When I first started knitting, the thought of making clothing I could actually wear, not just wrap around myself, seemed impossible. I didn’t understand how in the world you could knit something 3-dimensional like a sleeve, or a sock, and I sure as hell didn’t see any reason to when I could just go out and buy a nice sweater. I know we’ve all thought these things. Then, somewhere along the line in the career of a knitter, things begin to change. We begin to get attracted to new ideas and challenges. We are intoxicated by the potential of yarn.
For me, it was socks. I found myself at my local yarn shop one day, fondling the sock yarn and casually asking the shopkeeper “So, what size needles would you use to make this into a sock?” The desire to learn about sock construction just sort of crept up on me, and after a little research I was set to begin. I credit a large part of my beginner’s success/luck to the Sock 101 tutorial on Knitty, and to the Sensational Knitted Socks book by Charlene Schurch. Both walk you through the anatomical parts of a sock, explaining the How and Why of its construction. Once I could imagine it all coming together in my head, I put needles to wool and got knitting.
This was my very first sock, using the practice instructions from Knitty on worsted weight wool. It takes no time at all to get acquainted with the sock parts, and before long I was ready to knit with the “real” sock yarn. Of course, it was pink and purple and did all sorts of cool things on its own, which kept this beginner interested!
I immediately and desperately felt the effects of second sock syndrome, and it was 6 months before I cast on the second sock. Once I did, it was finished before I knew it, and I have been knitting socks ever since.
While they may look alright, these socks are ill-fitting and filled with mistakes. But I love them dearly, as they remind me of the joy of fearlessly tackling a new challenge with my knitting.
And so it will go with my first sweater, I suspect. As the air gets chilly, and all those new knitting magazines begin to sink in, I find myself yearning, needing, to knit a sweater. I have been looking at every pattern I can get my hands on, trying to set myself up for success. There are several great tried and true patterns out there, as well as a plethora of new knits to choose from. I’m thinking top down raglan construction, with no seaming, thank you very much.
And so, fellow knitters, a few questions:
What was your first sweater? What do you wish you would have known before you started knitting it? Can you share any great patterns that you think would be right for a sweater virgin? Do I really have to do a gauge swatch?! Any other tips, suggestions, warnings, or insights?