11 January 2011

Nifty Needles

It seems my post on knitted dishcloths has created a desire to learn to knit in lots of Tip of the Day readers. Tracey Lyons is just one reader who has asked where she can go for knitting lessons.

I learned to knit when I was about seven or eight years old, at my mother's knee. She started me off with 12 ply yarn and big and No. 8 needles. The very first stitch I learned was of course garter stitch, or plain knitting stitch. It's the stitch that forms the basis of all knitting and so is not only the simplest but the most important.

The other stitch you should learn is purl. This is the stitch that gives knitting the smooth fabric look. These two stitches form the basis of all knitting stitches. Learn them and you will be able to learn any number of decorative stitches to use in your knitting.

Knitting has become fashionable again so finding a "learn to knit" class should be easy. I just typed "learn to knit" into Google and I'm still recovering from the shock. There are plenty of places offering lessons, one I clicked on offers three two hour lessons, in a class of six, for $150! 

I suggest you find your local wool shop (good old Google will make it easy, or look in your local paper) and pop in. If they don't have a list of classes posted on the front window or door, ask about them. Knitters are a very friendly and chatty bunch so they'll be more than happy to help you find a class to join.

Alternatively Spotlight run classes in-store. My local Spotlight has knitting classes starting on 4th February, four two hour classes for $70, much better than $150! You'll need to contact your local Spotlight for details if an organized class is what you want. Just be aware that there will be a fee involved and the intention will be that you will buy your supplies from the store, which isn't always the cheapest or best value option.

Another source of lessons could be your neighbourhood house or centre. Give them a call and ask if they have a knitting group going. If they don't, ask about starting one. There are bound to be others in your neighbourhood who want to learn to knit and knitters who would love the opportunity to meet with others and share hints, tips and ideas. You'll get the best advice from an experienced knitter.

And if you can follow instructions a beginner's knitting book will do you just as well. They usually have step-by-step instructions with pictures to make everything very clear. A beginners book will also have information about knitting needles and the various types of yarn available.An old favourite is Patons Learn to Knit, available from any good wool shop.

To get you started, here's a link to a .pdf with the basic stitches, starting with casting on:  Learn to Knit instructions

You won't be surprised when I suggest you just pick up a pair of needles, size 8 (or 4mm) and some 8 ply crochet cotton and make a dishcloth for your first knitting project. They are so easy, just cast on 40 stitches and knit. Knit until you have a square or the cloth is about the size you want to use. Cast off (your instruction book or the .pdf will tell you how) and voila - you have your very first dishcloth.

Over the years I've knitted dozens of dishcloths. Some I keep and use, some are given away as gifts and some have been donated to school stalls and church fetes. It's fun and relaxing, and eases my creative demons, as well as being something useful and attractive.

Knitting dishcloths is a definite good thing in my opinion.


  1. Hi Cath, Loved this post! I can knit but I can only sew a straight line, I checked out my local community classes for $65 I can get 2 hours a week for a school term and they offer child care for a reasonable price ($3 for 1 child and $5 for a family) BYO materials and machine. Also for free knitting advise spending time in a nursing home many of the oldies love teaching these skills for the price of a chat and it livens up their day.

  2. Hi Cath when I was wanting to learn to knit last year i looked to my two local stores and lessons were expensive. I didn't want to pay as i had learned as a child and really just needed to refresh and have somewhere i could ask questions.

    I turned to youtube and found a fantastic teacher...and she's free :)

    Her website is www.verypink.com she is helpful with VERY clear video tutorials and she teaches lots of different methods, so you can learn what is most comfortable to you.

    Spread the word

  3. Hello Cath. I love knitting. And crochet. When I want to learn a new stitch or am stuck I go to You Tube. There are free knitting lessons, free sewing, crochet etc lessons and even ones especially for left handers! I agree with Wintora its fabulous! Annabel.S.


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