[I’m trying to write a thing for this cool new project in which people ask about interesting nerdy topics and other people talk about the nerdy things they love. “We’ve got one goal, you and I: we’re here because we want to love great things, and there are too many great things in the world. This is a place where we find the people who love those things, and we ask them to share that love.”]

Why is knitting awesome?

I can haz knitting!
The awesome Shannon Fisher after finishing her first sweater. Need I say more?

Because you’re making cool stuff. You start with a big ball of string, essentially, and a couple of sticks, and then after time and practice you have cool things like scarves and hats and socks and sweaters!

It’s a hobby that can be done almost anywhere, as long as you’re not working on a blanket. It can be solitary, since ultimately it’s just you and your hands; or it can be social, because knitting in groups of friends is fun.

Yarn itself is pretty cool. There are so many different kinds, weights, textures, materials, colors. It’s very sensory, even sensual. I have a lot of fun just wandering around in yarn stores (even the big chain craft stores) looking and touching, deciding what will feel good to work with.

Really, knitting is surprisingly forgiving. When you’re up close in it, every little weird thing is SUPER OBVIOUS, but after it’s done and washed and being used, most of the time no one can tell that weird spot where things went kinda goofy. Even the total failures can be fun in progress and interesting as a learning experience.

When I knit in public, which I do quite often, I sometimes hear (usually from women) “oh, I’ve knit a little bit, but I never got past scarves.” You know what? THAT’S OK. You don’t ever have to knit anything other than long pretty rectangles if you don’t want to. There’s no grades in knitting. There’s just the fun of it.

On the other hand…most of the “scary” things are often less scary than they look. Knitting is a great opportunity to just try things, to not think too far ahead, to plunge into something maybe you don’t feel quite ready for, or to just push yourself a tiny bit. (You can make a scarf? Then you can make simple fingerless mitts.) It’s a chance to understand how you learn things. And with the internet, there are SO MANY ways to learn knitting techniques. Videos, photos, drawings, text.

Less than four years ago, I didn’t know how to knit at all. Now, I’ve even made socks (which are WAY less scary than they look) and I’m working on my first sweater vest. Knitting has become such an important part of my life that it’s hard to remember before knitting.

How can you get started?

1) Library. There are literally thousands of books on knitting. Some of them are amazing, others are terrible, and what works for one doesn’t work for everyone. I found The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting and Stitch ‘N Bitch very useful early on.

2) Internets. I am particularly partial to the tutorials on Knitting Daily. The Lion Brand Yarns Learn to Knit ebook was also quite good.

2b) Ravelry: HUGE social network for knitters and crocheters. Great for tracking your stuff, finding patterns, and connecting with other knitters. (My Ravelry profile.)

3) Local knitters. You may have a nice local yarn shop; see if they have any knitting groups. If you see people knitting in public, maybe ask them what they’re making. If they’re chatty, find out if they know of any local groups. I found my knitting group because C noticed a gal with a cool knitting bag at our favorite coffee shop, and now I get together with an awesome weird creative bunch a few times a month to knit and chit-chat.

Give it a shot. Expect to be terrible at first. Enjoy it being weird and terrible. With practice, you can get better and enjoy it even more!

PS: I’ve written other things about knitting….