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Top 5 knitting essentials for beginners.

1. Needles. Knit, at first, with the cheapest pair you can find. Borrow, look at garage sales, check out Michael’s/Joann’s. Try wood/bamboo, resin or aluminum. See if you like how they feel in your hands, working the yarn. If you’re a tight knitter, like I am, you might have more luck using aluminum. If you knit loosely (the stitches slide easily on the needle) try wood/bamboo. I’ve also heard that some people don’t like the sound that metal needles make when knitting…I personally like the clicking. But whatevs.

Don’t go all crazy buying a complete set. Buy what you need for the project at hand or a single pair of straights to practice with. I think US size 10s are a great beginner size, not too big and not too small.

Once you find your soulmate, buy a SINGLE pair to fit the project at hand. If you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to buy everything all at once, setting up a knitting shrine in a large corner of your basement. But just have patience, grasshopper. Have patience. It took me several projects to figure out what I really liked – I bought several pairs of bamboo needles because I thought they looked cool (yes, I’m that girl) but they’re not the best for my style of knitting.

2. Yarn. Start cheap and in worsted weight. Worsted weight is the most common, and is neither too thick nor too thin…so it’s basically your average yarn. I don’t recommend buying the $9 ball of hand-dyed alpaca wool right out of the gate, because you’ll want to practice, “frog it” (unravel your project), and practice some more. Yarn will start to get a little skanky after a few times of this..and you don’t want skanky alpaca. Trust me on this.

3. Reference book or site. I told you that I love my Stitch ‘N Bitch book, but there are several others out there. Check a few out of the library and test them out. I like Stoller because she’s a little sassy, but there are some other great ones out there too that are a little more traditional, or a little MORE sassy:

The Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits

Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book

Domiknitrix; Whip Your Knitting into Shape

I Taught Myself Knitting – Can you believe they had this on Amazon? Used and new from $1.50!!! I seriously loved this little book.

If books aren’t your bag, try the interwebs. The only problem with the internet is that a book is a tad more portable. Unless you have an iPhone. But then you are probably too cool for me.

I do use the internet to for videos…sometimes the book illustrations just don’t cut it. When I come across some good videos, I’ll link to them here.

4. A bag to hold your project. It’s nice to have something that holds your yarn when you’re on the go. I would start with whatever you have around the house – a small canvas bag or even a repurposed Target sack. I have GINORMOUS purses, so I like to use a little drawstring bag I have and throw it in there…just something to keep it all in one place and protect the yarn from the elements, so to speak. Once you and knitting have exchanged promise rings, start to look for something more fun, if you want. And I DID want, so…

I got this bag as a present for Christmas from my sister. It’s pretty handy, doesn’t look too old lady-ish, and holds all my essentials. I also have the smaller ball bag. On a side note, that’s what my mom used to call us if we were whining too much: ball bags. There’s probably other x-rated things you think of when you say “ball bag”, but try to control the impulse, k? Find something you like and that is portabl, but wait until you’re really bought in to the whole knitting thing.

5. Storage. After you fall in love, you’ll probably start to accumulate a stash and/or more tools. I am currently using a canvas cube in a cabinet, but I don’t like that my needles are thrown in there all jumbly. There are a lot of options for needle storage, but I just haven’t figured out what I want. I would also keep track of what needles you already own on a small index card. That way, when you’re at the yarn store, Michael’s or JoAnn’s, you won’t buy multiple sets of something you already have. It is a pain in the ass to get home and realize you already have #11s and have to return them.

So there it is…your top 5 knitting essentials for beginners. If I have one piece of advice for the newbs, it’s this: don’t decide you have to have any tool, book, storage, etc. until you have a few projects under your belt. I think it takes you a little while to figure out what is going to work best, and you’re not a better knitter with the coolest gadgets. Approach knitting as more “pay as you play.” You’ll end up with the stuff you really like, and your husband/wife/accountant/sugar daddy will appreciate the fact that you’ve been sensible.


PS – Ordinarily, I’d warn against sensibility, but in this case, I advise it. Use the money you save to buy yourself some kick-ass strappy sandals.

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