Teaching a friend to knit - he wants to do intarsia!

I have never taught anyone to knit before. However, a friend of mine is really interested. He had learned to knit a long time ago, but hadn’t knit in several years.

I am trying to help get him refreshed on casting on, knitting, purling, and casting off. He was pretty much a beginner when he quit, and he’d not done much purling.

I tried to interest him in a dishcloth and gave him some Sugar & Cream. The reason I gave him the S&C is that he’s vegan, as in - no animal fibers! (Oh the horror). However, he wants to make a scarf instead. I don’t think S&C is going to make a very cozy scarf, but whatever. He wanted to use purl sts in a background of stockinette to make a motif (I wrote out a pattern for him), but it’s not showing up very well.

So now he wants me to show him how to do the motif in a 2nd color! IDK, I feel like intarsia is kind of a big step for a “learn to form stitches and recognize a knit vs. a purl stitch, etc” project.

What do you guys think? Am I raining on his parade? I [B][I]can[/I][/B] do intarsia, it’s just my least favorite because it’s so fussy IMO. I don’t want to be discouraging, but I also don’t want to set him up for making something super difficult and then losing interest.

Well, there ARE basic skills that you need to have before you can just jump in and do something as complicated as intarsia. Maybe you could help him set that as a goal to work towards and in order to reach the top of the ladder (so to speak) he’s going to have to climb each step!!

Step #1 - Casting on
Step #2 - Knit/purl
Step #3 - Binding off
etc… etc…

The 2 of you could work on writing up something like this for him to check off when he’s accomplished each step.

Keep encouraging him and eventually he’ll reach his goal!!! :cheering:


I’d have to agree with knitcindy on a progression of skills for him to get to intarsia.

What we want, and when we want it skillwise, can give us no small amount of grief in knitting. <big sigh> I think that bites us all at some time. :sad:

I just have to ask this out of simple curiosity about the animal fibers… Does he know that shearing a sheep/llama/alpaca is not harmful to it? Or is it the exploitative angle for him?

I agree… he needs to learn the basics before he can/should do intarsia. Tell him he has to do a couple plain dishcloths first. :teehee:

Well, he doesn’t like that the sheep are being bred for anything other than to be happy sheep, I guess. The main question would be, even with a hobby operation, is what happens to the sheep when they are at the end of their useful life? Are they euthanized or slaughtered? I told him he should seek out some hobby farmers that basically treat their sheep like pets, but I don’t think he really cares about wool.

When I first started knitting I hated wool and thought it was “scratchy.” Also why would you want anything that couldn’t go through the washer and dryer? Of course, I have changed my muggle ways and am in love with wool… hahaha.

I think he is disappointed but I’m sticking to my guns regarding the intarsia. I did an intarsia project early on (although I did know how to knit and purl and read my knitting) and it turned out kind of meh due to tension issues. All those ends were a nightmare though! At least what I made was felted so it turned out okay.

Ahhh, I get it now, thanks for indulging my curiosity. :slight_smile:

Is he averse to synthetic fibers too? Sometimes they’re easier to learn on, or relearn on in this case, because they can be a bit more grabby than cotton or bamboo.

I’m so sorry he’s a bit disappointed for now, but in the long run it will be worth the wait.

I have some baby acrylic (used for something I made for his kid, actually!) that I’m going to give him next time I see him. I just can’t imagine using Sugar & Cream for anything other than dishcloths (and I’ve been scratching my head as to why I thought it necessary to stock up on it at one time!!!). I wanted to just gift him something from my stash but it’s slim pickins!

I need to introduce him to Knitpicks - perhaps he can order something better from them. I’ve tried to get him on KH (even sent him links to a couple of the videos) but to no avail. I know, it’s inconceivable that someone would resist KH. :slight_smile:

How kind of you to gift out of your stash! Just the thought of giving away any of my retirement yarn gives me hives! Other people have a 401(k), I’m saving yarn for retirement.:roflhard:

I know what you mean about S&C: A couple of years ago I bought one of those 3 lb. Sugar & Cream bundles in a zippered plastic bag and I’m still working out of it. I think I’ll be making dishcloths from it when I’m 80! :stuck_out_tongue:

As much as I love KnitPicks, I’m a firm believer in immediate gratification! If he wants a decent inexpensive cotton worsted, Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Cotton! is a good one to knit up tighter than S&C without breaking the bank. Added bonus: no waiting on shipping. The more he fondles yarn early on, the better.:rofl:

There are other plant-based yarns out there, like bamboo, or linen, or silk (unless he objects to the boiling of the cocoon; I’ve even knit with fiber made from milk protein. Angora is combed from the rabbit to make it cooler in the summer.

There are many alpaca breeders who shear their beloved animals and sell the fleece because it’s a kindness to shear them so they don’t overheat. (There are from the cold mountains, after all) I’m sure there are sheep owners out there that treat their sheep as pets and groom them as necessary–not only for profit and the risk of their animals.

Marino sheep need to be sheared or they’ll die if it is allowed to grow so long that they become overheated or unable to get around easily.
It’s lovely to knit with, too.

Acrylics deplete our fossil fuels, so that may be considered out, too.

If it’s only cotton he wants, there are soft, non-washcloth cottons out there, too.

He can try intarsia–what the heck–it’s his yarn. It can be pulled out and worked over again. Now if he wants to try marble sculpture, I’d advise practice before the first big piece. :teehee:As long as he wraps the yarns properly when he switches colors, he could get the hang of it. It looks monumentally better when worked in stockinette rather than garter–none of those two-colored purl bumps.

Personally, I’d let him try. Especially if dishcloths and scarves are boring to him. If he tries and fails…the lesson is brought home much better than your telling him he can’t do it.

You never know…some newbie knitters are “naturals”. If he is passionate about knitting intarsia,
he’ll put forth more effort to learn than he would on dishcloths.

[COLOR=DarkRed]Much of [B]knitter’s success[/B] is based on interest, passion and the resultant ‘effort’ put forth. [/COLOR]

[B][COLOR=Navy]Show him HOW and let him TRY. [/COLOR][/B] That’s my 2 cents.

BTW: if your friend was a child…then I’d back off my opinion.

Hmmm, intarsia? On a scarf? Usually scarves don’t have the ‘wrong’ side… maybe if you show him how it looks ‘on the inside’ he will change his mind. Am I missing something?

I would let whoever do whatever, personally. I agree with ArtLady. And as for the yarn, I would go with something appealing – soft, with pleasing colour and good stitch definition, acryllic or not.

A few points:

I completely didn’t think about what the back would look like for an intarsia design. I am telling you, I did 1 project and I steer clear of it like crazy! Mine was a felted, lined bag, so the back was a non-issue. So that would have been a bad idea for more than 1 reason.

I don’t have a lot of in-person time to spend with him, so he is calling me on the phone for questions down the road. I don’t think turning him loose on something complicated is a good idea for that reason. I am better at learning from videos, books, and asking questions on here. Paul however has resisted my attempts to get him on KH or Ravelry. I kind of want to loan him my Vicki Square book The Knitter’s Companion, but I use it pretty often myself, and the last book I loaned to him he’s had for 3 years.

So Charlotte, I have no problem giving a gift of my stash, but I am really leery of lending books. Actually now that I am thinking about it, I just opened a new tab in Amazon and ordered him a copy. I don’t know if he’ll use it, though. He seems to like learning by in-person lessons best, the problem is that we just don’t see each other often since I work nights.

Ingrid, I don’t dare to tell him acrylic is bad for the environment! :teehee: I do think he might object to silk. The funny thing is that he doesn’t seem that interested in the quality of the yarn. He happily took many balls of S&C off my hands. The only other thing I had that wasn’t wool was 8 skeins of Knitpicks Shine Sport, but they are tan, which is kind of blah for baby & toddler items.

The good news is, he finished a scarf with S&C (I know, I know!) and the stitches look really good. He knits with a vice grip so they come out robotically even! :mrgreen: I got him started on a newborn hat in acrylic for his upcoming daughter (due in Feb). I did the first couple of rows, and now he’s using Magic Loop!

ArtLady!!! I knew you’d be around here somewhere… I don’t know if you remember something we were doing a KAL of in early 2009 (yes, OMG, 2009)…

But I think I’m going to have a FO to share this weekend…

I definitely agree with your philosophy to just let him figure out what he can and can’t do since he’s an adult not a kid. After the hat, I’m going to let him pick what to do next. As in, pick the yarn, find a pattern himself… I want to help but I don’t want to be so helpful that he doesn’t learn how to match a yarn to a pattern, etc.

Maureen, that’s excellent news on the scarf turning out well!:cheering:

Maybe you can steer him to a yarn store. Lots of types of fiber and free pointers if he shops there. There might even be a class on intarsia. There is lots of info on the PETA site about wool and silk production. I personally take some of it with a grain of salt. Their point regarding wool is that much of it is produced in Australia, their shearing methods are cruel including taking of pieces of skin with the wool and when all is said and done the sheep are shipped off in huge ships to be slaughtered.

Knitpicks has some nice cotton yarns. However, I hope he’s not eco-conscious, too, since some methods for planting, growing, and/or picking cotton might be too much as well. (I can’t think what those reasons might be, but you never know.)