Here on the farm, we do it all, we raise sheep, design and manufacture our wool into yarn, design knitting patterns, knit socks on an antique sock machine…and now we are embarking on an additional service, providing knitting instructions. I have taught many people how to knit over the years. I started teaching knitting in my dining room around 2002. Then a couple of years later, I taught knitting classes in my yarn shop, Holly Spring Homespun. I also had the pleasure of teaching middle school students to knit in an after school program.
Knitting is an ancient skill of pulling loops through loops to create clothing. It is one of those skills that transcends time. As you knit, you forge a connection to all those that have knit before you. Many people experience knitting in an almost spiritual way. As you knit, the rhythm of the clicking needles calms you. Your heart rate slows and your breath deepens. And I am a believer that love can actually be knit into the stitches, love for the person you are knitting for. It is sensual to pull the natural fibers through your fingers such as wool or mohair or alpaca. The animals who grow the fiber on their back send their spirit with their fiber to the knitter who turns it into a piece of clothing.
Our sheep are only used for wool and live their days in their family units on our farm. They lead happy peaceful lives and I feel that happiness shows up in the wool they produce. So pulling their wool yarn through the loops as one knits is a true simple pleasure not to be missed.
So I will be putting together a series of video’s teaching knitting skills beginning…well beginning at the beginning. Casting on is the 1st skill you learn in your knitting journey. I will be giving you project ideas as your skills increase. I start with a simple garter stitch scarf. And all will be taught on the farm where the yarn is grown for a bit of a unique experience.
Since only a few people are close enough to come to the farm, teaching knitting in a video will reach the most people. So pick up some needles and some wool yarn. And give yourself the gift of knitting.
The Knit Stitch
So now you have your stitches on your needles…it is time to learn how to do the knit stitch. A good way to practice is to actually work on a project. It is a bit boring to simply work on swatches, use your practice to create something you can wear. So lets start with a 200 yard skein of worsted weight yarn, something that is soft enough to wear around your neck. I suggest a yarn with mostly natural fiber. You will thank me for this later. The yarn you choose does affect the quality of the experience of knitting and the end product. I am using some of my Hilltop Shetland worsted weight, but use what makes your fingers happy. The needles should be US size 8 or 9. They do not need to be long. And using the instructions from the last video, cast on 20-30 stitches. Try to leave about a 10 inch tail . We are going to make a kind of scarf called a mobius. It is a twisted circular scarf. We are going to do a simple garter stitch mobius. So cast on those stitches, and check out the knit stitch video to learn how to make a knit stitch. Then get knitting! Simply do rows and rows of knitting. Start with just knitting in 20 minute intervals. If you find yourself getting a bit frustrated…take a break. You are creating muscle memory as you are learning a new skill and your brain learns better with breaks. When you perform the knit stitch for you are creating the Garter Stitch. See the picture..you can see a bubbly bumpy fabric. Later, we will learn the purl stitch and then different ways of making a variety of knitted fabric. Check back later for the next video, and we will bind off your scarf and finish it.
Finishing Mobius Scarf, Binding Off
We are heading around the last turn on the way to finishing your first knitting project. Woohoo! So as you continue to knit row after row, your hands are becoming used to the motion of knitting. It might be useful to mention that it is good to get into good habits to protect your hand and forearm muscles and tendons. Take breaks, stretch and rotate your wrists. Try not to slouch as you knit. There are some videos that show how to stretch your hand and forearm muscles.
Ok…after knitting at least 20 inches or longer on your project, watch the video for how to bind off your scarf. What that is, is a method to finish off the last row and remove the work from your needles, sometimes called casting off. It is quite easy and very rewarding that you have reached this stage of your project.
After that..I show you how to seam the two ends together for the mobius, which is a fancy word for twisted circle. One end is twisted forward so that when you begin to seam the 2 ends together, the top end matches up with the bottom end. Now..this is your project, and so maybe you do not want a twisted circle, maybe you want a cylinder or tube. That would be called a cowl. And you can opt for that too. Either is fine. The real beauty of knitting is that you are also the designer. You chose the yarn, the color, how long you want your scarf, how wide you want it, and so on. Part of the fun!
Also in this video, I film from our Kitchen Garden.
At this time of year, I have cleared out the weeds, have planted am now harvesting greens such as Mustard, Collards, Cabbage, Lettuce…and adding annual herbs (basil, Cilantro) , to the perennial herbs like Comfrey, Thyme, Sage, Orange and Chocolate Mint and Rosemary. So enjoy the next tutorial.
Next time…Purling!! And the beginning of project # 2!