A few months ago, when Jane decided to learn to knit, I thought it might be nice to design a few things just for her. Simple patterns aimed at beginner knitters are sometimes not terribly exciting, either in the making or the wearing, so I set myself the challenge of designing some simple patterns that were also interesting and fun for someone who was just starting out on their knitting journey. My aim was to create designs that were pretty straightforward to knit, but which also had very strong visual appeal. I wanted the beginner knitter to look at the design and think “can I really make that?” and for the pattern to answer “yes, you can.”
Having learned to knit as a child, Jane re-taught herself the knitterly basics with the help of Pompom’s Knit: How book, some video tutorials, her mum, and a few pointers from Mel and myself. I think this combination of self-teaching from a book, visual learning from the internet, and some personal / community support, sums up how most people become knitters these days. But then, having acquired a great set of basic skills, there’s often a place where the knitter looks at the incredible range of patterns that are available on Ravelry, feels somewhat overwhelmed, stalls, and thinks “I could never make that.”
I wanted to create a group of simple patterns that would assure bold beginners like Jane that they really could make fabulous and interesting knits, right from the off. So when I began work on these designs, I simply assumed that a beginner would have four pairs of basic skills (cast on / bind off; knit / purl; increase / decrease; knit back and forth / knit in the round). With those skills under their knitterly belt, they would be all set.
This blanket is the first design from Bold Beginner Knits. Because of its hive-like hexagonal motifs, I’ve named it Skep – after a traditional beehive. I think there’s something very approachable about a modular construction. Working on small, single motifs is always manageable, rather than overwhelming. And blankets based on geometric shapes are also inherently visually appealing because of the way that repeated geometric motifs (however simple they are) lend apparent complexity to knitted fabric. I learned this modular simplicity / visual complexity lesson myself a dozen years ago when I knitted Norah Gaughan’s famed capecho. The piece looked so amazing . . . the pattern so very daunting . . . but the hexagonal repeats and modular construction of the garment were in practice surprisingly straightforward. The capecho was a revelatory knit for me! And Skep’s motifs and construction are so much simpler than Gaughan’s cable and rib design – the blanket is essentially just garter stitch and decreases, in a range of different colours, all joined together.
When working on Skep, you might acquire some new techniques: garter stitch in the round; centred double decreases; picking up stitches; three needle bind-off. And as each hexagonal motif has to be blocked to size before being joined together, you might also learn something about the importance of blocking and its transformative effect on knitted fabric.
I knitted all of the motifs in this blanket back in March, when I was really very unwell. And as well as being great for beginners, simple, modular, knits can also be very useful when one is struggling: in knitting a single hexagon, you aren’t taking on too much; a range of shades makes each motif a new experience; the creation and completion of each hexagon brings its own sense of joyful achievement, and as the pile of squishy motifs grows, it affords many pleasures of colourful accumulation. I was honestly not in a good place while I was making this blanket, but knitting it was a very sustaining process for me, and I love the finished object with a passion. The very making of the blanket narrated its own course through difficult times. (I know many of you might say the same of many of your own projects, and I have been really stimulated and inspired reading your comments on my last post). And while I knitted this particular blanket sample, our Bold Beginner, Jane, has also been working on her own Skep, and she will say more about her experiences of the pattern next week.
Skep is the first design from Bold Beginner Knits, but what of the rest of the collection? Well, I’ve created:
*A bottom-up yoke pullover
*A top-down cardigan
*A garment that’s knitted from side to side
*A lace-patterned triangular shawl
Each of the three garments and two accessory patterns in the collection introduces different techniques and construction methods, and in each I’ve aimed for a bold visual appeal that belies the straightforward nature of the knitting. All of the patterns in the collection have been designed in Àrd-Thìr – our aran weight yarn which comes in its own beautiful highland palette.
We will be releasing a new pattern from Bold Beginner Knits every couple of weeks, with the collection published as a book and e-book in August. You can now pre-order the print+ebook bundle from the shop to receive each of the patterns delivered to your Ravelry library as they are published, and then receive the book on publication (shipped to any address worldwide). The pre-order price for the print+ebook bundle (with shipping included) is just £15, wherever in the world you are, and represents a 50% saving on purchasing each pattern as an individual download.
To ensure you receive each pattern on the date it is published in your Ravelry library: after placing a pre-order in the shop, wait for your download code to be sent to you by email, pop over to the Bold Beginner Knits ebook page on Ravelry, place the item in your basket and checkout using your code.
I hope you enjoy Bold Beginner Knits!
Preorder Bold Beginner Knits book
Bold Beginner Knits on Ravelry (ebook only option)
Skep individual pattern download
Beautiful blanket. Love modular knits.
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Great idea and lovely patterns!
What a fantastic idea to create such a book Kate.
Did my order go through for Kate’s new book? I don’t see any acknowledgement. I am ElmPark on Ravelry. Thanks for checking Elaine Lim
I’m so happy to know that your health is improving!!
Your new patterns are so tempting that I can’t resist….off to order now!!
Love it. I bought it immediately!!
What a beautiful blanket! Although I’ve knit for 60 years, I’ve never knit a hexagon. There’s always something new to learn. I can see how creating the spines of the hexagon and seeing them form the structure of each piece is so satisfying. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of this collection. Creating blankets is a soothing and reassuring project for me when I’m going through a rough patch. My DH is about to have some surgery with an anticipated unpleasant recovery and right by my side will be my current afghan project. I’m making the pattern up myself and it is being made with my seemingly endless stash of Noro Silk Garden. It will be a combo of randomly colored granny squares framed with rustic solids that I’ve also accumulated over the years. Wishing you continued healing. I’m inspired by you with each post.
Perfect timing! This weekend, I will be helping a friend rediscover her knitting skills after she was taught the basics twenty-five years ago. I am excited that there will be KDD patterns that won’t intimidate her!
Oh happy days! It’s Friday and a lovely new pattern from Kate and I have the sample bag of Ard Thir in my stash!
I have knit for many years and am intrigued by your beginner knitting ideas Kate. These could also be knit as an easy pick up design/ pattern.i do always look forward to reading about your adventures in beautiful Scotland. Thank you for all that you share and do. You are amazing. Sending love 💗
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I’m going to order the bundle. I love this blanket and need that ‘comforting knit’ you are talking about. I knitted your Warriston while my late husband was going thru chemo. It got lots of oohs and aahs from the nurses. I got to wear it the winter he was in remission and it still keeps me warm on cold days. Knitting is my second best companion….the best is my Jack Russell Terrie, Birdie.
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Way to go, Kate!
I’m in a season of life when I’m more or less only capable of stockinette stitch (for good reasons) and I’m knitting all of those feelings and memories into a Northmavine Hoody. There’s a lot of creativity went into the planning and sizing and stuff, but the actual execution is nice and basic. I like that combination in many of your designs.
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I find your books and patterns beautiful to look at but am presently at an age and stage where I need to have something to soothe rather than challenge. I also have a large stash of remnants from years past, Skep is just what I need with the virtuous feeling of thrift and the rhythm of life.
I’m not a beginning knitter, but I just purchased the book because I like the bold, simple design of the blanket and envision it as a way to use some leftover yarn (lots of greys, a family favorite color, and who knows what other colors will end up in there) . Also it will be nice to have simple patterns to show some beginning knitters I know.
Happy Friday indeed! Will there be kits for all of this fun? Thank you, Kate!
My school board finally has a director who takes mental health seriously, for students and staff. I approached him a few months ago about the possibility of using retired teachers who already are in crafting groups to go into a few specific schools and teach the oldest grade students how to knit (ages 12-13). He was wide open to the idea. A book like this would give students something to really shoot for rather than a 6 stitch by 20 row bookmark (which always turns into a lace fan…) :D
Our provincial gov’t is cutting us back in funding but our Retired Teachers group raises funds that I can apply for. So if this proceeds well, I hope to place an order.
I hope we can get schools to see the benefits of not only crafting but of reading as well. I know one ADHD/LD student who sneaks into the library and hides to read during lunch recess. She is just looking for peace during the day. Not everyone wants to be in a yard of boisterous children.
I love this, and am wondering if I could knit it in double knitting and make it bigger, as I have loads of beautiful yarn leftovers I can’t bear to throw away and this woudl be perfect.
absolutely – the blanket is designed to be easily modified by adding / removing motifs to adjust the size
Thank you, this is going on my list then – what a wonderful project.
I was just thinking the same thing. I have a great stash of cotton DK in very bright colours. Could be an interesting knit, and blanket, once finished. Now, to have a look at the stash to see what I really have!
Kate, Skep is amazing! Your idea for bold patterns for beginners is also excellent and I have loved reading Jane’s blog posts on her progress. It was always a bit depressing, back in the day (1970s!!) to realise that you were expected to move on to knitting sweaters in stocking stitch, rather than stylish, fun stuff.
I recently did a Martin Storey KAL blanket all in single-sheep Aran wools and I can see that some of my “spares” may well be heading into Skep, but I shall treat myself to some balls of your Aran as well.
Thanks and have the best summer for you!
I love this idea that you’re introducing a few basic skills with each pattern in a series of patterns.
This blankett is beautiful, and I feel very tempted to knit it:)
Wow, Can’t wait! I also find that some of my knits and other projects absorb whatever I’m feeling or reading or even watching (like “Wallander” for example). I’ll forget about it and then when I wear it suddenly I have all the memories coming out. Places have the same effect.
I’ve got all of your books and have followed you from just after your stroke, I admire you hugely and very happy for the life you have made for you since. I’m knitting Rochoice at the moment. Thanks Kate.
This is genius! I have always thought that it’s better for people to learn to knit (or crochet!) by making *something*, preferably something they want, rather than dull things like practice squares or long scarves. I have taught several people to knit and crochet, and people are more keen to carry on when they want the finished objects. I myself could knit as a child but re-learnt as an adult – I was given a baby knits for beginners book, which was great as I had a baby at that time; but it’s a very specific time that passes! After a few baby items, I made myself Owls – and that’s when I really became a knitter.
What an excellent idea. My daughter is working her way through the book and this will spur her on to greater things. Your blogs are very inspirational to me as I’m getting over a double whammy of bereavement and major illness. When I’m really low I pick up one of your knitting looks and I’m away in a good place. Thanks Kate