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How to knit and crochet

Updated on January 27, 2014

How I learned to knit and crochet

Recently I've switched from being a knit and crochet newbie to a real knit and crochet pro. How? All it took was one book, and a month of frequent practicing.

There's only one conclusion to draw: learning how to knit and crochet is really easy!

If I could do it, so can you.

I share my tips and tricks below.

All images by Tiggered

knitting yarn
knitting yarn

Starting point in my knit and crochet journey

Let me confess right away - I wasn't totally new to knit and crochet crafts before my recent heavy learning session. I dabbled with both since always, but my skills were seriously limited. If a knitted or crocheted square was what you needed, I was your girl!

Don't laugh, there is plenty that you can do with a square. Scarves, wrist warmers, even tentative attempts at bags - I've been through it all. After a while, though, one yearns for something more ambitious. I wanted to be able to knit or crochet a proper GARMENT, not some flimsy accessories!

In knitting, I was able to combine purl and knit stitches in any pattern you could dream of (as long as you wanted a square...), but I knew there are fancier stitches out there. Cables, laces... Not to mention colour combinations!

In crochet, I was a real chain master, but as soon as you threatened me with a treble (not to mention a double treble!), I'd run and hide. Unfortunately, chain is not all you need to make all those pretty doilies, lacy clothes, toys, applique flowers etc. etc.

crochet background
crochet background

The book that taught me how to knit and crochet

I didn't really plan to improve my knitting and crocheting skills. The whole process started by accident.

During a library trip, I stumbled across a book called The Knitting and Crochet Bible. I didn't expect much, but I thought - what the hell, maybe I'll learn a trick or two?

Back home, I lazily browsed through the book. At first, all those symbols and descriptions completely baffled me - it all looked so complicated! But the stitches in the stitch library looked pretty and at least the first few seemed manageable... I thought I'd give it a try. Nothing fancy, you know, I just planned to knit little squares of different knit/purl stitches, to use as dish clothes or maybe combine into a throw or something.

Once I started, I couldn't stop. I knitted and knitted. I even attempted to read instructions for some more complicated pieces and funny thing - once I've read them a few times, they seemed clearer, almost doable! It wasn't long before I made a go at some 3D stitches (bobbles and similar) and guess what - they were not difficult at all!

I decided to jump right in and buy the book.

That's my book!

The Knitting and Crochet Bible
The Knitting and Crochet Bible

This is the book that taught me how to knit and crochet!

As you can probably guess, half is devoted to knitting, the other to crochet.

Each section is divided into three chapters: techniques, stitch library and project patterns. Obviously, the number of projects is finite, but once you know how to adapt them, you'll be able to create your own patterns and designs.

knitted scarves
knitted scarves

Learning to knit and crochet, step by step

Playing with different stitches was fun, but soon I got bored and wanted to actually craft something useful!

I started gently, with scarves. It's still the 'square territory', and you cannot really get the size wrong, so it wasn't such a big deal. To push me out of my comfort zone, I chose some advanced stitches, ones that I've never tried before. Still knit and purl, but in complicated patterns!

Scarves done, I switched onto baby bootees. Apart from being rather nice and quick to make, they are a wonderful opportunity to practice decreases and increases. With a printed pattern from The Knitting and Crochet Bible, they were not so difficult and I got them right at the first go! Encouraged, I knitted another pair, this time adding an extra colour. Success again!

By this time, I was slightly fed up with knitting, so I switched onto crochet. It proved even less complicated than knitting! A few basic stiches can be learned in half an hour, afterwards it is only a question of combining them so that something wearable emerges.

On ambitious impulse, I chose a crochet top as my next project. I'm not a total success story: my first attempt was a dismal failure. Remember, it is important to choose the right thickness of yarn for your garments (you don't want a top that feels like an armour) and to count stitches carefully, especially on the edges. Unless you like that wavy look...

Back to square one. Thinner yarn, easier project (still a top, but not as fancy). It worked! I've crocheted my first adult size garment!

Easy knitting project

Easy knitting project
Easy knitting project
knitted vest
knitted vest

Advanced adventures in knitting and crocheting

With such a success under my belt, I was ready for a deep water dive.

First, I decided to actually design the pattern, from scratch. The Knitting and Crochet Bible analyses a simple jumper pattern and teaches you how to alter it so that it fits any measurements. That was my starting point. I measured up my friend and thought up a garment - a vest, open up front, with buttons.

First, I knitted a tension square. I usually frown at such a waste of yarn, but if you want to design a pattern from scratch, it is absolutely necessary to know the stitch count to measurement ratio (I re-used the yarn anyway, so no harm done).

Then, I got my faithful graph paper pad (a very, very useful thing if you are a crafter) and designed the whole garment, stitch by stitch. I planned all the decreases and increases for waste, armholes, neck opening... It took some time and effort, me doing it for the very first time, but with the book as a guide, I managed fine. I went for plain back and some fancy cabling on the front - once I decide to be ambitious, I go all the way!

After some sweat (but, luckily, few tears), I got the basic stitching done. I joined all the seams, and finished the relevant edges with a simple double crochet border (by now, the easiest thing in the world, but you wouldn't catch me even attempting it a month ago!). Buttons on and voila, my vest was done!

crocheted top
crocheted top

I know how to knit and crochet!

After a month of heavy knitting/crocheting and careful reading of The Knitting and Crochet Bible, I can:

- knit or crochet any stitch you care to name - cable, lace, 3D

- freely increase and decrease - necessary for shaping garments

- design a garment from scratch or adjust existing garments to required measurements

- mix crochet and knitting in one garment

- work with buttons/buttonholes

I call it quite a progress, wouldn't you agree?

I still have to learn a few things, or to sharpen my skill a bit. I am still to create an adult-size multicolour garment (and you can do some fancy stuff with intarsia and fair isle knitting - instructions in the book). I still have to learn how to shape different necklines, or how to work with round forms, such as socks or gloves, but I'm quite confident that I'll be able to pick it up at first go once I get around to trying it.

You see, despite my initial puzzlement, knitting and crochet are really, really easy crafts. With little time and effort, you can master them too!

Do you know how to knit and crochet?

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