I’m still learning to knit. It’s a long and arduous process, made all the more difficult due to my inability to “read” the knitting. I don’t know how to fix my errors, so I knit with the fury and fear of someone walking on the edge of a high cliff—one slip and I plummet to my knitting death below.

For example, I knit two rows and purl two rows—but oops, I just did three by accident, so I pull out one row of purling, but now I can’t remember if I’m supposed to knit or purl and all the Yarn Staring in the world doesn’t reveal the correct answer. And so I yell at my husband that I’m going into another room and no one may come close or I will unleash all my knitting fury upon their poor heads.

And knitting is supposed to be a relaxing activity, ha.

If a stitch gets dropped, oh woe. And whoa. When that happens, I have to set the whole project aside and wait until Sunday when I can take it to church to ask my friend to help me fix it. This friend—a woman who has been known to sheer the sheep, card and dye the wool (whatever that means), and then knits beautiful things with it (bow low, reader friends, bow low), looks at my stringy mess for a mere couple seconds and then says, Oh yes, I see. You knitted that one backwards, so I’ll just reverse that like so and pick up the stitch there, like that, and there you are, all good to go now. I stare at my resurrected project in utter amazement and say stupidly, “I have no idea how you just did that.”

I’m determined to figure this whole knitting business out. I experiment with my brown yarn, trying different patterns to see the effect, not worrying if I mess up and need to rip it all out. It’s my scrap paper, so to speak. I’m making a red scarf for my youngest daughter (I stole her yarn so I had to repay her somehow). It has mistakes in it, but I don’t think she’ll care.

During Sunday school yesterday, I sat beside a friend who was knitting a sleeve for a sweater. She had the four needle thing going, plus a washer as a marker (or something). I watched, fascinated. I kind of even understand what she was doing.

My goal for this winter: learn several different stitches, and learn to make hats, socks, and mittens. Next winter, a sweater, maybe. Am I being completely unrealistic?

just starting out, adding to one of my old projects

I’m not the only one getting into the knitting spirit. My little boy has persevered with his knitting. He knows how to cast on and knit row after row. However, his rows kept getting shorter and shorter, thanks to all the stitches he dropped. His knitted creation (too short to be anything) is one step from the garbage, but hey, it kept him happily occupied for many, many minutes so I’m not complaining.

I even hauled the kids’ knitting projects to church one Sunday. I glanced down the row during the sermon—three of the kids were knitting away in unison. Bliss.


  • Rachel W.

    Oh dear! I hate to profit from someone else's troubles, but it's so encouraging to see someone else on the internet, someone who is obviously a competent and teachable person, admit that they have are having trouble learning to knit. I'm about to embark upon learning attempt #6 or so– I'm certain it will include many bouts of Knitting Rage. I firmly believe that knitters are magic.

    Good luck with your learning! A friend suggested that once I have the basics down (and since I have little patience and want to work on 'real' projects), I should check out "The Sweater Workshop," by Jacqueline Fee. I think it draws on a lot of the stuff Elizabeth Zimmerman pioneered, and it's all about understanding *how* to make sweaters, instead of how to blindly follow patterns.

    It's really neat that you're teaching the kids to knit, too– the idea of keeping them quiet with knitting in church cracks me up. 🙂 Idle hands, indeed!

  • Zeski Made

    Check out Elizabeth Zimmerman's book "Knitting Without Tears". She's amazing and has resurrected me from many knitting deaths. 😉 I'm trying your peppermint lip balm, for sure! Thanks.

  • the domestic fringe

    That's funny that they're knitting during the sermon. I couldn't do that. I'd be making all kinds of frustrated noises and heaven forbid a bad word slip when I should have said 'Amen'. 😉

    I tried knitting once. Apparently I have a learning disability when yarn is involved. Good luck to you. I can already imagine all the beautiful things you'll create.

  • Zoë

    I learned to knit and pearl in high school…from my dad. Then this fall I decided I wanted to knit some Christmas stockings as I don't like the ones I sewed. I got 4 rows into the first stocking and quit.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    You really do start to "see" it – and it doesn't take that long! Knitting in the round (with the 4 needles) is sometimes easier (once you get cast on), because you need only use knit stitch to get stockinette stitch (the smooth one) – whereas you need to knit one row, purl one row to obtain stockinette results when you are knitting back and forth.

    Really, I am not a crafting genius by any stretch of the imagination. All you need to learn to knit is perseverance and a willingness to not be perfect.

  • Mama Pea

    No, you're not being unrealistic. One of these days, everything will "click" and you'll be knitting sweaters before you know it.

    Do you have a yarn store near you? Usually the owner will be glad to give one-on-one casual lessons whenever you can drop in. If you could possibly do that to get you familiar with the basics, it would save a lot of your frustration.

    Once when we were visiting another couple, I was knitting while we were all talking. Bob stopped talking in the middle of a sentence and said to me, "I've been watching you for half an hour and I have no idea in the world how you're doing what you're doing." But, trust me, it's actually very simple once you grasp the basics. Honest.

  • Margo

    my daughter just asked me to teach her to knit again the other day. I would love to sit next to her and knit!

    I've been knitting 12 years and I've never progressed beyond basic. I like sewing better – mistakes are easier to fix and it's easier for me to make up a project. My goal, however, is to learn to knit socks.

  • Natasha

    I totally love knitting… I actually just started a weekly knitting/stitch group at a nearby coffee shop.

    "Reading" knitting does take some time before it's mastered. It may help to look at a plain-knit sweater and just look for how the yarn moves along each row. See if you can identify the repeated pattern of how it connects to the rows above and below.

    Oh, and if you want to learn a few stitched, do a YouTube search for "Knit Witch"… her videos are very helpful!

    Have fun!

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