So you have decided you want to learn to knit!
First of all, welcome to our community! Knitting has so many benefits as discussed in this Knit for Peace study but in short it is a wonderful form of mindfulness – and at the end you have a new thing!
So, what do you need to get started?
- A project to make
And that is it! But each item on that list has a dizzying array of options. Here’s some advice on what to select for your first knitting project.
If you’re going to learn to knit, you want a nice yarn that is going to feel good to the touch, work easily, but without breaking the bank. We also recommend you start with a thicker yarn, at least 8 ply/double knit, to make it easier to handle and to get you to your finish line and that glorious feeling of accomplishment faster. More information on yarn thickness is here.
Your first instinct may be to buy the cheapest yarn you can find. We get that you are just starting out, and you don’t know if you are going to love it, and you don’t want to spend a fortune getting started. But the really cheap squeaky acrylic stuff from the bargain store is actually much harder to work with. We want you to enjoy the process so much that you become a knitter for life! A better yarn will give you a better first-time knitting experience.
Similarly, don’t start with anything too fluffy, grippy, lumpy, or slippery. They may seem pretty cool, and they are! But all of these things make the yarn just that much harder to work with, so save that for your second project.
There are plenty of good value yarns that are perfect for starting out with. We recommend Naturally Loyal 8 ply (DK) as a great starter yarn at an excellent price, or Urth Yarns Harvest if you want something suitable for babies or against the skin. Otherwise, look for yarn that is a consistent thickness, without a fluffy halo, and that doesn’t feel either slippery, coarse, or squeaky in your fingers . If you want to make it easier, we sell knitting kits that include both yarn and a pattern (we’ll talk more about patterns later!)
Much like yarn, we really recommend you start with good quality needles when you learn to knit so you can have the best first experience ever! You can get good quality needles at a decent price. Extremely cheap knitting needles from deep discount websites are poor quality and hard to work with, which is going to make your learning process that much harder and less enjoyable. I helped a friend cast on with some cheap needles and within moments I was miserable with how hard they were to work with – and I am an experienced knitter!
There are two main types of needles – straight needles, and circular needles. You can use them both as a beginner, but we recommend circulars over straights as they are lighter and gentler on arms and shoulders.
If you are just starting out, we would recommend wooden needles that are smooth to the touch. We have two options: Knitpro Symfonie and Hiyahiya Bamboo. If you are using interchangeable circulars, you will need a set of tips in the size that suits your yarn, and a matching cable. Feel free to contact us if you want a hand choosing what you need, we would love to help!
There are lots of ways to learn to knit – one-on-one lessons, classes, books, or online videos. For a great range of online lessons, try the Very Pink Knits YouTube channel. And you can always contact us if you get stuck and we will help you out!
This is as individual as you are! What interests you? What kind of learner are you? What will keep you engaged and progressing?
There are three main sets of foundational skills that underlie almost every project:
- Casting on and casting off/binding off – these start and finish the piece
- Knit and purl stitches – the two stitches that are the basis of all other stitches
- Increases and decreases – these help you add shape and texture to your work
Even then, to start out, all you really need to get going is casting on and the knit stitch. You can use these to make scarfs, dishcloths, and other squares or rectangles! You will need to add cast off/bind off to finish up. While this is all you need to get started, you can then build on these skills by adding purl stitches, increases and decreases, which means you can knit garments or anything with a shape. And then from there you can add ever more complex skills as you see fit, like colourwork.
Beginning Knitting Project Ideas
A lot of beginners start with very simple projects that only use these foundation skills. That way you can learn them, practice them, and make sure you are comfortable with them before building up your repertoire of skills. Dishcloths and simple scarves are great first projects for lots of people, and what we usually recommend to folk who are starting out. In fact this Wool and the Gang Whistler scarf kit includes both the pattern and the yarn. It’s perfect for a beginner project!
Starting At the Deep End!
Are you one of those people who know they will get bored or frustrated and want to leap right into something more advanced? There is literally nothing stopping you from doing that. This is a hobby and that means that you set the rules! So if you want to jump into something more complex to learn to knit, go for it! Remember that the more advanced the project you are starting with, the more skills you will have to learn, and get right, to get the outcome you want for the project. So if you are teaching yourself from videos or books, we do recommend getting help from an experienced knitter if you can. They can review your pattern before you start to identify what skills you will need to use. And they can help you get an overview of what you are going to need to do.
And Now You’re Ready to Knit!
Once you have all these elements, you are ready to start to learn to knit! The best part of knitting is that the knitting community loves to share their knowledge. There are a myriad of places to get help, support, and encouragement. In fact we offer all of that in our Facebook group and via email. Let us know if we can help!