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T O P I C    R E V I E W
customyarns Posted - 05/29/2008 : 2:46:49 PM
I can't remember when yarns and knitting weren't a part of my life and tried to think who was it who taught me to knit. I honestly can't remember, but I'm pretty sure it was my mother.

I find that newer knitters today learn from friends, knitting groups, online and on YouTube. Newer knitters want quick projects like socks and scarves. My contemporaries knitted sweaters, but I find if someone is knitting a sweater today it is for a baby.

When I first learned the yarn everyone used was a DK navy blue wool. How far the industry has come....... Now Great Adirondack, Berroco, Trendsetter, etc. produce the most unbelievable yarns in fibers such as alpaca, mohair, cashmere, ribbon, merino and cotton.

Who could have predicted that sequins, beads and something called eyelash would one day be a component with yarn? Who would know when I learned to knit that there are more stitches than just garter and stockinette? What would my mom say about freeform knitting? I think she'd be amazed!

Mirror, mirror on the wall I am my mother after all!

So, I'm curious to know - who taught you to knit and how have things changed ?

Linda Ostroff
Custom Yarns By Linda

Linda Ostroff
20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Janbie Posted - 07/01/2008 : 7:59:28 PM
I'm completely self-taught, too. That's because nobody - and I mean, absolutely NO ONE - in my family or circle of friends is crafty. But I do have a knitter-come-lately friend like myself who lives in the Bay Area, and we help each other out, plus are co-enablers to each other to go to Stitches West every year!

The KnitWit Copywriter
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and take a look around once in a while, you could miss it." Ferris Bueller
knittinggal Posted - 07/01/2008 : 08:50:02 AM
A co-worker named Beverly taught me to knit in the early 80's. She would knit the most beautiful fair isle Christmas stockings on break. I adored them so much I asked her to teach me to knit. She taught me the knit and purl stitch (I had taught myself how to cast on) and that was it. I knitted a stockinette scarf for my mother. It was beautiful but it curled and I got disgusted. So I put the needles down until 2004. My sister, who never did any type of needlework, called me one day and said she was knitting and felt like she had knitted in a former life. I had been itching to do something crafty and found my long sticks and cast on. I did something horribly wrong and decided I needed a class. Found one but figured out I wasn't moving the yarn to the front when purling so the class wasn't necessary but it was fun! And this time I'm fully addicted.

poodlegirl Posted - 06/25/2008 : 06:22:54 AM
My mom's friend taught me to knit when I was eight and in third grade. I had been fascinated y watching my friends knit during recess at school. My mom wanted to teach me but she knitted Continental style and all my friends knitted English style so naturally I wanted to follow the crowd.

I have no idea how many miles of yarn I've been through in all the years since -- knitting has been one of the great loves of my life!
socker Posted - 06/24/2008 : 6:36:05 PM
The summer my mother was very ill, my grandmother taught my sister and I, her about 7 and me about 4, to knit and crochet. Today, many, many, years later, she crochets and I knit, I can remember my sister starting to crochet a small baby sweater for her life size doll baby, and I, with my knitting needles wanting to knit one for my baby doll, and grandma reading the crochet directions and telling me what I needed to do to knit one that was close to the same design.

As for today -- the choices in yarns, needles, and easy, quick access to free patterns is wonderful. When young, I don't think I ever used anything except Red Heart, and either milky white plastic like needles or metal needles. Most of the patterns came from Workbasket, Women's Day, and another publication like Workbasket, whose name escapes me through time. Posted - 06/24/2008 : 2:08:28 PM
My college roommate taught me to knit. She started me on a cardigan with size 15 needles. I thought it was wonderful. It was a hard choice -knit or study. So I did a little of both and now 40 years later I have the luxery of retirement and knitting anytime I want.

Fromaggista Posted - 06/11/2008 : 1:34:39 PM
The internet taught me. has some great videos. YouTube wasn't so helpful for me. I kept getting videos about speed knitting competitions when I searched for "knitting".

I was also able to get some advise from my LYS, but they just look at me like I'm crazy when I pull out aluminum(sp?) needles and then they start preaching about bamboo needles. I don't do this, but I always feel like yelling "ST*U ABT WHAT I'M USING AND SHOW ME HOW TO ****ING CABLE!" (Please excuse the implied language.) I usually just end up leaving with some excuse about needing to be somewhere, but then I go home and feel bad about getting so annoyed when someone's just trying to help.

So yeah, internet has been the best resource for me.

**Newbie to Knitting**
Danemom Posted - 06/11/2008 : 10:03:38 AM
I learned to knit when I was in college back in 1969 or 1970. No one in my family knew how to knit, so I purchased a "How to Knit" book published by Columbia Minerva, a skein of yarn and a pair of needles. My future mother-in-law was also learning to knit at that time, so she showed me a few things she was learning in class. Since I was and always have been a read-and-do person, rather than a see- and-do person, I just kept reading instructions and working through the new techniques I needed to learn for my current project. I am still doing that, but having an online community of knitters is a big encouragement.
pmcyarns Posted - 06/08/2008 : 07:58:31 AM
My mother taught me to knit as a child but I couldn't cast on or bind off so my creativity was definitely stifled. I do remember preferring purl to knit. I focused on crocheting as I could start and finish those projects! As a young, expectant mother I learned to knit from beginning to end so I could make baby sweaters. Since then I've gone on to teach knit and crochet for the last 4 years.

The biggest change in the industry that I see is the use of synthetic yarns and yarns without lot numbers, not to mention the availability of pull skeins. Wrapping yarn around a chair was never fun and siblings were less than enthusiastic helpers. I use the nevelty yarns for their fun appeal but still prefer the natural fibers overall. I'm thrilled that fibers like soy and bamboo are available. I can't wait to see what comes next!
Mary B Posted - 06/06/2008 : 9:39:26 PM
My mother taught me to knit when I was about 9 or 10. I am now 50+ and found out that my mother enjoyed knitting. She tried knitting socks for soldiers during WWII and the women who were in charge of the group finally decided to get her to work on non-knitting projects for the soldiers.
Now, about knitting today. 3 words - gorgeous yarns and fellowship in nearly every yarn shop I walk into.
helenstone Posted - 06/05/2008 : 4:35:32 PM
I have been knitting for more than 40 years, beginning in the late 60s. First with my mom and then with an elderly lady down the street. She taught me to take apart old sweaters that had some holes in them, wash the yarn, dry it, and reuse it, just like new. She also got me started with Barbie doll clothes. Do you know how many stitches a sweater sleeve takes for a Barbie doll. Still have the clothes, unfortunately no daughters or grand-daughters yet to play with them. My mom makes sweaters without patterns as that is how she learned in Poland, Africa and England. I need directions!
jreiz Posted - 06/05/2008 : 4:16:28 PM
the story is that Mum sat us down (me - about 4, maybe 5; and brother - 11 months younger) on either side of her one afternoon when she wanted "the baby" to sleep (he's 20 months younger than the brother), and taught the two of us to knit - so, I literally do not remember learning to knit! The only time that I stopped knitting was during my married years - he could not believe that I could knit, read, listen to the TV program, and keep track of the conversation (can't everyone?) - however in the separation and then divorce year, I picked it back up, and know that it will be part of my persona to the end. Crazy Aunt Purl references this, and so do many others - knitting is therapy, even when it doesn't work! Mind you, SHOPPING for yarn seems to be therapeutic as well - maybe a leetle too healthy, if you get my drift!As to the changes: THE INTERNET!!!; better yarns, needles, patterns, magazines, other supplies; way more selection!!!! oh yeah!; so many people to talk to and meet with; and forums to belong to; I was so tickled to be showing all kinds of new things to Mum those last few years that I had her, and she got a kick out of the new sock yarns in particular!!!!
KathyR Posted - 06/05/2008 : 3:36:47 PM
I can't remember learning to knit (no, I'm not THAT old, I have a bad memory!) but I presume my mother taught me. I can vaguely remember using a pair of white, possibly very hard plastic or bone (they were quite smooth) needles which were about 6 inches long. The wool was blue and had been recycled and I was working away at a piece of knitting which had the usual learner's "eyelets" with the edges waving in and out as the number of stitches increased and decreased. I may have been 5 or 6 but possibly a little younger.

When I was about 7 I ventured onto my first project, a pair of grey slippers, to complete a badge for Brownies. The slippers did eventually get finished and I wore them until they disintegrated. After finishing the slippers I wanted to further my skills by knitting a jersey. I can remember going with my mum to a little shop nearby and buying some lemon-yellow Fontana triple-knit (= 12ply) crepe 100% wool yarn (I still have a left-over ball!) and choosing a pattern. As the pattern I chose had a cable down the front my mother, in her wisdom, suggested that I knit the back and she would knit the front and sleeves. This worked very well and I wore that jersey proudly for a number of years.

As you can see from that, my mother was very supportive of my knitting but it was a different story when it came to crochet! I think that she did know how to crochet but maybe didn't enjoy it. When I asked her to teach me to crochet she refused. Several times. I eventually gave up asking her and found a booklet with some basic instructions and proceeded to teach myself to crochet. I made one or two crocheted articles (started more!) but never really enjoyed the process even though I have seen, and admired, a number of things made by others.

When I was young the yarns available were mainly wool and acrylic. Early on I developed a strong preference to wool which has never left me. Patterns were usually printed singly, or in booklet form, using as little space as possible making following complicated patterns rather difficult. But it was what we were used to. Nowadays, charts and schematics make patterns a lot easier to follow (or they would if the charts were printed a little larger and clearer for aging eyes!). I have recently bought a couple of Japanese knitting books in which the patterns are only written in chart form. Perhaps this will be the way of the future as knitters clamour for international standards in patterns?


If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.
My Blog (Roselea Fibres)
hissyknit Posted - 06/05/2008 : 1:20:00 PM
I tell everyone I'm a knitting mutt. Several years ago, an elderly lady taught me to knit but it didn't take.

After I broke my wrist and elbow in a bicycling accident (three years ago), my PT recommended knitting/crocheting to help with flexibility. A LYS taught me to cast on and knit. Another teacher taught me to purl and fix mistakes and yet another friend showed me purling.

Christy B.
"I run with scissors and eat paste."
Squam Posted - 06/05/2008 : 1:06:26 PM
My mother taught (read that 'forced' me to learn) to knit when I was about 9. I had learned to sew at 7. She was right handed and I am not. However I do knit right handed. Interesting - as 4 years later she managed to teach my left handed cousin to knit left handed. I didn't do too great with the knitting (hated those alumium needles) - much better with the sewing. Taught myself to crochet as an adult, then gave that up after making a couple of disastrous bathing suits for my twin daughters (when they got wet, they fell down around their ankles!). Back to sewing - quilting and doll clothes - many years. Then we bought a lake house - no room for the sewing machine. Went to a YS with a friend and my eyes nearly popped out of my head! Bought a skein of yarn and some bamboo needles, went home and it was as if I never got off the bicycle. That was 4 years ago and I now have the largest collection of bamboo needles in town and a huge stash. Best of all yarn and needles are portable! However there is something I cannot do no matter how many times I try, that is the Kitchener Stitch. Can't seem to make my right hand go in the proper direction. I also pick up stitches from the wrong direction. Now I lead a Prayer Shawl group and am on a Baby sweater kick. Berroco, Plymouth and Cascade are my favorite brands.
knittingloulew Posted - 06/05/2008 : 12:40:51 PM
I learned to knit in the early 60s through 4-H. The only place to buy wool yarn then was the local woolen mill ends store, a huge warehouse of fabrics and yarn. The hanks of wool were floor to ceiling and could be wound on their electric(!) ball winder or by hand. Acrylics were more expensive than wools then, so most of my inital projects were from wool.

I made slippers and hats, then graduated to an "easy pattern afghan" that my instructor wrote out on a piece of paper. That afghan won me the blue ribbon at the county and state fairs, and it wasn't until many years later that I discovered that it was actually a feather and fan pattern. I had learned "right handed" so the next 4-H instructor taught me the proper left-handed method, which was actually continental style. I remember being thrilled to actually learn something left-handed, as everything else back then, except writing, had to be learned and done right-handed.

My mother sewed and darned, but did not knit. I did learn how to darn socks and fix runs in nylons, which were too expensive not to get the most wear out of them. My great-aunt did tatting and crochet and she taught me now to chain and single crochet; I only wish I had learned more from her. Another great-aunt did embroidery and beautiful pieces of cut-work.

Through high school, college and for some years after, I slowed down on knitting and got into embroidery and sewing. I really got back into knitting after retiring on disability and then when caring for my parents (so much waiting time in doctors offices, hospitals, etc.) When my brother and SIL had preemie twins, we discovered there were not a lot of similar clothes for boy-girl twins. Out came the books and knitting blossomed into marathons. There were too many sweaters for two children, but I just kept going and for 3 years after I sold children's sweaters at craft fairs and to anyone who wanted to order one. You could get Red Heart for $1 a skein and I had lots of it! From there, I went back to my knitting, re-learning patterning and learning color work. I now do test knitting, knit shop models for a LYS, and do some teaching.

How the world has changed, in almost 50 years... You can buy acrylics from many, many stores and there are LYS everywhere. Acrylics are now cheaper than wools in most cases, and there are so many neat fibers to choose from. I now have a stash I would never have imagined having, with all types, colors, styles of yarn I would never have imagined would be available way back when I started to knit.
Knitting is now done anywhere and everywhere, and people don't look questioningly when you pick up the needles and yarn. It is a wonderful craft, and I feel blessed to have learned it!

Live, Laugh, Love.
customyarns Posted - 06/05/2008 : 11:16:03 AM

Just reading all these responses has been so interesting! It seems the majority of us learned from our moms, grandmoms, favorite aunts and even some dads. Just goes to prove that this ancient craft lovingly seems to be passed from generation to generation. Amen to that!

Linda Ostroff
Custom Yarns by Linda

Linda Ostroff
lsvs Posted - 06/05/2008 : 09:59:17 AM
My grandmother taught me to crochet first, then knit. Lots of doll clothes, then mittens, hats and socks. She also taught me to sew on her treadle sewing machine. Lots of good memories!
vinette Posted - 06/05/2008 : 09:41:08 AM
My mom and Grandma taught me to knit. They knitted continental and I use the throw method. I learned on straight needles and using seams in sweaters and argyle socks.

I changed to using circular needles for almost all knitting, knit sweaters in the round and socks, too. I have always enjoyed knitting and crocheting.

Yarns have changed a lot during my knitting lifetime. I like a lot of the superwash yarns.

greyhound Posted - 06/05/2008 : 09:02:43 AM
My mom taught me how to knit when I was 21 years old and the first thing I made was a purple sweater - I was knitting along and did not realize that I dropped a stitch and back then not too many people were using a crochet hook to pick up the stitch. I became frustrated and did not start knitting again until I moved to MI and a neighbor inspired me to start again. Now I am addicted - with my addiction I did get my mom to start up knitting again full time. My mom recently passed away and I have two of her ongoing projects at my home in AZ and plan on finishing them in her honor. Thanks Mom!
luvcelticknits Posted - 06/05/2008 : 07:52:59 AM
I think my mother taught me. I also got a lot of information from knitting books. I always enjoyed knitting; I have made some baby afghans and baby sweaters, and I made a sweater for me. Also, I joined a few knitting groups. Today, there is such a wide assortment of yarns to choose from; such beautiful colors and textures. The knitting patterns also are very stylish and there is something for every skill level.

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