We’ve decided to share some of the basics of knitting, including some tips that will help you get started with your first knitting project.
Learning to knit can be pretty daunting, but it's well worth the effort. Once you've mastered a few basic steps, you'll be on your way to making your own cosy comforts in no time at all. We've created this beginners' guide to help you along the way. Keep reading for a brief introduction to knitting, a few tips and tricks on getting started, and handy resources for step-by-step instructions in this popular handicraft.
Basic Knitting Supplies
- Knitting needles
- Finishing needle
Choosing your needles
There are a few different materials in which needles are made from:
- Aluminium - these are the traditional type of needle and probably the sort you will have seen your Gran knit with.
- Plastic - these are good for beginner's as they're inexpensive should you be undecided of whether you'll enjoy knitting.
- Bamboo - these offer a smooth finish, and offer a warmth and softness that aluminium and plastic ones don't.
10-inch bamboo needles are a popular choice amongst beginners. Why? Well, they’re less smooth, shiny and polished which means that the yarn slides around less than it would on the usual metal needles.
Needle Sizes And Yarn Matches
|Needle Size||Material Weight (UK)||What it Can Be Used For|
|1.25mm - 3mm||2 Ply||This yarn is super light weight so best of used in intricate projects. Using small needles is best.|
|2mm – 3.5mm||3 Ply||This yarn is great for baby clothing including toys.|
|3.25mm||4 Ply||This yarn is suitable for baby clothing and lighter weight knits.|
|3.5mm – 4.5mm||Double Knitting (DK)||A popular choice of yarn and a versatile one means its quick to knit.|
|3.75mm – 4.5mm||Aran||This is a quick yarn to knit with and is ideal for sweaters and cardigans.|
|5.5mm – 8.00mm||Bulky||This is great for knitting with larger needles and is perfect for rugs.|
|8.00mm and above||Chunky||This is thick and is quick and easy to work with.|
|12.75mm and above||Super Chunky||This yarn is great for beginners as it’s thick and chunky and mistakes are easily noticeable.|
Choosing your yarn
With a number of yarns out there to pick from it can be difficult to decide which one is best.
Wool can be made from numerous different materials and blends such as, cotton, cashmere, acrylic and so on. Wool also comes in a number of different weights. The table below demonstrates the different weight of wools available and what they make best.
|Yarn Weight||Material||What they would make|
|1||Super Fine or baby weight||Light layettes, socks|
|2||Fine or sport weight||Light sweaters, baby things, acessories|
|3||Light worstred or DK (double-knitting)||Sweaters, lightweight scarves|
|4||Medium or worsted weight, Aran||Sweaters, blankets, outdoor wear (hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, etc)|
|5||Bulky or chunky||Rugs, jackets, blankets|
|6||Super Bulky||Heavy blankets, rugs and sweaters|
That said, we would recommend that beginners pick a medium weight wool for their first projects.
Reading Yarn Labels
There are a couple of things you need to identify when picking your yarn, these are laid out in the yarn labelling so be sure to look for them
Yarn weight - to find this simply refer to the icon below which will appear on the yarn packaging.
Dye lot - whilst you could be holding a number of yarn balls all called the same colour, there could be differences in the colour, however slight. You can identify batches of the exact same wool by their dye lot. The dye lot will often be a series of numbers letting you know which batch of yarn they were dyed with, a.k.a. which dye lot they’re from.
Fiber content - this is the exact material your wool is made from. Acrylic? Wool? A silk/wool/linen combo?
Care instructions - this indicates how to wash the material. Is it to be handwashed? Put in the machine on a 40 degree wash?
Basic Knitting Skills
So, there are 5 basic things to know when knitting for the first time:
- Casting On
- Knit Stitch
- Purl Stitch
- Binding Off
Casting On is the process of starting off your knitting. You need to start by building the first row of stitches which is the foundation of your knit. It’s best to keep these stitches loose and comfortable on your needle to make it easier going forward. If it’s too tight, you’ll struggle to pick up the stitches for your next row.
The knit stitch and the purl stitch are the two key stitches in knitting. The image below demonstrates what they look like.
Once you've learnt these stitches they can be used in different ways to create different textures and more elaborate stitches (these are more suited for an experience knitter). For example, you've got the seed stitch, the basic ribbed stitch and the stockinette stitch.
Binding off is the process of finishing off your knitting. It ensures that you have a clean, finished edge to your knit that won’t unravel.
Finally, there’s weaving off your knitting. You’ll have some tails of yarn from where you started and finished your knit. Using a finishing needle (basically a sewing needle on a bigger scale) to weave the tails into your make.
Our Top Tips For New Knitters
- Start small with your makes. Don’t plan any challenging projects at first just practice, practice, practice the basics as a starting point.
- Always knit from right to left – this is important to remember when looking at patterns.
- If you feel your mind venturing elsewhere it's probably best you put your knit down as this is how mistakes can happen.
- There’s no such thing as holding your needles and yarn wrong. As long as you have the tension right then just make sure you’re comfortable.
- Always buy at least one more ball of yarn than you need for your project.
- Pick a pattern and make sure you study it before starting your make.
- Check your work regularly as it’s the best way to identify mistakes sooner rather than later (even the best knitters make mistakes!)
- Never finish your knit in the middle of a row as when you pick it up again you’re likely to be working at a different tension.
- When you run out of yarn, start a new ball at the beginning of a row as your yarn ends are easier to weave into the rows this way.
More Knitting Resources For Beginners
This video from Sarah at Hobby Lobby is a great tutorial for any newbie knitters!
We hope you've found our blog post for beginner knitters helpful. Make sure you come back in a few weeks as we're going to be sharing our favourite knitted and crochet makes!