New hobby! Halp.

In which I take up knitting and realize it’s a massive time investment.

I spent some time this weekend at Gather Here, which is one of my favorite happy places. I was there for a marking pen, but I ended up walking out with my first ever set of knitting needles and ball of yarn. As if I needed a new hobby.

I couldn’t help it—I was seduced by a fluffy, nubbly, mustard yellow cowl made out of the softest, thickest yarn I’ve ever seen. I practically begged the woman at the counter to help me become a knitter, and she set me up with a pair of size 7 needles and told me to go touch and smell everything on the giant wall of yarn to find a hank that spoke to me.

Hello, beautiful.

Before you can start knitting, you have to wind the yarn, a process involving this crazy contraption, which is apparently called a swift.

So fun.

After it’s all wound up into a ball, you can take it home and start knitting, by which I mean googling “how to knit” and “what does ‘cast on’ mean” and “difference between ‘knit’ and ‘purl.'” I found Knitting Help’s “Complete Introduction for Beginners” to be the most helpful in getting me up and running.

After I knitted a few rows, though…I got bored. The thing about sewing is that you can sew a few straight lines and end up with something totally functional and usable. Knitting seems…less immediately rewarding? I joined Ravelry, which seems to be the place to find cool patterns, and realized that in order to make anything awesome, I need to know a lot more than just how to knit and how to purl (and also need to have more tools than just a plain set of straight knitting needles).

Which is fine, actually—I think a fluffy cowl is still in my future, once I work out the whole circular knitting thing. In the meantime, I’m amusing myself with a simple basketweave, which keeps my hands quietly busy (machine quilting: not really something you can do when someone is napping in the same room) and is still sort of fun, even if I’m not sure what to do with with the square I’m making (very red, very fuzzy dishcloth?).

Baby basketweave

Relatedly, does anyone have any suggestions for a beginner-level knitting project that’s not a dishcloth (or, um, a scarf, aka a very long dishcloth)?

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  • YAY Knitting! Welcome to the knitting family 🙂 So my pet peeve with knitting is actually the beginner scarf. It is a boring, everlasting project of doom that delays gratification, and you don’t get to learn very many skills, just knitting and purling, casting on and off for a really long time.

    As JP mentioned, a hat is a great project to work as a first one. You work it flat and then seam it up the back. You can practice knitting and purling or ribbing for the longest while, and then when you start getting bored, you can include decreases to the pattern to make the top narrower so it is hat-shaped. Use the advanced search function on ravelry to find lots of free beginner flat knit hats.

    Another project that is great for beginners are wrist warmers or fingerless mits. While some are knit in the round, you can also knit a rectangle that you then seam up and use it to cover your hands and still be able to use your fingers while in a chilly air conditioned office.

    Another wearable is to make a scarflet or neckwarmer. Same effect as the scarf, but takes a fraction of the time and you hold it closed with a button. Make stuff for your house, a pillow cover, bowls and baskets and cases for your ebook reader, tablet or phone.

    And don’t fear the cowl. Start working on it. Knit it flat and then sew it closed. If you fell in love with the yarn and the project, just go for it. Take your time and enjoy the process… think that it will provide hours of entertainment and at the end, you get a bonus cowl 🙂

    • Rebekah

      YAY Jules! This is awesome—thank you so much!! I just started knitting a hat this evening, and already it’s way better than aimlessly knitting a square. So excited to dive into actual projects!

  • JP

    Hats are quick and can involve patterns. Also, maybe doing a color pattern would break up the monotony of going back and forth?

    • Rebekah

      A hat! For some reason I assumed all hats were knitted with circular needles. Am glad to discover I was wrong. Thanks!