Learn to knit

If you want to learn to knit you’re in the right place! I’ve put together a list of useful knitting links and tips, all of which have been useful to me when teaching myself over the last few years, so that you can do the same. Teaching yourself really isn’t as hard as you think. Below you’ll find information about wool, needles, video tutorials, knitting patterns and basic stitches to learn.

Knitting has become an important hobby for me; it’s challenging, relaxing, creative, encourages me to keep learning and teaches me to value the things I own and make. Most of all, I feel a huge amount of pride when I finish a project, thinking it started out as a few stitches cast onto a needle. It’s a hobby that has something for everyone and for this reason I want to help other people learn this craft.

Bunch of knitting needles

Teach yourself to knit

Knitting needles

Size: There is a lot of choice when it comes to knitting needles. For getting started I’d recommend a 6mm or 7mm needle. I tried learning with large needles (10mm+) but found them too difficult to hold to begin with.

Type: Knitting needles are generally made from plastic, wood or aluminium. Aluminium needles make up the majority of my needle stash and I have a handful of wooden ones in the sizes I use the most. Personally I don’t like the plastic ones — they are too slippery and most don’t have any weight to them unless they are solid plastic.

Wool

Colourful balls of wool

Jamieson & Smith shetland wool

Type: Acrylic wool is probably the best choice for learning but don’t buy the absolute cheapest because it has a tendency to split. You could also look for wool made from cotton; it’s sturdy and smooth. Choose a mid to light colour so you can see the stitches easily.

Weight: Aran/worsted weight. Stylecraft Special Aran would be a good choice.

Where do you start?

So you’ve got your needles and wool, now what?

1. Learn to cast on

Casting on means creating the foundation stitches on your needle. This video by GoodKnitKisses is perfect for beginners.

First stitches on knitting needle

Cast on stitches

2. Learn the knit stitch

Master the knit stitch! This is a good place to start because it’s versatile, simple and you will learn how you feel comfortable holding your needles. The first few times you knit, don’t worry if you end up with holes or your knitting seems to grow/shrink because it’s all practice, just carry on. The more you practice the less you will drop stitches and the more even your knitting will become! Also, keep your first few attempts, no matter how tatty, because they are a good reminder of how much progress you’ve made 🙂

3. Learn the purl stitch

Once you’re a knit stitch ninja, move on to learning the purl stitch.

If you know how to knit (k) and purl (p) then you can also knit two together (k2tog) or purl two together (p2tog). With these four stitches you can make pretty much anything — the world is your oyster!

Video tutorials

Online videos were enormously helpful when teaching myself to knit. These people/companies are some of my favourites for learning new stitches and techniques:

Knitted owl with felt face

Oscar the knitted owl

Knitting patterns

Kate Davies

Kate Davies is a knitwear designer who creates patterns inspired by the Scottish landscape. Her patterns are really well written so they are a good starting point for when you are ready to embark on bigger projects. So far I’ve knitted: Owls Jumper, Fantoosh shawl, Goats of Inversnaid Hat and Gauntlets, Ursula mittens and a Northmavine Hap!

Clasped hands in mittens

Ursula mittens

Tin Can Knits

Tin Can Knits have lots of lovely patterns but their Simple Collection is probably the most useful for beginner knitters. Each one has step by step instructions and pictures to show you how the project comes together. I made a flax pullover, which was good fun to knit.

Red flax pullover

Flax pullover

Ravelry

Ravelry is without doubt one of the best knitting pattern resources online. You can search through thousands of patterns, some free, some paid for. Each pattern has a difficulty rating which makes it’s easy to see which ones are within your skill range. If you need inspiration you can click on the ‘projects’ tab and other people’s version of the project.

Purl Soho

Purl Soho have some really funky, modern patterns! Each one contains photos and links to video tutorials for some of the techniques.

Inspiration

Pompom scarf

Pompom scarf

Last thoughts

Lastly, here are a few general knitting tips:

Have goals. Start off knitting simple things (like scarves) but also look for patterns outside of your beginner skill level. You’ll be surprised how quickly you progress and bigger projects will be exciting and motivating to work towards. That may sound obvious but it’s easy to get into the familiar rhythm of knitting something you know (in my case it was scarves!).

Buy wool for a project not because it looks nice. I made the mistake of buying a ball of nice wool here and there. Then I realised I didn’t have enough of any one type to make something!

Use a crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches. I struggle to pick up dropped stitches with a knitting needle even after all this time. A crochet hook works much better. Check out this video.

Count your stitches. It’s easier to count/check your stitches than rip back several rows of mistakes. Consider adding the occasional lifeline once you start working on larger projects.

Socks knitting is addictive. Consider yourself warned!

Rear view of grey scarf

I hope you’ve found this post helpful and it has inspired you to teach yourself to knit! An abundance of online resources making learning this craft so much easier. If you need any specific advice or want to recommend other resources, drop me a comment below and I’ll add the best recommendations to this post. Happy knitting 🙂

P.S. I also want to give credit to two other knitters for their help at various points in time:

  • My Nanna who taught me the knit stitch when I was little. At the time it didn’t develop into a hobby but it was my first experience of knitting and a happy one at that
  • Scott’s Grandma who showed me how to purl when I picked up knitting again eight years ago. She also helped me pick up dropped stitches when I started working on my first few projects

2 Comments

  1. As you know I’m a knitting noob but one who wants to learn!
    Casting on I can do, basic knitting I can do, the point I always struggle on, despite much You Tubing is the it’s the end-of-rows that I always fail on. Gah!

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