Mar 31, 2016 :: by Leila Raabe
Today marks the official launch of our new book Knit: First Stitch/First Scarf and Knit Kit!
Knit: First Stitch/First Scarf is available in print (this includes a PDF download) or PDF only. The book is also available as part of our Knit Kit (shown above) which includes a print copy of Knit, 2 skeins of gorgeous Osprey in one of 5 color choices, a pair of straight wooden knitting needles in size US 10 [6 mm], and a tapestry needle—all the tools a new knitter will need to complete one of the scarf patterns included in Knit, packaged in a lightweight wood box.
Thanks so much to everyone who preordered on our pre-release earlier this month—orders have begun shipping this week.
As someone who jumped into the project after it was already well underway, I was curious to know more about its beginnings, and I asked Pam Allen if she would share a little bit of background about the book and kit. We hope you enjoy this mini Q&A!
Leila: How did the idea for this project first come to be?
Pam: We’ve been talking about making a really lovely beginning How-To-Knit kit for a long, long time. We talked about all manner of packaging and the fun details involved kept changing. What didn’t change was that we knew we’d be including Puck’s Scarf as a pattern. The classic garter-stitch scarf is the all-time favorite beginner project. And you know what? I’ve been knitting for fifty years and I STILL love a garter-stitch scarf. I have two in my closet right now—long, squishy, warm, and to my mind, really attractive.
What makes this book different from other beginner knitting books out there?
So if you make a How-To-Knit Kit for beginners, you need to have some kind of booklet in there to show people how to knit. But how many zillion how-to-knit books out there are there? We decided to not write the be-all, end-all book with everything you’d ever want to know about knitting. Our book focuses on the basics, the real basics, everything you need to know to make a garter stitch scarf and a ribbed one, too. We added the ribbed scarf pattern to the mix when we decided it would be good to include purling. But we didn’t stop there. We tested the text. And we added crucial things for the beginner to look out for and—this is so important—we show in the book how to fix little mistakes and how to rip out and start over with confidence. PLUS, we made the book as beautiful and appealing as we could. I still learn best from illustrations; videos are too quick for me. The book has many, many lovely and clear illustrations drawn by Leila Raabe (that would be you!). And we tested these, too.
We worked hard to make our book really useful. To ensure that a new knitter could really learn and be empowered from the information in it. We also wanted it to be pretty, something you’d want just because, something that would make a great gift for someone wanting to learn how to knit but who doesn’t know where to start.
a sampling of the illustrated techniques in Knit: left, how to wind a ball and cast on; right, completing a knit stitch
As a seasoned knitter, are there any other kinds of insight or advice that you'd like to share with new knitters who are taking these first steps into the world of knitting?
Books and videos are great. But find a mentor who you can answer your questions. When I was in high school and working on my first project, I set my knitting down when I was in the middle of a row. When I picked it up again, I had no idea which was my left- and which was my right-hand needle. Fortunately, I had a good friend whose mother was a knitter. I called her up in a panic, and she very simply told me to look for the needle with the yarn hanging down. Voila. Another person who helped me was a woman from Thailand who was staying at our house when I was young. She noted that I was knitting way down the needle. She showed me how to work closer to the tips (but not too close) for speed and more control.
Besides, that’s the tradition, isn’t it? Knitters helping knitters.
What would you suggest to knitters as good next steps, once they've gained the skills outlined in the book?
Keep knitting and asking. And if, like me, you like to learn things from books, check out the ones at the library. Another very helpful thing to do is to read knitting patterns. You learn a lot just by decoding a pattern.
Thank you, Pam, for these lovely insights into the whys and wherefores of producing our Knit book and kits!
Indeed, some of the most helpful bits of info can be found from reading knitting patterns—there's a lot more to be absorbed from a good pattern (different types of garment construction, fit, new techniques, etc.) than merely how to knit that particular project. Knit also covers how to read a pattern, using Puck's Scarf to explain the various sections of a typical knitting pattern's specs, tools used, the actual step-by-step instructions for the project, and any finishing details.
Knit: First Stitch/First Scarf is a great way to share the love of knitting with anyone wishing to learn a new skill and discover the joys and infinite possibilities of our craft. And with the Knit Kit, they'll end up with an actual scarf—the first of many happily worn items made with their own hands—to wear for years to come.