Recently I watched a knitting video where the presenter suggested beginners practice casting on by repeatedly pulling out your work and practicing. Over and over.
I have two problems with that suggestion. First, not all yarns are forgiving enough for repeated reworking. Secondly, who wants to practice all day, and have nothing but a row of cast on stitches to show for it?
I sure don’t have the patience for that.
Many teachers suggest beginners start with scarves. And they’re fine. Especially in the colder climates. Here in South Carolina, they’re not too practical. I think I’ve worn a scarf twice in the past five years. And I’ve never been fond of wearing them when working outside, unless I tuck it into my coat.
Yes, it’s true: I’m not a fashion plate.
Never have been, and don’t plan to start now. 😉
Scarves also can be quite long. By the time a beginner has knitted her way through a scarf, they often have a lot of stitches.
If I were teaching you to knit, I’d probably suggest you practice by making dishcloths. Small projects, and the more you make the more casting on and binding off practice you’ll get. I love the feel of the cotton worsted in my hands. Dishcloths are practical, last a long time, work better than many “store bought” ones, and almost everyone can use one — or a few. I like the idea of a beginner having a successful project quickly.
Last week I tried three new patterns, none of which I liked. In frustration, I finally decided to go with the tried-and-true straight garter stitch. It’s easy, and makes up fast. And is great for scrubbing. Not just dishes, but also sinks, counters, and bathtubs to name a few.
Here’s my free Easiest Dishcloth Pattern:
Knit a square in garter stitch. I usually cast on 25 stitches and knit a square or an oblong, then bind off. I use size 6 needles, but knit loosely. You may find size 8 better for you, as that’s what most patterns suggest. The dishcloths in the picture were all knit with cotton worsted, and size 6 needles.
Try the size needles you have on hand. If you don’t like the gauge, try a different size needle … or if too loose maybe even two strands of yarn. Two strands are a bit more challenging to work with, however.
Feel free to adjust the needle size, depending upon your stitch tension, and how you want the final product to look. Gauge really isn’t important. If I don’t like the way it looks, I either start over after a couple of rows or finish one, and then start a second after making my adjustments.
I like to use Sugar ‘N Creme. Some of the dishcloths pictured were made with a generic brand yarn. I ordered it online and didn’t realize it wasn’t made either in the USA or Canada. It just doesn’t feel quite right. I’ll use up the yarn, and probably won’t buy more of this brand.
You may just find a never-ending supply of friends and relatives who can use your creations. Even if they’re not picture-perfect!
Another bonus: they make a thoughtful inexpensive gift. Or make a set of washcloths, tie a ribbon and include some fancy soaps, and … Voila! You have a handmade spa set. You may be surprised to find how many smiles they can bring in during bad weather … a bad economy … or just to brighten the “blues.”
Not a beginner? They also make great practice when you’re tired of fancy stitches, or just want to knit automatically.
Keep knitting to your heart’s delight — or someone else’s,
The Knitting Yarn