I am learning to knit, mostly on my own, with a book and a Craftsy class and a multitude of YouTube videos and the help of my friends—so really not so much on my own, just without a conventional class and teacher.
I started with a hotpad, then I found a simple mitten pattern. My friends gave me a hard time about making mittens. "What—mittens ALREADY!" They were very simple mittens and I made many mistakes and they aren't exactly the same size, but I learned from them. Then I made a scarf, which, it seems, is an appropriate project for a beginner.
My theory of learning a new hand skill is that you make something that interests you, not something dumb and boring; make plenty of mistakes, which you learn to analyze and not make again, and just put in a lot of time. Oh, and don't use materials that are too precious. You don't want to end up guilty about messing up $100 worth of beautiful yarn. That defeats you. Not a good start on something intended to make you happy, ultimately. So, back I went to the cheap yarn store with discount coupon in hand and got stuff to make myself a hat.
It turned out not bad. See that band around the bottom? I had to pull that out and start over three times and it still has a few problems. ( Don't look too closely at the right edge...) but I learned about decreasing, and my stitches are getting more uniform and I am getting the feel for the rhythm of the whole thing. And I will actually wear the hat.
Now I may have bitten off more than I can chew. I am making a sweater.
I bought (cheap of course) a big cone of cotton yarn on EBay because I simply cannot wear a wool sweater. Allergic, I guess. They just itch unmercifully. My friend Gale told me that cotton knits tend to stretch and combining the cotton with a thin acrylic yarn would mitigate that, so I found a deep purple acrylic to knit with it. I really like the mottled effect the combination creates.
I started knitting the neckband first and it looked just awful. I started over three times and finally got the hang of the ribbing and it looked pretty great until I got to the end of the neckband and discovered I had knitted a Möbius strip, despite being careful, I thought, not to twist it. Ray got a good laugh out of that. I pulled it all out and started over, yet again.
I keep reading about the benefits of knitting. One article called it a form of meditation, and I get that. When I am working in those stretches of repetition, the rhythm and mindfulness puts me into that very satisfying mind space of "flow". Another article talked about how learning a new skill, later in life, keeps one's brain healthy and agile. As it stands, my knitting takes me from "flow" to frustration and anxiety in equal measure.
I am making a lot of mistakes with this sweater. I cannot seem to keep the stitch counts consistent. The front and back should be the same. The two sleeves should be the same (duh!). I have a feeling that simply adding or subtracting a stitch isn't really the correct way to address inconsistencies, but I can't seem to identify where and when the problems are occurring. Oy. This may turn out to be a clown sweater. But now that I know what is happening I will be more alert to finding out why. Offer suggestions if you have them. Meanwhile, I am moving forward, determined to put in my 10,000 hours and become a knitter. Serenity and flow await.