Often when one thinks of knitting, the thought of a grandmother in a rocking chair, draped in a blanket, knitting the day away might come to mind. It’s not only old ladies who knit. Besides, when did you think those old ladies started learning? When they were young! It’s not like on your 70th birthday the government hands you some knitting needles and yarn and you suddenly can make the best sweaters ever.
The point of this article is to make knitting seem less intimidating. By explaining abbreviations that can freak a beginner knitter out, and providing some helpful links, this article will (hopefully) aid in the attempt of teaching the steps to make a simple, yet stylish, slouchy beanie.
The average person is particular about their clothing/accessories. One may have an outfit that would look great with a mustard color sweater, but is unable to find one anywhere. See a fabulous beanie at H&M, but not in the color desired? Make it. Basically any color yarn one desires is available to knit up a nice, cozy hat. Now hat’s can be a little challenging for the first time knitter. The best advice is to buy some garbage yarn (as in it’s not ideal for anything one would wear but it’s super cheap) and just practice on that. AC Moore and Joanne’s have kits available for purchase that come with two different sets of needles and some other handy stuff everyone needs as they get better. The books included in these kits also breakdown some basic patterns and are a useful reference tool.
The first step for a hat or any knitting project is to always look up the pattern before buying yarn. There are tons of free patterns online that specify how much yardage, the weight, and sometimes a specific brand of yarn you will need. It will also specify needle size(s), which a beginner should follow pretty strictly until comfortable with the basics. Also, when buying yarn pay attention to the dye lot, which is on the package. The dye lot is a multi-digit number usually near the bar code. If three hanks of yarn are needed, they should all be the same dye lot number because the color can vary slightly. One would think that yarn they’re purchasing is all the same color, but variation usually is noticeable in a finished product.
For this project, it is suggested to find a pattern online, Raverly.com offers them for free. The needles used were two sets of double pointed needles: US sizes 6 and 10. I varied from the pattern’s suggested yarn and used one hank of Caron Simply Soft Yarn in Wine Country I had lying around. Because of this, the hat doesn’t give the same effect as pictured on the pattern, but this was done out of preference. For this pattern, using the yarn suggested by the pattern maker or me is not necessary; it should just be any worsted weight yarn (category 4). When going to buy the yarn it will say this on the package.
Now the only techniques needed for this pattern are pretty basic knitting skills. Patterns are written in abbreviations, which I’ll list, and if ever confused don’t be afraid to Google search. There are so many “how to” videos on knitting, which are great visual aids.
CO- Cast on. This is how to begin. This pattern says cast on 72 stiches. Continue to use 72 stitches throughout the pattern, except toward the end.
K- Knit. Knit however many stiches specified. This pattern uses K3 –which means knit 3 stiches.
P – Purl. Purling is almost the opposite of knitting a stich. This pattern uses P3 – purl 3 stitches.
K2tog/P2tog – Knit/purl two stiches as if they were one. This decreases the amount of stitches on the needle. With this pattern, begin with the smallest size needles. DPN’s come in packs of 4-5. For this pattern, I divided the amount of stitches onto three of the same size needle, and used the fourth as the working needle.
This technique allows you to knit in the round, which means one makes a continuous circle so that the finished hat has no ugly seam up the back. It looks nicer when knitting hats/infinity scarves in the round. At some point there is a change to the bigger DPN’s. Don’t Panic! Just follow the instructions, they will mark when it’s time to change. It’s easy look up how to change and what it will look like online.
Just look up how to do any of these techniques on YouTube. Remember to practice on some cheap yarn before diving head first into a hat. At first mistakes will happen. Take the time and don’t be afraid to mess up. Consider that sometime a project has to be taken apart. It can be frustrating, but it’s a learning experience. Happy knitting!