Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Learn to Knit: A N00b's First Knitted Scarf

The Extra Long scarf my mom made me.
This is the first pattern I ever made. It's the pattern I teach people when they're first learning to knit. They start the pattern knowing nothing of knits and purls and by the time they've finished, they're confident in knitting, purling, and switching between the two stitches mid-row! I've taught my mother, sister-in-law, and several friends how to knit with this pattern and now, I'm going to teach you.

The Gear:
For this scarf, you'll need a skein of Lion Brand Jiffy Thick & Quick (or a yarn equivalent) and size US 11 needles. If you want to get a lot of practice, or make an extra long scarf, pick up an extra skein of yarn.

Now, for those of you who are completely new to knitting, here's some videos from KnittingHelp.com that will get you right on your way. Trust me, they're how I learned to knit.

Dropping Stitches:
If there's one mistake you're going to make, it's likely dropping stitches. I've shot a video to help you recover dropped stitches, refer to it as you need.

Casting On:
http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/cast-on I prefer to use the Long-Tail method, but if you've watched the video and are still struggling, go with the Knitting-On method. It's not as stretchy, but it'll help you get the basics of the knit stitch and it'll get the job done.

The Stitches:
For this scarf you'll only need to know the basic stitches: knit and purl. The scarf starts with the knit stitch for about 12 rows, so learn that one first. Then, when you reach the second panel, you'll knit and purl in the same row. By the end of the scarf you'll be 100% confident with knitting and purling.
The Knit Stitch & The Purl Stitch

A note on style: There are two ways of holding your needles and yarn, Continental & English. I find that in general its easier for beginners to use English and later transition to Continental. English gives you more control over the yarn (though be mindful of pulling your stitches too tight!), while Continental is easier to get into a "mindless rhythm" as it uses less movement. In general, though, you should use the same method for the entirety of a project as each tends to give you a different tension.

The Pattern:

A N00b's First Knitted Scarf
The blueprints...
Yarn: Lion Brand's Thick & Quick (1 for normal length, 2 for extra long!)
Gauge: Doesn't matter!
Needles: US 11

This scarf is made up of several 12 stitch x 12 row panels. Each panel is some variation of knit and purl stitches, but will always be 12 stitches wide and 12 rows long.  There's some flexibility in how long you make the scarf, but the first 9 panels are the same no matter.

Cast on 12.

With this first bit of the scarf, focus on keeping your stitch tension even and always ending a row with 12 stitches. 
[Knit Garter Stitch Panel]
Row 1: Knit all stitches.
R2: Knit all.
R3: Knit all. (see a pattern?)
R4: K all (That's short for knit!)
R5: K across (That's another way to say knit all!)
R6: K all.
R7: K all.
R8: K all.
R9: K all.
R10: K all.
R11: K all.
R12: K across.
You should now have a something resembling a square, though don't worry it it's not exactly right. This block is done in Garter Stitch, which is what you call it when you knit (or purl) all rows.

Feel ready for the purl stitch? Cause here it comes.. Be mindful of your yarn as you bring it front to back, or vise-versa, you might end up with an extra stitch. Also, keep a good tension between the purl and knit stitches! Otherwise you'll have a gap.
[6x6 Panel]
R1: K6 (this means knit 6 stitches), P6 (that's purl 6 stitches)
R2: P6, K6
R3: K6, P6
R4: P6, K6
R5: K6, P6
R6: P6, K6 (Notice the next row is different...)
R7: P6, K6
R8: K6, P6
R9: P6, K6
R10: K6, P6
R11: P6, K6
R12: K6, P6
How'd it go? You should have created a panel with 4 blocks of Stockinette Stitch. That's when you alternate knitting and purling rows.

Now we're going to do another Garter Stitch panel. You can purl or knit and still get Garter Stitch, but let's purl all the rows this time, just to get the practice. 

[Purl Garter Stitch Panel]
R1: Purl all stitches.
R2: P all.
R3: P all.
R4: P all.
R5: P across (Just to mix it up.)
R6: P all.
R7: P all.
R8: P all.
R9: P all.
R10: P all.
R11: P all.
R12: P across.
Feeling better about purling? You should have a panel that looks exactly like your first one. Don't worry if it's a bit off, everything will even out after a few wearings.

Time for more alternating. Pay close attention to the rows, I'm gonna switch it up twice on you.
[4x4 Panel]
R1: K4, P4, K4
R2: P4, K4, P4
R3: K4, P4, K4
R4: P4, K4, P4
R5: P4, K4, P4
R6: K4, P4, K4
R7: P4, K4, P4
R8: K4, P4, K4
R9: K4, P4, K4
R10: P4, K4, P4
R11: K4, P4, K4
R12: P4, K4, P4
Right, so that panel should give you 9 blocks of Stockinette. Do you feel more comfortable about switching between knitting and purling? Let's practice just knitting some more.

[Knit Garter Stitch Panel]
Work in the same way as directed above.

You should be feeling pretty good about knitting by now. Let's go back to alternating. Pay attention! 3 switch-ups this time.
A version made by alternating 2x2 and 6x6 panels.
[3x3 Panel]
R1: K3, P3, K3, P3
R2: P3, K3, P3, K3
R3: K3, P3, K3, P3
R4: K3, P3, K3, P3
R5: P3, K3, P3, K3
R6: K3, P3, K3, P3
R7: K3, P3, K3, P3
R8: P3, K3, P3, K3
R9: K3, P3, K3, P3
R10: K3, P3, K3, P3
R11: P3, K3, P3, K3
R12: K3, P3, K3, P3
You should have 16 Stockinette blocks in this panel. Time to practice your purls.

[Purl Garter Stitch Block]
Work in the same way as directed above.

Last alternating panel (for a regular sized scarf).
[2x2 Panel]
R1: K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2
R2: P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2
R3: P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2
R4: K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2
R5: K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2
R6: P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2
R7: P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2
R8: K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2
R9: K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2
R10: P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2
R11: P2, K2, P2, K2, P2, K2
R12: K2, P2, K2, P2, K2, P2
How's it look? You should have.. um.. a lot of blocks. 36, I believe. Ready for the last panel? It should be super easy now, promise.

Variation made with 2x2 panels and
6x6 panels on the ends.
[Knit Garter Stitch Panel]
Work in the same way as directed above.

You should be damned proud of yourself. You've just made a scarf! That's right, you're done! Well, unless you want to make it twice as long and keep practicing.. Up to you.  I have a double length one my mom made. It's 8 feet long. Love it to bits, I do.

To make your scarf twice as long as it is now, repeat the pattern backwards, starting with the 2x2 Panel. You'll need another skein of yarn. Feel free to work the garter stitch section in whichever stitch you want more practice in. Otherwise, cast off!!

Casting Off:
If you're not sure how, here's some videos on Casting Off. I'd recommend the Basic Knit, but it's up to you.

Wear and be merry.

For some variations on the scarf, and more practice, pick and choose some of the panels and mix & match as you see fit.