6 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Knitting

As a knitting teacher, I’m often asked to give advice to new knitters. There are tons of great books out there giving all the advice we all need . . . gauge matters, buy enough yarn, use the right tools, finish a row before putting your knitting away . . . but I wanted to dig a bit deeper to tell you the

6 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Knitting

1) Read The Pattern

When I was a new knitter, I was terrified of, what seemed to me, to be utter gibberish . . . a pattern. I would glance at it and my eyes would glaze over. Now I’m always encouraging knitters to read a sentence out loud. Nine times out of ten, when you do that, you’ll find that thing that seemed so confusing, is quite simple if you take the words at face value. Something that I teach in Unlocking Pattern Secrets is how to draw it out and write it out to make a pattern less stressful.

2) Read Your Knitting Not the Pattern

I remember the first time I was trying to knit ribbing, I ended up knitting seed stitch. This was because my eyes were glued to the pattern, and I had no idea what a knit looked like or a purl looked like. The first time I realized I could read my knitting to see what comes next, the skies opened up and the knitting world became my oyster! I hope that my How to Read Your Knit Stitches & Master the Pattern class, can come in handy :).

3) Don’t Be Afraid to Rip

When I realized that every knitting mistake is an advanced knitting technique that you didn’t happen to mean to do at that time, I felt pretty good about myself! I started to get really good at ripping. I taught myself to fix mistakes by making a lot of them! I wish I hadn’t spent so much time trying to avoid ripping and learned to love it sooner. In Advanced Knitting Fixes we explore how we can even fix mistakes AFTER you’ve bound off!!

4) Stop Ripping and Keep Knitting

This was my hardest lesson. The first thing I talk about in Knitting ER is triage . . . do you need to, really, really, do you need to fix it? There are times when REALLY nobody will notice, or you can fake it after the fact. There’s something wonderful about realizing you don’t have to be perfect.

5) There are NO Wrong Ways to Knit

There are so many ways to knit. Not only different styles (English, Continental, Portuguese, Leaver) and different methods (Eastern, Western, Combination), the only WRONG way is the way that hurts you, is uncomfortable or makes you unhappy. If you are making your stitches on purpose, and they look the way you want them to look. It’s not wrong. In Improve Your Knitting, we explore the pros and cons of many different ways to knit. I spent so much time trying to match the way other people knit, I never looked down at my own to try to understand what I liked! Speaking of understand . . .

6) Don’t Do Anything on Your Knitting You Don’t Understand

This one comes from the heart. I made sooooo many “yes master” mistakes early on. You know, when you try to follow instructions not having any idea of why. The first time I did an SSK I was slipping both stitches as if to purl. I remember thinking that it seemed like I was just moving the stitches from one needle to the other for no reason, but that’s what I was told, so I’ll do it. One of the reasons I go into all the “whys” in Patty’s Knitting Bag of Tricks, is understanding the why helps us get the how.

But had I now made sooooo many mistakes when I was first knitting, I’d have nothing to share with all of you, so I guess I’m grateful for every mistake!

If you’d like to see where I’m teaching next, check my schedule.

Or take me home with you on a DVD or online class.


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  • Andrea Miller May 29, 2017   Reply →

    Amen. Just today I referred again to your “How to Read Your Knit Stitches and Master the Pattern” class. The wealth of info in each of your classes is like an encyclopedia – if an encyclopedia could make me laugh and teach me an immediately executable technique that I now understand from first principles. Knitting is a total joy, and knitting with you makes me smarter every time I pick up my needles.

  • Katie McDougall March 2, 2022   Reply →

    I just shared this (years old!) post with a couple friends who are learning to knit as we speak (on Mikey’s Crochet Cruise!). My life changed when I learned to read my stitches. Now I can purl any darn way I please. And I want that for them as early as possible. Your “Knitting Bag of Tricks” DVD is on my list to give to them after they’ve learned to purl. Thank you thank you thank you for being here for us, being faithful to the community, and being so smart in your methods.

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