How to start knitting

Sunday, May 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:46 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Expert knitter Julia Helvey has been knitting for 35 years and teaching others to knit for 34 years. She took her first knitting class at Columbia Career Center’s Adult Learning Center when she was a new mother looking for a night out and a new hobby.

“Knitting circles are a great way to socialize one night per week,” Helvey said.

Helvey teaches two classes a year through the Adult Learning Center program, which is through Columbia Public Schools. The six-week class meets once a week for two hours.

Helvey said the most popular items people learn to knit are sweaters, summer tops, scarves and hats.

“People love to knit things that aren’t available for purchase anywhere else. This way they are unique and specific,” Helvey said.

She said people come to her knitting class for many reasons: “For most it’s about relaxation, but there are people who come in wanting to do something with their hands to help them quit smoking or cut back on eating.”

Keen knitters know the hobby is relaxing and rewarding.

5 pointers for beginning knitters

  • Step 1: The first thing someone wanting to learn knitting should do is go to the library and pick up several books on knitting, Helvey said.
  • Step 2: If you decide you need more help, classes are available through the Adult Learning Center program, Stitches Yarn Shop and Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe.
  • Step 3: Knitting insiders know that you can get 10 baby hats out of one skein of yarn, available for around $3. A chemotherapy cancer patient hat made with softer fiber is made with one skein of yarn for $8.
  • Step 4: It’s possible to knit with any type of yarn. The cheapest yarns can be found at places like Wal-Mart, while the more expensive yarns, which can be bought at specialty shops, are saved for making gifts, special items, or items that will last for a long time.
  • Step 5: Be ready to spend a moderate amount of money on equipment. Beginners are recommended to try out the three needle styles: straight, circular and double pointed. Needles come sized from 0 to 50; the most popular sizes are 7 to 9. Beginners can get a feel for them in stores. Don’t forget that you’ll need scissors, a pen, paper, a measuring tape and safety pins while knitting. The expenses involved in knitting range from “as little or as much as you want to spend,” Helvey said. This hobby is something that a knitter can put as little or as much time and money into as they choose.

Recommended Reading:

  • Knitting Companion by Vicki Square
  • Knitting for Dummies by Pam Allen
  • Vogue Knitting On the Go by Trisha Malcolm

Web site links:

Columbia Career Center:

For patterns and instructions:

The Knitting Guild Association

Local knitting circles:

Spinners and Weavers Guild

E-mail: Knitwits Knitting Circle

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