Just can't seem to "get it"

I have tried learning knitting a few times, and I just can't seem to "get it." I may not be knitting enough, but has only on here had to try to learn knitting multiple times before they "got it"? Hope to hear from you guys soon!

ronhuber's picture

Yes, I certainly have had to relearn some things. I would suggest that you knit some every day. Maybe start with a dish cloth and do a row or two at least every day.

Tallguy's picture

As Ron and Joe have said, you can only get better through practice -- a whole lot of practice! We are born knowing nothing (except cry and suck) and we have to learn everything else. Even breathing -- someone usually needs to give us a start with that!

Knitting is a learned skill. It does not come easy. You have to work at it. Some of us, because of past skills we also had to learn slowly, may be faster at picking up new skills, but we all have to learn it in the same way.

I would strongly suggest that you take a beginner knitting class. While you CAN learn on your own through books or videos, I still believe (even after years of knitting) that you will learn so much from taking proper instruction from a properly trained teacher. You need some very solid basic knitting skills before advancing to something more complicated. I think it is really necessary to have someone watch us as we work through the basics to see we are doing it properly. There are things we THINK are right, but aren't, and will only lead to more frustration later on.

And I also believe strongly that you MUST knit every day -- even if it is only one row. There is no deviation from this rule. Each and every day, most often before bed, I think you should knit at least one row. If it goes smoothly, and you really feel the need, you can do two (or more) but only as much as you feel comfortable doing -- after doing that one row! It does take time (some professionals tell me it takes 21 days) to learn a new skill, so don't be rough on yourself. Only through perfect practice do you become perfect -- do it diligently every day!

We are all here to help. But you need to do your part too. And that is to do your "basic training" and do all those fundamental knitting (and purling) drills until you can do it with your eyes closed in your sleep! Really. Then advance to other stitches. When you get to that point, we are all here to offer assistance and suggestions. We've all been beginners too --- some of us forget that.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I remind my friends that it is all a question of practice. As Ron pointed out, just knit a bit every day on something simple to get used to how it's done. Then you can try other bits - purling, yarn overs, and such. Just be patient with yourself and relax so you can enjoy the process. I, too, have had to try things several times to get the knack for them; that's just part of the learning process as best I can tell. And we are here to answer questions and give tips whenever you need us.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Bill's picture

although I realize your location is "outer space"...you might try to find a knitting group to help you...or take a class at your local yarn shop.

CLABBERS's picture

I learned to knit via the Internet. One excellent source is: http://verypink.com/knitting-video-library/
Another is http://newstitchaday.com/category/guides/knitting-101/
I have chatted with both of these site owners and they are wonderful people. Their tutorials are excellent.
I also made good use of YouTube. I like the videos because you can back up and watch them over and over and over, stop and start, etc. Trust me when I tell you that no knitting teacher would have put up with my slow grasp of many things that go into even the most basic knitting. I was seriously all thumbs. Now it's second nature and I really enjoy it.

I started with just a 4" swatch. It was supposed to be square, but it was anything but square when I was done. I kept dropping stitches and the whole thing was a shape that even in your residence in "outer space" you might have a hard time knowing what it was. LOL

I taught a friend to knit a couple years ago and started him out with just 30 stitches. I told him to knit, knit, knit, knit!!! I taught him how to cast on stitches and how to turn his work at the end of the row. Like when I started, he made quite a mess of things, tore them out, then started over. He would call me and swear up a storm, then apologize later. Finally he actually made a garter stitch scarf. It was truly horrid when he was done. But we had a good laugh and he wore it with pride!

Don't invest in expensive yarns. Go get the cheap crap at the craft store. It's great to learn with. That way, if you screw things up and get things tied into a gigantic knot, you simply cut the yarn, hang your mistake proudly on the wall or the refrigerator, and start over. Tra-la!

My email is in my profile, so feel free to hit me up for help if you need it.

Just remember....you CAN do it!


Tallguy's picture

I'm going to take exception to one thing Mark said -- he is a good friend, and we disagree often -- that you will be very disappointed with cheap yarn! Sorry to tell you, but crap in means crap out. That's how it works. You really need to use good quality yarn, usually made of good wool (there is some bad wool too), or a blend with alpaca or silk or other fibres. Wool has a remarkable quality that will adjust itself to your uneven tension, and your knitting just looks so much better. But using cheap ackrillic yarn is not going to win you any prizes! I am a fairly good knitter, and even I have a difficult time keeping tension even with that junk! Just don't use it.

Wool doesn't have to be expensive! You can often find good wool at a reasonable price on many sites, or even at a thrift shop (although it's a hit or miss tactic there). I have even bought an ugly sweater at a thrift shop sale, ripped it out, and re-used the wool. That worked very well. There are many ways to find good wool to work with. And believe me when I say: your knitting will be vastly improved if you use good quality wool!

I often use cotton yarn for testing patterns or techniques, but cotton has its own problems with tension. Not recommended for beginners. There simply is nothing else that beats using wool to learn to knit! Sorry all you other guys that love ACKrillic, it is junk yarn and will only produce junk! That is my opinion, and I'm sticking to it!!

Loom Dude's picture

And perhaps, after taking all of the advice that everyone has offered, you may consider trying arm knitting or loom knitting. You may discover that you enjoy arm or loom knitting better, and that's ok.


kiwiknitter's picture

I agree with all the comments above. I taught myself to knit from books, back in the pre-YouTube days. It's much easier to learn now with all the assistance on the internet. I suggest you look at the courses on Craftsy. I have purchased a number of the more advanced courses and have found all of them to be useful. I know they have beginner's courses, too. When I first was learning, my swatch was so full of holes from accidental yarn-overs, dropped stitches and etc that it looked like I was knitting lace. But, I refused to give up and I just kept ripping it out and starting over, paying attention to the mistakes and trying not to recreate them again.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I want to encourage you to use whatever needles and yarn you wish. I always recommend that any knitter use the best quality materials that they can afford. If that means you use acrylic, so be it. There are some nice products out there that are synthetic and it depends on the manufacturers willingness to create a quality product rather than a fast, cheap one to maximize profit. Especially if you are a beginner...no need to buy a higher priced yarn only to discover that you are not going to continue knitting or it can't handle repeated ripping back.

Also, depending upon the project, synthetic may be a better option. I choose not to make baby gifts in wool if it is intended for regular use. That is despite all of the superwash yarns that are available. Too often, baby byproducts stain horribly or the item risks ruining by not being laundered properly. I figure new parents have too much on their plates to worry if the handknit gift has to be hand laundered or dried on low heat. And even superwash has been known to shrink and felt, even when you follow the washing/drying instructions.

However, it is your knitting so you decide what you want to use and whether your budget will support the cost. That is how I approach it and feel that's how it should be for all knitters.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Thanks everyone, I signed up for a class this Wednesday at a local yarn shop. I appcriciate everyone's input. I'll keep y'all posted as the weeks go by!

I learned to knit at age 11 and I did not really speak the language of the strict disciplinarian teacher. Knitting has to be fun, at least at the start. Try to minimize your frustration. Your first project should provide sufficient stimulation to motivate you to keep trying (my first project was knitting socks on four double pointed needles). Try to keep looking at your work so that you can see when you've make a mistake, and figure out how to fix it. Enjoy and good luck!

jinct's picture

Smart move going to a yarn shop! The one I haunt (the most) is run by a most patient woman. Not only can she answer questions about stitches, she can also lead you in the correct direction when comes to things like the correct yarn for a project, needle size, and all that jazz.
Knitting got me through my last year of working. I'd knit a few rows before leaving the house to just get me relaxed enough to face the day. Then I'd knit at night while watching television, another relaxing activity. Knit in peace!

I think all the tips you have received have been good advice. Join a class where the teacher is encouraging and can give you guidance of what you are doing right or wrong and what tips they can help you do better.

It is all in the techinque and practice will makes perfect. Laugh at your failures and jump for joy in your successes. With the understanding of the effort involved was rewarded when you succeed. Take small steps to progress and don't get disheartened. Everyone has been a beginner before. Think of other things you found difficult to learn that you mastered. It can be done.

Any new skill involves training your brain. The YouTube videos will always appear effortless and easy. But understand this has come from lots and lots.. Lots.etc...etc... of practice and mistakes.

For me the difficulty in learning a new knitting techinque requires sometimes zen like focus but knitting also is relaxing once you are in the zone and is part of the reward.

Start simple. I think purl stitch scarf is probably the easiest thing to try first. Then try a knit stitch, then maybe purl / knit in combination. Knit until it becomes second nature and you don't have to think it.

Try different needles until you are comfortable. Beginners should be concentrating on techinque so pick yarn and needles that allow you to master the techinque first. Once you have the techinque mastered you can try finer yarn or needles.

Try thicker yarns say 8ply wool with a hint of nylon are best. Alpaca will tend to catch and cotton is not as elastic as wool important when your tension is not right. Try a lighter color (ie not black) as will be easier to see the different threads and stitches. I found bamboo needles for me worked best. But try different ones until suit you.

Then when confident plan a project and complete it whether perfect or not. Learn from what you did wrong and improve on your technique.

Try different ways to do things such as binding on or off, increasing and decreasing that work best for you. Not every techinque suits everyone. Techinques you find easy others may find hard. Use the ones you have mastered to make a garment.

You will learn more from your mistakes so when you are struggling take heart because you are learning. Lastly talk to other knitters about your woes we all been their and they may have advice that can help you, happy knitting. :-)

michaelpthompson's picture

I often wish I had kept a certain scarf I made when I took up knitting again after some years hiatus. There were dropped stitches everywhere, and the size kept changing as I added or subtracted stitches to get back to my original count. The edges looked like they were scalloped (badly)! I pulled it all out and started over.

I must also add, though I generally detest acrylic, I've made many a project with Red Heart Super Saver when it seems appropriate. It used to be very scratchy and rough, but stuff I've bought lately seems to be better. As a beginner, you definitely want to avoid fuzzy yarns, or stuff that splits easily. I've accidentally added many a stitch by splitting the yarn (The needle goes through the yarn instead of under it, so you wind up with two strands where the was only one.). But you don't need to spend a lot of money on yarn that's only to be used as a learning experience.

Patience is the key. It seems as if you'll never get better, but you do if you stick with it. I keep trying to learn Continental, but it frustrates me because it's slower for me than the English style I learned as a boy. But the more I practice, the better my results.

BTW, I have a free online knitting course if you want to take a look. See http://knittingpro.net/


"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."