The day is finally here! I’ve been working for months on end to complete my first video course, and finally I have something ready for you! 

The basketweave coffee cozy is the seemingly easy project, perfect for beginners. I say seemingly because while you only need to know how to knit and purl, you will be switching back and forth between the two different stitches, which can be problematic, especially if you’ve never attempted it before. The repetitive nature of the pattern ingrains the knit and purl stitches into your brain, preparing you for many knitting projects to come.

This nearly 2.5 hour video course serves an introduction to your first knitting project, and I will take you through 11 separate lessons, each at least 10 minutes long, so you know exactly what kind of yarn to buy and how to fix the stitch that you just dropped without starting all over – unless you want to! I show you how to rip out your work, just in case!

You should already know how to cast on, knit, and purl. (If you don’t, I have videos that will help!)

The course is available to purchase exclusively at Curious.com. If you’re not familiar with Curious, it’s a site that has videos teaching you about everything from knitting to excel spreadsheets to coaching basketball. Each video is broken up into segments so that the teacher can quiz you, and you have the chance to ask questions. I really love searching through and finding various topics, and I’m so pleased to announce that my course is now up there as well!

A general list of supplies for this course*:
worsted weight yarn
US size 7 (4.5mm) double pointed needles
button
tapestry needle
measuring tape 
t-pins
towel
mug or vase

*There are variations for a few items if you don’t want to purchase all new items. I go over supplies, especially needle sizes, extensively in the supplies and gauge sections.

Note: The links above go to examples and/or items I have used. There are many other excellent brands out there.

I’m really excited to let you know about a project I’ve been working on over the last few months: a slouchy lace hat knitting pattern!

I had some super bulky yarn that I was trying to use up, and I decided it would make a great winter hat. Because I wanted it to be slightly more intricate than a standard knit hat, as lovely as they are, I settled on a lace pattern and set about designing it. I’m so happy with the way it turned out, and I was right: the yarn is wonderful, as it’s incredibly warm.

Material
1 skein of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick Yarn
US size 15 DPN needles (10 mm)
Tapestry Needle
Scissors
Stitch marker(s) (optional)

Gauge
To make gauge, CO 10 stitches and knit 10 rows of stockinette stitch. The gauge swatch should measure 4.5” across and 4” in length.

I’m offering 50% off this week (until the 7th of November) for my subscribers. Use the code HappyHalloween when you check out.

You can find the pattern here on ravelry if you want to bookmark it.

If you’re ready to cast on, you can purchase the pattern here.

The Basketweave Coffee Cozy PDF can be downloaded here. (Or click here to have it emailed to you.)
The PDF for the XO cable cozy pattern can be downloaded here. (Or click here to have it emailed to you.)

Cozies, especially knit cozies, are incredibly cute and darling, but in a way that almost makes me hate them. You know, like when a dessert is too sweet?

They’re impossible to remember to put on your mug (until you burn yourself, of course), but when I finally do slip it on in the morning, I just smile to myself because it’s an added touch that isn’t necessary, but still pulls breakfast or brunch together perfectly.

Also, these are amazing first projects for beginner knitters so hopefully you’ll learn to love your cozies as much as I did!

I feel the need for a disclaimer: Just because I’ve assigned gender to each version of the cozy does not mean that one is more masculine or the other more feminine. No man should feel embarrassed for whichever he’s using, and if the couple is both male or both female, well, everything will still be grand.

Basketweave Cozy Pattern

Basketweave Coffee Cozy

So first up is the basketweave cozy, which is the seemingly simple version of switching back and forth between knitting and purling. I say seemingly because if you’ve just learned to knit, even switching back and forth can cause many, many problems. This is a great way to get your hands used to knitting, and I credit this pattern with helping me move forward to tackle bigger and better patterns. The Basketweave Coffee Cozy PDF can be downloaded here.

XO Cozy Pattern

XO Cable Cozy

The second is the XO cable cozy. This is perfect for anyone learning to cable. It’s also great if you’ve mastered the whole switching back and forth between knitting and purling, which is the main focus of the basketweave cozy. The PDF for the XO cable cozy pattern can be downloaded here.

Supplies
skein of worsted weight yarn
double pointed needles, US size 7
(4.5mm)
button
tapestry needle
scissors
measuring tape (optional)
t-pins (optional)
Gauge Swatch
With US size 7 needles, cast on 16
stitches and knit 10 rows. Gauge
swatch measurements: 3 inches x
1.5 inches.

 

Enjoy!

I love cabling.

It’s a pretty simple process and once you get the hang of it, you can create so many interesting shapes and designs. Here’s a sample of some different cable knits:

You can also make animal shapes as well:

Via Ravelry

If you’re new to knitting, cables might intimidate you, but I created a little tutorial and pattern to help you get used to knitting and cabling and get in plenty of practice!

Hopefully you have your yarn all ready to go. You’ll also need double pointed needles. If you have two sets of circular needles, that will also work. Unfortunately, straight needles will not work when you cable because you need to slide the yarn back and forth.

Once you have your needles and yarn, check out the video tutorial below.

 

Blocking is the final step in knitting before you can enjoy your newly made item.

Like knitting a swatch to check your gauge before you start a project, blocking is something that is easily and often skipped at the end of a project. Blocking relaxes the yarn so you’re able to manipulate and shape it into the desired shape. For example, if you’re knitting a sweater and it’s a little short, you can block it and shape it into the correct dimensions so it will fit you properly.

So how do you know when you should block your project?

First let’s talk about when you don’t need to block. If it’s a small project, say a pet toy or something similar, then it doesn’t really matter. You can start using it right away. Another time you might not need to block is if you’re using yarn made from synthetic materials. A lot of times blocking with synthetic yarn does not work because the synthetic materials don’t allow the yarn to fully relax – but some people swear by throwing their synthetic yarn creation in the washing machine to block it so you could try that as an alternative.*

Okay, so now let’s talk about blocking. Blocking can be great for a number of things. If you want to smooth out any weird puckerings, if you want to stretch or shrink your knitwear, and especially if you are making lace, blocking gives your knit piece a nice, professional finish.

Look at the difference:

Here’s another example:

Via KnitKnot Adventures Via KnitKnot Adventures

Blocking, while time consuming, is clearly necessary for a really nice finish.

In the first example, you can see how blocking may not be necessary. If you’re wrapping that around a coffee mug, do you really need to take the extra time and effort to make sure the stitches are straight and even? Probably not. But it does look a lot nicer.

In the second example, if you want to see the eyelets in the lace you’re creating, you absolutely need to block.

Hopefully you’re convinced. Let’s get to it!

As always in knitting, there are a few different ways to block.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Cold water and some sort of basin or bucket
1-2 clean towels
Knitting pins (similar to these: Gem 1.5-Inch T-Pins)
Optional: Foam mat or mesh board

Let’s start!
Essentially, you need to wet your knitted item. Some people like to use a spray bottle or steamer, but that’s too time consuming for me. I like to take my piece and dunk it in water. Cold water only, please! (Hot water felts and can also shrink – avoid it!) Soak it for a few minutes.

While the knit piece is soaking, lay a clean towel out on the counter or floor.

Carefully and slowly wring the knitted piece out. Don’t be too vigorous because you may accidentally felt parts of it. Your object will probably still have tons of water in it, but go ahead and lay it carefully on the towel on the counter/ground. Fold the towel and then roll the it up so you can step on it to get rid of the excess water.

Unroll the towel and retrieve your knitted piece.

Lay the knitted item out on the second towel. Use a mesh mat or foam board if you have those.

This is the part where you get to shape it. Look at your suggested finished measurements (if you have any) because chances are the knitted piece has shrunk up quite a bit by this point. Pull gently until the dimensions/measurements are correct and then pin into place.

Here you can see that just by stretching all the stitches out gently, it adds an extra inch to my cozy. I could stretch it even more (in either direction) if I wanted to.

Now wait until it dries, and don’t touch it a moment before!

Once it’s fully finished drying, carefully unpin your creation and show it off! Woohoo!

*As I have no washing machine and I don’t make any items for myself with synthetic yarn, I have no experience on the subject. Anyone recommend it?

There’s a part of knitting that I’m not fond of. In fact, I usually skip over it, which is a bad, bad habit.

In the instructions of a knitting pattern, it tells you what type of yarn (usually expensive) and needle size (one you don’t own, of course) to use. That’s not usually enough to get started on the project.

Everyone knits just a bit differently. And sometimes you don’t want to use a name brand yarn. And do you really need to go out and buy new needles when you have the next size down?

Well, my friends, making a gauge will help you figure it out.

The pattern instructions will tell you what the gauge should be. The instructions usually say something like: Cast on 20 stitches. Knit 20 rows in a stockinette stitch. Swatch should measure 4 inches by 4 inches.

So you take your recommended needles and recommended yarn (or something close to it) and you knit a little square. Then you measure it. A lot of people prefer to block it as well, especially if they’re making something form-fitting like a sweater, so they know how the yarn will react. (Article on blocking coming soon.)

If what you just knit measures exactly 4″ x 4″, then congrats! You can begin your project, knowing that what you knit should have the same finished measurements as given in the pattern.

If your swatch does not have the correct gauge, then it’s time to get creative. Since I’m sure you like your yarn choice, change your needles. If your swatch is too large, say it’s 5″ x 5″, then try going down a needle size or two.

Likewise if your swatch is too small, try going up a needle size.

It can be frustrating to try and get the gauge exactly right, but do keep at it because I have unraveled many projects because I didn’t take the time to check and see how it would come out.

You don’t always have to make a gauge. If you’re making a scarf or a sleeping mask or an amigurumi, then it doesn’t matter. But if you want, say, a sweater to fit you perfectly, you should do a gauge.

Here’s one of my first sweaters.

I did not do the gauge. I used the same sized needles, and while I did not use the recommended brand, I did use chunky weight wool, the same as the original.

Oh, and did I mention this was supposed to be an OVERSIZED sweater?

I have learned my lesson. Always take the time to make a gauge, no matter how excited you are to begin!

Everyone tells you how great knitting is, science has done studies on how it calms your mind down, and you really want to buy one of those cute pins that says something like, “I Knit so I Don’t Kill People,” but the truth of the matter is that you DO want to kill people – right after you burn your yarn and needles to the ground.

I get it. Knitting is hard. At first. There’s a huge learning curve, and when you spot a mistake several inches below your current spot and you need to take out, it can be wildly frustrating.

But don’t give up because that’s something everyone goes through. Stick with it, continue to practice, and you will become one of the zen knitters you see sipping tea on their porches. (Or at least, that’s my end goal.)

One thing that is a huge help is tension. Not tension in your neck or back (you’ll never be a zen knitter that way!), but tension in your yarn.

When you’re new to knitting, it’s hard enough to focus on what the needles and yarn are doing instead of adding another step to the mix, but something as simple as wrapping the yarn around your finger can give the yarn some extra tension, make it taut, and help achieve a neater row of stitches.

Wrap the yarn around your finger once.

Wrap the yarn around your finger once.

I know it’s not the most natural feeling, but go ahead and get into the habit now because it will help you achieve the results you want when you do master the knit and purl stitches.

Wrap the yarn a few times around your finger. Wrap the yarn a few times around your finger.

There is no wrong way to hold the yarn (except to not hold it at all). You can wrap it a few times around your finger, slip in between a few fingers, or you can even wrap it around you neck – anything you want to do so long as it holds your yarn taut.

Weave the yarn in between your fingers. Weave the yarn in between your fingers.

I made a quick little video that highlights the difficulty of knitting when you aren’t hold your yarn properly.

Let me know what you think! Any favorite way you hold your yarn?

The first time I walked into the yarn aisle at a craft store with the intent to purchase and buy yarn, I was completely overwhelmed! There are baskets upon baskets, and usually multiple rows filled with so many varying colors, thicknesses, and, most importantly to me, varying softness levels.

A terrible habit, but one I’ve never been able to break, is slowly walking down the aisle, feeling every skein to determine if it was soft enough to be chosen for one of my projects. It’s an especially terrible habit because at a few stores the softest were going for $80/skein!

But you’re a beginner, so don’t let those scary prices put you off. You can get some really cheap yarn for a few dollars. For a few more dollars, you can get some nice quality wool.

Three different weights of yarn. Three different weights of yarn.

A quick glance down the yarn aisle at any major store will have a variety of skeins in a variety of prices. In my experience, if I shop at the larger craft stores, like Michael’s or even Wal-Mart, yarn will range from $1/skein to about $15/skein.

I recommend buying only one skein for now. Since you’re beginning, you’re new and you’re most likely making smaller projects so only one is necessary at the moment.

Since you are beginning to knit, I recommend using aran or worsted weight yarn. Sometimes it will be labeled as 10 ply as well. Aran or worsted weight yarn is thick enough to see and work easily with, and can be used on any number of projects

Bulky weight yarn is also acceptable, but I do NOT recommend super bulky. While it seems large and easy to knit with in theory, it is very easy to get confused and begin knitting one super bulky stitch as two stitches, and soon your project will begin to grow – which is not what you want!

For similar reasons, yarn weights smaller than worsted weight are smaller and it can be harder to see what you’re doing.

So in summary, for your first project: Aran/worsted weight yarn. One ball. Any color. Any material.

A small sample of my needles. A small sample of my needles.

Picking out needles for beginners is always tricky. There’s usually a good chance of sticker shock when you first start shopping for needles because they can be pretty pricey. You want something that’s good quality, but cheap, but a nice size because you want to use them again.

I’m going to recommend what I think are the best, but I want to warn you that there’s a very small chance you’ll pick them again in the future so I also want them to less expensive as well.

Straight Needles Straight Needles

First, let’s look at straight needles. Most beginners pick these up and use these for their first project. They have a knob on one end, which prevents the stitches from sliding off and your project becoming unraveled. This sounds helpful, but really, that’s the only benefit I can think of for straight needles. And to be honest, usually only beginners use straight needles. They are not very versatile when it comes to future projects. Pass if you can.

Double Pointed Needles Double Pointed Needles

Next are double pointed needles. Exactly as it sounds, the needles are pointy on both ends. Double pointed needles are sold in packs – so you get 4 or 5 of the same size. You’ll knit with all of the needles to create a 3-D object – like sleeves, socks, a cute little amigurumi figure. DPNs are also necessary if you want to cable, which, obviously you will want to do. A pack of these are essential for most projects.

Circular Needles Circular Needles

Finally we have circular needles, which are two needles with a cord connecting them. Circulars can be great if you’re creating something large, like a blanket or something large and round, like a sweater.

Between the three, I would say double pointed needles are the most versatile for a beginner and are what I would recommend… but then that brings us to the sizes.

As you probably noticed from the pictures above, there are many different sizes of needles, ranging from hardly larger than a splinter to larger than a drumstick. It all depends on what kind of yarn you’re working with and what you want the final project to look like.

US size 8, engraved on the end of the needles. US size 8, engraved on the end of the needles.

Oh, and did I mention that there are 4 different size categories? There is the US size, the UK size, millimeters, and centimeters. Usually the US size and the size in millimeters is printed somewhere on the needle for easy locating, but it’s usually handy to keep a conversion guide nearby as well.

Additionally, needles also come in different lengths. You can get short ones that are about 4 inches long and I’ve seen some circulars up to 60 inches in length.

But wait! Did I mention you get a choice of material for your needles as well?

I’ve worked with quite a lot of different materials, and it really comes down to personal preference.

Plastic: These are usually the cheaper needles, which is great if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. The downside is that they’re cheaper quality and a little difficult to move the stitches back and forth.

Bamboo or Wood: Wood needles are great to grip onto and easy to handle, but they can break and you can even get splinters. Some of mine also have bite marks from where the cats got into them.

Metal: These are also more budget friendly, but stitches slip right off the needles very easily. They also get colder a lot quicker – brr!

So what to do?

For our beginner projects that use worsted weight yarn, I recommend double pointed needles in either wood or plastic in a US size 6 or US size 7. You can certainly go larger, which will create a looser cozy (i.e. more holes), but I wouldn’t go much smaller than that until your fingers get used to knitting.

As far as price, you don’t want to go too cheap because you will be learning on them and so you’ll need something solid, sturdy, and easy to hold onto, but since you probably won’t use them again for awhile, I wouldn’t spend more than $10. Look for sales in your local stores and check ebay for lots of used needles.

Knitting can be such a fun hobby and you get fun, warm articles of clothing out of it. But it’s also incredibly frustrating at times, especially when you’re a beginner and you’re ABSOLUTELY SURE that you moved your yarn over so it makes NO SENSE that you have extra stitches.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. That fun will come later.

Let’s start with the basics. You need yarn. You need needles. You need them fairly cheaply because why spend tons of money on something you don’t even know if you can do yet? There are only  hundreds of different types of needles and yarn – which do you choose? Oh, yeah and, of course you’ll need patterns.

I’m going post all of this information for you and more to make shopping for your first set of needles and yarn a breeze in the next few days. Best of all, I’m going to post videos so you can really understand how to cast on, knit, and purl.

And then, of course, practice, practice, practice!

You can make a scarf if you want, but that takes awhile and it’s a little boring. And anyway, I’m not sure about you, but I have more than enough scarves at the moment. When I practice my stitches, I just practice going back and forth – then I rip it all out and start over.

When you’re ready to actually make something, I’ve got two projects (almost) ready for you: the basketweave cozy and the XO cable knit cozy.

The basketweave cozy is perfect for beginners. It’s a fairly straightforward pattern, and it teaches you to knit and purl in the same row. It’s tricky moving the yarn back and forth (don’t worry, I’ll explain that) without adding additional stitches – a common mistake among beginners.

The XO cable knit cozy is also perfect for beginners, but it’s just one level up. You’ll be alternating your purls and your knits just as before, but I’ll also teach you how to cable. There are front cables and back cables so you’ll be prepared to cable anything after this little cozy. 

Let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to let me know if there’s something you’ve been dying to make. Don’t forget to sign up for the email list so you can be notified first when a new blog post is up or when my courses are ready! 

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