If you've been knitting for any length of time, chances are you've already taught at least one other person to knit. It just happens.
Teaching someone to knit, watching that lightbulb go off as they realize what they're doing, is a true pleasure. Then comes the inevitable moment when you have to send them back out into the world, yarn and needles in hand.
You know they'll encounter snags that you won't be there to fix. You give them URLs and loan them books, they promise to call you if they need help, but nothing teaches quite as effectively as someone right in front of you, showing you exactly what to do.
Now I have an even better suggestion: Send your new knitter home with one of the most talented and utterly charming knitting teachers I know, Lucy Neatby.
A DVD to Remember
The 16th release in Lucy Neatby's Learn With Lucy DVD series is called The Brand New Knitter, and it is intended for absolute beginners who, as the DVD's subtitle suggests, haven't even held needles before.
With the perfect combination of warmth, wit, and intelligence, Lucy walks you through your very first slip-knot, cast-on, knit, and purl stitches. She knows how to make her knitting do anything she wants, and she wants you to have the same sense of confidence and freedom.
By the end of the video, she has you working lace and turning cables with ease—and not just turning cables but understanding structurally and mechanically how cables work. She knows that the more you understand the underlying principles and mechanics of knitting, the better you'll be able to make your knitting do your bidding.
All About Options
I can't even imagine the number of people Lucy has taught over the years—but it's got to be many. She knows firsthand that people knit, think, and learn differently.
Toward this end, she frequently pauses to show you multiple ways to carry out one kind of stitch. She'll drop one metaphor and pick up another to try and reach as many minds as possible. Even her language is chosen carefully and wisely.
Nearly every technique is shown worked with the yarn in her right hand, and then she goes back and shows how that technique would work if you held the yarn in your left hand. I get the impression she doesn't want to leave any loose ends that could confuse or stop potential new knitters in their tracks.
The How and Why
Time is taken to explain how and why you're doing things, too, not just that you need to do them. It's not enough to say that garter stitch produces a "corrugated" fabric, for example. She takes a trusty purple Sharpie and draws a cross-section of the fabric so you can see the orientation of the stitches and understand why the fabric behaves the way it does.
Viewers of this video will never be surprised when the edges of their stockinette curl while the garter doesn't. Lucy explains it all.
This attention to detail extends all the way to the structure of each stitch. With enormous needles and thick, colorful I-cord yarn, Lucy shows you how knitted fabric is formed, how a knit differs from a purl, how each stitch should be mounted on the needle. The better you understand how knitted fabric is constructed, the easier you'll be able to identify mistakes and know how to fix them. Nothing stops a new knitter in his or her tracks like the discovery of an unexpected increase or dropped stitch and feeling paralyzed about how to fix it.
Like a sherpa who has climbed this mountain many times before, Lucy is quick to point out common beginner pitfalls and show you how to avoid them. For example, beginners are often tempted to lift the yarn up at the beginning of a row, which makes the first stitch look like a bewildering set of two stitches. It's not enough to say "always keep your yarn down at the beginning of a row," she shows what happens if you don't.
Do I Smell an Oscar?
As with Lucy's previous DVDs, the production quality is excellent. You hear nary a barking dog, humming fluorescent light, or airplane passing overhead. Her hands are filmed from the angle of the beholder—that is, you're looking down at them as if they were your own.
The narration has also been edited with a fine-tooth comb to remove any stray "um"s. Yet Lucy's quirkiness and warmth haven't been edited out or buffed to a high polish—she still comes through clearly and beautifully.
Perhaps my favorite part of the video is at the very beginning when Lucy tells you about her own knitting trajectory. Every knitter claims to have been a little sloppy at first, but it's hard to imagine Lucy Neatby doing anything less than perfect.
Imagine my surprise when she held up her very first sweater, flipped it inside-out, and revealed a forest of loose ends and lumpy seams. Lo, she really is one of us! She still derives the greatest pleasure from the process of knitting and not the results—which is as it should be. With Lucy, your newly minted knitting friends are in good hands.