Well, that’s a bit more like it! I firmly believe that February in Maine is supposed to be snowy. I’ve stockpiled hot cocoa mix, dug out all my winter gear, and even got a brand new pair of snow shoes. My cross-country skis have been shooting me reproachful glances from beneath a thin coat of dust. There are some sheepskin slippers calling my name, and I’m halfway through a new TV show. Yes, indeed — I’m heading home shortly to enjoy this winter weather.
My Sharpie yarn came out a little lighter and more pastel-colored than I had hoped, but I still like it. It makes me think of unicorns, and I’m tempted to pair it with a strand of sparkle yarn for some true rainbow-unicorn fabulousness. Next time, I’m going to go all-out with the Sharpies, and really put some pigment into the yarn. I still have some experimenting to do, but it was a fun learning experience, and way easier than mixing boiling vats of dye on my tiny kitchen stove. This is the kind of crafty project you can do with the kids on a Sunday afternoon (but definitely with ventilation for those marker fumes, folks!).
The Azel Pullover really is a fast knit, I swear. However, mine is taking FOREVER, because I only ever manage one row here and there. Between calling my senators, reading news reports, and hiding under my bed because it’s all just too much, I haven’t been knitting as diligently as I should. That’s why I’m going to layer up and trudge home right now. I’m going to make a mug of Bixby & Co. hot chocolate, put on my slippers, and knit up a storm. I will not log onto social media. I will not turn on the news. I’m just going to make the world’s coziest poncho. And then I’m going to wear it.
If you’re new at this knitting thing, it can help a lot to know where to look for patterns and how to figure out which patterns are going to be suited to your skill level. So here’s a round up of our favorite patterns for beginners. For all of these projects, choose a worsted weight yarn in a color that inspires you and US size 7 or 8 needles.
Doing the most basic knitting stitches produces rectangle-shaped swathes of fabric, and you’ll notice that all of these projects consist of simple rectangles.
#1 The Scarf — A scarf is a great way to get started. There’s no shaping or seaming. Nothing fancy or difficult. At is’s basic best, you can knit every row until it’s long enough or you run out of yarn. If you’re ready for a little bit more of a challenge, you can add to your skill level in gentle increments. Start this way:
Cast on 24 stitches. Knit every stitch, every row. It’s just that easy. Good old garter stitch has a simplicity and charm that are hard to resist.
To increase the challenge without driving yourself crazy, try adding some stripes. Just break off the old color (always leaving a 3-4 inch tail to weave in later) and start knitting with the new one. Or make your whole scarf in Knit 1-Purl 1 ribbing. It’s just like it sounds; knit 1 stitch, then purl 1 stitch, then knit 1, then purl 1, knit 1, purl 1, k1, p1 (see what I did there? now you know the abbreviation for 1×1 ribbing)
(Photo from Deb Stoller on Ravelry with and actual pattern here) #2 The Cowl — If you think about it, a cowl is just a scarf that has been attached at the ends. So you can do that. Knit a scarf just like the one in #1, and when it’s long enough, sew the ends together. Keep it kind of short and it’s a neck warmer. Make it long and it’s and Infinity Scarf. Flip one end over one time before you sew both ends together and it’s a mobius.
(Photo from Patons Yarn on Ravelry with actual pattern here. NOTE: this pattern uses chunky yarn and bigger needles, but the principle is the same.)
#3 The Hat — Once again, if you think about it, a hat is a tube that has been gathered together at one end. And a tube is just a rectangle with its ends sewn together. The only challenge here is that there is some fit to a hat. A human adult sized head is about 22 inches around. So you’ll need to make sure you cast on enough stitches to go around. Pick a worsted weight yarn and try it this way:
Cast on between 90 and 100 stitches. Obviously, the bigger the head, the more stitches you cast on. Knit every stitch, every row until you have 9-12 inches (9 inches if you don’t want to roll up the edge, 12 inches if you want a deep cuff, in between if you want in between.) When you’ve gone far enough, break off your yarn leaving a really long tail (about two feet long). Sew the tail through all the stitches on your needle (before you even bind off) and pull tight, like a drawstring. Then sew the sides together until it looks like a hat.
To increase the challenge, you can work the same variations you worked on your scarf from #1.
(Photo from Lion Brand Yarn on Revelry with pattern here. NOTE: this pattern uses a chunky yarn and bigger needles, but the principle is the same.) #4 The Fingerless Mitts — And if you think about rectangles and how they can fit around your neck and head, it’s not such a leap to figure out how they fit around your wrist and hand. The only tricky part is the thumb…and even that isn’t all that tricky. Try this…
Cast on as many stitches as you want to to make it as long as you want your mitts to be from the base of your fingers up your arm (usually about 8-10 inches, so 40-50 stitches.) Knit until your piece will go around your hand. Bind off and sew the edges together leaving a hole in your stitching for your thumb to stick out.
Are you sensing a pattern here? Simple rectangles can make almost any kind of garment.
(Photo from Erin Amelia on Ravelry with pattern here)
#5 The Boot Toppers/Leg Warmers — Just like the mitts in #4 only make it big enough to go around your leg and when you sew it up, don’t leave a hole for your thumb. Try this…
Cast on enough stitches to go from the top of your foot to as high on your leg as you want the warmers. Knit until your piece goes all the way around your leg. Bind off. Sew the bind off edge to the cast on edge.
(Photo from Crafty Times blog with pattern here. NOTE: Again, this pattern uses chunky yarn and bigger needles.)
#6 The Slippers — You can make a rectangle into a slipper. Of course you can. Try this…
Cast on 5 stitches for every inch your foot is long. Knit until your piece is long enough to go from the inside of your ankle, down under your foot then up to the outside of your ankle. Bind off. Fold your piece in half with the cast on edge touching the bind off edge. Sew one side together just as it’s laying. Sew over-under through the stitches of the other side and pull them together like a draw string. Then sew up from the gathered toe across the top of the foot until it is as closed as you want it, leaving an opening big enough for your foot to go through.
(Photo from handepande on Ravelry with pattern here. NOTE: This pattern has decrease at the toe. You can do them or not as you choose)
#7 Part A: The Vest/Sweater — Okay, this one takes a bit of math, but a vest is, at its most basic, two rectangles; one for the front, one for the back. And a sweater just adds two more rectangles; one for each sleeve. Try this…
Measure around the widest part of your chest. Round up to the nearest whole number and add four inches for ease. Divide this number in half. Cast on 5 stitches for each inch and knit until it’s as long as you want from neck to hem. Then do it again. Now you have a front and a back. Lay these two pieces flat with the bound off edges touching each other. Sew these edges together leaving an opening big enough to put your head through. Voila!
(Photo from Elizabeth Smith on Ravelry with pattern here)
#7 Part B: Add Sleeves — If you want to make a complete sweater, measure around the widest part of your upper arm and add 4 inches for ease. Cast on 5 stitches for each inch and knit until it is as long as you want your sleeves. Bind off. Now do it again. Lay each sleeve so that the center of the bound off edge meets the shoulder seam you have already sewn on the body of your sweater. Sew each sleeve to the body. then sew the long seam on each side that runs from the wrist edge of the sleeve up to the body then straight down to the lower hem. You’ll have a perfectly lovely drop shoulder tunic with kimono style sleeves…beautiful and right on trend.
(Photo from Dorthe Skapple on Ravelry with pattern here. NOTE: this pattern has ribbing at the cuffs, but you don’t have to do it.)
As your skills grow, you’ll be able to add increasing and decreasing to shape your pieces and make more complex garments. But you don’t need to wait. Go ahead and try your hand as these simple projects and see how far you can get with basics.