There may be people who pick up needles and yarn and just begin knitting and never have a worry about it. I’ve never met anybody personally who could make that claim, but I’m sure that there are examples of Knitting Savants out there. However, for [I]most[/I] of us, it’s a process. And for some of us that process takes longer than others.
What’s helped me more than anything is having a professional knitter for a girlfriend. You can’t have her, but you can probably find someone who’s willing (and able) to give you feedback and answer questions. I can’t think of anything that’s better than that. Places to start looking? The local yarn store is usually inhabited by pretty knowledgeable people, and there may even be classes. A lot of community/arts centers have classes and workshops too. Unless you live in the middle of the wilderness, there’s probably [I]some[/I] place around where people who knit hang out. There’s an awful lot of us, ya know.
So. Besides finding a Yoda to mentor you, what else can you do? There’s a HUGE community of knitters online. This site is only one of many. Ravelry and Knitty are two of the bigger ones I’m familiar with, but I’m sure there are a ton of others. Facebook, I’m sure, has knitters’ groups (I don’t FB, so I can’t confirm or deny).
And as Yogi Berra once said, “Half of this game is 90% mental”. If you expect to succeed, you’ll have a better chance of success. But first you have to define what success [I]is[/I] – for you.
Breathe. No, I mean literally, breathe. It’s hard to keep your focus when your brain isn’t getting oxygen. You laugh, but I can remember when I realized I was holding my breath so long during a particularly stubborn k2tog that I actually got a head rush when the oxygen supply was restored.
Basically, anything that will help your mental state will help your knitting. If you’re tense, your stitches will be too. The owner of the local yarn store here (and one of the two best knitters I know personally) always says “It’s knitting, not rocket science”. And she’s right. No matter how hard you try or how much you want it to be a precision operation, it isn’t. And there’s no objective measure of “perfect”, so don’t bother looking for one. It’ll only frustrate you further. As someone said in another thread, “If you can’t see it fro the back of a galloping horse at a distance of 20 yards, don’t worry about it.” Believe me, if you start picking out every little imperfection, you’ll never be satisfied with any project you do. If it doesn’t show, it doesn’t count.
As for dropped stitches, if you haven’t done it already, learning how to fix them will probably go a LONG way. Not only will you be able to fix the dropped stitch, but because you know you CAN, you’ll be less worried about them. And I’m betting that leads to having fewer of them… at least it has been for me. Plus, if you notice a flaw a couple of rows back (or even further) you can fix THAT, too. Just drop the stitch(es) above it, drop the buggered stitch… and then fix the dropped stitches! Pretty soon you’ll be dropping stitches on purpose just to show off for your friends and family. (Okay, maybe not.) The key point to remember is that once they’re fixed, they’ll look a little bit loose and sloppy. Yanking the fabric around in various directions will help with that (sometimes a LOT), but once the item is washed/blocked you probably won’t be able to find the fix at all.
Just Keep Calm, and Carry Yarn.