Knitters love to welcome new knitters to the flock! But either teaching yourself to knit or teaching someone else to knit can be very tricky if you have no idea where to start.
This can be especially true if you’ve been knitting for a long time and now have to break your “automatic” movements down into stitches and explanations that someone else can understand!
That’s why we’ve compiled these tips and videos in one handy place from where you can start teaching even young children to knit.
Where do I start teaching someone to knit?
We’ve found that, when teaching someone else, there are two ways in which you can start to teach knitting:
- Start by teaching how to cast on and, once they’ve got that, to then teach the knit stitch, or
- Cast on a few stitches and immediately jump into teaching the knit stitch. Once they’ve learned this, to teach them how to cast on.
In most cases it seems that it’s easier for someone to learn to knit through the second way of teaching, i.e. casting on a few stitches for them first.
The reason why this works so well — especially for children and teenagers — is that they then understand the movements needed to cast on. Because they also get to start creating right away, it seems to build a lot more confidence in being able to learn to knit than casting on again and again and seemingly getting nowhere.
Instilling confidence is very important
As with any new skill, confidence, and having the confidence to keep going even when you fail at first, plays a big part. There are some easy ways to instill confidence in new knitters:
- Always give praise where praise is due — casting on correctly for the first time or making their first knit stitch is worth celebrating.
- You can also share how you learned how to knit — and some of the struggles you had or mistakes you made. It’s sometimes all to easy to forget how hard it can be to master a new skill!
- Don’t lose your temper when they don’t get the stitches right the first time — or they drop stitches (and find out why you really don’t want to drop stitches!). Just think back to school when you had a teacher — maybe even the one who taught you how to knit — lose their temper and how it made you feel. We know of a poor soul who is left-handed and whose primary school teacher refused to teach her because she “found it difficult”. Luckily this person pushed through and can now both knit and crochet. But for nearly thirty years she didn’t dare touch yarn. You really don’t want to be remembered as “that person”.
- Start with an easy project like a garter stitch block or stockinette block; even both. When they then look back at their first blocks in a month or two’s time they’ll be able to see just how far they’ve come.
- Start with Aran and worsted weight yarn, not lace weight or even single spun lace. Working with such thin yarn for the first time can be frustrating even if you know how to knit. To start off with it makes it hard to see the stitches and makes them very easy to drop as well.
- Don’t start with novelty yarn — no matter how cool it looks. Just like lace weight and other thin yarn, novelty yarns can make it nearly impossible to see your stitches.
- Make it an informal occasion — don’t make them feel like they’re about to write a finals paper for which they haven’t studied.
How to Give Your First Knitting Lesson
If you’re new to teaching knitting, one-on-one classes is a much better idea than starting with a group class. Then it is always a good idea to watch a video or two and see how others teach.
This will give you an idea of where most people struggle to remember the movements of the stitches or how to hold the yarn to get even tension.
Here are some YouTube videos that we’ve found very helpful. You can also, if you’re part of SkillShare or Bluprint have a look at how they teach.
How to Cast On Knitting Stitches by Studio Knit
How to Knit Stitch by Studio Knit
How to Knit by RJ Knits
Once your student has the knit stitch memorized and can work a few rows to and fro, you can move on to the purl stitch.
Some people find the purl stitch a lot trickier than the knit stitch, so have patience; even if they start working knit stitches again by accident!
How to Purl Knit: Learning The Knitting Basics by RJ Knits
How to Purl Stitch by Studio Knit
Once you’ve gone through both knit and purl stitch, you can start to show your student how these two stitches are combined to form beautiful patterns. Here you can also start to teach them how to read simple knitting instructions (leave the charts for a bit later).
These are the easiest patterns to start with, we’ve found:
- Garter stitch (knit every row)
- Stockinette (knit one row, purl one row, and repeat both row 1 and 2)
- Seed stitch:
Knit the Easiest Seed Stitch Pattern by Studio Knit
Be sure to also check out Knit Stitch Patterns for Beginners by Studio Knit. This is a collection of patterns that uses only knit and purl stitches.
How to Combine Knitting and Purling by RJ Knits
Now, with some practice and a dash of patience you’ll be able to teach yourself — or someone else — how to knit!
Make a day out of it, get some tea, coffee, and cake (or whatever snacks you’d like) and make it an informal learning session that everyone will enjoy!