The main purpose of this blog is to warn beginning knitters of all the things I wasn't warned about when I started knitting. You could call me an, 'I don't want you to make the same mistakes I made' kind of educator. So trust me when I tell you this part is tedious. But it is also SOOOOO worth the time you spend. How you plan your project can make or break not only the final outcome of your project but your enjoyment for the process itself!
There are several steps one has to take before beginning to cast on and work your project and the process gets more complicated as the project grows in complexity. In terms of how I plan, I break my steps down into several categories.
1. What the HELL am I gonna make?!
This is the part where you have to decide what it is, who or what it's for, what they like, multicolored vs. single color, style! This is typically the hardest part for me which is why I RARELY surprise people with knitted items. I almost alway collaborate asking the recipient what their preferences are so I can ensure I'm making something they will love. Once you've determined WHAT you're going to create its time to move on.
2. What kind of yarn!?
This step can be extremely overwhelming and if you're easily distracted like me you can very quickly waste an entire day in a yarn store sampling the copious colors and textures. This is why having a project in mind is so important. When selecting yarn there are 5 factors to consider.
Price - Naturally you don't want to be spending a fortune. Growing an affinity for knitting can often be akin to growing an addiction to gambling. Before you know it you've spent your child's inheritance on nothing but cashmere! There are so many different brands of yarn so do your research and if your buying online, ALWAYS read the comments and reviews!
Weight - Yarn weight will determine a great many things for your project. First and foremost is the speed at which you'll be able to complete it. Light weight yarn requires more stitches per inch and are typically used for socks and baby items. bulky or chunky yarn is as it sounds and requires less stitches per inch. Below I've created a little chart you can use as a reference when you're choosing yarn to assist you.
Yardage - The type and size of the item your creating will determine the amount of yarn you will need. This is really hard to plan for which is why folks like me have ridiculous stock piles of scrap yarn laying around that we're trying to figure out what to do with. This may require some math on your part which, sadly to say I cannot be your guide for...if you took my math advice you would inevitably curse me to the heavens whilst shaking your fist. What I can tell you is that yardage is on your label so if you are particularly mathy, you can use that number once you've determined your gauge to estimate the total yield. This is an important step to plan for because no one likes to have to go back or reorder, particularly if the colors you're using have the possibility of being sold out. PLANNING!!!
Fiber - This boils down to what sort of texture you want. There are SO many types of fiber being made into yarn from various wools, cotton, alpaca to creepy pet owners collecting their cats' fur and turning it into a felted purse or something (don't be that lady/man). The most important factor to consider besides the texture is who the recipient is and what they are allergic to. Some are allergic to lamb and sheep wool but not alpaca, some can't do any animal fibers and cotton works best. Some are perfectly fine with an acrylic fiber. It would be a shame to go through all the trouble only to discover you caused someone a week of stuffy noses and watery eyes only for your future heirloom to be donated or tossed out with the trash.
Color - Finally we get to my favorite part! Don't be swayed by this it is the least Important but the most alluring. I have been known to buy yarn simply for its color with no clue what to do with it other then stare longingly at it. Colored yarns made of natural fibers also have what are called Dye Lots. This means they were dyed together in the same vat and their color is identical. When purchasing for a large project it's essential that you check the dye lot number on the tag to ensure that each is the same. If you don't there could be a slight variation in your skeins and the item you've created will have a noticeable stripe where you switched to your new yarn.
Below is a your final quiz; an ACTUAL yarn label!!! (DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!) It's a label from a skein made by Cascade Yarns. Investigate and quiz yourself on whether you can identify the various bits of information listed above. The label contains everything you'll need to know about the yarn aside from how it feels.
3. How am I gonna make it!? - This will become easier with time but its best in the beginning to keep things simple. There are NUMEROUS resources for patterns and one of the absolute best is Ravelry.com. Ravelry is a resource website that contains thousands of patterns and project ideas. Any avid knitter should join immediately! Pattern reading is a skill unto itself and I will delve into this subject in future blogs. For now though its probably best to stick with a simple scarf. Scarves are a great way to practice your skill and consistency with your knitting and purling. Feel free to check out my own gallery of stitches to try some new things with your Knit/Purl combinations. The more you do it the more you develop your own style and rhythm as well. Ever knitter does things a little differently which I happen to think is really cool. For an activity that creates such similar products the intricate process can often be more of a reward then the product itself. However, he key to avoiding frustration and staying on track is planning. Knitting is like baking, you have to have all the ingredients and the recipe calculated for it to work. It take awhile for ANYONE to knit by the seat of their pants so get used to this process it will come back to you over and over and over. So happy planning or may the odds be ever in your favor!