In college I had this boyfriend I was crazy about. I would have done anything for him, so when he lost his favorite knit cap, designed like a soccer ball, rather than buy him a new one, I decided to knit one. But first I needed to learn how.
Fortunately, my roommates were knitters. Teaching me to knit gave us something to bond over–and something to do between reading Shakespeare and studying educational theory.
Unlike crocheting, knitting has just two stitches: knit and purl. One is the same as the other, only reversed. It didn’t take long for me to pick up the knit stitch (behind-around-pull through) and then eagerly work on the purl (in front-around-pull through). Next thing I knew, I had a beautiful, albeit inconsistently-stitched, scarf.
Learning how to knit from friends is great for trying different needle sizes. Knitting needles are measured by their diameter in millimeters and sized numerically from 0 to 50. A higher number means a thicker needle and larger “hole” that is knitted (or purled). Tightly knit sweaters are typically produced with smaller needles, versus the larger needle your grandma used to make that blanket with big loops that you can stick your fingers through. I have made many caps, blankets, and even Christmas stockings, each requiring a different looseness to their knit. That looseness is a direct result of the needle size that was used.
While straight knitting needles are commonly recognized–with a point at one end and knob at the other–knitting needles also come double-pointed and circular. Knit caps are good candidates for using these alternative needles as they spare the knitter from having to sew as well. With straight needles, items like sweater sleeves are knit flat and then the two sides sewn together to make a seam.
Knitting with double-pointed and circular needles, however, requires no sewing. Double-pointed needles are just that–a knitting needle with points at both ends and no knob, demanding diligence to not prematurely drop stitches off the back. A circular needle is essentially two straight needles, also without knobs, that are connected by a flexible plastic cord. Both needle types allow the knitter to knit round rows without creating an edge, therefore eliminating the need for a seam.
Whatever the needle size or style, knitting is a thoughtful art, and might even win over someone’s heart.