DIY Diva: Shit, Why Can’t I Knit?!?!

I might well die before creating a knit stitch...

I might well die before creating a knit stitch...

Heyo — the DIY Diva here. When BAS asked me to write this column I kind of giggled a little bit. Because I am possibly the least crafty person I know. Seriously, I have never scrap booked, decoupaged, crocheted, sewed or knit a damn thing in my entire life. I never learned how to make friendship bracelets as a kid. When I was in college I had to take a costume design class for my major and the final assignment was to sew a bathrobe. I ended up surging the sleeve to the bodice of the garment.

I’m hopelessly uncrafty. The closest I come to being crafty at all is in the art of cooking (at which I excel) and in taking shit apart and reconfiguring it into something new (a skill learned from my hacker brother, Michael.) I have, at times, longed jealously to be one of those girls who can knit and sew amazing creations that thrill all their families and friends when they receive them as gifts at Christmas and birthdays and baby showers and such… And, I am surrounded by some seriously craftacular people, which makes this craft-envy even worse.

My great-grandma (sadly now deceased) used to knit, crochet and quilt like a fucking madwoman and every Christmas I got a pair of super hideously ugly handmade slippers with a five dollar bill stuffed into the toe of each. My sister-in-law is an excellent seamstress and a nominee to be Martha Stewart, Jr. The crafts she made for her wedding alone are enough to blow your mind. My best friend is a crafty knitting hipster freak. She makes cool urban stuffs like waterbottle cozies, yoga mat bags, knitted punk rock hoodies and iPod holders. So I’m a little envious of that. When I really broke down and decided to learn to knit was when my Mom – the academic goddess and equally uncrafty person – learned how to knit during the 2008 presidental election. She said it kept her occupied and from becoming bored while watching hours upon hours of MSNBC.

I figured: If all these people can knit, why can’t I?

Here’s the answer to that question: Knitting is motherfucking hard.

Around the time that this column started I wandered down to Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley to pick up some stuff for the crafts I was attempting to make. While I was there I picked up a crochet hook and knitting needles and some yarn. I had recently been given the book Stitch ‘n Bitch by Debbie Stoller (the fantasticly awesome editor-in-chief of BUST magazine) and I figured all I needed to do was sit down with the book, some yarn and needles and I would be able to teach myself how to knit.

I mean, I am the girl who taught herself American Sign Language, how to fix the timing belt of her car using pantyhose, make cakes from scratch, cut and dye her own hair, build a functioning tent out of wooden dowels and bed sheets and trim her dog’s toenails without any help other than books and the innerwebs — why the fuck would I think I couldn’t teach myself to knit, too?

I repeat: Knitting is motherfucking hard.

I was fooled into thinking that I was making progress because I was able to successfully teach myself how to cast on. Casting on is when you loop the yarn onto one of the needles in preperation for making knit stiches. Though there are several ways to do this (the double cast on, the single cast on) and it looks deceptively difficult, it is actually the easiest part of knitting.

The bitch is making the knit stitch.

It seems simple enough – behind, around, down and out. But, it’s not. It is the demon of crafting and I still – even after a month of trying – have yet to make one ONE fucking decent knit stich. I could probably negotiate world peace or pick the winning lottery numbers easier than I could make a fucking knit stitch.

Trying to teach myself to knit has made me want to stab myself in the eye with a knitting needle. But, I’m not a quitter, so I’m going to seek professional help for my knitting dysfunction.

I’m signing up for knitting classes. And, as I figure I am not the only person out there who thinks knitting is motherfucking hard, I thought a good topic for this column would be where you can find some cheaply priced knitting classes and a couple of other knitting resources that would be helpful for those of you out there who are as knitting impared as I am.

San Francisco Bay Area Knitting Classes:
ImagiKnit San Francisco – Knitting 101
This class is four weeks long and costs $88. The class is for beginners and by week three you’ll be working on your first knitting project (a hat, scarf or blanket.)

Altleir Yarns – Knitting 1 & 2
At $80 for four classes each, this is a the best value in San Francisco, as they will not only teach you basic knitting, but will teach you patterning and other knitting skills that are essential if you want to grow beyond making scarfs and blankets.

Stonemountain & Daughter – Time to Knit
While this is pricier at $100 for four classes, I really like how friendly the staff at Stonemountain is. I go there for all of the fabric supplies I need to make crafts for this column and this is where I will be taking my knitting lessons.

Other Knitting Resources:
Stitch ‘n Bitch: A Knitters Handbook by Debbie Stoller

*Stoller has also authored several follow-ups to this initial book, including a knitting book for men.

How to Knit: The Basics (video)

ExpertVillage – How to Knit for Beginners – Making the basic knit stitch (video)

I justify spending money on this shit by telling myself all the money I’ll save making presents for people instead of buying them. Standby to see if I can successfully complete a scarf or something aproximating a scarf four weeks from now.

Happy Crafting!

[Image via Fern's Patchwork Heart]

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About the author

Kate Kotler - DIY Diva

Kate Kotler is a freelance writer and professional blogger. IRL she is a very nice person, regardless of what you might have read about her on the innerwebs. Kate lives in Berkeley with her dog, Max. You can follow her on Twitter @adorkablegrrl
  • andrew

    http://www.knittinghelp.com/

    That site is a useful resource as well for new knitters. I learned from that and from asking tips from friends and watching others knit.

  • http://h8kateontehinnerwebs.wordpress.com/ Kate

    Oh thanks, Andrew! I’ll check it out – I’m sure I’ll need all the help I can get. :)

  • Alison

    I really feel exactly what you wrote. I may have even told a friend that I wanted to stab myself in the eye whilst teaching myself to knit.

  • http://katekotler.com Kate

    Alison – it is indeed very frustrating! Though having someone sit with you and physically show you how you need to manipulate your hands with the needle. I’ve made a couple of knit stitches and am just keeping at it, sooner of later I’ll make something. :) Keep at it!

  • BAS Friend

    The SF Public Library hosts a free workshop “Knit Happens!” for knitters and crocheters the third Saturday of every month from 2 – 4 pm, main library 2nd floor. The library will provide supplies to practice on for first time knitters, but if you just want to knit/crochet and hang out please bring your own yarn, needles, hooks and project ideas. For more information check out the SF Public Library website or contact Betsy Levine, Teen Librarian, at blevineA@sfpl.org. Notice that Knit Happens! will not meet in October.

  • http://brokeassstuart.com Broke-Ass Stuart – Editor In Cheap

    awesome! thanks so much for the tip!!!

  • http://katekotler.com/ Kate Kotler – DIY Diva

    That’s a great tip! Thank you!!

  • http://www.lutonlocal.com http://www.lutonlocal.com

    My great grandma used to knit too and she did teach me but I tried the other week and I’ve completely forgotten how to do it.

  • Spikywires

    Knitting is hella hard! I keep trying to knitt…and I’ve “advanced” to smaller needles and more complicated patterns. I keep wanting to stab my eyes out over all the mistakes I make. Warning to all potential knitters – knitting is life threatening.

  • terif.tjb

    i sooo quit lmao knitting is way to complicated ill stick to crocheting its simpler lol

  • Maxine

    Thanks for this I am getting incredibly frustrated trying to learn and feel like throwing it all out of the window but this made me laugh. Thanks!

  • Caroline

    This made me cry with laughter, I’ve been sat here for 3 hours trying to learn the knit stitch and I’ve given up!!!! It’s soooo hard. x