It’s important, of course, to give brand new knitters a choice of yarn, but the instructor needs to provide boundaries. It will help keep them from becoming frustrated, tossing their tangled knitting onto the ground and bursting into tears or screaming. 🙂
I have seen many new knitters come to their first class or come into shops for help clutching yarns like Trendsetter’s Dune (multi-stranded with variegated mohair and a synthetic), Berroco’s Glace (woven rayon), Plymouth Angora (100% angora), or Be Sweet Boucle (100% mohair), eagerly waiting to learn to knit them into something gorgeous. But …
- While Dune comes in amazing colorways, it easy to split the strand, difficult to catch mistakes, and problematic to unravel. (Mohair tends to stick to itself.)
- Glace may feel great to the touch but makes dropping stitches (and seeing them run!) oh so easy because the yarn is oh so slippery. Also, this is a woven ribbon yarn, and new (and experienced!) knitters frequently pierce ribbon yarns as they knit.
- Angora yarn is, as most knitters know, soft and begs to be touched. But, it also felts VERY easily. It is not unusual for new knitters to sweat a bit and be a little rough with their knitting … a recipe for disaster when knitting with angora!
- Who doesn’t like a mohair boucle?! But for new knitters, using something like the lovely Be Sweet Boucle can be another disaster waiting to happen. New knitters often knit into the boucle loops; recognizing mistakes is difficult, ripping out rows is fraught with problems, and mohair is one of the easier fibers to felt.
So, what to have new knitters use? Here are a few recommendations (and reasons).
Yarn weight: A nice mid-weight (worsted).
- lots of yarn choices
- gives a nice gauge on a mid-size needle
Fiber: Wool (preferred) or a wool-acrylic blend.
- The yarn should be fairly smooth, no boucle, unevenly spun yarn or glittery decorative strands.
- Wool gives a bit of a stretch, won’t slip too much on the needles, won’t stick too much when pulling out rows.
Color: No dark colors – no black, dark green, dark blue, dark wine! Be careful with variegated too.
- It is too difficult for new knitters to see and repair errors when using a light yarn; it’s even more frustrating in dark yarn.
- New knitters will find it difficult to find and repair errors depending on the “busy-ness” and colors of the variegated yarn.
Needles: Wooden needles in a medium size – 20” or 24” circular if teaching Continental style, 8″ single point if teaching UK style.
- Wooden needles are less slippery than metal.
- Continental style lends itself to circular needles. Re length, 16” can be a little “tight” for new knitters (unless they have very small hands), and 48″ will be too long and awkward.
- UK style works best with single point needles, at least for new knitters. The length may vary depending on which regional UK style instructor will teach.
Teachers might consider collaborating with a favorite yarn store. For instance, you could work with the yarn store to offer a special for your new students: a ready to go package. The package would include a set of the needles you want them to use and a skein of the yarn that you think would add to their first knitting experience (be sure and include the list of colors they should choose from) – all at, say, 20% off the regular price.This ensures your new knitters are off to a good start with supplies, introduces them to a good local yarn store, brings new business to the local yarn store, and gives new knitters a discount as they start their journey!
After all, you want them to keep knitting, right?!