Enraged Knitting for Beginners

6 Dec

Good luck with that, buddy.

I’m genuinely upset.  My blood is boiling with frustration and I want nothing more than to throw this ball of yarn against the wall but I know it’s soft and malleable and will bring me  no satisfaction on impact.

Happy Lollipop Tuesday, boys and girls.  I’m angry.

If you don’t know what Lollipop Tuesday is, please know that it’s not often something enraging.  Usually, it’s a nice mind-opening experience that makes me grow somehow as a person – sometimes from epic new undertakings and sometimes from minute challenges. To read about more pleasant adventures, check out the archive at “What’s Lollipop Tuesday?” at the top of this page.  To mock my pain, stay put.

I have always wanted to knit.  I don’t know why.  Something about it seems so soothing.  I’ve seen people knit while they watch television as if their hands have minds of their own and their brain can take a vacation.  I’ve seen people knit entire scarves that come snaking out of their bags during class in college.  I’ve seen beautiful little craft tutorials online that seem so easy…if only you know how to knit.

I lack this basic pioneer skill.

For some stupid reason this week, I thought it would be great if I could teach myself how to acquire it.  But instead of relying on YouTube tutorials (which lovingly taught me how to solve a Rubik’s cube and how to make origami this year), I thought I’d go old school like the craft itself and learn from a book.

Why? Why did I do that?

As it turns out, I’m apparently an imbecile and have no ability to decipher diagrams or make sense of instructions. I’m really disappointed in myself.  Hours of attempting to ‘cast on’.  That’s right: I spent HOURS just trying to cast on.  It kept spiraling around and I couldn’t figure out why.  Then when I finally did, I realized my stitches were too tight.  There was always a reason to start over.  And when I finally sang a weak, forlorn Hallelujah for my accomplishment, it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually begun to knit yet.  I’d just prepared to begin to knit.  If I could have worked faster, I’d have fashioned myself a very soft, very colorful noose.  When I sought out the section of the booklet that actually delved into knitting, my mind was a flurry of despair.

 “Wrap the yarn around the right needle from back to front, so that it rests between the two needles (reference Diagram 32).  Slide the right needle down, then bring the point forward through the stitch, bringing the yarn with it (Reference Diagrams 33 and 34).”  

-excerpt from “Knit Yourself a Noose” by Jackie.

First of all, what the hell does any of that mean? Honestly.  It’s not clear enough for me.  And referencing the diagrams doesn’t help, because they’re in 2D and my life is in 3.  Three.  I need three D’s.  I don’t see any clear difference between the diagrams so I have to flit my eyes back and forth from one to the other until I can spot the difference like some sort of children’s activity book and then once I do, I’ve completely forgotten what I’m doing and my hands are in a mess that looks a lot like when I played Cat’s Cradle in elementary school. Blame it on my generation, but there was no way I was knitting a scarf from a book’s instructions.  Maybe if I were trapped in a cabin with a full supply of food and water, but nothing to entertain myself but a ball of yarn, two needles, and this incredibly vague book – then maybe I might be able to fashion myself a scarf wide enough to warm a kitten.  But it would probably still be spirally and misshapen and sad.

After hours of attempts and painfully slow progress, I stopped.  I told myself I’d given it the good ol’ college try and simply gave up.  I thought through the list of incredibly stupid people I know that somehow managed to learn to knit and got very, very angry.  I thought of all the old women to hum and rock and stare into a vast void while their hands make beautiful clothes and crafts and blankets and wonders of all kinds.  I was enraged.

Then I remembered that YouTube exists and did what I should have just resorted to in the first place: finding the most basic video with the most views.  As it turns out, it taught me how to cast on in a beautifully straight, incredibly clear line in only three minutes.  Yeah. Three minutes.    Then I moved on to attempting to actually knit a row.  And wouldn’t you know: it’s all actually quite straightforward.  There’s some messiness with all the fingers and string involved, but once you figure out what you’re looking at it’s really no big deal.  That being said, I’m not knitting Christmas presents any time soon, but I can at least not write off an entire bag of newfound knitting supplies.  And that’s pretty stellar because before I watched the YouTube video, I had resolved to burn them in a hot, blazing hellfire.

End result? Nothing actually knitted.  Various, undocumented attempts.  Overwhelming frustration.

Tonight, I go 2011 on it and go full-fledged YouTube.  I’ll knit you yet, scarf of rage. 


38 Responses to “Enraged Knitting for Beginners”

  1. Sonja December 6, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Jackie- Don’t give up!! Knitting is wonderful once you get the hang of it. My first attempt didn’t go so well. There was a huge hole in the scarf. I ended up frogging it! (Knitting jargon for rip-it! rip-it! rip-it! out) For me, it’s therapeutic and productive all at the same time. It does get easier over time….. trust me. Even for an experienced knitter (at least THIS experienced knitter), I struggle to learn the new techniques in a book. I have to see it.

    Keep knitting my friend, keep knitting!!


    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

      all you people and your wonderful (and seemingly easily-acquired) ability to knit. You make it sound so looovely. I WANT IT.


      • wtfhappenedtomyreallife February 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

        Has there been any progress dear Jackie? I think that the problem I have with knitting is knowing how wide something will end up being. Because when you are knitting it it is all bunched up and seems like it will be very small but then HOLY COW it is really long. I need to learn to accomodate for that. With crochet, what you see is what you get. It is as long as it is…no guessing.


        • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

          No, but even you merely mentioning it makes me feel guilty for not going at it again. Apparently I’m carrying a lot of knit guilt.


          • wtfhappenedtomyreallife February 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

            Don’t feel guilty….try crocheting first. it is like the gateway craft.


          • Jackie March 2, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

            yes ma’am.


  2. wtfhappenedtomyreallife December 6, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    I bought a book called “I Taught Myself How To Knit” which was much better, I think, than the one you have. Note: I am a crocheter…and after teaching myself how to knit….I MUCH prefer crochet. I would recommend it highly over knitting. AND…1 hook. Not 2 needles to get all confused and tangled up with.

    Good luck hunny! I cannot wait to see the scarf of rage. I just made some of the cutest hats.


    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

      The female parental unit also suggests crocheting over knitting. I wonder if I would have gotten that on the first go on my own.


      • wtfhappenedtomyreallife December 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

        I will tell you that I had an aunt teach me how to crochet when I was very little then I did not use it…so I lost it. A friend taught me crochet again a few years back. I have done 3 blankets, 6 hats (including a froggie one for a friend’s baby), countless scarves and wrist warmers….plus I have multiple blanket projects started. I am actually starting on a skunk hat for another friend’s baby and one for the mama too. I find crochet easier. It is something that I can do while just sitting around watching tv or whatever. I do have a new craft I am doing too….MUCH easier. Email me and I will give you the skinny on it 🙂


        • Jackie December 31, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

          Wow – impressive! Hopefully this knitting thing works out for me. I actually haven’t worked on it too much but now that I’m not posting every day I’m sure I’ll scrape together the time 🙂


  3. egills December 6, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    I also have to watch someone do it also, but it is really therapeutic to do. I also like doing tapestry…. oh that was a bad move I just started looking for a rug tapestry kit! Bad girl..

    Look forward to seeing the finished thing 🙂


    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

      whoa, tapestry seems intense. I like the idea that someday I’ll be a competent knitter. Why is it so hard? These damn fingers.


  4. Ro December 6, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    I second Sonja- I’ve mastered your basic stitches, but learning new techniques from a book is near impossible. I’m glad you eventually went online, because knitting is great (except right now I’m trying to pop out a baby blanket with size 5 needles by next month… .ugh…). I would recommend knitting ‘pot holders’, first. Or, blankets for mice. Otherwise you’ll start to get really frustrated when your scarf is suddenly wider at one end than the other. 😉 To pat myself lovingly on the back- I think I’ve done a pretty good job teaching a couple people I know how to knit. When we take our roadtrip in the unmarked white van, we can make the C-man drive and we can knit in the back. I’ll make sure you’re a pro by the time we get to Pennsyltucky or wherever.


    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

      Yessssss. I’m going to try to get it. I really want to be a knitter. A mindless knitter. The kind who can just whip a scarf out of her bag and go at it.


  5. sdobbertin December 6, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    I can totally relate. I’ve been crocheting for 10 years so I thought knitting would be easy. I got some books from the Library and concluded that knitting was stupid and I did not, in fact, need to acquire the skill. Then, like you, I remember youtube. That blessed website. I was knitting within minutes. A month or so later, I’ve already completed my first sweater!


    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

      Wow – a sweater in a month?! Crazy. I’ll stick at it – needles and yarn is expensive 🙂 Also, your kids are ADORABLE.


  6. cindydyer December 6, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Loved this posting, Jackie. Too, too funny! Love your writing….I hope you don’t mind, but I mentioned you and put a link to your blog on a re-post of my crochet adventures. You can read it here:



    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

      Thanks! I don’t ever mind at all – thanks for pushing me around the web, in spite of my lack of skill 😉 And thanks for reading; I really appreciate it.


  7. pegoleg December 6, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    So, I’m getting the impression you’re NOT going to like the DIY Brain Surgery book I bought you for Christmas.


  8. Isabelle December 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    Don’t give up on Knitting ! That’s so great and pleasant once you’ve done an item.
    I’ve learned to knit this September, I thought I could get it with books too but I just simply failed ! So I’ve met a knitting groups where I met such lovely woman who teach me to cast on and to knit. Then I’ve discovering Ravely and believe me, that’s the place to be when you’re knitting or crocheting. There is lot of forums and there is so many free pattern available too !
    One thing is wonderful with knitting is that you can pretty much do wathever you like you but you can choose the quality of the wool, the colour and that is something that you can’t really with shopping !


    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

      You all make it sound like a world of wonder will open itself to me if I can just learn to knit. I want a world of wonder!!


  9. SuperGod December 6, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    “other until I can spot the difference like some sort of children’s activity book and then 0nce I do,”

    “once” does not need capitalized. :-p

    my grand mother can knit… I can not…


  10. wordsweneversaid December 6, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    You can get DVD’s for knitting and crocheting – way better than books (I learned from books but only because I was REALLY interested. If I wasn’t I would have just stabbed the first things my needles would go through and then run screaming through the streets with yarn dragging behind me)

    Youtube is awesome – that’s where I learned to knit in the round and start on socks and stuff like that.

    Don’t give up – it becomes addictive after a while.



    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

      I sure hope so because I hate to suck at things that everyone else does mindlessly. I WILL KNIT.


  11. katrinabobina December 6, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    You could try calling your local senior center to see if there’s a knitting group – I learned to knit a year ago from a woman who invited me to one after I was just as enraged as you are, but with crocheting. Knitters are always happy to teach, at least in my experience, and it’s so much easier to see live demonstrations with immediate feedback to your questions. Don’t lose hope – good luck!

    p.s. I love your writing style.


    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

      I might revisit the place that sold me the materials – they have a group out of there and are a couple of lovely old dames. Thanks for the suggestion, and for stopping by!


  12. Julia December 8, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Sometimes local yarn shops will offer knitting classes. I learned how to knit last year, and the rage will subside ^^


    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

      The place I got the supplies from offers one. If YouTube fails me, I think I’ll venture back in.


  13. Jules December 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    Knitting yourself a lovely, comfy noose. Now that’s comedy.


  14. Megan December 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    yay! knitting is fun!


    • Jackie December 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

      I have yet to find that truth, but I’ll keep hunting.


  15. AffordableLiving September 27, 2013 at 6:14 am #

    Learning from a book is like impossible. Genuinely, the diagrams just do not make any sense to a non-knitter. So to youtube we go. 😀


    • Jackie October 1, 2013 at 12:32 am #

      Well it’s certainly not for me. I’d rather pause and play a youtube video several times than read and re-read the same section and diagram over and over. It makes a person crazy.


      • AffordableLiving October 1, 2013 at 4:29 am #

        I learnt from a combination of asking my Grandma and youtube vids. The diagrams left me so frustrated… Thank goodness for technology. 🙂


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