Teaching Yourself to Knit from a Book

Everyone learns a new skill in a different way. If you're not confident that you can teach yourself to knit from a book, you can do the following things to make the process easier and help to ensure success:

i Study the illustrations carefully and compare them with what your own hands, needles, and yarn are doing.

l Use your right hand (not your left) if a right hand is pictured.

l Notice the path of the yarn in the illustration and see whether yours is doing the same thing. For example, does the yarn cross from right to left, or over or under the needle?

l Keep a pad of sticky notes nearby and use them on the book pages to help you focus on the illustration or text you're trying to understand.

l If you get stuck, gather your materials and head to your local knitting shop. Most store personnel are happy to help a new knitter get up and running. While you're there, ask whether the store sponsors a knitting group or knows of any that meet in your area. You can learn loads from other knitters. Or sign up for a knitting list on the Web, and you won't have to leave home. Whatever you do, don't give up. The rewards of being a knitter are worth the effort of learning how to be one.

Swatching

Swatching (making a sample of knitted fabric) is to the knitter what scales and exercises are to the pianist and what rough sketches and doodles are to the painter. A swatch is a sample of knitting. It can be big (50 stitches and 50 rows) or small (20 stitches and 20 rows). Most of the time, knitters make a swatch to measure gauge (to see how many stitches and rows there are to an inch). But dedicated knitters also work up swatches to learn, to practice, to experiment, and to invent.

Your swatch can tell you l Whether your yarn and needles work up to the necessary gauge. l Whether your yarn shows off your stitch pattern or obscures it. l Whether your chosen color combination works or needs tweaking. l Whether you understand a new technique.

As you go through or skip around this book, we urge you to keep your yarn and needles handy to try out the patterns, stitches, and techniques given. In some cases, we even provide specific instructions in the project sections for making a sampler of a particular technique.

The swatches you make will keep you limber, stretch your knowledge, and be your best teacher.

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