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HOW TO KNIT FOR BEGINNERS

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This guide will show you everything you need to get started with knitting.

First, you’ll learn how to get yarn onto the needles. Then, you’ll learn how to make the all-important knit stitch. Lastly, we’ll go over how to get your knitting off the needles.

Sound good? Let’s dive in!

girl knitting with cat illustration

Knitting is as Simple as 1, 2, 3

Knitting boils down to three essential skills. These are the cast on, knit stitch, and the cast off. These three techniques make up the backbone of knitting. Master them and you’re officially a knitter. It’s that simple!yarn being cast on to needle illustration

1.CAST ON

The adventure begins! Transform loose yarn into neat stitches.knit stitch illustration

2.KNIT STITCH

This simple stitch makes up the backbone of knitting.yarn being cast off from needle illustration

3.CAST OFF

Get your knitting off the needles so you can wear it out and proud!

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

GATHER YOUR SUPPLIES

To knit, you’ll need needles and yarn. That’s it! But where to buy them? And what kind of needles and yarn? Thick or thin? Wood or plastic? The options are endless!

YARN: I always recommend a chunky yarn and correspondingly thick needles for beginners because they’re much easier to grip.

In these tutorials I’m using Lion Brand’s Hometown (in color Fort Lauderdale Coral) and 9mm needles.

You don’t need to use the same yarn as me, but try to get yarn that’s at least a medium weight (aka. worsted weight) or thicker. Thinner yarns are harder to control. Not sure what “yarn weight” is? Check out this brief guide to yarn weights.

pink chunky yarn
Super bulky acrylic yarn by Lion Brand Hometown USA
bamboo knitting needles
10mm bamboo needles

TIP: If you’re buying yarn and needles, choose cheap acrylic yarn so that mistakes won’t feel like such a big deal. As a beginner, you’ll make mistakes – and that’s totally normal!

Mistakes are part of the journey, and they’ll hurt less if you’re using inexpensive yarn as opposed to pricey artisan yarn.

NEEDLES: I recommend wood or bamboo needles for beginners. Wood and bamboo have a natural surface drag that “grips” the yarn and make it less slippery than steel or aluminium needles. Plastic needles are okay too.

If you have the choice, go for bamboo or wood. Otherwise, use whatever’s available!

SIZE MATTERS: What needle size do you need? It depends on the yarn you use! When you buy a ball of yarn, the yarn label will usually include a “recommended needle size” listed in millimetres.

Follow the yarn label when you’re first starting out. Going up or down a millimetre won’t be a big deal, but any more and your knitting might be too tight or too loose.

chunky yarn label
Most yarn labels will include a recommended needle size. On this label, a 9mm needle is recommended.

1.

CAST ON

You’ve got needles and a ball of yarn. Now you want to knit something. But how do you get the yarn onto your needles? Enter the cast on!

Casting on is a way to turn loose yarn into neat little stitches that sit perfectly on your needle. It’s the first step in knitting. Watch the video for a full step-by-step tutorial or follow along in 12 steps below. Ready to start? Let’s do this!

https://youtube.com/watch?v=1vm6oaYzHyA%3Frel%3D0
cast on knitting photo gallery
Leave a generous yarn tail & pinch yarn with both hands
cast on knitting photo gallery
Hold the yarn and bring the hands together to make a loop
cast on knitting photo gallery
Hold the loop that you have made in one hand
cast on knitting photo gallery
Grab the yarn that’s unattached to the ball & bring it behind the loop
cast on knitting photo gallery
Pull the strand of yarn through the loop
cast on knitting photo gallery
This little loop is called a slipknot. Your’re ready to cast on with it!
cast on knitting photo gallery
Place a slipknot on the needle and pull yarn tails to tighten
cast on knitting photo gallery
Grab the short yarn tail and give a thumbs up
cast on knitting photo gallery
Swing the thumb behind the yarn
cast on knitting photo gallery
Hook the yarn onto your thumb. Keep a firm grip!
cast on knitting photo gallery
Touch the needle to the front of the thumb…
cast on knitting photo gallery
…and slide the needle into the loop on your thumb
cast on knitting photo gallery
Hold the needle & grab the yarn attached to the ball with right hand
cast on knitting photo gallery
Wrap the yarn around the needle, from the back to the front
cast on knitting photo gallery
Pull down the yarn so it meets the loop on the thumb
cast on knitting photo gallery
Pull the loop on your thumb over the needle.
cast on knitting photo gallery
Place the loop on the needle
cast on knitting photo gallery
Pull down the yarn tail to tighten the new stitch! Repeat steps 2-12

KNIT STITCH

You’ve learned how to turn yarn into stitches – good job! But they can’t just sit there like bumps on a log. They’re waiting to be knit!

The knit stitch is the most basic and fundamental stitch. After all, it’s the namesake of the craft we’re learning. Master the knit stitch and you, my friend, are a bonafide knitter.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Egp4NRhlMDg%3Frel%3D0
knit stitch tutorial step by step
Insert right needle into first stitch, bottom to top
knit stitch tutorial step by step
Push right needle into the stitch
knit stitch tutorial step by step
Grab the yarn attached to the ball of yarn
knit stitch tutorial step by step
Wrap the yarn around the needle, back to front
knit stitch tutorial step by step
Pull yarn down and notice the yarn peeks through the stitch

PEP TALK: Like most skills, knitting takes time to perfect. You probably won’t get the hang of it on your first try. You probably won’t even get it on your second try. The important thing is to keep trying.

Why?

You’ve heard the concept of “muscle memory,” right? It’s the idea that the more you repeat a movement, the more it becomes second nature.

Because the movement is controlled by your subconscious mind instead of your conscious mind, you don’t need to think through each step of a movement. Without thinking, you can just do it. That’s muscle memory!

When you first start knitting, your hands will feel big and clumsy holding those knitting needles. But after practicing, your hands will learn the movement of knitting. It’s almost like your hands have their own brain!

Think of it like learning how to drive. As a new driver, you probably concentrated really hard on how to turn the wheel. Are you turning too hard? Will you hit the curb? Oh my gosh, the light turned yellow. Hit the brake!

You’re a nervous, sweaty mess. But with practice, you learned how much to turn the wheel and how to ease into a stop so you don’t get whiplash. After awhile, driving becomes second nature. Your hands and feet figure out how to coordinate with your eyes and brain to move your car around – no easy feat! That’s the miracle of muscle memory.

So, don’t fret if you don’t get the knit stitch right away. Most people don’t. The more you practice, the faster muscle memory will kick in. Before you know it, you’ll be knitting with your eyes closed. You have muscle memory to thank for that!

2.5

SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND

Here’s some knitting vocabulary for you: those cast on stitches on your needle? That’s called a ROW. Or more specifically, a row of stitches.

When you’ve knit all the stitches on your needle, that means you’ve knit the whole row. Woohoo! That’s a big deal!

So, now what?

Okay, notice that after you’ve completed your row, the yarn is at the left side of your row (aka. the end of your row). In order to keep knitting, you need the yarn at the right side of the row (aka. the beginning of the row).

How to do this?

It couldn’t be easier! Just spin the needle around. Ta-da! The working yarn (aka. the yarn attached to the ball) is now at the right side of the row, and you’ve got a new row of stitches, ready to be knit!

Each time you get to the end of the row, just spin your work around so that the working yarn is on the right. Keep going until your knitting is as long as you want it to be.

CAST OFF

At this point, you’ve got some rows of knitting under your belt. You should be very proud of yourself! You’ve used two sticks to transform a loose bundle of string into a neat little rectangle. Amazing! Now it’s time to get your knitting off the needles.

The cast off will get the job done. This technique is awesome because it means that your project is complete! It’s all grown up, ready to fly off the needles and enter the real world!

https://youtube.com/watch?v=VSwjIUiQZlM%3Frel%3D0

HOT TIP: When casting off, remember that you always need TWO STITCHES on the right needle to cast off. No more and no less. Casting off is a game for two (stitches).

cast off knitting tutorial
Knit two stitches
cast off knitting tutorial
Slide left needle into first stitch
cast off knitting tutorial
Pull the first stitch over the second stitch
cast off knitting tutorial
Continue to pull the first stitch over the second stitch and off the needle
cast off knitting tutorial
There is now one stitch on the right needle. The other has been cast off!
cast off knitting tutorial
When one stitch remain, cut off a 10″ yarn tail
cast off knitting tutorial
Wrap the yarn around the needle
cast off knitting tutorial
Pull the stitch over the yarn tail
cast off knitting tutorial
Pull the yarn tail through the needle

YOU’RE A KNITTER!

“Ce-le-brate good times, come on!” Your knitting is off the needles! This is big!

You conquered the cast on, nailed the knit stitch, spun your needle ’round, and catapulted stitches over each other to cast off.

You, my friend, are a capital-K, grade-A Knitter! *wipes tear* I’m so proud of you!

girl celebrating with cat after learning how to knit

WHAT’S NEXT?

STRUGGLING AND MAKING MISTAKES?

Okay, let’s get real. Not everyone will have a smooth, carefree journey from total beginner to master knitter. You might encounter bumps along the way.

These include: new stitches mysteriously appearing on your needle, knitting that’s too tight or loose and little holes appearing in your work.

These issues are 100% normal for a beginner, so don’t fret! To help you bounce over these hurdles, check out our collection of beginner troubleshooting tutorials:

1. KNIT YOUR FIRST SCARF

Once you’re comfortable with the knit stitch, you’re ready to knit your first scarf. How exciting!

Cast on a number of stitches that is roughly the width you want your scarf to be. Start knitting until your scarf is the length that you like. Then, cast off. That’s it!

My preference is for long, luxurious scarves that wrap around my neck once with a generous length hanging down either side – but that’s just me!

Some like ’em short while others seek a middle ground. As the kids say, you do you. If you’re not sick of me, we can knit a scarf together in this scarf tutorial!

Skills used: cast on, knit stitch, cast off

Difficulty Level: 1/5

2. KNIT AN INFINITY SCARF

If you’ve already knit a scarf and you’re looking for a slightly more challenging project, then this infinity scarf is just the ticket!

You’ll build on your existing skills while learning two new techniques: knitting in the round and the purl stitch. These two techniques alone will open up a world of knitting possibilities!

Follow along with the tutorial to knit the ever-popular Cushy Cowl infinity scarf. This is a circular tube of garter stitch that you can loop around your neck for instant warmth and comfort! Check out the infinity scarf tutorial here.

Skills used: cast on, knitting in the round, knit stitch, purl stitch, cast off

Difficulty Level: 1/5

girl wearing chunky cowl

3. KNIT YOUR FIRST HAT

If you’ve knit the infinity scarf or you’re just ready for a challenge, then get ready to knit your first hat! Build on your knitting skills by learning how to knit in the round and *drumroll, please* how to knit with double pointed needles!

In addition, you’ll learn how to decrease stitches to create a tapered shape and how to knit a simple rib stitch using knit and purls. Oh yeah, you’ll also learn how to make and attach a big, fluffy pom pom!

Follow along with the tutorial and knit the Big Hat, one of our most popular patterns.

Skills used: cast on, knitting in the round, knitting with DPNs (double pointed needles), decreasing, knit stitch, cast off, making a pom pom

Difficulty Level: 2/5

girl wearing red knit hat
girl wearing red knit hat

4. CHECK OUT THE PATTERN LIBRARY FOR PROJECTS

Do you have the knitting bug? Are you itching to cast on a new project? If so, check out pattern library for inspiration.

Go ahead and pin your favourite projects, save them for later, or cast on right away! The pattern library includes a mix of free and premium patterns, along with video tutorials that walk you through each step.

Visit the Knitting Pattern Library here.

girl wearing grey slouchy hat
white raglan sweater
girl wearing pink pom pom scarf
woman wearing grey infinity scarf
knitting on bamboo needles
how to knit photos

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