**I asked my friend, Peggy, to help me write this post. She is a much more experienced knitter than I am so if you don't believe me, maybe you can believe her. Her thoughts are in red.**
Ever since I started talking more about knitting on my blog, I have gotten lots of emails and formspring questions from new knitters and people who want to be new knitters. I love it! Your questions are always welcome here. My most frequently asked question comes from knitters who have already learned the basics and want to know the next step. This is what I would like to address today.
You've already learned that my favorite first-time knitting project is a dishcloth so I don't need talk about it again. (Except that seriously, they're fast, easy, non-technical, useful, okay enough.) But when it comes to a second and a third project, I hesitate to make too many suggestions because of one crucial thing: Your next project has to be inspiring. It has to be something you WANT to knit. What would you like to accomplish with your knitting? Do you want to be able to make small gifts for your friends? Decorations for your home? A sweater for yourself? Or do you just want to have something to do with your hands while you watch Arrested Development and don't care at all about what you make? (If that last one is the case then I'm going to throw the dishcloth suggestion out there one more time.) These are the questions that will guide you as you choose your next project, and the project after that, and the project after that.
Okay. So when you know what it is that you want to knit, you can search for a pattern that meets your criteria. This is where Ravelry is going to be your BFF. You can search for patterns on Ravelry and narrow your search by technical level. Many of Ravelry's patterns are free or available for download and you can see pictures of the finished product. Even better, you can see all of the other people who have knit the same pattern to see how it looks with different colors, yarn weights, and skill levels. (Pssst....if any of you need a tutorial for using Ravelry, let me know.) This has made such a difference in my knitting. In fact, I'm a little bitter I didn't have Ravelry when I first started. Instead, I felt like I was limited to pattern books and random internet searches. I spent a lot of time sorting through some horrible patterns because, let's face it, for every great knit item there is in the world there is an equal or greater number of knit items that are truly horrible. But no worries for you! Now you can browse patterns to your heart's content and only knit cute things all of the time! Plus! The novelty yarn craze that was in full swing when I started knitting has passed! Thank heavens.
Maybe now you're thinking, "Fine, Miranda and Peggy. That's great advice but it doesn't change the fact that I paid a lot of money for this yarn and I don't want to ruin it or make something that I won't like." Good point. I think the biggest hurdle that new knitters have to jump is fear. Fear that you will mess up, fear that your end product will look like crap, or fear that you will bite off more than you can chew. All of those things will probably happen. But that is what learning new things is all about right? You rarely ever do something perfect when you're learning and knitting is no exception. After the dishcloth days I went through a phase of downright crappy knitting. I made a baby hat that was acceptable and fit le bebe for almost a week. Then I made a hat for N8tron that didn't fit at all because I used the wrong weight yarn. Then there were some attempts at lace knitting that ended in a Tazmanian Devil type fit with pieces of mohair strewn about the house. My knitting got put away for a while. But when I started up again when I was pregnant with Z-cakes, things were much better. Now I had a baby to knit for! I had Ravelry! I had an inspiring yarn shop mere miles away! I had tons of inspiration and wasn't afraid of what could go wrong anymore.
Peggy's first knitting project was a fair isle sweater in-the-round which, okay, THAT is probably not the best project for a beginning but anyway...
(that means unraveling the entire thing)