Learn How To Knit

by Bobski606

Learn the basics of knitting to create beautiful handmade items from the very beginning.

Knitting is a fabulous way of making special hand-crafted items for you and your loved ones. As with all crafts you have to start somewhere and knitting is no exception; even with a simple garter stitch (all knit stitch back and forth across the needles) you can make some beautiful pieces with a little bit of imagination.

Once you have learned how to do the two basic stitches, knit stitch and purl stitch, you will be well on your way to being a successful knitter. With these two basic stitches and a wide variety of knitting needles and yarns you'll go from making a simple washcloth to socks and then sweaters with a professional appearance.

Before You Begin To Knit

What To Do Before The Needles

Now, before you go rushing off to purchase some knitting needles and yarn we'll need to cover off a couple of things first:

  • Pattern: pick something simple like a Beanie Hat or scarf
  • Needles: needle size will impact the size and tension of you item, make sure you read the pattern carefully as it will tell you the appropriate style and size
  • Yarn: your pattern will tell you how much yarn to acquire and what type of yarn but you will have complete control of the color scheme
  • Gauge: this means "how many stitches do I get per inch" and is a great way for deciding which size of garment you will be needed to make based off your measurement
  • Terminology: most expressions used in knitting are fairly straight forward but if your pattern requires an unusual stitch type it will give you some written or visual instructions on how to accomplish it
  • Casting On: the video below will explain how to do this and your pattern will indicate how many to cast on

Knitting Experience

What is your level of experience with knitting?

Selecting Your Needles

How To Chose The Right Needles For Your Project

Choosing the right needles for your yarn can have a huge impact on how your project turns out. When you select your yarn it will usually tell you on the label what size needles you should use to get the correct gauge (stitch size for the yarn) on your project.

There are many types of knitting needles that you can chose from and they also come in a variety of knitting needles too. For more information about this then check out An Introduction To Knitting Needles.

How To Cast On

Long tail method

Knit and Purl Stitches

The Two Basic Stitches

Basic Knitting Patterns

What Should I Knit?

There are plenty of patterns to start with and the classic one is a scarf. You also can't go wrong with a wash cloth, tea towel or pot holder.

Easy Scarf Pattern

For a 60 inch scarf you'll first want to get yourself 3 skeins of worsted weight yarn (see above for some assorted variations) and size US 8 or 5.0 mm needles. 

Start by using the long tail cast on method and put 40 stitches on your working needle. With the knit and purl stitches you can create at least four different patterns for your scarf:

  1. Garter stitch: knit every stitch on both right and wrong sides
  2. Stockinette stitch: knit every stitch on the right side and purl every stitch on the wrong side
  3. Seed stitch: alternate between knit and purl on right side and then swap to alternating purl and knit on the wrong side
  4. Ribbing: usually done in 1x1, 2x2, or 4x4 meaning 1 knit and 1 purl then repeat until the end; 2 knit then 2 purl then repeat until the end; 4 knit and 4 purl then repeat until the end.

Carry on in your preferred stitch pattern until you reach approximately 60 inches and then follow the bind off and blocking instructions below. 

Wash Cloth or Tea Towel

Both of these are very similar to the scarf just smaller. You will want to switch to a US size 6 or 4 mm and a double knit (DK) weight yarn which is a little lighter. With these two items you can cast on as many stitches as you like and keep going back and forth until you have your desired length.

Pot Holder

Making a pot holder can be a little tricky as you will want to make sure that the finished product is thick enough so as not to burn you or through to any surface the pot is sat on. 

I would recommend choosing a thicker wool such as worsted or chunky and either double up the yarn whilst you are knitting or make double the length and fold in half and sew together if you wanted to put a heat resistance material in between.


Fixing Mistakes

As a new knitter there are going to be plenty of times that you will make a mistake and find that you will need to go back and fix it. However, don't worry about having to rip back all of your work and having to start again as there are ways you can fix it: How To Fix Knitting Errors.

Binding Off

You're Not Done Yet

So you've managed to stick with your project through thick and thin and now it's time to get the project off your needles into the big wide world. In order to set your project free you will need to bind off the stitches which removes them from your working needle one by one.

The video below will talk you through step by step on how to bind off the correct way, however be aware that there are multiple ways to bind off. If you have a nice simple garter or stockinette stitch then you will be completely fine with binding off in the "normal" way but if you have an alternating pattern the you will bind off in pattern, i.e. bind off the knit stitches with a knit bind off and for the purl stitches you would bind off with a purl bind off. Please see the video for more instruction.

Binding Off

How To Get Your Project Off The Needle

Blocking Your Work

The Final Steps

With many fiber projects you will find that they don't quite look right compared the cover photo on your pattern. Fear Not! This is normal for many yarns that do not contain any nylon or acrylic and there is a way to solve your problem. 

Why Would I Want To Block A Garment?

As you knit the yarn fibers become stressed and will become tight which can cause the finished garment to appear wonky or smaller than expected. You will also find that certain stitch patterns will need to be blocked as they have a tendency to roll back on themselves or curl up and not lay flat; some patterns do require this effect however most require the garment to be flat when finished.

To solve this problem all you need to do is:

  • Soak your item in any brand of Wool Wash
  • Remove as much excess water that you can without twisting the item (folding it up in a thick towel and the pressing down usually works)
  • Pin your garment to the desired shape and leave to air dry

Once your garment is dry the wool would of relaxed into its intended shape and size and lo and behold this is now what you expected it to look like.

When stretching out the garment during the pinning time be careful not to over-block as the yarn will not retain it's "spring" and will sag in places it's not supposed to.

*Acrylic or plastic yarns can be the exception to the rule with the traditional blocking methods so if you are struggling then check out How To Block Acrylic Yarn.

More Easy Patterns

Knitting Patterns For Beginners With A Little Experience

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Updated: 09/03/2017, Bobski606
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Bobski606 on 03/11/2017

Thanks Frank, I'll check out that article on male knitting.

frankbeswick on 03/11/2017

Yes. In a land that made its living from wool and cotton, there were males who earned from the wool business. Before industrialization whole families were involved in textiles, weaving and making woolens at home, and men and women did the same tasks. How many men knitted I know not, but when they did it would be woolens for sale.

Just type in Bros and Rows for an article in The Huffington Post about the history of male knitting. In mediaeval England there were craft guilds of male knitters, something that I discovered in that article.

Deep down many males yearn to do peaceful, creative activities and be free from the expectations that you must be macho and competitive to be male, and knitting is one such activity that fits the bill very well.

Bobski606 on 03/11/2017

@ frankbeswick, I didn't know that fact of men knitting in the 18th century. I believe it male knitters are starting to make a come back again though from the youtube videos and other blogs that I follow.

frankbeswick on 03/11/2017

A related skill is darning,in which a patch in a woolen garment is mended with strands of wool. My mother darned many of our clothes.

frankbeswick on 03/10/2017

Men knitting was not unusual, for in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries English males wove and knitted. There were very many men involved in textiles made of cotton and wool. Only as the nineteenth century progressed and sex roles become more stereotypical did knitting come to be seen as essentially female task.

dustytoes on 03/10/2017

I love that people all ages are knitting these days, and even men and boys! I am just finishing up an article on one of my blogs about how good knitting is for lowering blood pressure, and relieving stress.
Handmade yarn gifts are treasures to keep and pass down through generations.

frankbeswick on 03/10/2017

We know that my grand-daughter liked the scarf as when my wife wears it, Sophie reaches out for it and takes it to play with.

Veronica on 03/10/2017

Yes indeed. I love knitting I don't do fancy things but people like what I make. I made a scarf for Frank Beswick's wife and she loved it so much. Frank's granddaughter aged 18 months loved it too so I made her one for Christmas.

Every Fall/ Autumn I knit hats scarfs and mittens for my grand children to see them through winter.

Our mother taught me.

frankbeswick on 03/10/2017

This article brings back memories! My mother was keen on knitting, and she made many clothes for us by using this skill, all made by hand without a knitting machine. For a not well off working class family, her knitting was a blessing, as it saved so much money that would otherwise have had to be spent on purchasing clothes.

Bobski606 on 03/09/2017

Thanks for stopping by dustytoes, I love using the long tail cast on method and find it the easiest one to use.

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