Have you always wanted to learn to knit but had no one to teach you? Your best friend’s aunty’s neighbour once said she would show you. And you’ve been waiting for that day ever since. It’s one of those things you keep putting off and off, waiting for some advice, but somehow you never find the time.
Well wait no more! All you need is a little patience and perseverance, and you can teach yourself at home. There are hundreds of sources online full of handy hints and tips from happy knitters who want to share their skills. We asked, Sarah E. White a knitting expert from About Knitting, to give us some pointers on how to teach yourself and where to begin…
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Teaching Yourself To Knit
I was lucky enough to have a mother and grandmother who knit, so I got the basics early in life and have been able to build my skills over time. I know, however, that not everyone who wants to learn to knit has someone nearby with patience enough to teach them.
That’s no problem, because you can easily teach yourself how to knit with all the great resources that are available online.
Supplies For Getting Started
All you need to practice knitting is a ball of yarn – wool is great, but anything with a smooth texture will do – and a pair of knitting needles. Handily, you can find out the size of knitting needle you need directly on the paper band around your ball of yarn. I usually start people with my Beginner’s Garter Stitch Scarf. This calls for bulky yarn and 9 mm knitting needles, but you can start on medium weight yarn too if you’d rather.
The first thing you have to do when learning to knit is to get stitches on your needle. There are many ways to do this but I like to teach the “knit cast on” because once you know how to do it, you also know how to knit. Let me show you.
- Start by making a slip knot on one needle.
- Hold this needle in your left hand and the empty one in your right.
- Stick the tip of the right hand needle into the loop on the left hand needle from front to back.
- Take the yarn over the right hand needle counterclockwise.
- Push the right hand needle from the back to the front through the loop on the left hand needle. This is the trickiest part!
- There should be a new stitch on the right hand needle.
- Slip this stitch onto the left hand needle. You now have two stitches. Repeat a few times until you have a good number (at least 12) of stitches to work with.
Now that you’re comfortable with casting on, you already know how to make the knit stitch.
- Start with the needle full of stitches in your left hand, with the yarn at the back of the needle.
- Stick the right hand needle into the loop at the top of the left hand needle from front to back.
- Wrap the yarn around the right hand needle counterclockwise.
- Push the right hand needle to the front of the work as before. Instead of putting the new stitch back on the left hand needle, leave it where it is and slip the first loop from the left hand needle off. You’ve knit one stitch.
- Continue across the row.
- To start the next row, put the full needle back in your left hand with the yarn at the back and start again.
- Knit every stitch of every row and you have a Garter Stitch.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of knitting you can try purling – a different type of stitch. It starts with the yarn in the front of the work instead of the back.
- Put the right hand needle in the stitch at the top of the left hand needle, but go from back to front.
- Wrap the needle with the yarn going counterclockwise.
- Push the needle from the front to the back of the work, leaving the new stitch on the right hand needle and slipping the old stitch off the left hand needle.
- Continue in this way across the row.
- Alternate rows of all knitting and all purling and you’re making Stockinette Stitch.
Once your knitting is the size you would like, you can finish it off by binding off, also known as casting off.
- First, knit the first two stitches. Put the tip of the left hand needle into the stitch at the bottom of the right hand needle and pull it up over the top stitch and the top of the knitting needle, leaving one stitch on the needle.
- Repeat this process across the row until you’re left with one stitch on the right needle. Cut your yarn, leaving a tail of a few centimeters, then pull the tail through the last stitch to fasten off.
Hints and Tips
It’s a lot to learn all at once so don’t be discouraged. Try to knit for a few minutes every day when you’re learning so you don’t lose the progress you’ve made.
If you’re left-handed, you can knit in the same way, or check out what’s known as the continental style of knitting, where the yarn is held in the left hand.
Try to find people near you who knit. There are stitch ‘n bitch groups everywhere, or visit Ravelry to find people who can help you, encourage you and enable you on your knitting adventure.
Knitting is a lot of fun, great stress relief and a wonderful way to make gifts for family and friends. I hope you’ll give it a go!
Sarah E. White is a knitwear designer, crafter and blogger based in Arkansas. She runs the knitting websites at About.com and CraftGossip.com as well as her own blog, Our Daily Craft, which is all about crafting with and for kids, creativity for moms and other busy people and creating the life you’ve always wanted.
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