I regularly receive requests for a post on learning how to knit. I hesitate to write on the topic because I know that there are comprehensive resources available online that are far superior to anything I might share here, and I don’t want to be redundant. But since you guys have been asking, I have put together some basic tips and links for you:
It took me several attempts over many years to really get into the rhythm of knitting. A close friend taught me in college, but it didn’t stick. A few years later I took some classes at a local yarn shop and stuck with it for a little while, knitting a set of bean bags for my kids before losing interest again. It wasn’t until about seven years ago, while pregnant with Beatrix, that I was struck with a strong urge to knit that hasn’t subsided since. Unfortunately, I had forgotten much of what I learned from those few knitting classes, so I turned to books for help, not having any knitting friends at the time. The one that I found most helpful was an older edition of Teach Yourself VISUALLY Knitting. Over the years my collection of knitting books has grown, and a couple of others that I found helpful in my early learning days were Knitting Without Tears and Knitting for Baby: 30 Heirloom Projects with Complete How-to-Knit Instructions. These days when I need to learn a new stitch or technique I typically turn to Youtube or Knittinghelp.com.
So for the basics: ask a knitting friend or relative to teach you, and if that isn’t an option, try your local yarn store or see if lessons are taught at your community center. If you have a local yarn store, definitely check it out! Hopefully there will be helpful staff to help you choose yarn and needles, and classes to teach you as well! If these options aren’t available, then move on to books and the internet. Knittinghelp.com has many helpful video tutorials starting with the most basic beginning knitting, to more advanced techniques. And that is only one of the many places you can find knitting instruction online.
A good basic place to start as far as needles and yarn go is worsted weight wool yarn and size 8 needles. I tend to use circular needles for everything, and many of mine are from Knitpicks. There are lots of different lengths. For knitting a headband or narrow scarf, or maybe a hat in the round you would want a 16″ needle, and for a larger project, like a shawl, you would want something longer, 24 to 32.” You can pick up a basic worsted weight wool yarn at your local craft store or yarn store. There are lots of online options as well, and I will cover that in another post, soon! Of course you might want to knit with bulky yarn and big fat needles. Larkspur has been knitting basic garter stitch scarves lately in bulky yarn. They go quickly!
Once you have mastered the basics (casting on, knit and purl stitch, binding off) you might feel ready to move on to some slightly more complex patterns. I have included links to a few of my beginning knitter favorites, simply because they are the patterns that I knit when I was a beginning knitter! (If you have easy beginner patterns you’d like to recommend, please leave them in the comments!) Before you begin a new pattern, you will want to obtain the yarn and needles called for. However, since every knitter holds the yarn and controls tension differently, you may need a different size needle than what the pattern calls for to “get gauge.” Please read an explanation of the importance of gauge and how to make a gauge swatch before starting a project! Here’s a good one, and here’s another.
Here are some easy first shawl patterns:
Simple Yet Effective Shawl (my first shawl was knit from the fingering weight version of this pattern)
I starting knitting in the round early on so most of my first projects were hats and other circular objects. Here is a video tutorial on how to knit in the round. You will want to buy some stitch markers. My favorites are these.
And here are some patterns that are knit in the round:
My Wee Legwarmers are an easy first project for knitting in the round on double pointed needles
Simple Newborn Hat with a Touch of Lace (my own pattern)
I hope that this information will help those of you who want to learn to knit to get started! Be persistent and keep trying. Knit every day, even if your knitting is funky looking. Knitting is awkward and fiddly at first, at least it was for me!