First scarf, first hat; how Kari learned to knit

Which comes first, the scarf or the hat?

I had the vision for the first scarf I wanted to make, before I even knew HOW I was going to learn to knit.

My husband and I were moving to NYC. He was headed to Julliard and I was headed to Teachers College. I knew Julia Roberts had an office in the city, and that she was a knitter. I imagined meeting her and saying casually, “oh, we have something in common! I know how to knit too!” Then she’d introduce me to all her friends.

I would knit a gray scarf, endlessly long, and wear an all-black cosmopolitan wardrobe. I would also cut my hair pixie-short.

My first scarf

After learning to knit from my great-aunt Mary, I made that scarf. Everywhere I went, one row at a time. I even tried knitting rows “blind” while watching a play in New Haven.

The scarf accompanied me on outings in the city, to New Jersey when I was pregnant with Andrew, and on my first trip to London. Here I am at the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral. (The scarf did nothing to cure my vertigo coming back down.)

first scarf knitting beginner
Kindly ignore the fake smile and admire the even garter stitch!

My first hat

My beautiful sister-in-law Janel told me how to make a hat. I think I taught her to knit, technically; but she’s expanded creatively far beyond what I tend to do (which is to stick to one thing and do it again and again and again.) She explained that if I cast on enough stitches to fit around my head, and knit back and forth for about nine inches, then decrease, I’ll have a hat!

By golly she was right! I sat there in her apartment and tried it for myself. Please forgive me, it was the fun fur/eyelash yarn era and I combined purple eyelash yarn with purple acrylic yarn. I looked like a wintertime synchronized swimmer. The purple ribbon I threaded through the brim really jazzed it up 🙂

first scarf first hat knitting beginner
Posing with Andrew’s childhood hero. I’m the one on the right.

How about you, dear reader? Was your first project a scarf, a hat, or something else? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

13 thoughts on “First scarf, first hat; how Kari learned to knit

  1. My first knit project was a scarf that I made for my daughter in law’s birthday. It was made of a variegated chunky Berocco yarn, and was all in garter stitch. It took me a long time, if I remember correctly; maybe a full month. I was so proud to have completed a whole scarf, fringe and all! Then I got ambitious and tried to make a coordinating hat. I wanted it to have a drawstring gather at the top so she could pop her ponytail out of it. That hat was in a soft wool/acrylic brand that I don’t remember, except to say that it came from Hobby Lobby. I still had not discovered a local yarn shop and began the true addiction that is yarn. Lovely yarns! Can’t get enough yarn, ever…

    1. Thanks, Becca! Do you remember if you used worsted weight or bulky weight yarn? Did you double it over to make a pot holder?

      1. I used worsted weight yarn and no I did not double it, I did the whole thing in single crochet and I was only about 10 yrs old. It took me about 3 days.

  2. My first project was a dishcloth….easy to master the basics, a quick knit, and not costly. Can always use a new dishcloth!

  3. I think hats are a little too complicated to begin with, so I would start with a dishcloth or washcloth square with worsted weight yarn. You could make several of them while practicing different stitches.

  4. I think beginners should start with a dishcloth. They become tattered quickly (thanks to sharp knives and such in the dish water), so mistakes will be hidden in the fuzzy fibers quickly. And no one ever has enough dish cloths!

  5. I learned to knit as a young child. My first project was definitely a scarf. I still enjoy knitting scarves although I’ve moved past garter stitch and designed several. When I teach knitting, I typically find that my students want to knit a scarf. Learning to decrease to knit a hat usually comes later.

  6. You asked recently what should the beginner begin with. As a self taught knitter/crocheted/tatter I have begun many projects and finished few, probably hold the needles wrong, go really slow, forget how to do the stitches, couldn’t find good enough pics for instructions. Why? Time and interest are the biggest reasons plus lazyness. So scarf or hat? Neither. Find a beginner version of whatever inspired you to pick up knitting needles in the first place—a sweater, shawl, sock for a sock monkey, whatever made you say “wow! I want that, and I think I can do it!” That spark is what will get you thru the tedium of the repetition of stitches while learning; it will carry you past any discouragement and on to the last button on a great first sweater. Then give that sweater to your sister, and start the next one. At some point you will end up saying what my niece did a couple months ago, “this is the first time I’ve INTENTIONALLY knitted something with holes in it!”

  7. My very first knitting project when I learned to knit was a washcloth/dishcloth. I didn’t have cotton yarn at the time so I used acrylic which by the way. Word of advice, worsted weight acrylic yarn excellent for dishcloths, not so much for a washcloth. Then I did scarves for my whole family and then I went from there.

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