June 30, 2016

Every summer we take a week-long family vacation that includes 4 generations and at least one dog. We've been to Mammoth Lakes once and Lake Shasta several times, but Sunriver, Oregon has been a favorite family gathering place for 30 years. Besides gorgeous scenery and beautiful weather, there's something for everyone: golfing, biking, hiking, fishing, and rafting, but also plenty of time for relaxing, reading, and knitting.  Yes, of course I bring my knitting, as does my mom and my granddaughter Annie. But this is the year Stacy, Annie's mother and my step-daughter, and Tessa, my son's girlfriend, both wanted to learn how to knit. (Don't you love to start a new knitter on the addiction we love so much? Me too.)  Off we went to Bend, about a half hour away from Sunriver, to the adorable Gossamer Knits.  After an hour of touching and feeling, Stacy and Tessa each walked out with needles and two skeins of wool, an idea for a scarf, and a few butterflies in their tummies--both were worried that they would never "get it".  But before the week was up, both scarves were finished and new projects started! Two new knitters have been added to our big, world-wide, friendly family of knitters, and for all it was a very fun experience.

I've taught a few people to knit over the years and have made a few mistakes along the way.  One extreme was to to bore them with swatches and the other extreme, letting them loose on a project that was over their head. There's something to say about finding the right balance, and from the way the girls took to it, the cowl seems to be a perfect first project.  When teaching a new knitter I have a few tips to ensure success:

  • It was my treat so I insisted on fine merino wool--no scratchy, fuzzy, pilly, acrylic on my watch.  I recommend purchasing the nicest wool within your budget.  Fine wool is more expensive true, but it's softer and easier to knit and much kinder to the hands.  I wanted their first experience to be friendly.
  • Cast on for your new knitter.  They can learn that later.
  • Do use a comfortable needle size--too small or too large can be uncomfortable for a new knitter.
  • Garter stitch is the way to go.  The chunky garter texture is a super popular look right now, it's squishy and grows fast, plus it's just one repetitive motion and is great practice for getting command of even tension.
  • On every row, have them count their stitches and show them how to look at each row to catch a mistake early.  They will make common mistakes and each time show them how to correct them. Before long, (they'll still be making mistakes, because we all do) they will have learned how to correct the mistakes on their own.
  • Get your new knitter right into a project because you and I both know it's boring to knit swatches! And so this segues right into our little project:  The Sunriver Cowl--it's designed for a beginner to gain confidence mastering the most basic stitch and achieving even tension.

The Sunriver Cowl


2 sk. Cascade Yarns 128 Superwash in two colors, #900, Charcoal and #1944, West Point Blue
1 pair needles, size US 10.5

Gauge: 12 st. per 4", but gauge is not critical

Finished size (seamed): 8" x 28"

Cast on 24 sts.  Knit every stitch on every row until you run out of the first color.  Add second color and knit until you almost run out. Leave approximately 40" tail of yarn. Cast off, seam cast on edge to cast off edge and weave in ends.  Block to even stitches if necessary.

Your first project is done, and it's pretty awesome!  You are a knitter now!  What's your next project going to be?

Cascade 128 Superwash
is a soft, easy-care yarn that is easy to knit, makes a beautiful fabric, and is a good value!
Gossamer Knitting, Bend, Oregon
Sunriver, Oregon

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  1. Thanks for the Sunriver Cowl pattern, Kristen. I'll definitely use it next time I help a new knitter start. Can't agree more about casting on the first time and letting the knitter get right to the knitting. Great tips. Glad you enjoyed your vacation.

  2. Thanks Kristen for this. I teach knitting at my shop and I do run out of ideas.
    P.S. It looks like the girls did a great job on their first project.

  3. Oh what a wonderful beginner pattern, I've also tried to teach others to knit and have had failures for the very reasons you state. This is a wonderful project. Just happens we are going to the beach next week, three families in one beach house with a fab yarn store nearby. I'm going to try to repeat your success.

  4. Such a wonderful family event!!! Love the scarf, I'm going to start one with similar colors!!! Young lady in the pictures is so youthful and beautiful!


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