Auntie Em loves to knit, and she's here to teach you how to go from picking up your first pair of needles to designing your first sweater. Yes, really, you can be a designer. Along the way, we'll be learning lots of fun techniques, easy to memorize patterns, how to pick fibers, and how to care for finished knit projects.
The combination of stitches that you repeat in your knitting is called a stitch pattern. With your ability to make knit and purl stitches, there are now a lot of stitch patterns open to you. When reading pattern instructions, K means knit a stitch, and P means purl a stitch. (These may be capitalized or not, depending on the author. But they mean the same thing.)
Let's start with ribbing. Cast on the same number of stitches you used for your first rectangle. Now, we'll divide that number for the ribbing. I cast on 30, and decided on a k4 p1 rib. If you want your piece symmetrical, start with half the number of k stitches. So, my first row goes like this.
k2, p1, *K4 p1* until 2 stitches remain, k2. (The asterisks indicate that you should repeat the stitches between them.) So, let's see what that looks like:
This is the back. But you can see the ribbing better this way.
Nearly there! Yes, this is the front.
And we will keep doing that, until we have another square. Then, we'll switch to another stitch pattern. Your rib can be k3, p1, or k2, p1, as well. Whatever looks nice to you, and works with the number of stitches you cast on.
The next pattern is called seed stitch. This one goes *k1, p1* to end, turn, *p1, K1* to end, on an even number of stitches. On an odd number of stitches, row 2 will also be *k1, p1* to end. This makes a pretty, bumpy little stitch, that looks a bit like this:
Seed Stitch! Yay!
I bet you guessed already that we're making another square. Yep. So many squares. Use your first two-square piece to guide you on the length. These are going to be sewn together to make the front of your pillow. When you get to the last row and bind off in seed stitch or ribbing, make sure to maintain the pattern as you work the last row and loop the stitches over each other. It makes for a neater edge.
Now you have a total of four squares, and you have the front of your project. We're almost halfway done! The next lesson will teach you a couple of more simple knit and purl patterns, as well as a little bit of color work. So, if you don't have a second color of yarn yet, go pick one up. It's preferable that you choose the same brand and style as you have been using, so you can be sure that the weight and fiber content are the same. That will make blocking easier.
Do you have a rectangle that looks something like this?
Good! Now, you're ready to bind off. This is how we end a piece of knitting. In some patterns, you may also see this called "casting off." The process is very simple. You will make two stitches of a new row, and just pass the first stitch over the second. Make another stitch, and pass the previous stitch over the new one. Keep going until you reach the end, and pass the working yarn right through the last stitch.
Now that you've been practicing your knit stitch, you should have a square of knitting, something like this:
Now you're ready to learn the purl stitch. The purl stitch is essentially the reverse of the knit stitch. Instead of holding the yarn at the back and pulling the loop through the left stitch toward you, you'll hold the yarn in front of your work and pull the working yarn through the loop away from you. Here's a video, so you can see it in action:
(I think I'm starting to get better at videos. You can hear me breathing in this one, and for that I apologize. I rigged up a harness to hold my real camera on my chest, instead of sitting my laptop backward and using the built in web cam. Better video, worse sound. But I'm getting valuable practice!)
Now you have your first two rows of your second stitch pattern. This is called stockinette stitch, and is going to be one of your most used stitch patterns. Knit a row when the smooth side is facing you, and purl a row when the bumpy side is facing you. It's that simple. As you work, you will find your stockinette knitting curls up on you. That's okay. It's normal for it to do that, because all the "weight" of the stitches is on the back side of the fabric. You can even use that tendency to add design elements like rolled hems and cuffs. For now, just let it do its thing.
Keep going with your stockinette pattern until you have a square of stockinette on top of your square of garter stitch. It will take you fewer rows than you knitted in garter to get a square. Make your last row a purl row, and we will be ready to move on to the next lesson, where we will be learning how to take our knitting off of the needles without unraveling it all, which is a pretty handy thing to know, don't you think? Then we'll look at some fun things you can do with combining knit and purl stitches to make interesting textures. Remember to stay relaxed and enjoy your knitting. And if you're following along, feel free to ask questions, or just show off your first square!
One of my favorite places in the world is Epcot (Or, as it's still called in my head, EPCOT Center,) at Walt Disney World. I have great memories of the place. My dad and I used to spend so much time wandering around there when I was a kid.
What does this have to do with knitting? Well, the Moroccan Pavilion. The back half of Epcot is the World Showcase. Little tastes of 11 different countries, with the architecture, food, fashion, and culture of that country represented in a little pavilion. Even the people working there are college students from those countries. The king of Morocco sent his own craftsmen to create the gorgeous tile mosaics that cover a large part of mini-Morocco. Mosaics like this one: