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Ask the Knitting Experts: How Did You Learn to Knit?


Even the most famous knitting instructors and designers had to begin with the basics. This month, we ask your favorite authors when they first took up knitting. Many learned from mothers and grandmothers, others from books, but everyone has a memorable story to share.

WENDY D. JOHNSON, author of Socks from the Toe Up, Toe-Up Socks for Every Body, and coming in August: Wendy Knits Lace:
I learned how to knit when I was four years old. One day I got my hands on a screwdriver and took my tricycle apart. When my mother discovered my handiwork she took away the screwdriver and gave me knitting needles. She cast on a few stitches and gave that to me along with a book that had illustrated instructions for learning to knit (I couldn’t read yet). Figuring out how to knit probably kept me quiet and out of trouble for a fair bit of time. I remind her occasionally that if she hadn’t taken away my screwdriver, I’d now be an engineer instead of a knitter.

JIL EATON, author of Jil Eaton’s Knitting School:
My young and beautiful mother taught me when I was four years old, and I’ve been knitting ever since. We recently found an old trunk full off my early creations, including a sweater I attempted for my stuffed octopus! I even had a business selling tiny pairs of mittens as pins in the fifth grade.

LILY CHIN, author of Lily Chin’s Knitting Tips and Tricks and Lily Chin’s Crochet Tips and Tricks:
I first attempted to knit around age eight. My mom cast on about twenty stitches for me and taught me how to knit, but not to purl, so I only did garter stitch. Though she also didn’t teach me how to decrease, I somehow learned all by myself because those twenty stitches soon turned into three! Frustrated, I chucked the whole thing. Desperate to keep me otherwise occupied (lest I do things like take apart the toaster), she stuck a crochet hook in my hands. I took to it like the proverbial duck to water. I found it so much easier to manipulate only one hook instead of two needles, and I didn’t have to hold onto all those loops.

It wasn’t until I was about thirteen that I decided not to let that knitting thing get the best of me. I went back and mastered it eventually as well, learning primarily from booklets found at Woolworth’s. Remember them?

LORNA MISER, author of The Knitter’s Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn and Faith, Hope, Love, Knitting:
I learned when I was six (according to a photo I have), but I really took it up when my first child was born in 1983. My mom and grandmother both knit, but neither really taught me. I preferred to learn from books at my own speed. Still, their beautiful creations inspired me! My mom is still one of the most prolific knitters I know.

Tell us, readers, how did you first learn to knit?



Julie Smith May 6th, 2011

I’ve known how to crochet forever, but a coworker was a knitter, and I loved how her projects looked, so I went online and bought the Stitch ‘n Bitch knitting book, and tried and tried until I taught myself.

Julia Dawn Mason May 6th, 2011

I taught myself to knit from a booklet I bought over 20 years ago. Since then I have mad sweaters, afghans, baby items and string market bags. I made string market bags for my daughter to give to her coworkers for their Christmas gift from her.

Judy Sun May 26th, 2011

Lily Chin’s so brilliant!! i happened to read her knitting tips n i was amazed by her findings n tricks!!



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