Now Youre Knitting and Purling

Knitted (and purled) stitches are made by using a continuous strand of yarn and two needles to pull new loops through old loops. That's it. The following sections explain how to create both stitches.

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind as you learn how to knit:

I Finish working an entire row before putting down your knitting. It's too easy to stop midway and pick up your knitting later to find you can't tell the LH from the RH needle. Here's an easy way to tell: The yarn is always hanging down from the last stitch you made, no matter what kind of stitch it is. So if you've finished the entire row as we recommend, when you pick up your needles again, the needle with stitches will be in your left hand.

I Practice until the movements feel comfortable and relaxed. When you feel like you're getting the hang of it, try an experiment. Close your eyes or look at the ceiling while you knit — let your fingers feel their way. Can you knit without looking yet? Eventually you'll be able to. If you make this your goal, you can get lots of knitting done during movies!

Knitting know-how

To knit, with the yarn in your right hand, hold the needle with the cast-on stitches in your left hand, pointing to the right. Make sure that the first stitch is no more than 1 inch from the tip of the needle. Then follow these steps:

1. Insert the tip of the empty (RH) needle into the first stitch on the LH needle from left to right and front to back, forming a T with the tips of the needles.

The RH needle will be behind the LH needle (see Figure 4-6).

Figure 4-6:

Insert the RH needle into the first stitch on the LH needle.

Figure 4-6:

Insert the RH needle into the first stitch on the LH needle.

2. With your right hand, bring the yarn to the front from the left side of the RH needle, and then over the RH needle to the right and down between the needles.

You can try to maneuver the yarn with your right forefinger, as shown in Figure 4-7a, or just hold it between your thumb and forefinger for now.

3. Keeping a slight tension on the wrapped yarn, bring the tip of the RH needle with its wrap of yarn through the loop on the LH needle to the front.

The RH needle is now in front of the LH needle (see Figure 4-7b). Keep the tip of the left forefinger on the point of the RH needle to help guide the needle through the old stitch and prevent losing the wrap of yarn.

When you bring the new loop through the old, bring the RH needle up far enough that the new stitch forms on the large part of the needle, not just on the tip. If you work too close to the tips, your new stitches form on the narrowest part of your needles, making them too tight to knit with ease. Tight stitches have brought many a new knitter to a frustrated halt. By the same token, don't knit too far from the tips. Keep the stitches on the LH needle close enough to the tip so that you don't struggle and stretch to pull off the old stitch.

Note that when you've finished making a knit stitch, the yarn is coming out the back on the side of the needle facing away from you. Be sure that the yarn hasn't ended up in front of your work or over the needle before you start your next stitch.

4. Slide the RH needle to the right until the old loop on the LH needle drops off.

You now have a new stitch/loop on the RH needle — the old stitch hangs below it (see Figure 4-8). Congratulations! You've just made your first knitted stitch!

5. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 until you've knitted all the stitches from your LH needle.

Your LH needle is now empty, and your RH needle is full of beautiful, new stitches.

6. Turn your work (that is, switch hands so that the needle with stitches is in your left hand) and knit the new row.

When you turn your work, the yarn strand coming out of the first stitch to knit is hanging down in the front (see Figure 4-9). Also notice that the stitch just below the first stitch (labeled "Big loop" in Figure 4-9) on your LH needle is larger than the rest and can obscure your view of where your needle should go.

You may be tempted to pull the yarn strand over the needle to the back to tighten up the stitch. If you do this, it will look like you have 2 stitches on your needle instead of 1. Keep the strand in front and gently pull down on it, and the big loop if necessary, to better see the opening of the first stitch. Be sure to insert the point of the RH needle in the loop on the LH needle and not into the stitch below.

Stitch

Figure 4-9:

The first stitch of the next row.

Stitch

Figure 4-9:

The first stitch of the next row.

7. Repeat these steps for several more rows (or all afternoon) until you're comfortable with the movements.

Aim to make these steps one continuous movement, to make even stitches, and to stay relaxed! After you've knitted a few rows, take a look at what you've created: It's the garter stitch, and it's one of the most common — and easiest — stitch patterns. You can find it and other common stitch patterns in Chapter 5.

^ If you're having trouble getting into the knitting "flow," change the way you carry the yarn in your hand. Or prop the knob of your RH needle under ■ fojl your armpit or on your hipbone to keep it stationary while you use the left hand to initiate the movements. Study how other knitters do things, and be willing to try it different ways until you find your knitting "home." When you understand how the yarn travels around your needle to make new loops, you'll sort out the best way to hold your yarn and needles for comfort, speed, and even stitches.

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