Guest Author - Marjorie Colletta
When I look at the first project I ever knit, a baby sweater, and then look at the one I am currently working on, I am amazed at the similarities and differences. One thing that has not changed even a little bit is how much I enjoy using a length of string and a couple of sticks to make something lovely and useful. Every time I look at my knitting I see a bit of magic. Since I have learned to knit I always try to go outside my comfort level and try new things, some have worked out and some have never seen the light of day, but I learned something from all of them.
Some lessons learned were, and I suspect you are already saying I can hear her now, "Swatch, swatch, swatch and measure as you go"! It will always save you time in the long run. I have worked long and hard on a sweater only to find it fit me and not my husband, the intended recipient. I have made a baby sweater that was big enough for a ten year old who would not be caught dead with cute little chicks floating across their chests. And I have made a lovely lace shawl, that just isn't proportioned right because I said, "Heck it is a shawl, they are one size fits all".
Next lesson, take the time to measure as you go to make sure you are still knitting the gauge you want. For instance, my knitting tends to loosen as I get comfortable with a pattern. My knitting also gets tighter when I get tired. Sometimes I have to change needles to get the same gauge throughout the same garment or end up with some oddly shaped items.
Make sure you have a enough yarn to finish your projects, dye lots matter. Many yarn shops will set aside yarn for you or take full skeins or hanks back if you end up not needing them, but to run out can be a disaster. As carpenters say, "Measure twice, buy all at once", or something like that.
Remember the television show about the martial arts guy who was called young grasshopper? Do not be afraid to find someone who can help you when you get into trouble. In fact searching out some expert help before you even start can avoid all sorts of problems. An expert (often found at your local yarn shop or knitting group) can help you customize the pattern so it works for you or your intended recipient. Do not be afraid to pay for their help, since they will save you time and money in the long run.
Everything you learn has a learning curve, and the same is true with knitting. Take the time to learn, get help when you need it, and enjoy the process.