As a beginning knitter, I quickly learned that I needed a challenge of knitting beyond scarves. In this post, I’ll share the kinds of patterns that I enjoy knitting most. They may look challenging, but they’re surprisingly achievable once you’re bored of knitting rectangles.
Beginning with Scarves
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I feel like most beginning knitters start with scarves. I certainly did. They’re rectangles (generally speaking), and that helps a knitter to easily keep track of and maintain the stitch count. The repetition of doing the same thing over and over also helps a beginning knitter improve their stitches and tension.
I learned to knit during my final few months of University, when I had far more free time than my husband (boyfriend at the time), who was busy finishing his thesis. He suggested I learn to knit, and so I bought a book to teach myself, Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook, plus chunky yarn and large needles.
I found the book’s diagrams very clear and easy to follow, and quickly got the hang of the basics on my own. My first project was a striped scarf for myself. I used tan and burgundy yarn with extra little loops that was terrible to learn with. I don’t think I wore that scarf once. There aren’t any photos of it, but trust me – it was not beautiful.
The second scarf I made was better – it was for my husband, knitted in a ribbed pattern, and in a self-patterning worsted yarn of deep blue with grey. I don’t think we still have that scarf either, but it did get worn. But after making only two scarves, I was bored of rectangles already.
Knitting Beyond Scarves – Hooked on 3D Shapes
In my opinion, knitting is great because there are really only 2 stitches, knit and purl. And by making slight variations to how you do those two stitches, you can make increases or decreases. Over rows, those increases and decreases add shape to the fabric you’re creating. And before you know it, with maybe a bit of seams and stuffing, you’ve got a 3D shape – or creature!
I always found it fascinating that I could take strands of yarn, and turn them into 3D shapes, like sculpting but with knitted fabric. And once I tried it, I found it way more exciting that knitting straight rows over and over on a long scarf. I was excited to take my knitting beyond basic scarves and to create interesting creatures with personality.
Knitting stuffed toys – way more exciting than rectangles
The first 3-dimensional knitted toy I made was a penguin. I found a pattern for a penguin in my pattern binder, but it looks very little like this penguin. So either I used another pattern, or I did a terrible job of following the pattern!
I made this penguin just for the enjoyment of it, and I don’t have him anymore, so all I have is this old photograph.
After the penguin, the next toy I made was a bunny as a baby gift for my cousin’s baby. I found embroidering the face too intimidating at that time, so my mom did it for me.
The bunny pattern came from this book, Knitted Toys by Zoe Mellor. (A little note: Yes, those are teeth marks in the bottom corner of the book. When Oliver was a puppy, I did a lot of knitting and I kept my knitting books on the lower shelf of the living room side table with a lovely handmade ceramic yarn bowl I bought from Etsy on top. Oliver chewed the corners of all those books, some worse than others. And that yarn bowl got a good nose-push off the stack, and sadly broke into many pieces. Everything was then moved well out of reach until he was trustworthy . . .)
Many of our cousins were having babies, and I loved knitting stuffed toys for them. But because they were all gifts, I don’t have any of those knitted items anymore. Luckily I found some decent photographs of several of the knitted toys I made.
I made a few patterns from the book Itty Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson. It’s so handy to knit a pattern from it because it is spiral bound.
My favourite pattern from that book is the Mom and baby koala that hug. It reminded me of some stuffed koala toys that my grandma used to have that I liked playing with.
Knitted Wild Animals by Sarah Keen is another great book.
These animals were all knitted from patterns from that book. I really enjoyed these patterns.
I made several changes to the giraffe, as you can see from the original shown on the back cover.
Why I Like Knitting Stuffed Toys – And I Think You Will Too
I like knitting stuffed toys for many reasons. But the main reason is that I get bored quickly. Knitting a long rectangular scarf with the same number of stitches in each row isn’t exciting to me, personally. I much prefer working on a whole bunch of smaller pieces, where each one is different. The more small pieces there are, the more I can feel like celebrating when I finish each one. Another step closer to the finished project – or instant gratification many times over!
In addition, I really like the magic of being able to create a toy that has personality. By making choices about what type of yarn to use, the colour, or how full to stuff it, you can change the look of the piece. The face especially has a big impact on the personality of the toy. And of course, you don’t need to feel limited if you don’t like everything about a pattern. With practice, you can make tweaks and make a piece truly your own.
And lastly, these stuffed toys look difficult, but they’re truly not that hard to master. You might find yourself daunted as a relatively new beginner with only a couple of simple projects under your belt. But rest assured with the support of some Youtube videos to master the increase and decrease stitches, if you can knit and purl, you can make knitted toys. They will stretch your skills and keep you engaged.
Knitting Beyond Boring Scarves – Interesting Patterns to Challenge and Engage You
If you have already mastered rectangular scarves and basic hats, and are looking at knitting beyond basic scarves, but aren’t interested in making knitted toys, I’ve still got you covered!
Check our Morehouse Farm’s PDF Knitting Patterns where they have tons of patterns in all varieties and categories. My favourite though, is their Critter Knits section. Here you’ll find all sorts of hats, scarves, bags, mittens, etc. that are absolutely adorable and won’t leave you bored by rectangles again. I knitted their Frog Scarf one year as a gift. The only challenging part will be choosing from all of their wonderful patterns.
Check out my Holiday Knitting Pattern Roundup for 11 of my favourite knitting patterns from Etsy.
Do you knit but don’t know how to crochet yet? To read about a great pattern to teach yourself to crochet, click here.
What do you like to knit most?
I want to hear from you. Are you a knitter? (Or crocheter!) What do you like to knit most? Functional pieces for winter like hats, mittens or socks? Larger projects like sweaters and blankets? Or maybe you like to knit quicker, playful pieces like I do. Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,