Let's pretend you weren't already a knitter…
…what would turn you into one? What kind of pattern would make you want to pick up those needles?
For me, it would have to be something that looked amazing, but not intimidating. Something that wasn't just a ribbed scarf, but also didn't look like it had been whipped up by a hundred Shetland elves in a hundred hours.
I happen to have a dear friend (hi, Nita!) whose creativity has, so far, extended to painting, sewing and embroidery, but not knitting. I want to change that. So I made her a bundle.* (I'm sharing it with you in case you, too, have such a friend.) It's a bundle rich in colour and texture and surprising shapes. Many of the patterns aren't suitable for complete beginners, but most of them add just one or maybe two ingredients to the basic knit/purl mix: increases and decreases, say, or a simple stitch pattern, or stripes. A lot of them would be suitable for a first go at a particular technique, be it short rows or knitting in the round. A few are possibly a bit more complicated, but small enough to be manageable. (Pro tip: modular projects like blankets are brilliant for trying out new things. Especially if you happen to have a kid who'd enjoy, say, a doll blanket if you get bored halfway.) They're all things I'd enjoy knitting myself – it's a boredom-free zone.
And the thing I want her to try right now? Louise Zass-Bangham's Foolproof Cowl. It's ridiculously clever and requires only simple increases and decreases – no tricky cast-ons, picking up stitches, seaming, none of the things that can be such a turn-off when you really just want to practise your actual knitting. Huge fun. Part of the fun of course is mixing colours, but using a funky handpainted or gradient yarn would also give great results without the stress of carrying yarn up the sides.
(One bonus recommendation: while skipping the cast-on and cast-off is undeniably a draw, those are vital skills. Winnie Shih's Swiss Cheese Scarf is the perfect project to practise them.
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* Ravelry bundles are brilliant, aren't they? Want to share your favourites?