Are you a beginner knitter? Then you’ve come to the right place! Here are the answers to seven questions beginner knitters often ask:
Is knitting difficult?
The knitting itself isn’t difficult, but there can be very advanced patterns — like some lace knitting patterns — which can be difficult to knit as you are using so many different stitches and techniques all at once.
To start off with, however, you only need to learn how to cast on (put stitches onto the needles), make knit and purl stitches and end your work by casting off (taking the finished item off the needles). But don’t worry, if you start with beginner patterns and then work your way through to intermediate and advanced, you’ll see that knitting these difficult patterns become easier and easier. Soon you’ll be doing fancy stitches and patterns that are the envy of other beginner knitter!
How long does it take to learn how to knit?
It doesn’t take long at all to learn the basics of how to knit. You can learn how to make knit stitches and purl stitches (the two basic knitting stitches) on your first day of knitting. Once you get the hang of those, you can move on to learn yarn overs, increases, decreases, knitting stitches together and slipping stitches. This all sounds like gibberish now, but we promise it’s a lot easier than it sounds!
By taking your knitting classes — whether you learn from someone physically or through knitting videos — one step at a time, you’ll soon see that it’s quite easy to build up a repertoire of stitches and patterns that you have memorised and don’t have to refer back to remember how to do them.
You should also remember that asking for help or watching a knitting video over and over again to see exactly what you should be doing is the way everyone learns, so don’t feel as if you’ll never learn how to knit if you make a mistake the first time you try. Advanced knitters make mistakes too!
The other great thing about learning how to knit is that there are always more techniques to learn and patterns to try. It is anything but a boring hobby! (And the knitting community is really friendly as well.)
If you’re just starting out — why not join us on Facebook at the KnitPal group? It’s a great community where beginner knitters can get all the support they need.
What do I need to start knitting?
You don’t need much to start knitting — and it also doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Beginner knitters need the basics of needles, yarn, and stitch markers. You can even start off using a ruler to measure gauge, but sets like that of KnitPal Vibrant Straight Knitting Needle Set has a knitting gauge included in the set, which makes life a lot easier.
Straight needles, like these are best for beginners as the longer needle gives support to the knitter’s hands. Use the shorter length straight needles for smaller projects and longer needles for larger projects. For shawls and the like, you will need to use circular needles.
US size 6 to 11 (4mm to 8mm) needles are great for beginners, as they are not just easier to hold but, because the yarn you’re going to use is thicker, the stitches are easier to see and count. If you can, buy a set of larger needles, like this one Stylish Large Plastic Straight Knitting Needle Set, and experiment to see which size you prefer working with.
Start off by using thicker yarn, preferably worsted, Aran (also called afghan) or chunky weight yarn. Remember: the thicker the yarn, the larger the needle size you’ll need to use.
There’s also no need to buy the most expensive yarn you can find; acrylic yarn is great for learning how to knit. (Look out for our future blog posts when we’ll be discussing this in detail.) We’ve always found that choosing yarn in your favourite colour makes it that much more fun to learn how to knit!
While you can get very fancy stitch markers, the plain plastic ones that can open and close will more than do the job when you start to learn to knit. The easiest way to make sure that you get everything you need to start knitting is to get a beginner set like this one Vibrant Straight Knitting Needle Set. As you can see, there is no use to spend hundreds of dollars when you start knitting!
What are the easiest stitch patterns to learn?
The most basic stitch patterns to learn is garter stitch and stockinette or stocking stitch. These two use only plain knit(abbreviation k) and purl stitches (abbreviation p). Once you can knit these, you can move on to seed stitch and single rib, where knit and purl stitches are alternated in specific combinations that are still easy to memorize and suitable for a beginner.
Here are the patterns for garter and stockinette for you to get started:
- To knit garter stitch: knit every row.
- To knit stockinette stitch: knit all uneven numbered rows and purl all the even numbered rows.
How do I remember where I am in a pattern?
Beginner knitters often find it very difficult to tell where they are in a pattern once it’s been put down for any length of time. When you begin knitting, it’s a good idea to use stitch markers to mark every fifth row you knit. In that way, you won’t struggle too much to count the number of rows you’ve already knitted. This is especially handy when knitting something like a scarf!
However: If the pattern you are working in stretches over only two rows (for instance stockinette or seed stitch), rather mark every fourth row. In that way, you can also tell whether your next row should be a knit (k) row or a purl (p) row.
Stitch markers can also be used to mark the right side (RS) and wrong side (WS) of a piece of work by using different colored stitch markers. We suggest doing this kind of marking once you’ve gotten the hang of counting your rows and don’t need to mark them as much anymore. Most patterns will also tell you how to work the right side and the wrong side of the work. For instance, every second row (the WS of the work) may consist only of purl stitches.
If you want to, you can also make a copy of the pattern you’re busy with and highlight the rows as you finish knitting them (or highlight them on your tablet or Kindle!). You can also get electronic row counters, although these are more often used in crochet than in knitting.
Are knitting patterns difficult to read or understand?
Beginner knitters may look at a knitting pattern or chart and see only gibberish. However, once you learn the abbreviations of the basic knitting stitches, you will see that knitting patterns are quite easy to read and understand. A good pattern will also give you a key to the abbreviations they are using in the pattern, but most abbreviations are standard.
The abbreviations for the basic knitting stitches beginner knitters use are:
- knit (k)
- purl (p)
- slip stitch (sl)
- increase (inc)
- decrease (dec)
Remember: If you’re a beginner knitter, you should start with a beginner pattern and not an advanced one. In that way, you will organically learn all the abbreviations to the patterns and not struggle.
What’s the difference between straight and circular needles?
There isn’t that much difference between the straight and circular needles, except that the circular needles can also be used to knit in the round. However, both circular knitting needles and straight knitting needles can be used to knit flat pieces like scarves, shawls and the like.
While it’s easier to start out using the straight needles when you’re a beginner knitter, as they give your hands more support, many beginners plus to advanced knitters prefer to always use circular needles, even for small projects. In the end, it depends on what you like to use.
Your first knitting needles
We suggest that you start with straight needles, for instance, these acrylic ones Vibrant Straight Knitting Needle Set. They are just the right length for those just beginning to knit, no matter what their age is (and look how pretty they are!). Once you move on to larger projects, get a good set of circular needles, like this stainless steel one. Not only do these last and last thanks to the stainless steel, but they can also hold a lot more stitches than the straight knitting needles and is suitable for lace knitting as well.
Are you looking forward to beginning knitting? Tell us in the comments below!
You can also ask us any other questions about knitting that you might have.