Hello again, Jane here. In last week’s post I wrote about getting started with knitting; casting on for the first time since I was a child, my first few rows of knit and purl, and creating my first piece of fabric.

I must thank everyone for the warm, woolly welcome to the knitting community. I really appreciate all the words of encouragement you left in the comments, I do read them all, and certainly shall be dipping in and out of all the advice and tips you are kind enough to share. I’m looking forward to learning from and alongside you in this journey.

The next step in PomPom’s KNITHOW book is Project One – fingerless mitts. Despite having bought two sets of straight bamboo needles last week in sizes 5mm and 6mm (US 8 & 10), the suggested needles size for this first project is 4mm (US 6). I’m itching to get started, so I pop along to my local yarn shop (LYS). It’s quite a sad wee place, annexed to the picture framers, which although being called ‘The Wool Shop’ doesn’t actually sell any wool. Well, no yarn in 100% wool. Everything is acrylic or a blend of no more than 20% wool. Luckily, working for a yarn manufacturer means I have access to beautiful wooly yarns like the 100% Scottish wool yarn named after those epic mountains which shepherd the valley of Glen Etive in the west highlands – Buachaille. I do, however, find the needles I’m after. I head home with a set of straight metal needles and cast on to swatch and test my gauge. I had a couple of issues. Firstly, I found the metal needles pretty slippy to begin with. Secondly, I think I pulled my cast-off too tight which made the fabric a bit wonky.

Nonetheless, my gauge notes:

4mm metal needles x Buachaille (colour: Haar) 2 ply worsted wool yarn = 20 stitches over 4 inches

Here we go. My first ever knit project and first time reading a pattern. 

The “Ce” fingerless mitts.

I chose size 2 and cast on the number of stitches indicated in the pattern for this size. 

First up – ribbing.

Row one: k,p,k

Row two: p,k,p

This is soooo hard! I’m struggling to keep track of where I am. Should I be knitting? Should I be purling? I’ve had to do a hard reset a few times, ripping it all out and starting again. I would get distracted part way through a row, or forget whether I finished a row on a knit or purl. Do I need to pay more attention? I’ve seen people knitting at meetings. They seem to be able to concentrate on two things at the same time – why can’t I? So many questions.

At the moment, I’m just going to concentrate, ignore the distractions around me, hope that Sam makes dinner and the kids don’t need help with their homework! I’ve decided to always end a period of work on Row 2 – which is p,k,p. That way I know when I pick up the needles I start on Row 1 with a knit stitch. It doesn’t take too long until I have the required length of ribbing. Now on to stockinette. This is easier. I’m picking up pace, it’s fast and enjoyable…until… I made a wee mistake at the end of a row. 

Like a child having just had the training wheels taken off her bike and five minutes later yelling “hey Mum – look at me – no hands”, before face planting on the road! 

I noticed a sort of ladder in the work, and realised I must have dropped a stitch. Not only had I dropped one stitch, but I had an extra two on the needle. WHAT!? There’s a vast amount of information and advice online and I’ve found some YouTube videos particularly helpful. So, I managed to troubleshoot the problem and found the stitch which had wormed it’s way down a few rows. I dropped the extra stitches, which I figure are not real stitches, grab my crochet hook and pick up the dropped stitch, loop it up the rows and slide it back on the needle. I fixed it! I can’t believe it worked. There’s now a small flaw at the edge of the fabric, but it’s going to be largely hidden and is much better than having a hole in the work. I should point out, that although I went online looking for help with this, there is actually a guide at the back of this book which illustrates how to solve problems including this specific mistake. I’m not sure why I didn’t think to check the contents page. My advice to any new knitters using PomPom’s Knithow is to read through the book first! 

Ribbed cuff done and the hand section of stockinette complete means I’m at the required length from cast on. It’s back to rib stitch for 1 inch and I’m ready to cast-off. The pattern tells me to cast off “quite loosely in 1×1 rib”, but it doesn’t tell me how to do this. So, after a quick look online, I learn it’s just k1, p1 on the cast off. It makes sense. I might have made a tiny mistake but on the whole it looks neat and is not too tight.

I have one mitt!

Back to the start for mitt number two. Do I need two mitts? Maybe one is fine. Is this “second sock syndrome”?

Over the next couple of nights I complete the second mitt, with fewer problems than the first, and leave the pair blocking overnight.

I have two flat pieces of fabric. To make them into mitts I need to employ the mattress stitch. The Knithow book has illustrated descriptions of how to mattress stitch. Once I found the ladder of stitches to sew into I find it pretty simple. Using the cast on and cast off tails I stitch the edges of the fabric together, leaving a hole for my thumb, and hey presto – I have two mitts. 

My first ever finished objects.

I’m chuffed to bits with my mitts!

I can tell which one I made first and can see a definite progression in the cast on, cast off and selvedge edges.

There’s a phrase my teenage daughters like to say when they are shaping their eyebrows, “they should be like sisters, not twins”. I think this sums up my mitts. They are very similar, but not identical (and I love them both).

Another mistake I made – my swatch was useless. I knitted it in garter stitch. Garter stitch is not used in the pattern at all. I counted 20 stitches over 4 inches on the swatch, but actually achieved 24 stitches over 4 inches in the finished mitts. Luckily they fit fine, but if this was a sweater I could have been in a spot of bother!

The book: If you are considering learning to knit, or would like to encourage someone to do so – we have copies of the book I’m using in the shop.

The yarn: The pattern calls for a DK/light worsted weight yarn. I chose to use KDD & Co. Buachaille which is a 2 ply, worsted-spun, 100% wool yarn in colour Haar (natural silver grey). This is a natural fleece yarn with subtle variations of colour throughout and, as you can see from the photographs, it has a lovely woolly halo. The yarn is available in the shop.

I’ve caught the knitting bug. I can’t wait to start project two (which I’ll tell you about next week).


63 thoughts on “My first knit project

  1. I suppose knitting may have been like this once upon a time, for me- but given that I started nearly 67 years ago, I really do NOT remember!!!!! Although I do recall my seven year old amazement at watching my class mates knit socks on Double Pointed needles. This was at Buchanan School- Kate may see the old school if she goes through the village on the way to Balmaha- it is now a private dwelling, as is also (I think) the cottage where the Senior Mistress used to live.


    1. Strong work. So so excited for you! Way to persevere through a couple of bumps that derail most. I’m super impressed. I’ve stated attending a knitting group mostly for beginners even though I’m not and it’s such fun to add new folks to the clan! What’s next?!?!?!


  2. Well done on your first (beautiful) project! I remember when I got the bug again as an adult… now I always have a part of the year when the needles come out and I start work on a knitting project. It’s addictive!!!


  3. Jane, great job on the mitts! Can’t wait to hear about your next project. One of the most important thing to learn is how to read your knitting, so you can pick it up, look at the stitches and know if you jist knit or you just purled. And as one who would not willingly attend a meeting without my sock or hat knitting, I can testify that if you keep practicing you will get to the point of being able to knit and… most anything. Except text. 🤪


  4. Well done. Whoever said knitting was not stressful & relaxing clearly had been knitting for so many years they had forgotten what it’s like to learn new stitches..lol. At my knit club the air is still occassionally turned blue with exasperation..lol.
    Kudos to you for your tenacity, it really gives you a great sense of satisfaction when a project is complete. ‘I did this’ always produces a wee glow.
    Wishing you luck with your next project. You will soon learn to ‘read back your knitting’ & by that I mean you will pick it up & be able to identify by the shape of the different stitches what row has gone before. It takes time but it becomes second nature.
    Enjoyed your post!


  5. I’m really enjoying your blog posts, Jane. We’ve all been there at the start of our knitting. My poor husband got a Herdwick sweater with a tight/scratchy neck because I didn’t cast off in rib. Also, I never thought to sort it out.
    Those extra stitches too – I remember work that grew at each side so heaven knows what I was doing.
    I see the good advice about recognising the purl bumps and smoother knit stitches. When you are doing rib or stocking stitch, then you always knit when you see the smooth V or purl when you reach a bump. You notice when you’ve gone wrong too, before knitting too much further. Being able to ‘read’ your knitting as you go along really helps.
    I still make mistakes though, even though I’ve knitted for years. Sometimes when I’m not looking the needle goes into the row below and creates a bump. That’s when that dropping down the stitches trick that you have learned comes in really handy.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Your mitts are fab! The best step you can take is sitting back and realising that knitting is a physical process…so mistakes can be corrected by just thinking back a few steps. Also my motto is “it’s only yarn”….if there’s a mistake..nobody gets sick or dies. So many mistakes can be corrected without ripping everything back if you think through what should have happened to the stitches that went wrong and get out your trusty crochet hook!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations, they look great! I uaually make a pair of mitts when I come across a new yarn and want to see how it performs and washes! At best you have another useful item. At worst you know only to use that yarn in certain circumstances. I have a simple row counter that you click when you complete a row. Wouldn’t be without it – or stitch markers.


  8. That was a fun read…esp the ‘sisters not twins’ Brilliant and you have learned so much. Nice job and they FIT!!
    Keep at it and Best wishes to Kate.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Wonderful job on your first project! I admire your persistence and your positive attitude as you embark on this very addictive – and sometimes – frustrating hobby. How could the entire KDD family not rub off on you eventually! And to make something that you can actually wear as your first attempt – brilliant!

    Best wishes to Kate!


  10. And you do look “chuffed to bits”! So sweet! Congrats on finishing your first project. Thanks for sharing your process with us in an enjoyable and engaging way. I look forward to following your future adventures in knitting.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Congratulations on your beautiful mitts! They’re really lovely. Here’s mnemonic that helped me when I was starting out: purl stitches have a “purl bump,” which is easy to remember if you think purl and pearl.

    Best wishes to Kate, please. ❤️


  12. Congratulations on your first finished, wearable object. Your mitts look terrific! You’ve received a lot of good tips in the previous comments, but I would suggest is when you choose a new pattern to knit, add a new skill. That way you will increase your knowledge and ability but by adding only one or maybe two new skills (ie: stitch pattern and shaping) you won’t overwhelm yourself with reaching too far and then feeling frustrated. Working on small projects, like mitts or hats, can still introduce you to new skills but will be finished fairly quickly so that you also feel the satisfaction of completion. I hope you continue to enjoy knitting. I also appreciate the conitnuing newsletter and send my best wishes to Kate for a speedy recovery. She is very much missed.


  13. Well done! Both the knitting and the writing! You convey so well those first awkward steps and the progress to learning.
    And I love your daughters’ advice about eyebrow shaping—like sisters not twins. Such wavy girls!
    Well done!


  14. Just want to say “awesome”! I have only been knitting about 2-½ years and so can totally relate to what you are going through – I wish you the best of time learning and doing, and lots of fun projects! :-)


  15. Congratulations, Jane! It’s always so exciting to finish that first project (or any project some days). I always tend to use a larger needle by one or even two sizes sometimes when casting on or binding off as I tend to be tight with stitches then and it seems to help. As to ripping out and starting over…..I am a BIG believer in the thought that knitters need to know how to unknit as much as they need to know how to knit. I made a sweater once and it was a design that left me with too much fabric down the front – I wouldn’t wear it. I took it to my group and showed them, announced (to many groans and protests) that I was going to go home and take it apart and repurpose the yarn and did exactly that. I now have a sweater I truly love. I also just undid the body of a sweater – gauge was spot on but the size turned out to be too large even looking carefully at the pattern beforehand. I will now have a sweater I love once again. Keep on knitting! <3


  16. Your mitts are wonderful and I do love your blogs! Yea, you have the knitting bug now! When I first was making projects my bind off was tight, a friend suggested I use a needle one size larger just for the bind off and that made it easier until I got use to binding off and now use the same size needles for casting on and binding off. We just need to be patient until our hands remember what they are doing.

    Excellent job Jane, both with knitting and writing about it!


  17. Well done! Lovely mitts! My advice is to learn to “read” your knitting, which will help you understand where you are in the row. When you are doing stockinette or ribbing (just purling and knitting), the “bump” stitches are purls and the smooth v stitches are knits. Garter stitch is harder to read, I find, but stockinette is easy once you get the hang of it! I am not one for complicated patterns either–I can knit while doing other things, but I can’t count rows on a chart or do much more than a four row all over pattern if so. (Hence why I stick with simple patterns like the Carbeth!)

    Yay for knitting success!!


  18. Well done – completing something wearable is such a good feeling and a boost to the confidence too.
    I’m enjoying the contributions from the team, and echo everyone’s best wishes to Kate, you and the team.


  19. You are progressing so well Jane! The only way to learn how to “read your knitting” is to make a bunch of scary mistakes that seem huge but are really quite solvable as soon as you can really see what’s going on. I don’t think there’s any way other than to go through that phase and you are embracing it. Everyone starts off knitting less skilled than they will become. Most people quit because they don’t like the feeling of knowing nothing. But that’s the only way to get from here to there. The sooner you learn one knitting skill, the sooner you can move on to learning the next one!


  20. I’m enjoying your account of your learning experiences too. The more you do the easier it’ll become as your muscles start to remember. Keep using the best wool you can – it makes all the difference.

    Best wishes to you and Kate


  21. Oh, Jane, that was absolutely lovely. It takes a knitter back…mistakes are how to learn. I once frogged an entire sweater. And I constantly make mistakes that require tinking at best. “I love to knit,” I repeat over and over. Because I do. Knitting is mediation for me; a chance to switch off and make one stitch and another and another. I lose myself in the spun woolen fabric I create. Wishing you many years of such happiness. Honored to share this journey with you. Your writing is most charming. Love to Kate.


  22. Much better at my first attempt at mitts, which I did after knitting for about a year. One is at least 10% bigger than the other, so sadly, not even wearable. I’m impressed that you managed two similar sizes/tensions, and that you fixed a dropped stitch. Clever person!


  23. Well done Jane, you’ve caught the bug! Making mistakes is an important part of the process as you’ll learn how to troubleshoot rather than panicking. Happy learning and experimenting.


  24. Hello Jane,
    Many congratulations, and well done. You already have a skill – fixing a dropped stitch- that takes many knitters a long time to learn. One little trick that I have found to be sanity-saving: use some sort of marker clipped to the right side of your knitting and just move it up as the fabric grows. I like the plastic locking markers from Clover, but a safety pin works too. Or you can dive down the Etsy rabbit hole of beautiful progress keepers. The reason I like locking plastic markers is that they are useful in a pinch for grabbing and containing a dropped stitch, marking where you’ve made a mistake to come back to, or placing a marker on your needle when you want to keep count.
    I’ve been knitting for over fifty years, and Kate’s designs are a joy, as is her yarn. I am still learning with every project.
    One suggestion I have is that as your budget allows, you invest in the best tools you can afford. I have bought interchangeable sets of Addi circulars in both the lace and turbo tips. There are other brands, and this is a heated topic among knitters who have different preferences. But it has been a long time since I have used straight needles, as I find circulars more versatile and easier on joints. You will hopefully be knitting a long time, and repetitive strain injury is something to prevent.
    Please would you convey my best wishes to Kate for a return to good health.
    Warm regards,


  25. Jane, your mitts are great!! And your knitting is improving each time you pick up the needles and yarn. Can’t wait to see what you choose to knit next!! Isn’t it great fun in this Big Fuzzy Rabbit Hole??
    Please give my best wishes to Kate. I hope her health is progressing and I really miss hearing from her.


  26. Your message and mitts are lovely. I, too, believe in sisters not twins for mittens and socks. Knitting is exciting. After awhile your hands will “just know” the stitches, and you’ll look down at all the progress you made wondering how you were able to knit so much while riding around, watching tv, in meetings.

    Knitting with wool is my favorite. I love breed specific yarns. At this stage in my knitting life, I refuse to knit with acrylic of any sort. After knitting with natural fibers, the acrylic doesn’t feel right.


    1. Well done Jane, you have certainly made great progress and you have a useful pair of mitts!

      Best wishes to all at KDD, especially to Kate.


  27. Hi Jane, I think your mitts are great, congratulations. Does your book have a section on reading your knitting? It’s fairly simple to see the difference between a knit and a purl stitch. Then a quick look at your knitting would tell you what stitch comes next. A knit stitch just has the open ‘V’ under it, and a purl stitch has a bar across the base of it, known as a purl bump. I hope this helps x


    1. There is a section in the book on reading your knitting. At the start it was difficult to know what I was looking at, but I’m getting there. Thanks for your advice. – Jane


  28. So lovely! I think you are making giant leaps – fixing your mistakes in your first project seems scary to new knitters, but you did it! You made my day a bit brighter with this post, thank you. Keep up your enthusiasm.


  29. There you go! Once you’ve mastered knit and purl, all the rest is refinement! Keep on knitting and before you know it, you will be doing color work, cables and lace.


  30. Hi Jane
    Your mittens are brilliant, a lovely first project. Many years ago my first project was knitting little purses, which where a big hit with my friends, there’s nothing like that feeling that you’ve made something beautiful and useful.
    To help counting rows I’ve recently brought a little digital row counter from Etsy, I had two at a reasonable price and it beats keeping track of my rows using five bar gates on bits of paper.
    can’t wait to see your next project.


  31. Well done Jane – and mitts have been my great discovery recently! So quick to knit, to useful to wear except on the very coldest days…. How I laughed at your description of your wee disaster, remembering my own learning days, as a young teen – oh and there was that cabling disaster last week – perhaps I shouldn’t laugh so much!
    I do agree with you about LYS which only sell acrylic wool…getting nice yarn was one of the reasons I went off knitting for so long. However, there is hope!


    1. Well done Jane, your mitts look brilliant and
      you made me laugh a few times with your
      journey to your first finished project. It really cheered me up. I badly fractured my wrist
      last week and can’t knit just now, missing it
      so much, so it’s good to live it through your
      story, looking forward to reading more.
      Kind regards and wishes to Kate too,


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