If you’re looking for something to do on your camping trip that is both relaxing and productive, then knitting may be a great activity for you. While you create beautiful, handmade items, your body relaxes and experiences therapeutic healing at the same time! Using both of your hands for a focused activity is stimulating for your brain, so knitting has the same mental benefits as doing a puzzle. So if you find yourself twiddling your thumbs and wishing you had something to keep your hands and your mind busy, give knitting a try!
If you head to a craft store to get some yarn, you may be a little overwhelmed with all the different types to choose from. Not only are there a multitude of brands, there are different weights as well. A weight is simply how thick the yarn is to begin with. Here is a breakdown of the basic weights you will find and what they mean:
When following a pattern, it will let you know which size yarn to use, as well as which size needles to use. You will also see that most patterns talk about gauge. Understanding what gauge is is important as well.
The gauge is simply the combination of needle and yarn size to get the desired project size. This comes in handy for two different reasons. The first is that, even when using the exact same yarn and knitting needles, two different knitters will end up with different-sized items. This is because different knitters will pull their yarn tighter or looser. You may also find that yarn you want to use is not the same size as what the pattern calls for. You can still use it as long as you switch your needle size to get the correct gauge. The pattern will say something along the lines of “10 knit stitches and 20 rows will render a 2” x 2” square.” What you will do is make a 10" x 20" swatch and see how close to 2" x 2 " you get. Then adjust the size of the needle accordingly.
You will need to gather the necessary supplies before you can start knitting. You can purchase the items separately or in a kit from the craft store. For knitting you want to be sure that you will have the following to get started:
Now that you have all your supplies, you need to know what the patterns will be referring to.
Patterns use abbreviations to keep them simple, short, and easy to follow. Knowing what these abbreviations are ahead of time will ease a lot of frustration. Here are the basic abbreviations you will need to know aside from the stitch abbreviations. We will include the abbreviations for the stitches when we do our step-by-step guide:
Now you’re ready to start learning some stitches!
***All stitches are written using a right-hand method. If you are left handed, just invert the hands on the directions as you go. The abbreviation for each stitch is found just after the name in parenthesis.
Casting On (CO)
Casting on is getting the yarn on the hook. You can’t start knitting without this one:
First make a slip knot (this counts as one). Then,
Knit Stitch (K)
The knit stitch is the most basic stitch in knitting. This is the staple for knitting and the first actual stitch you want to learn before any others.
Purl Stitch (P)
The purl stitch is basically a backward knit stitch. You will be able to see this once you try it and take a look at the stitch from both the front and the back.
Yarn Over Increase (YO)
The yarn over increase allows you to add stitches as you go and increase the size of your work. The direction of the yarn will change depending on if you are working a knit or purl stitch, but the concept is the same.
Knit Two Together (K2tog)
When you see this, it basically means to put your needle through two loops, and then complete the knit stitch the same as usual.
Purl Two Together (P2tog)
This is the same as knitting two together, just from the front as a purl stitch. Make sure to insert into two stitches and then complete as a normal purl.
Binding Off (BO)
Binding off, or sometimes called casting off, is when you begin to remove your stitches from the needle at the end of your work. This will bind the stitches so they won’t unravel.
With knitting, the way you stack your stitches changes the appearance of your project.
Garter Stitch: Knitting each row will create what is called a garterstitch. You will get the same results if you purl each row as well as the back of a knit stitch is a purl stitch and the back of a purl stitch is a knit stitch.
Stockinette: When you alternate between purl and knit rows you create what is called a stockinette stitch.
Seeded Stitch: Some rows will call for you to knit one stitch and then purl the next, continuing this until the end of the row. Then when you start the next row, you will alternate every other stitch but make sure you knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches. This is called a seeded stitch.
Ribbed Stitch: If you want a ribbed look, such as what you find on the end of a sweater or the cuff of a mitten, give the ribbed stitch a try. Once you have cast on, you will knit two, purl two. Once you begin your next row, you will knit the knit, and purl the purl.
How can you tell which is which? Here is an example to help you see it:
There are many more combinations of these two stitches that will make different patterns. Once you are comfortable with the basic stitches, you can find great tutorials on how to do the more difficult stitches. As long as you know how to purl, knit, and yarn over, you have the basic fundamentals that you will need to create tons of beautiful items.
Hopefully you caught your mistake right away so you don’t have to back up too far. If the mistake is made in the row you’re currently working on, it’s easy to back up a few stitches until you get to the mistake. The process is a little different depending on whether it is a knit or purl stitch you’re taking out, but as long as you can tell the difference between the two, it’s very simple. This can be a pain if you realize a few rows later that you have made a mistake, but it is fixable. Unfortunately you will have to take out all the work you’ve done until you reach the row where the mistake was made. Many great tutorials can be found on YouTube to show you just how to do this, as well as all the stitches mentioned above.
If you're new to knitting, start out with a small project, such as dishcloths, headbands, bibs, and coasters. Visit Ravelry.com where you can access great patterns both for free and for purchase. You have to join the site in order to use it, but it's easy and free.
Do you knit when you're camping? Do you have any advice for new knitters? Tell us in the comments!