Sunday, November 20, 2011

The 9 Days of Knitting Tutorial and Knit-along

Welcome to The 9 Days of Knitting tutorial and knitalong!  If you are a seasoned knitter, feel free to jump right in to the pattern.  If you are a Knitting Knewby, grab your gear, and let’s get started.

We are making scarves for the 2012 Special Olympics USA Scarf Project.  Knitters and crocheters sit and stitch to make scarves for the athletes, coaches, families, volunteers and supporters of each participating Special Olympics Program.  If you are a veteran knitter (or crocheter, too), and would like some free patterns, check out their link.

 What you need:

1 Skein Red Heart Super Saver Yarn, Cherry Red

1 Skein Red Heart Super Saver Yarn, Soft Navy

1 pair size 10 (6mm) knitting needles

1 yarn needle (not shown), for weaving in ends when finished

Since Red Heart Yarn is the sponsor of the scarf project for Special Olympics, please use their yarn in their colors. I love RHY because their acrylics are the least likely to have the fiber split while I'm working with them, and they are made right here in the USA .  Also, by using RHY in the recommended colors, all the scarves for the athletes will “match” – at least in color.

I buy quite a bit of RHY at WalMart - price is right, and usually I only need a skein or 2 of a given color. If I can't find it there (and we have 3 that are pretty easy to get to from our house so you know I really REALLY looked high and low), I go to our local Michael's. And THEN if I can't find it or I absolutely need to be sure I have a large quantity that's all the same, I use Herrschner's .

The pattern we will use is very simple for beginners, and is based on a dishcloth pattern - just casting on, knit stitch (k), yarn over (yo), knit 2 together (k2tog), and casting off. By doing just this same stitch all the way up the scarf, you will really get the hang of it. We will also learn how to change colors. Oh, and you'll learn to read a pattern, too!  When we are all done, you will be a confident beginning knitter, and you’ll have contributed something to a Special Olympian.


I am not. I am terminally right-handed. The method I will be demonstrating in this and any future knitting tutorials is a "right-hand-friendly" method, which is how I was able to learn it.  Unfortunately, I do not know how to teach you to knit and crochet left-handed. If my mom were alive, she would know, and I'd gladly take photos of her doing what she did so you could see. Sadly, she went to Heaven and took her knowledge with her. There are lots and LOTS of videos on YouTube that may be helpful for you.

Now that you've got your yarn, let's get started on the pattern.

SPH Special Olympics Scarf Pattern

measures approx 6" x 60"

So, for those of you who've never picked up a pair of needles before, let me start by sharing with you what you've already learned about reading a pattern. You know how big your project should be so if it's really big or really small, you know something's not right. That's called gauge, and usually it only matters for fitted garments (think sweaters). Because the Scarf Project folks have a specific size in mind for their scarves, it's important to try to come close to their specifications. If your scarf is 5 1/2 inches versus the 6, it's ok. You are still within their specs. If you are OCD like me, you may want to start again with larger needles, or not make your stitches too tight. If your scarf is really big, then switch to smaller needles.  You've also already learned how to say Cherry Red in French and Spanish - you are so clever! 

Start by casting on 4 stitches.  To cast on, make a slip knot.  In case you don’t know how to do that, make a long tail of yarn from one of your skeins (I started with the red, but you can start with blue if you’d prefer).  The tail should be about a foot long.  Make a loop, with the “tail” (the end AWAY from the skein) underneath the yarn that is attached to the skein.

Reach through the loop, and pull up another loop using yarn that is attached to the skein.

Now pull the “tail” (it's in my hand in the photo above) to tighten things up.  And there you have a slip knot. 

If you pull on the yarn from the skein, it will make the loop smaller.  Insert your needle into the loop, and tighten the loop up to the needle, not so tight that you couldn’t slide the other needle tip in easily.

Now, let's cast on some more stitches - this would be a really skinny scarf!

Hold your needle in your right hand, and the yarn in your left, like a "Y", with the "tail" end over your thumb and the "skein" end over your index finger.  Hold the remaining lengths of both with your remaining three fingers.

Take your needle, and aim it toward your thumb.

 Slide the needle under the yarn.

Now point your needle toward your index finger.

Slide under the yarn on your index finger.
This might sound a little weird, but stay with me here.  Flip the loop on your thumb carefully over the tip of the needle.

Pull your thumb back, and pull the tail tight.

Repeat 3 more times.  You now have cast on 4 stitches.  There are other methods for casting on as well, if you'd like to check them out on YouTube.

From now on (like until FOREVER), the stitches you will be working from will be on the needle in your LEFT hand, and you will be picking them up with the needle in your RIGHT hand.  This is your working needle – it does all the work.  Hold the yarn from the skein in your RIGHT hand as well (I usually just hook it over my index finger).  This keeps your tension – the tightness of the yarn that makes your stitches all even.

Row 1: Knit across. This is your base row.  To knit, insert your working needle from left to right in the front of the stitch.

Loop the yarn you are holding in your right hand around the tip of the needle in your right hand. This is called throwing your yarn.  I know, it’s not like a baseball or something, but it is definitely different than picking your yarn – and that’s another story for a different day.

Using the point of the needle, guide the yarn through the loop and up and onto your working needle.

(through the loop)

Hooray!  You did it!  Now do it again 3 more times.  All your stitches should now be on the needle in your right hand.  Your project should look like this:

Now we are ready to move on.

Row 2: Knit (K) 2, yarn over (yo), knit across. You'll notice I added the common abbreviations for knit and yarn over. Here's how to do a yarn over.  Just loop the yarn around your working yarn between stitches 2 and 3.

You'll also noticed you increased one stitch, so now you have 5 stitches.

Row 3: Repeat row 2. Seems simple enough, right?  And now you are up to 6!

Repeat row 2 again each row until you have 33 stitches on your needle.

This is what it looks like when you have 15 stitches. 

You'll notice that the yarn-over is creating a holey, lacey effect.  Pretty cool, huh?  Keep going, all the way to 33 stitches.  Starting to feel like you're getting the hang of it? Good! By now, you will be an expert at this! Yeah You! This is what your scarf should look like:

If you feel frustrated and confused, don’t give up.  Look at the pictures, be patient with yourself.  Go slow – Rome wasn’t built in a day ya know.  If you need to, watch some videos on YouTube.  Whatever it takes - make that your new motto!  When I first learned how to knit, Princess, my daughter who was 9 years old at the time and not to be confused with Princess the dishwasher that was kicked to the curb this past week, had to walk me through this a few times.  Unstitch and practice if you must.  Hang in there, you'll get it.  You are smart, talented, and beautiful - I can just tell these things because I am a mom. 

This is where we’ll stop for today.  Rest up for now.  Tomorrow we will add another tool to your knitting toolbelt, and your scarf will start to really look like something.  Your friends and family will be amazed.  They will “oooh”, they will “aaaaah”.  Ok, maybe not, but the point is you, my friend, are now a knitter!  Congratulate yourself!

Have a great rest of the weekend!

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