pattern designer’s gauge. My friend, Tanya, has an amazing and extensive blog post all about gauge. I couldn’t have written it better myself so I will link it here! The post focuses on crochet but applies to knitting as well.
Fun fact, I designed and wrote my first pattern without gauge. One of my testers kindly pointed it out and it was very embarrassing but that’s how you learn sometimes!
Patterns and Ravelry
It was a few years into knitting that I learned about patterns. Other makers have designed everything from simple dishcloths to beautiful sweaters, written down all the steps, and published them for others to make as well! Some are free and some are paid. I tend to only make paid patterns because they are usually tested by other makers and have less mistakes and more details. Most patterns range between $3-10 and you get the PDF to keep forever. I have almost 50 of my own patterns for sale here. If you’re thinking “why do I have to pay?!” Well, a lot of time and work goes on behind the scenes before a pattern can be published. This is a designer’s job and income. We appreciate your support so much!
As far as Ravelry, you don’t HAVE to use the platform and I actually didn’t until a little over a year ago. It’s a great resource for buying patterns, but you can also see projects that other people who have made the pattern upload. It’s like reading a review before buying something online. This is also helpful if you’re looking for a yarn substitute and want to see what others used. All your patterns are stored in your library after you purchase so you don’t have to worry about saving them in the right place on your computer or trying to remember if you already bought it. I think there’s also chat room type things but I don’t bother with any of that. I still buy a lot of patterns on Etsy, but Ravelry definitely has more and it’s easier to search and filter specific things you are looking for in a pattern.
YouTube can teach you anything
I knit my first pair of socks all thanks to YouTube! You can learn pretty much any stitch or technique you will ever come across in a pattern thanks to all the wonderful makers who have taken the time to film videos and upload them for us to learn for free! You can honestly learn to knit from scratch with YouTube! I have my own channel here with a few videos if you want to subscribe!
Local and online yarn stores
When I got back into making in college and was buying my own yarn, I primarily shopped at Walmart, Michaels, and sometimes Joanns. There is literally nothing wrong with any of these stores, I still buy yarn there and they have amazing, affordable selections. Their selections can be limiting, however. For example, they don’t have luxury or hand dyed yarn. If you’re looking to splurge or support someone local, I highly recommend seeing if your town has a local yarn store! Mine has three, but two close to me that I try to pop in whenever I can. I have purchased beautiful, hand dyed and local yarn from both stores. They also typically have a nice selection of Malabrigo and other luxury brands if you’re looking for those.
There are also many websites where you can order a huge variety of yarn. My favorite store to order from is KnitPicks. They have high quality yarn at an excellent price, so I usually buy sweater quantities from there. I have designed a lot of my patterns with KnitPicks yarn and am an affiliate as well. This means if you purchase through my link, I receive a small commission. My personal favorite from KnitPicks include Dishie Cotton, Swish (all weights), Stroll, Stroll Tonal, and Stroll Tweed sock yarn, Hawthorne sock yarn, Cotlin, Alpaca Cloud DK. And too many more to name! You can’t go wrong with KnitPicks yarn. They also have an excellent selection of needles. I own many of their sets and DPNs. Their sister brand, We Crochet, has much of the same yarn and the free shipping minimum is usually lower.
Amazon is a great place to order needles. I have ordered interchangeable sets as well as fixed needles from there, especially if I need them fast.
If you’re looking for high quality wool and cotton, We Are Knitters and Wool And The Gang are crowd favorites! I have made many hats with their wool. They are very similar companies so you can’t go wrong with either. If you order from We Are Knitters you can use my code MGMD2JH4E and we’ll both get $12 off! This code works on your first order over $40.
The best things to keep in mind is that we’ll never know everything and it’s important to keep learning! I still go to YouTube, Google, Pinterest, friends, etc. every day to learn things I didn’t know or how to make something better. I hope this list helped you if you’re a beginner or wanting to get into fiber crafts!