During Christmas this past year, I picked up a Wool and the Gang beginner knitting kit – and have been hooked since. Before that, I last picked up a pair of knitting needles at least almost 20 years ago. Which is to say, I was a total knitting noob! But I’ve learned a lot along the way, shared below – and hope you find this useful as well.
Phase I: Getting Started with Wool and the Gang
They got me on Instagram – how could I resist their cozy ads combined with a sale? I bought the Happy Daze Beanie kit, along with an extra skein of their Crazy Sexy Wool yarn in a contrasting color. Even though their kits can be pricey, they’re perfect for a beginner. Because yes, you could source the components of each kit elsewhere for less, using different yarn. But as someone new, I sincerely had no idea what to look for.
I knit the beanie on our flight to Taiwan & Japan over the holidays, and you can see me wearing it here in Hokkaido where it was well below freezing. If it’s of interest, I can do a more in-depth review of the kit separately!
Phase II: r/knitting
I love Reddit – there’s such a wealth of honest information on there. People are generally helpful in the niche subreddits like those for knitting, sewing, wedding planning and ultralight backpacking (surprise!) to name a few.
The r/knitting sub has a helpful wiki section that covers a lot of basics and FAQs. And it’s great to browse through the posts for both inspiration (check out this sweater) and discussions (current favorite: the recently resurrected “Obscure Pattern Friday” thread.) The only downside is that Reddit’s search functionality leaves a little to be desired. As a workaround, I typically just use Google and search for my phrase plus “reddit” at the end to get results on the site.
Originally, I was planning to buy a 2nd pattern/kit from Wool and the Gang. However, many reddit threads instead recommended finding patterns on Ravelry and buying less expensive yarn separately. Which led to…
Phase III: Ravelry
What a throwback – Ravelry is an online community and resource center for both knitting and crocheting. While the design of the site is reminiscent of the BBforum days in the early 2000’s, the functionality is very comprehensive. I’d recommend using their website on a laptop / tablet – though it’s doable on mobile, it’s not nearly as user-friendly!
The site is split into a few main sections or libraries: patterns, yarn, projects, groups and more. There are thousands upon thousands of patterns for all types of items, yarn types, experience levels. Some of the most popular patterns are beginner-friendly and free – such as Hermione’s Everyday Socks and this Artexio Cowl.
Users can “cast on” a Project on the site, and link that Project to the Pattern and yarn being used. As a beginner, I find it incredibly helpful to browse through Projects linked to a specific Pattern. Some users will post multiple photos of their WIP, which I love browsing through. You can favorite patterns, yarns, and projects to build your own little resource library.
For example: I’m currently working on this Vanilla is the New Black sock pattern, and I saved this user’s Project because she has photos that helped clarify the heel construction section. In the screenshot below, you can see the Hermione’s Everday Sock pattern has 30k! projects associated with it.
Additional Helpful Resources
The Vogue Knitting Book
I stumbled across this at the public library, and am so glad I borrowed it. The illustrations are clear and helpful for step-by-step instructions. And the index is easy to use to search for specific terms that may pop up in patterns. There is so much information in here – I think I’ve only gone through maybe 5 – 10% myself.
YouTube videos are godsend for visual learners on specific stitches or techniques. There are a few instances where I found that the Vogue book was a little more helpful (for very detailed stitches), but in general, you can find most things in YouTube.
I followed along with this Hermione Sock Tutorial to understand how to a. Construct socks (a lot of new terms) and b. Use circular needles instead of regular ones.