Knitting for Beginners

knitting for beginners

Knitting is a great craft to take up because you only need a few basic skills to make your first project. If you know how to cast on, knit, purl and bind off, you can create many simple projects that will give you confidence to learn and try new things. (If you don't know these basic skills, check out our article on Knitting Instructions.)

Garter Stitch Scarf

About the most basic project there is, the garter stitch scarf can be made from any kind of yarn, from chunky wools to frilly novelty yarns.

Go to the craft store or your local yarn shop and pick out a skein of yarn that's about 100 yards long, or get enough skeins to make about 100 yards of yarn. Look at the gauge icon on the yarn label (check out How to Buy Yarn for more information) and buy needles of the recommended size if you don't already have some.

Cast on as many stitches as it takes to make about six inches in width (or however wide you would like your scarf to end up). Knit every row, which makes a pattern of ridges known as garter stitch. Cast off when you are almost out of yarn, and weave in the ends.

Stockinette Throw

If you're looking for a bigger project, consider a thrown stitched in stockinette stitch, or knit one row, purl one row. Use worsted weight or bulkier yarn, so the throw will be warm.

Again, what yarn you choose will determine what size needles you need to use, and the size of throw you're trying to make will determine how much yarn you need to buy, but you'll probably want at least 1,000 yards.

Cast on 150 stitches and knit one row, purl one row for pattern. When you come close to the end of a ball of yarn, tie the next thread on tightly, leaving a couple of inches' tail on each thread. Cast off when you have about three times the length of the row left in yarn. Cast off and weave in the loose ends from where you switched balls.

Stockinette stitch makes a fabric that has little Vs on one side and ridges on the other, so it's a different look on each side even though its made from the same yarn.

Other Basic Stitches

Scarves and throws are the easiest projects for new knitters because they are flat and don't require any shaping. And with the variety of patterns you can make just from knit and purl stitches, it will take a long time for you to get bored. Here's a quick rundown of some of those patterns:

  • Moss stitch: work on even number of stitches, row 1 and 2, knit one, purl one across; row 3 and 4, purl one, knit one across.
  • Seed stitch: work on even number of stitches, row 1, knit one, purl one; row 2, purl one, knit one.
  • Rice stitch: even number of stitches, row 1, knit one, purl one; row 2, knit across.
  • Twin rib: multiples of six stitches, row 1, knit three, purl three; row 2, knit one, purl one.
  • Basic rib: even number of stitches, row 1, knit one, purl one; row 2, purl one, knit one.
  • Double rib: multiples of four, row 1, knit two, purl two; row 2, purl two, knit two.

Working with Color

If you want to jazz up your knitting in another basic way, you can change colors in your pattern as you work it up. For example, you can make a basic garter or stockinette stitch scarf with stripes.Consider a half-and-half scarf, where you knit half the length in one color and half in another color. You can also knit scarves horizontally instead of vertically, so when the scarf is finished you could fold it in half lengthwise and essentially have two different scarves.

Or you can alternate colors in stripes of four or five inches (larger if you're making an afghan or throw). To change colors, work to the end of a row and cut the original thread, leaving a couple of inches of tail. Tie on the new color and continue with the pattern.

If you find that the places where you changed colors are making ugly knots on the side of your piece, don't tie the tails together. Or tie loosely and then untie and weave in the ends when you are done with the piece.

More Tips for Beginners

Don't be afraid to experiment with patterns, colors and different kinds of yarn. Don't think that you have to follow a pattern or use the kind of yarn that a pattern calls for. There's a measure of heart and experimentation involved in making your own knitted items in your own way.

And the best way to learn what you like and how to knit in a way that expresses who you are is to try new things and not be afraid of doing something that you don't like. It's just yarn. You can always rip it out and try something different.

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Knitting for Beginners