How I Learned to Knit:

Books.

As far as I know, I didn’t have anyone in my life who knitted until after I learned to knit. This means that, although I wanted to learn, I had no one to teach me.

I’d sit and look at pattern books in the store, and I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to be able to make things like that.

I finally decided I needed to try. I figured I could probably make something happen, even if it was wasn’t elaborate or, well, very nice. I asked for some books for Christmas, ones that had projects I wanted to try. Then, I went to the craft store and got this:

It felt like the right vibe.

I knitted a rectangle. It was crooked. So was the next one. I kept knitting rectangles. Eventually they were not crooked.

I tried something in the round, knitting in circles until my arms were sore. I learned to increase and decrease the number of stitches on my needle intentionally, rather than by accident. I learned how doing this could make pretty patterns in the work.

I bought this set of pattern cards:

You can see how relatively simple the lace patterns are, but effective, and, I thought, pretty. I still think so. I knitted lace rectangles.

I got these classics:

I began to try the patterns for textures, lace, ribbing, etc. on…well, rectangles. I had so many rectangles.

I learned good, practical advice from this book:

It was indispensable to me for quite some time.

I looked at my inspiring pattern books, and bought more. If anything caught my eye, I tried it. A wonderful thing began to happen, which was that I could do whatever I tried. If there was an unfamiliar technique or stitch, I looked it up…in a book, in a forum, an online video, an online video from a different angle or which was slower or faster, whatever it took. I could always find what I needed, someone helpful had always gone before and left a trail for me and others. People are great that way.

So, nothing was out of reach. Nothing. As long as I tried hard enough or for long enough, it happened. Some things took a very long time to get straight, trying, ripping back, trying again, over and over and over. So many hours. But, it always worked out in the end.

One happy day I discovered Ravelry. Suddenly there were more patterns than I could ever even see, just there at my fingertips. I tried so much. Again, whatever caught my eye, no matter how elaborate or difficult-looking. I learned technique after technique from Ravelry. I also learned the absolute necessity of counting, ha.

And, of perfection. Every stitch wasn’t executed perfectly every time, aesthetically speaking, but each kind of stitch needed to be accurately done, at least, and in its place, or it must all be ripped out and redone. If counts are off, if angles are off, the piece will not be end up looking like it should. The way to learn is to do it correctly, even if it’s a huge pain. At least, that’s what I think.

As I said before, it’s a luxury to have the time and resources for learning to do things with your hands, but it’s worth it. It feels like alchemy when you get it right, and having something to lose yourself in is a good and necessary thing. A necessary thing shouldn’t be a luxury, but that’s where we are, I guess. I hope you’ll have time to work on your stuff, whatever it is.

Massive binders of knitting patterns, perhaps?