The Spice of Life

This is the second post in a series, in which I’m sharing lessons learned as I progress on my yarn art journey.  To see the complete list of posts in this series, please visit the Guess what, yarn art newbie? page.

Lesson 2: There are a variety of ways to learn your new craft!

In my previous post, I touched on the fact that I didn’t start crocheting as early as I’d have liked because I had difficulty learning from instruction books and illustrations.  If you’re struggling with that as well, I have good news for you!  There are several different ways to learn to crochet, knit, or whatever yarn art you’re interested in.

Instruction Books and Kits

Yeah, I know, I just said…  But for some people, these can actually be very helpful.  Particularly in helping you learn some of the terminology that is an essential part of yarn art crafts.  Whenever people ask me what’s the best way to start learning crochet, without fail, this is where I send them first.  Because everyone is not like me, and some people may find these instruction books and illustrations very helpful.  Not to mention, as a new student, the kits especially will give you everything you need (aside from yarn) to get started.

My first yarn craft was crochet, and this is very similar to the kit that got me started:

 

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via Amazon.com  (Not an affiliate link).

A kit like this will include some basic materials that will enable you to practice and even complete multiple basic projects.  For a long time, these were all the materials (notions) that I had to work with.  In addition to your instruction book, you’ve got hooks for crocheting, stitch markers for projects that are crocheted in the round (like hats, for example) or that might be just a little more complex than a dishrag, yarn needles for weaving your yarn tails in so that they don’t unravel your work when you are finished, an instructional DVD that may help you see how stitches are created, and in my kit there were bobbins for wrapping your smaller amounts of yarn on.  Instead of those, here I’m seeing white rings.  I’m not sure what those are for, I’m afraid. 🙂

The instruction book will teach you more than how to create a stitch.  It will also explain a few basic things about your new craft.  Don’t expect to become an expert from it, though.  There is a lot to know about a yarn art craft that you’ll have to learn from experience, and from other sources.  This is just to get you started.  Think of it as yarn art kindergarten. 🙂  Kits like these are available for knitting as well, and I’m sure for weaving and other yarn crafts too.

YouTube

It should come as no surprise that you can learn yarn crafts on YouTube.  I’m pretty sure there are instructions for nearly everything there!  A review (or 50) on the kit above shares how many people have to find help from YouTube videos and use the instruction book for reference.  This is one reason I recommend getting the kit and instruction book.  Even if you have to turn elsewhere for more detailed information on how to create you stitches, having an instruction book to jog your memory is very useful when you’re just starting out.

For we visual learners, though, there’s nothing like seeing the way a stitch comes together for us to really get what’s happening.  I have compiled a YouTube playlist of some of the videos I used to learn some stitches.

Whenever I encounter a stitch I’m unfamiliar with, I immediately go to YouTube.  You may have to look around a bit before you find one that works for you, though, so I suggest if you have a YouTube account, that you create a playlist of your own to save the videos that you find helpful.  That will make them easier to find if you have to come back to them later.

Here are some channels that I follow because they have some great tutorials.  You might like to check them out as well (These links may lead to a channel where a video begins playing automatically.  Just a heads up for those of you who may be in a public place or have speakers turned up!):

Local Yarn Shop (LYS) Classes

Did you know that yarn shops exist outside of Michael’s, A.C. Moore, WalMart, JoAnn Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby?  There are independent yarn shops all over the place and they are amazing places where you can get into a lot of trouble if you have a limited yarn budget. 😉

What’s that?  You’re not really into yarn that much?  Honey, just you wait.  (Another post to come on this subject as well)!

Most independent local yarn shops, and sometimes even chain stores, will offer classes for beginners to learn the ropes of knitting and crocheting.  Some of the independent stores may even offer yarn dyeing classes, or spinning classes!  A class at a local yarn shop is how I got started with knitting.

Side note:  I LOVE knitting patterns and finished projects.  I feel like knitting is a bit more versatile than crocheting, but it’s MUCH slower.  I don’t have a super long attention span, so sometimes I have to stop working on my knitting projects to interject a quick crochet project so that I feel like I’m actually accomplishing something.  Knitting, however, does use less yarn than crocheting.  So if you have a small skein of yarn for which you’re trying to find a project, sometimes knitting is the way to go.

If you haven’t found your LYS yet, just Google.  If you are in North Carolina, like me, there are plenty to choose from!  The closest to me is Hillsborough Yarn Shop, and is also where I took the beginning knitting class.  My sister came with me, and we had a smallish group of about 6 or so, total.  I’m not sure why I expected more, but it turned out to be a nice size for this type of class.  We met for three consecutive Saturdays for two hours at a time, so it wasn’t a huge time investment.  We left the class knowing how to confidently complete casting on, knit stitch, purl stitch, and binding off, as well as having learned some extra tips.

It was a fantastic way to learn, especially for someone like me.  Not only did I get to see the stitches in action, but I had an instructor to tell me what I may have been doing wrong, or to help me with my mistakes and struggles.  I didn’t have that with crochet.  That was always the downside that I mentioned to people about teaching yourself.  You only had an idea of what your finished stitches should look like, without any verification that you were doing things right.

Find a Friend or Family Member to Teach You

Well this is pretty self-explanatory.  Having someone you know teach you is great for several reasons.  First, it’s most likely free!  Most yarn artists or yarn hobbyists love to share their passion.  It’s always fun to have a knitting or crochet buddy!  Someone to share in your growing yarn obsession. 😉  Someone to share your enthusiasm over your finished projects.  Plus you have someone to share their experience with you and answer your questions, or help you fix your mistakes.  It can be a great way to bond while being productive!  You can gain the benefit of all the other learning methods combined, and maybe even more, when you buddy up with a yarn artist.

I’m willing to bet there are even more ways to learn that I don’t know about yet.  Comment and share if you know of other ways to learn, or share your own experience!  How did you learn your yarn art?

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