If you would like to learn a fun and rewarding craft, you should definitely learn how to knit for beginners! Knitting is a lot of fun. It is a challenging and useful hobby- it keeps your hands busy while you are listening to an audiobook or watching TV, and it keeps your brain sharp too! It has been researched that knitting alters brain chemistry, lowers stress hormones, and boosts the production of serotonin and dopamine, the ‘feel good’ hormones in your brain. (Baird 2009).
How to Knit for Beginners - Easy Knitting Tutorial
You can choose to do really mentally challenging knitting projects, or you can choose calming, meditative projects. Once you are hooked, you can never turn back! Plus, you will have a warm, useful item at the end of each project.
So, let’s get started!
Supplies Needed for Knitting
The basics you will need for knitting are yarn and knitting needles.
Best Yarns For Beginners
When you are just starting out, the best fibers to work with are acrylics or wool. A wool/acrylic blend will also be suitable. These yarns are smooth and easy to work with. They are also resilient enough to be pulled out and reworked if you do make a mistake!
Balls of yarn are easier to work with than hanks. Double knit yarn is easy to handle- chunky yarn or very fine yarn such as lace weight are far more difficult to work with.
- Types of Yarns
- What is DK Yarn
- What is worsted Weight Yarn
- Yarn Weights - Standard Weights for Crochet & Knitting
- Yarn Ply
Best Knitting Needles for Beginners
If you pay a visit to a craft or yarn shop, you will see that there are a large variety of needles to choose from. There are double point needles, circular needles, straight needles, and they also come in a variety of materials- bamboo, wood, steel, or plastic.
The best types of knitting needles for beginners would be single point, bamboo needles. They are not too slippery, so you will be less likely to drop stitches, and they are light and easy to work with.
If you have chosen to work with double knit yarn (also called 8 ply, light worsted, DK, size 3 or light), the best size needle will be a US size 7 or 8 (4- 4,5 mm).
How To Knit for Beginners FAQ’s
Is Knitting Easy?
Knitting is not difficult to learn. You will need some fine muscle coordination, but once you have mastered the hand movements for the knit stitch and purl stitch, you are well on your way to learning to knit anything! You will also need to have patience and perseverance to finish any large projects.
Young children can be taught to knit, so any adult can manage! You will need to concentrate at the beginning, but after some practice, you will be knitting without thinking at all.
Knitting vs. Crochet
What is the difference between knitting and crochet?
- Tools - With knitting you will be using two needles, one in each hand, to form interlocking loops. Crochet uses only one hook to hook the loops together to create fabric.
- Looks - Knitting has a smoother look about it, where as crochet looks more like a series of knots joined together.
- Speed - Knitting uses less yarn and is often more detailed and sleek; crochet works up more quickly, but has a more rustic look.
In the end, you should choose the one which you enjoy working, and the one which you prefer the ‘look’ of.
How To Knit for Beginners, Step By Step Knitting Guide
How to Hold the Knitting Needles
There is really no hard and fast rule for this, and each knitter will develop their own style. Just to start you off on your knitting journey, here is a way to begin.
- Hold your hands over the top of your needles.
- Hold the needles between your thumbs and forefingers, like holding a knife.
- Use your right forefinger to wrap the yarn around the needle.
- Use your left hand to keep the left needle in position.
- Use your right hand to pull the loop through the stitch on the left needle.
How to Hold the Yarn for Knitting
Some people like to wind the yarn around their right fingers, to keep the tension tight. Others like to leave it trailing down their palms, and just work with the bit they are wrapping.
You will need to try out various ways to see what feels right for you, and what keeps your tension even.
There are actually two methods of knitting- the English style and the Continental style, both give the same results, but each has its own way of holding the yarn.
- English Style: Your cast on loops are on the left needle, your free needle is in the right hand, and you wrap the yarn with your right hand.
- Continental Style: Cast on loops are still on the left needle, but your yarn is held in your left hand, and you use the left hand to wind the yarn around the right-hand needle.
You should use whichever method feels more comfortable for you. I personally prefer the English method, but I am told the Continental method is much quicker!
Step 1 - Make A Slip Knot
To start knitting, you first need to cast on your stitches. The very first stitch you place on your needle is a slip knot. This is a loop with an adjustable tail so that you can make it tighter or looser. To do this, make a loop with your yarn and pull another loop through it. You can do this with your fingers, or using your knitting needle. Tighten gently and slide the knot onto the needle.
Just a quick tip: This starting stitch is a slip knot. Don’t get confused with a slip stitch, which is simply transferring a stitch from one needle to another.
Step 2 - Learn to Knit Cast On
There are a number of ways to cast on knitting, but the easiest is the ‘thumb’ method and the ‘cable ‘ method. You will already have your first stitch (the slip knot) on your left-hand needle. You will need a long tail on your slip knot.
- Wrap the tail end of the yarn around your left thumb.
- Using your right hand, insert the needle into this loop from below.
- Wrap the working yarn around the needle to make a new loop.
- Slip that loop onto your needle, remove your thumb, and tighten up firmly, by pulling on the tail end of the yarn.
- Don’t pull it too tightly, just enough to create a little knot at the bottom of your needle.
- Wrap the yarn around your thumb again, and repeat the movement. Once the next stitch is in place, your cast on stitches are secure.
- Repeat this movement until you have the required number of stitches on your needle.
- Try to keep these stitches evenly spaced, because if they are uneven, this will make your cast on row look untidy.
- Begin with a slip knot.
- Insert the right hand needle into the back of the slip knot, from left to right.
- Wrap the yarn around the right needle, counter clockwise.
- Pull the yarn down in between the needles.
- Make a knit stitch, but don’t slip the stitch off the left needle.
- Bring the right needle up and place that stitch onto your left needle. Remove the right needle. You will now have two stitches on your left needle.
- *Now insert the right needle between the two stitches on the left needle.
- Wrap the yarn around the right needle again.
- Pick up the loop of wrapped yarn with your right needle and pull it through to create a new stitch.
- Place the stitch onto the left needle. You now have three stitches.
- Repeat from * until you have the required number of cast on stitches.
Step 3 - Learn to Knit the First Row (Knit Stitch)
- Insert the tip of the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle, from left to right, and from front to back. You will be forming a cross with the needles. The right needle must be behind the left needle.
- Wrap the yarn in front of the needle and then down between the needles.
- Bring the tip of the right needle through the loop on the left-hand needle, with the yarn still wrapped around it. Pull it to the front.
- Slide the stitch off the left needle onto the right needle.
- Keep repeating this sequence of movements until you have worked all the way across the row.
- Your stitches will now all be on the right needle.
Step 4 - Learn to Knit the Second Row (Knit Stitch)
- Turn your work around so that the stitches are now on the left hand needle, and the empty needle is in your right hand.
- Continue working the steps listed above, until again, you have worked all the stitches across from the left needle to the right needle.
- Keep doing this until your knitting reaches the required length.
How to Knit Patterns
The simple knit stitch described above can be used alone or combined with other stitches to create different knitting patterns.
If you work as described above, working every row in knit stitch, you will be making garter stitch fabric. Garter stitch forms a neat pattern of horizontal ridges, which are formed by the tops of the knitted stitches on every second row. It is completely reversible. It is also possible to create a garter stitch using only purl stitches. Let's move on to that now.
How to Knit Purl Stitch
Purl stitch is in fact just a backward knit stitch! Instead of inserting the needle into the back of each stitch, you will work into the front of the stitch, as follows.
- After casting on, with the cast on stitches on your left needle, bring the yarn to the front of your work.
- *Insert the tip of the right hand needle into the first stitch, pushing it into the front of the stitch, from bottom to top.
- Wrap the working yarn around the right needle from back to front, top to bottom.
- Pull this wrap down firmly so it is held between the needles.
- Now bring the right needle, with its wrap, through the loop on the left needle.
- Move the right hand needle to the back.
- Slide the stitch off the left needle, onto the right. The yarn must remain at the front of your work.
- Repeat the sequence of movements from * to the end of the row.
- Turn your work before continuing with the next row.
Learn to Knit Stockinette Stitch
This is sometimes called stocking stitch, or jersey stitch. The jersey stitch name comes from the Isle of Jersey, where, for a very long time, fisherman’s wives have knitted sweaters in this stitch for their husbands. It is one of the most used knitting stitches.
Stockinette stitch is created by working one row of knit stitch, then turning your work and working one row of purl stitch. So all your odd rows will be knit and all your even rows will be purl.
Lear to Knit and Change Yarn
You may wish to knit your item in stripes or in a multi-color pattern. You will also reach the end of one ball of yarn and need to start a new one. In either of these cases, you need to know how to change yarn.
You should always try to change yarn at the beginning of a new row.
- Leave a tail of yarn around 6” (15cm) long, for weaving in later.
- Tie a knot in the old and new yarn, ensuring the knot is close to the base of the last stitch.
- Leave a tail of yarn around 6” (15cm) long, for weaving in later.
- Make a slip knot with the new yarn.
- Pass the old yarn through the loop of the slip knot.
- Slide the new yarn up to the base of the first stitch and pull the slip knot tight.
- Continue knitting with new yarn.
Learn To Knit Increase
Read more about how to increase knitting.
Bar Method of Increasing
Knit a stitch in the usual way, then without dropping the last loop from the left-hand needle, knit into the same stitch again through the back of the loop. This method leaves a tiny horizontal ‘bar’ in the knit fabric, thus it is called a ‘bar’ increase.
Raised Method of Increasing
With the right needle, lift the loop from the previous row behind the next stitch to be knitted. Place this lifted loop on the right needle without knitting it. Continue knitting the next stitch normally. When working the following row just knit that lifted stitch as a normal stitch. This is known as a ‘raised’ increase.
Knit a stitch in the usual way, then without dropping the last loop from the left-hand needle, bring your yarn forward and purl into the same stitch. This is the easiest method, but it does leave a tiny hole and a purl stitch visible on the right side of your work.
Learn to Knit Decrease
Read more about how to decrease knitting.
Slanting to the Left
Slip a stitch, knit the next stitch then pass the slip stitch over the knitted stitch from right to left.
Learn to Knit 2 Together
Another method is to knit 2 stitches together through the back of the loops.
Decreasing Purl Stitch
The easiest method to decrease when using purl stitch is simply to purl two together. This is abbreviated in patterns as p2tog.
- Insert the needle into the front of the two next stitches on the left needle.
- Wrap yarn to create a new stitch.
- Pull two stitches together off the left needle.
- You will now have one less stitch, with a double loop beneath your new stitch.
The other method is to work a slip, slip, purl. This is abbreviated as ssp in patterns.
- Slip two stitches, knitwise, (ie, as if you were going to knit them), one at a time.
- Now slip them back onto the left needle purl wise. This will twist them slightly.
- Now purl those two stitches together into the back of the two stitches. This will twist them again.
- By purling the two together, you will have one less stitch.
Learning To Knit Mistakes, And How To Fix Them
Mistake #1 - Dropping a Stitch
Dropped stitches happen often, especially to beginner knitters! To fix it:
Using Your Knitting Needles
- Pull back your knitting to where the dropped stitch is. The ‘ladder’ that has formed should be between the left and right needles.
- Put the lowest rung of the ladder over your left needle.
- Pass the lowest intact stitch over the ladder loop. Your stitch is remade. Work your way up the ladder until you have caught up all the rows you have dropped.
Picking Up a Stitch with a Crochet Hook
You could also use a crochet hook to hook the stitches all the way back up the ladder.
Undoing Your Rows
If you spot a mistake, such as an incorrect stitch or two in the row you have just worked, you can slowly pull back that row, stitch by stitch, catching the stitches on your left needle as you go. This is called ‘tinking’. Tink is knit spelled backwards!
In more detail - Put the left needle into the loop of the stitch from the previous row (to hold that stitch in place). Then pull on the working yarn to undo that stitch. Keep doing this until you reach your mistake, then continue knitting as normal.
You may only spot your mistake after knitting quite a few rows! Because tinking is slow, it is easier to remove the knitting from the needles completely and pull out all the rows until you get to the mistake. This is called ‘frogging’ because as you pull the yarn out it goes ‘rip-it, rip-it”.
Once you have removed the fabric from the needle, place it on a table and gently pull the yarn until you get to a row or two below the mistake. Then insert your needle back through the loops, being careful not to miss any, or to twist any stitches.
Mistake #2 - Knitting too Tight
You know your knitting is too tight when you can’t insert the needle into stitches to make a new stitch, or you can’t slide the stitches along your needle smoothly.
- This may be because you are making stitches on the tapered part of the needle. To fix this, push the stitches down onto the wider part of the needle when making a new stitch.
- You may just be pulling your yarn too tightly after each stitch.
- You may be holding the tension in your yarn too tightly, wrapping it around your fingers. Just hold it gently.
Mistake #3 - Knitting Gets Wider
If your knitting gets wider and wider as you go along, this may be from accidentally knitting into the same stitch twice. Keep counting your stitches. If you are knitting something with a lot of stitches, place stitch markers every ten stitches, and check that the ten stitch gap remains constant.
Another reason for this is that it is easy to wrap the yarn around your needle twice and then treat that extra wrap as a stitch. The other possible cause for this is if your yarn splits easily, and you accidentally knit the split stitch as two stitches.
If you find your knitting widening, remove the needles, pull out the work until you reach the point where it started, then re-knit.
Mistake #4 - Holes in Your Knitting
If your knitting has holes in it, either you have dropped a stitch, see above for repairing that, or you have wrapped the yarn around the needle an extra time. To avoid this, always make sure that when knitting your yarn is at the back of the work, when purling, it is at the front.
These are the most common mistakes. They happen to everyone, even seasoned knitters! If you can see what is causing the problem, and know how to pull out your knitting accordingly, they are easy to fix!
Learn To Knit Cast Off
Once you have completed your project, you need to know how to get it off the needles without dropping all those stitches! When casting off, keep your yarn loose, so that your cast-off edge is fairly elastic.
To cast off:
- Knit two stitches, draw the first one over the second, leaving that second one on the needle.
- Knit the next stitch, then draw the stitch already on the needle over it.
- Keep drawing the older stitch over the newest stitch until you have worked all the way along the needle.
- Cut your yarn and pull it through the final loop.
How To Count Rows in Knitting
Your pattern may give you a certain number of rows to work before the next instruction. If you are counting rows in garter stitch, count the bump rows and multiply by two. Or count in twos.
- If counting knit stitch rows, count the v’s formed when working knit stitch.
- If counting on the purl side of your work, just count the bumps.
How to Finish Knitting
Once you have completed your item and cast it off, you will need to weave in any yarn ends. This finishes off the work neatly and also make any joins more secure. You will need to thread your yarn into a yarn needle and work a running stitch to weave that loose end into the fabric. If you have changed colors, weave the correct color through the correct bit of fabric. Don't be tempted to just thread both colors at once through your needle, it will never look as neat as you would like.
Best Knit Project For Beginners
Once you have got the hang of the basic stitches, you can easily knit yourself a scarf, as all they are are long rectangles! This is a good starter project because it will give you lots of practice with the stitches you are using because scarves are long! This is where the patience and perseverance I mentioned earlier come in handy! By the time you have made a scarf, your muscle memory for the stitches will be well-formed, and you will be starting to knit automatically! Then your next project can involve increasing or decreasing!
Learn To Knit - In Conclusion
Please don’t feel overwhelmed by all this information! Just take learning to knit slowly, one step at a time. Work through each heading slowly but surely, and you will master this terrific skill. It will become a hobby which you enjoy regularly. It is so satisfying to learn to knit, and then be able to build on that knowledge to be able to create more and different things!
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