Knitting is a method by which thread or yarn may be turned into cloth. Knitting consists of loops called stitches pulled through each other. The active stitches are held on a needle until another loop can be passed through them.
Knitting can be done by hand or by machine. By hand, there are numerous styles and methods. Flat knitting, which can be done on two straight needles or a circular needle, produces a length of cloth, while circular knitting, which is done on circular or double-pointed needles, produces a seamless tube.
Different yarns and knitting needles may be used to achieve different end products by giving the final piece a different colour, texture, weight, or integrity. Using needles of varying sharpness and thickness as well as different varieties of yarn adds to the effect
There is actually no real limit to what you could use to knit or crochet with, as long as it is long and thin enough to wind around your hook you could work with it.
There are, however, a load of standard professionally used materials, ie wools and cottons. Cotton and wool come in a variety of thicknesses. The finer the thread, the smaller the hook should be on your needle, and as the wool thickens, the hook needs to be bigger to work with it easily.
The size and thickness of the wool you would need for a project will be told to you in the pattern, usually both in imperial and metric measurement formats. If the sizing is in a measurement you are not familiar with, don't let it put you off, there are loads of conversion tables out there you can use to easily convert the measurements to a format you are more comfortable with.
An important thing to remember is that if you go out and buy wool for a particular project you need to get enough to complete your project. This is applicable especially when you working with only one colour. The reason for this is that if you run out half way and go buy more wool you might not get wool from the same dye-lot and this could be disastrous to the finish as the colours might not exactly match.
You might not notice the difference when working, but as soon as you pull your garment out of the cupboard to wear it for the first time you will see the different colours! This has happened to me and I would not like for you to have to go through all that hard work just to be disappointed in the end.
The dying process and quality of our wool and cottons has dramatically improved over the years and the chances of this happening is a lot less these days, but it still does happen!
There are a number of thicknesses of wools and cottons, and even I am not familiar with all of them, but the ones below are the most common.
Baby yarns are usually 3 and 4 ply weight. They are easy to knit and have special non-stain properties that makes it possible to wash often and baby messes easy to get rid of.
Double knitting wool is the most common type and is used to make your standard jerseys and clothes. Double knitting wool is easy to work with and you can progress much quicker than if you were using the thinner 4 ply. If you have some extra 4 ply wool you could double it up to make double knitting wool as this will give you the same size.
Chunky wool is the thickest of the wools and the fastest to knit as it is so much thicker. Although it is fast to knit it is not as common as double knitting wool in places like South Africa as it can be a bit too over the top for our warm weather.
It really is a nice wool to make kiddies jackets and scarves, and it is great to use to teach kids to knit as they can progress quickly.
As with double knitting and 4 ply wool, you can do the same for chunky. If you take two strands of double knitting wool you can use it as chunky wool. Remember that it is now not so easy to knit as you constantly have two strands to contend with rather than a nice pre-woven ball of wool.
There are still a number of other wools that we have not covered yet as they are specialty wools and not really suited for beginners. Let's get knitting first and then we can get more complicated later!
We are based in Roosevelt Park, near Emmarentia and teach basic knitting classes. Our classes run at times that suit you. You need to book two weeks in advance and let us know what time and day suits you. Rates are R280 per 2 hour session. Contact us via email for a booking.