How hard is it really?

So my wife and I want to start knitting. Basically we think it would be a good hobby to take up for 2 reasons. First is that it would take up time (so we are not spending money), and the end result is something useful. But the second reason is health based. We figure that at night when we sit in front of the TV, that if our hands are busy knitting, they won't be busy in a bag of chips. We also heard it is relaxing, so that will also help our health.

We are set to learn by an aunt of mine (she is teaching us tomorrow actually). She told us what needles to get and we are all set. I'm worried though that this is going to be much harder than I thought and that my wife will laugh at me because I can't do it. Plus this aunt said she would need about 3 to 4 sessions with us of about an hour each. I couldn't believe it. I figured show me a stitch in ten minutes, watch me do it, and I'm done.

Am I crazy? Am I going to fail at this?

MMario's picture

Don't set yourself up to fail.

#1) if EITHER of you are to have problems it could as easily be your wife as yourself.

#2) why should you have problems?

#3 - the multiple sessions are probably so she can answer questions and/or for her OWN confidence that you are learning "correctly" (some people have issues - I figure if the result is what you want - the path you take to get there doesn't matter as much)

#4 - You have a secret weapon - MWK!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

knit_knot_eat's picture

Actually I know I can be better than my wife. I have already started to joke with her saying how funny would it be if I pick it up quickly and she doesn't.
But my question still remains. How hard is it? How long did it take you to master a basic stitch?

MMario's picture

It really is NOT difficult. (pardon my pun)

I learned the knit stitch prior to entering school - probably as a five year old - but I don't recall - so it couldn't have been too tough. I remember struggling with crochet at about the same age.

Then it took me 40 plus years to learn how to make a purl stitch. But that's *me*.

Another word of advice. Relax. Mastering the basic knit and purl stitches can be done in a few minutes. Mastering your tension to make things smooth and even will most likely take longer. (washcloths are a great project to work on to master this)

A common early knitter problem is the "death grip" on the needles, which tends to make your knitting very tight, and thus harder to work.

Relax. Breath. It not only is suppossed to be enjoyable, it is!


MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

superi's picture

Just adding what MMarrio said. Don't set yourself up to fail. Realize you're probably not going to do it perfect the first time. Like most things knitting takes some practise, but after a while you'll have it down pat. Knitting is mostly muscle memory like riding a bike or driving. It was difficult at first but after a while you don't really have to put much thought in to it. Your body just acts like it needs to to get the job done. Yeah, you'll still have to keep your eyes on the "road" but you won't need to keep a death grip on the wheel or panic every time the car swerves or you drop a stitch.



crmartin's picture

It's really not difficult at all. There are only two stitches, knit and purl with a few variations. I learned when I was 7 or 8 years old. Are you smarter than an eight year old? I started knitting again after a long absence to help with the smoking withdrawal and am now obsessed with it. Good luck to you and your wife and show her how it's done. ;-)


PS Welcome to MWK


You ask "how hard is it" which is a difficult question to answer because everyone learns in different ways, just as everyone teaches in different ways. How good are you when it comes to manual dexterity? Hand/eye coordination? I learned from a friend and picked up the basic knit stitch in a few minutes. I figured out (on my own from a book) how to purl in about the same time. But it took me several visits with my friend to learn how to cast on, because I just couldn't get it for days. My advice would be, just be open to learning and don't set any goals for yourself. Knitting should be A) relaxing and B) enjoyable. Good luck to you and your wife and have fun!

Crafty Andy's picture

Visit Crafty Andy's Blog I will add that remember that you are only competing with yourself. Easy or not it depends on your dexterity and your ability to learn something like knitting, it is also dependant on the teacher as well and the method used.

NOBODY FAILS in knitting, NOBODY, well almost NOBODY. Personally I will not be watching TV while learning, I will be listening to some instrumental music, and create a raport betweeen you and your wife. This is a time alone and a time of enjoyment, relaxation. How do you think you will knit watching a horror movie or the news for that matter? This competition is with yourself, it is about learning something that I may call is embedded in your genetic material, men were the ones that grabbed this task first out of need.

To add to the bunch I will say practice makes "perfect" and I mean practice and years of experience will give you lots of joy and satisfaction if this is what you want. When I start getting frustrated with a piece, I walk away for a few minutes or hours until I am in the right frame of mind. Remember relax, it is not a race and there is nothing you can actually do wrong that have not been done before from thousands of years ago, if you repeat your mistakes constantly it becomes a design lol!

krooks's picture

Start out by "not making anything". Just learn the basics - cast on, knit, purl, cast off.

In first grade, you do not learn to write a novel. You learn the "A, B, C's" first, then sentences, then paragraphs, etc. Use the same process with knitting.

JDM511's picture

I have heard many people express this same idea. If you are not making anything, the errors will not matter. Part of learning to knit is the holes from dropped stitches, the unintentional yarn overs leading to increases, twisting stitches etc. The good thing is that you will be able to see what these things look like in your knitting and learn how to handle these things.

If once you learn the basics, you find that you enjoy the hobby, I would suggest you get a good resource book, that has techniques, so if you are unsure of how to do something you have a resource. Until then use the videos at, they are great, but sometimes it is just so much quicker to look up a technique in a book, especially when not near a computer.

Hope you enjoy yourself. It's a great hobby.


NonStopAndrew's picture

I have tought many guys to knit, and re-taught them to knit after they have set it aside for months or years. My learning experience was me sitting alone at a computer reading how the basic knit and purl stitches were done, and then watching video on youtube to ensure I was doing it correctly. I made the first four inches of a scarf and frogged it, starting over on a full length scarf as a birthday present for my then girlfriend. With a little patience, it took me only a few days and I was done with the scarf. No holes, no variations in width, all it took was a little attention and not stressing that her birthday was less than a week away and I was fine. You will be fine as well. You are very lucky to have someone who can show you everything you need to know, and can answer all your questions that WILL come up. Best of all, you have someone learning with you, and hopefully the parts you do not understand she does, and vice versa. Then there is always us, we have all been where you are now, and the guys here are a great resource. See all of my previous posts as examples of how they can take someone of near utter ignorance, and help with his many problems. Welcome to our amazing group, to knitting in general, and remember BREATHE!

YugiDean's picture

It looks like you've gotten plenty of tidbits of advice, so I won't belabor the point. My only advice would be to refuse to allow yourself to agonize over any weird outcomes. That's a part of the learning. The first couple of things you make MAY look like crap. And that's okay. :-)

One other note about the healthiness of knitting. I have read several articles that tout knitting as a way to stimulate the brain and keep it active. Also, it's been shown that knitters (and crocheters) are better at math.

I think the multiple sessions she suggested are also because there are more steps to knitting than just "here's how to do a knit stitch." *ding* You gotta learn casting on, gauge, binding off, purl, and there are plenty of variations on stitches. But just like math where you can essentially do anything once you know how to add and subtract with subtle variations on each for other processes, knitting is a lot of varied knit and purl stitches. That is, by far, and over-simplified way of describing it.

Most importantly, have fun!

"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." --Richard Wright

"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." --Richard Wright

I am a klutz. It took me forever to learn to touch type, and then I still suck at it.

Knowing that: I learned from a book, taught myself. It Is Easy. Just remember to knit like Sinatra and Frankie: you have to do it your way, and relax.

I started making dishcloths. The mistakes don't matter, you get practice, and you get something useful. You get a quick return, which feeds into how you like it.

YugiDean's picture

I like how you said to "do it your way." I totally don't hold the yarn or needles "right," and everyone always looks at me weird. LOL But it works for me. If I hold the yarn "right," then I keep dropping everything and getting confused.

"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." --Richard Wright

"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." --Richard Wright

rc_in_sd's picture

Nothing really new to add - just more encouragement. It's not hard. As mentioned before, some things will click right away - for me it was the knit stitch. Other things will feel awkward for a while, but I've found there's usually a "click" moment for those things, too, where suddenly it all falls into place.
As a beginner, I used to knit WAY too tight. It took me a long time to relax to a workable tension.
The time frame your aunt laid out seems reasonable to me. After three to four hours, you'll be surprised at how much you'll learn.

YarnGuy716's picture

The thing about knitting is that it is like nothing you've ever done before. So your head will get it much sooner than your hands will. I remember getting indignantly pissed off that it was taking me so long to learn. I sort of expected to start a sweater that first lesson don't you know. The most important thing is that the more you knit the better you will get at knitting. So start out just learning how to make stitches, let yourself make mistakes so you know what they look like and possibly learn how to fix them or avoid making them. When you are ready, then make something, but make it a simple choice that you can finish and have your first finished object under your so-called knitting belt.

Enjoy it, be sure to relax when you do it. Don't forget that it is supposed to be enjoyable and relaxing. Don't expect everything to be absolutely perfect because most people won't see what you are sure are glaring errors. Most important of all... check in with us often and let us know how both you and the Mrs. are progressing.

knit_knot_eat's picture

Thanks for the advice.

knit_knot_eat's picture

Thanks for all the advice. The lesson went well. It took about an hour and a half. Casting on took me a while to get, but once I got it I was flying through with no issues. The knit stitch was the exact opposite. I knew what to do right off the bat, but doing it was problematic. Right now I am not making anything (other than a mess), and I know I am not holding things right, I'm sort of doing it my way. I don't think I have a perfect row yet. Tension was big for me. I was pulling the stitches too tight and then making it hard for me to get the next row. As soon as I loosened up it got easier (but I think I am now too loose)
I seem to drop stitches causing holes (but I think I know how and why that happens). But I also seem to be adding the occasional stitch. I'm not sure how that happens. My wife is worse when it comes to adding stitches and she seems to add a stitch every row or 2 and has no idea why.

Overall we are enjoying it. I am finding it relaxing and I am sitting at my desk at work and I can't wait to get home so I can do some more.

Jaxom's picture

As a new learner myself, may I add something that could help with the tightness and tension.
Always wash hands and dry them before picking up work. Maybe use some antiperspirant on your hands. As a needle becomes free give it a wash too. Wool will then slide a lot easier along the needle if your tension is too tight. Sweat can cause the yarn and needles to drag against each other and slow down the process.

JDM511's picture

A word of warning:

Knitting can be as addictive as Crack !!!!!!!