Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Beginner Knitting

I don't exactly remember when I learnt to knit, but I was probably around 12.  My mum taught me.  I didn't know how to cast on or off, I just learnt how to do the basic stitch and I probably knitted about 6 colourful squares.  I really had not done much since.

Until, a few years ago, I was avidly reading Rhonda's blog Down to Earth and she had simple instructions on how to knit a dishcloth and lots of encouraging words.  I put that on my "to do" list for simple living.  I purchased some bamboo knitting needles and some red cotton.  I didn't do much with them for quite some time, until a day came where my daughter was unwell and she just wanted me to sit with her.  You know, when you are feeling sick and all you want is your Mum to sit with you (it really does just help you to feel comforted). While I was sitting and she was watching some TV, I thought that was a good opportunity to start having a go at knitting.  Except I had no idea how to cast on!

My knitting basket

Thank goodness for You Tube, I managed to teach myself how to cast on.  I felt so proud.  The actual knitting action came back to me fairly quickly.  The tension wasn't right and there were quite a few dropped stitches but it was a start.  My Mum gave me one of her beginner books and my Aunty gifted me all of her knitting needles.  We were so excited to receive this gift.  I am learning that when you want to try something new the hardest part is just starting.  Once you start all sorts of ideas, new understandings and opportunities come your way.

Knitting needles and cases gifted to me from my Aunty
My daughter also became interested in what I was doing (she was 8 years old at the time) and she kept asking to see my progress.   She wanted to learn how to knit something herself.  It is such a flow on effect. I am sure, had I said to her, "Let me teach you how to knit", she wouldn't have been interested, but with me quietly knitting away, she developed her own interest in the activity.  It really does go to show that children learn so much more by observing what you are doing than by being told.

Although, I was barely qualified to knit a square myself when she wanted to start!  I had to keep reminding her that I was a beginner too and I wasn't sure I could fix any mistakes she made.  My Mum had to rescue quite a few dropped stitches as I couldn't get the hang of recovering them (and I still can't!).  She started off with a basic square and then very soon after announced she wanted to knit a scarf.  At 8 years old, she was able to pick up the skill easily.  The scarf is still a work in progress as it was taking quite some time, so she moved on to some smaller projects.  We also found the bamboo needles were easier for her to manage as they didn't slip as much and my Mum found her some shorter ones which were easier too.  It has taught her a great deal about patience and that we can learn new things no matter our age.  It has taught her persistence too.

Work in progress-scarf being knitted by my daughter

So after mastering  basic knitting I moved onto knitting this dishcloth.  I love these two colours together.

I am halfway through this one now.  Rhonda from Down to Earth recently suggested knitting them with an open weave so they dry out better.  I would like to try that soon. Here is a link to her post about open weave dishcloths.


I also had the idea that I would like to make my daughter a patchwork blanket.  My grandmother knitted each of her six grandchildren a blanket using lots of different yarn she had left over from different projects. This is the one she made for me when I was about 10 years old. 

It always reminds me of her and we still use it, sometimes my daughter uses it and we always talk about Grandma when we have it wrapped around our shoulders or draped over our legs.  It is like a warm hug from her each time. You can see she put my first initial on it, my brother and sister still have theirs and so do my cousins. Grandma is 92 years old now. 


So over the past few years, I have been knitting these squares.  I will sew it into a blanket when I finally finish all the squares and I hope my daughter will treasure it as the years go by. Just like we treasure Grandma's.  My daughter is so looking forward to it.  Each time another square is finished she cheers, counts them all up and tells me how many more there are left to do. There are quite a few! At the beginning she would play with the squares or rearrange them into different patterns or lay them all out on the floor and admire them.  To be honest though, I haven't worked much on it over the past year, but I really must get back into it.


I also had the idea that I would like to make each of my nieces and nephew one like Grandma made for us.  I have five nieces, one nephew and one on the way. We will see if I get there, one project at a time!  A handmade gift is so meaningful to me.  That person has put their time and love into a unique gift especially for you.  It can't be bought at a shop, no one has another like it and there are stories to be told about it.
When I started knitting my Mum found these at an op shop for me.  I think they are so cute, I hope I can create some projects I can use them on.
After we started knitting a few years ago my daughter requested a knitted chicken for her 8th birthday.  She had seen a segment on a TV program about how a lady had knitted chickens for children in a town affected by terrible fires.  Each child designed one, choosing their own colours and she and a group of ladies made them for all the children in the town. You can read about this beautiful story here.  They are just gorgeous. It was waaayy beyond my skill level.  However I was able to source the pattern and I found an elderly lady in a craft group who was willing to make it for me (afterwards she did tell me she wasn't going to make another one as it was quite difficult!). We chose the wool and my daughter was so thrilled when she received this for her birthday.  She called her chicken Desley after the lady who knitted her.  After her birthday we went back and she personally thanked Desley.


















I have very basic skills knitting skills.  I am definitely a beginner.  However I find it enjoyable, it helped me through a tough period in my life, it gives me a sense of achievement, it has encouraged my daughter to try something new and learn a useful skill, it fills our home with beautiful and practical items - handmade by us or someone who has carefully created it for us.  At the very beginning of my knitting journey, stitch by stitch, it has already given us all of this.

17 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post, I also learnt to knit around 12 years old and as we grow life takes over ... it wasn't until I became a mother myself that I revisited knitting... now I have Grandchildren who I make toys for ... I also follow down to earth blog I must try some wash clothes for my home... your daughters scarf is perfect beautiful colour and your keepsake blanket is simply gorgeous... I'm teaching myself embroidery at the moment which I find helps me to relax as knitting does... Take care May x

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    1. Thanks May. I would really love to learn embroidery too. I think it is just beautiful.

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  2. My journey is almost identical Belinda and I'm at the same stage as you. It was Rhonda's books which first got me going with dishcloths. That's the extent of it at the moment. I learnt to do long tail cast on, cast off with you tube as well. Our daughter can now cast on/off and knit dishcloths.
    I love your blanket which your grandma made. My mum has knitted a blanket each for our son and daughter. They call them their 'Nanna Blanket'.
    Our kids can both knit as well as counted cross stitch. Like you said it is from watching us.
    I look forward to your progress on your daughter's blanket. How big are you going to make it?
    Kylie

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    1. Thanks Kylie, it isn't going to be a huge blanket. I think I worked out 6 squares by 8 squares.

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  3. What a beautiful post! Good on you for taking up knitting again, and it's so wonderful to see the younger generation learning it too.

    Like you, I learned a little knitting when I was a little girl, but never touched a set of needles again until about 2-3 years ago (I too was trying to make Rhonda's dishcloths)! I quickly discovered it's not my strength, I was in love with the idea of knitting, but didn't really have the knack or patience for it. I'm a much keener sewer, and much better too!

    Sewing is my strength, I'll stick with that LOL!

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    1. Sounds good Cheryl, I'm looking forward to seeing your patchwork quilt!

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  4. Oh my, I so have to make my mother one of those gorgeous knitted chickens! Two of her favourite things - knitting and chickens - all in one woudl be the perfect gift! Like you, I learnt to knit when I was young and didn't touch it again until I began knitting dishcloths. I've learnt a lot knitting those cloths and can now do some more complicated stitches. They are such a great little project and make great gifts. I love your blanket squares and your daughter's scarf-in-progress. Very pretty indeed! Meg:)

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    1. Thanks Meg, have a look at the link to the website about the knitted chickens. There are so many beautiful ones. I think it would be such a lovely gift for your Mum.

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  5. Belinda, I am basically a beginner too even though I learned to do the basic stitches as a child. I too was inspired by Rhonda on the old Down to Earth forum and haven't really progressed from dishcloths but that's okay. I didn't knit for many years so it is worth while sticking at it. I also taught my granddaughter to knit when she was six or so and she made a dishcloth...a little crooked but that's okay too :-)

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    1. Seems like Rhonda inspired the lot of us Nanna Chel! I think it is so great for the younger ones to learn.

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  6. Hi Belinda, like you and others who have commented, I too learnt to knit in my early teens, even knitted myself a jersey or two, then didn't do any for years. My mother-in-law was a fabulous knitter and could knit a child's jersey or cardi in a day, so no point me slogging away for a year and by that time said child had grown so knitted garment no longer fitted. I started again about 5 years ago when I first moved to Australia and knitted "peggy" squares as we call them and made a blanket for my granddaughter - which her Mum "stole" for herself. I am currently in the process of sewing up another blanket for my next granddaughter and also have dishcloths - Rhonda inspired - on the go too. I'm now using hemp to knit them. Cheer Lyndie

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  7. great post! keep on knitting, it gets easier the more you do & yes! YOUTUBE away, there are lots of tutorials out there; i'm an intermediate knitter now, started when i was about 8 or 9, wanted jumpers for my barbie doll, then i had another go at knitting in my teens, stopped then took it up again in my 20s & from there it was on & off til the last few years which i have been knitting pretty constantly, like you & the rest here, inspired by Rhonda to take up the needles again. i recently learned how to knit socks & before that almost 2 yrs ago now i learned to use DPNs & do Circular knitting.
    your daughters scarf has some beautiful colours, have a night or 2 where both of you sit together & knit, even if it's only a couple of rows, time zsspent doing things together is precious.
    keep on learning
    thanx for sharing

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    1. Thanks Selina, sounds like you are a bit of a pro now! Yes you are right, just sitting and doing a little bit here and there is good, sometimes I think I have to do heaps, but just doing a few rows each time I pick it up is good too. Stitch by Stitch!

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  8. I'm such a fan of your knitted chickens, they're adorable! It's also lovely to read that you're sharing the journey with your daughter. I'm just starting to crochet myself and it's challenging to get going but I'm looking forward to seeing some progress soon. Like you said, stich by stich. I look forward to seeing more knitted goodies in the future. Enjoy!

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    1. Thanks Michelle, yes the knitted chicken it is just so gorgeous- everyone we show says they want one too! I hope to see some of your crochet soon then!

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  9. I love all the colors you've chosen for your knitting. What a great post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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