You’ve figured out how to cast on and do basic stitches. So now what? There are so many patterns out there, but which ones are going to reinforce what you’ve learned and push you to learn more?
It took me a long time to be happy with the progress I was making with my knitting. With patience, I have arrived at a point where I can learn new techniques relatively easily and finally get my stitches to look even. The second one is the most exciting. All it took was practice. A lot of practice.
The biggest help was to get away from scarves, as well as bulky yarns and needles. Finding patterns that were quick, cute, and useful played a huge role in this.
Challenging yourself is a great way to learn and keep yourself motivated! So I’ve collected some patterns that helped me.
These patterns are listed in order of difficulty. Start from the beginning and once you’ve mastered that pattern, move to the next. I recommend not going out of order unless you’ve already done a similar pattern. You may feel that the learning curve is a little steep at times, but it will be worth it.
A quick tip for success: don’t judge the way your pattern is turning out until you’re 5-10 rows in. Just ignore how it looks and keep going. It will come together. 🙂
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1. A Tea Cozy
Great for Learning: Garter stitch + Stitching blocks of knitting together + Adding a drawstring
Pattern at: All Free Knitting
I made this tea cozy for my mother-in-law, though that’s my own tea pot pictured. It’s done in garter stitch, which means that every stitch in every row is knitted, so it’s as basic a pattern as you can possibly get. The thing that gave me the most trouble was figuring out where to put the drawstring. If I could do it again (and, in fact, I will do it again, because I loved this cozy so much that I’m going to make myself one as soon as I choose a color) I would put the drawstring about 1/2 to 1 inch below the top of the cozy. As is, it’s about 2 inches below the top.
Why I love this pattern: It’s so fast. You want something completely mindless that’s still useful? Try this pattern. Since it’s all knitting, you don’t have to think about it until you get to the end. Also, if you don’t have a tea pot, you can just use the squares as dishcloths. They’re pretty much the perfect size.
Tips: Use a crotchet hook to add the drawstring instead of a yarn needle. Also pay very close attention while adding it so it comes out evenly. I had to undo it a couple times because one side kept coming out higher than the other.
2. Basket Weave Dishcloths
Great for Learning: Purling
Pattern at: Laws of Knitting
My sister just moved into her own place and I made her two different kinds of dishcloths. This is the first and was certainly the easiest to learn. However, I had a lot of trouble learning how to purl from the instructions in all of my books. This video tutorial from Good Knit Kisses was extremely helpful. (I kept putting my working yarn in the wrong spot. It should be moved in front and in between the needles before you begin purling. Oops!)
Why I love this pattern: Thanks to this pattern, I FINALLY know how to purl! That was my big, frustrating, “I’m never going to learn this” hump. For a long time, I understood why so many people prefer to knit in the round just to keep from purling…but now I love it (and I hate knitting in the round…so far)! I’m almost as quick with purling as I am with knitting and it’s amazing what you can do with just a mixture of those two stitches. Also, this pattern is fun to make and completely adorable.
Tips: Count count count! Your knit tallies will be really helpful with this because you’re going to want to keep track of which row you’re on. Also, if you take breaks, try to remember to stop in the same place every time. Even with my tally, I had trouble remembering where I had stopped at one point and my knitting started to reverse itself (meaning the front started to look like the back and the back started to look like the front and it was really ugly). This gave me a lot of practice in learning how to pay attention to multiple things at once. At one point, I was cooking, watching TV, talking to Zach, and knitting this at the same time.
3. Diagonal Owl Dishcloth
Great for Learning: Increasing + Yarn over + Decreasing + Cable knitting
Pattern at: Knitting on the Net
I know what you’re probably thinking: “How can this be easy if it has cables?” Answer: It only uses cables 2-3 times and they’re small. Which is why it’s a great introduction to it. Cables seem really, really hard when you’re learning…but they’re actually not! All you’re doing is moving stitches around. They still intimidate me at times, but now I know how to use them and that’s awesome.
Why I love this pattern: You only have to cast on and bind off three stitches (I told that to a friend and he about exploded in excitement)! I hate casting on and binding off, so I love that it doesn’t take me very long with this. Also, because it’s knit diagonally, it uses a lot of stitches (mostly increasing and decreasing) that many straight squares don’t, so it’s great for learning new things.
Tips: First, don’t be intimidated by this. You might have to spend time figuring out how to do different stitches, but they’re pretty easy once you do them. Learning to increase (inc, sometimes also abbreviated as kfb) from my books didn’t give me any issues, which is great because every single video on the subject sucks (trust me, I’ve looked). This was the only one I could find that was any good…and the reason I don’t like it because I hate having to sit through long introductions and explanations of why I should know how to use it. I already know why, just show me how you did it! (This is why I prefer books–I can skip over the why and read it when I’m more interested.) Anyway. The second increase is a yarn over, which isn’t difficult to do but is kind of difficult to describe. Here‘s a decent video on that. And the decreasing is done by knitting two together (k2tog), which is self-explanatory. Stick your needle into two stitches instead of one and knit as normal. Two becomes one. Easy! As for cabling, here‘s the best video I’ve been able to find (though I prefer a hooked needle, because it makes me feel more secure–I’ve seen people use pencils, though, so just use whatever you have). It’s really quite simple!
4. Cabled Mug Cozy
Great for learning: The make one (M1) stitch + Button holes + Slip slip knit (SSK)
Pattern at: Jessica Joy
This is a very quick pattern (1-2 hours, depending on how fast you knit), but uses a lot of cabling.
Why I love this pattern: It’s gorgeous and it can be adjusted to fit any mug. The finished product also keeps me from burning my hands, which is really nice.
Tips: First, if you don’t know how to do the M1 stitch, here‘s the video tutorial I used. Again, counting is key with this pattern. Once you finish the beginning, it puts you into a round of knitting and purling and cabling. (Note: “Round” means “series” and does not refer to knitting in the round.) Once I entered that round, I set my knit tracker and counted how many rows until the cable. Once I finished the series of rows and began a new series, I set my tracker backwards to the row listed in the pattern. (I believe it’s rows 14-21. I knit until my tracker hits 21 and then I set it back to 14.) I do this until I have reached the desired length. It’s very easy to lose track of where you are in this pattern, so the best thing you can do for yourself is pay very close attention.
SSK is a way to decrease that is easier than it sounds. You just slip two stitches and then knit them together. You can watch a video for that here. To make a button hole, you bind off a couple stitches in one row. In the next row, you cast on where you bound off. To do that in the middle of your work, you use the backwards loop method, which you can see here. Just add them to the needle that has the working yarn attached to it and keep knitting as normal.
And if you’re wondering where I got the button pattern, it’s here. I used the Rose Button and reduced the cast-on stitches to three, instead of seven. Mine doesn’t look as nice as hers because I pulled the button really tight when stitching together. I honestly don’t recommend this button for this specific pattern, but it’s adorable for other things that would require larger buttons. You can also use a store bought button. I did it this way because I was snowed in and I was not going to the store.
5. Bernat’s Knit-Along Mystery Afghan
Great for learning: This pattern utilizes all of the techniques listed above, but will also teach you how to do a slip stitch if you haven’t learned that already.
Pattern at: Yarn Inspirations (Note: When I wrote this post, the site this pattern is located on wasn’t working, so here is a PDF that I scanned to my computer. It’s not great quality, but it will work until the original website is back up.)
As you can see, I’m not done with this project. It’s taking me quite a while because 1) I haven’t been putting much energy into it, and 2) I haven’t decided on what colors to use (except that cream color). But! It’s so easy! I haven’t even completed all of the blocks, but I read them all and they’re incredibly easy once you master the techniques listed above. All you do is knit a bunch of squares and then stitch together, just like with the tea cozy.
Why I love this pattern: It’s adorable! It’s easy. It doesn’t involve double-pointed or circular needles (and how many afghans can say that?). And if you don’t want a blanket, they’re the right size for some nice dishcloths.
Tips: Try not to knit too quickly. I found myself dropping and adding stitches when I tried to move faster than I actually should have…. Just because it’s easy to make, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make mistakes!
6. Stuffed Catnip Bunnies
Great for learning: Slip stitches and purl stitches, if you haven’t done so already.
Pattern at: Coffee and Cream
This was actually supposed to be in the top five, but my cat got to it and tore it up before I could take pictures. (Oops.) So the picture above is the one that creator posted.
Why I love this pattern: It is SO easy and quick to make. Also, it’s adorable. If you don’t have cats, I’d suggest making one anyway and keeping it (or giving it) as a stuffed toy. It’s one of the first patterns I ever made and it only took me about an hour and a half.
Tips: If you choose to make this, I’d put it right after the tea cozy. Also, use yarn instead of sewing thread for the eyes. And don’t use a cotton ball for the tail, it really won’t work (trust me…the person who was too lazy to go out and get a piece of felt). If you can avoid printing it, do so because the font and large pictures in the PDF mean that this pattern uses way more paper than it actually should (considering it’s not a very long or complicated pattern).
It’s so easy to get into the habit of making nothing but scarves when you first start knitting because 1) they’re incredibly useful, and 2) they’re incredibly easy. But figuring out where to go from there was difficult for me. I wasn’t advanced enough to try anything really awesome, but…scarves were boring and my living room was overflowing with them.
So hopefully this list will help those of you who are feeling as lost as I was.
Oh! And I know I’ve been taking a loooong break from posting about food over this last month. Some of you are probably frustrated by that, but thanks for sticking around! Next week, we’ll be back to normal. I have some great recipes to share with you all!
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