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Learn to Knit - Basic Steps

By: Roxanne McDonald - Updated: 25 Apr 2013 | comments*Discuss
Learn To Knit Learning To Knit

Are you ready to learn to knit—to begin what will become a lifetime craft? Are you sure you are ready to get drawn in and hooked on a most addictive hobby? Good for you. You won’t be sorry for knitting is for most of us a calming escape from the everyday stresses. Knitting is a great way of individual, creative expression. And knitting is a practice that offers boundless possibilities for patterns and ideas you can follow or those you can come up with on your own…once you get the basic steps down.

Okay, then, let’s begin.

To start a knitting project today, have the following items:

  • A skein of worsted-weight yarn (any colour, but lighter is easier to see)
  • A set of knitting needles, size: 8 (wood or bamboo needles are good for beginners, as the stitches are less slippery on these)

Casting On

To get started on a project, we need to cast on a set number of stitches. [The number of stitches to cast on is indicated in whatever pattern you will use.]

To cast on:

  • With the first needle in your left hand, make a slip loop onto the needle. [Leave about a half-inch of end yarn (the small piece that dangles from the first loop), long enough to weave at the end of the project but short enough that it doesn’t get in your way.]
  • Hold left needle with knot at the underside of the needle.
  • Insert right needle point under left needle and into the loop (at the place of the knot).
  • Move ball of yarn so it is behind the project (and directly across from you).
  • Hold the needles in your left hand, so your left index finger is at the back of the X-crossed needles and your left thumb is keeping the needles in that X position.
  • With your right index finder, draw yarn from ball under and over right needlepoint.
  • With your right hand, make the right needle slide toward you and the point catch the loop on the left needle.
  • Insert the point of the left needle into the back of the new stitch on the right needle and slide it onto the left needle.
You now have two stitches, the first loop you made by hand and the second you cast on. Repeat this process for as many stitches as you will need for the project. [For this basic project, try for a total of 28 stitches: cast on 26 more stitches.]

The next term is knit. While what we are doing is called knitting, we also use the first and most common of the basic stitches—the knit stitch.

Knitting a Row

learn to knit20px break Using the 28 stitches you just cast on, hold the needle with those stitches in your left hand.

Insert the right needle into the top-most (closest to the point) loop, the right point entering under the left needle and into the loop at the knot (exactly the same way you did with the second stitch during casting on).

Next, instead of completing the new stitch and transferring it to the left needle, draw yarn from ball under and over right needlepoint; draw yarn through the loop with the right needlepoint. You see how you have part of a loop on the right needle, now. Slide the other part of the loop on the left needle onto the right needle.

You now have one knitted stitch on the right needle. Do this for the rest of the 27 stitches, until all have been knitted from the left needle onto the right needle. You then will have one knitted row.

Patterns use knitting instructions which call for knit stitches by indicating the term plus the number of knit stitches needed: for example, k28 would mean to knit 28 stitches.

Purling a Stitch

basic steps20px break The purl stitch is the second most commonly used stitch in knitting. Again, we say we are knitting in general, but more specifically, when we follow a pattern, we either knit a stitch or row or we purl a stitch or a row. The purl stitch is the opposite of the knit stitch.

To purl a stitch:

  • Move the ball of yarn to the FRONT of the project (between you and the project.
  • Hold the needle with the stitches/row in your left hand. Insert the right needlepoint into the first loop, at the FRONT of the left needle (on top of the left needle and under the yarn loop).
  • Draw the yarn from the ball OVER and under the right needlepoint. Pull the right needlepoint through the loop, and slide the stitch off the left needle and onto the right needle. You now have a purled stitch…, or you have just purled one (p1).
  • Continue purling until all the stitches are on the right needle. You then now have one purled row.

Knitting Stitch Patterns

Following are some stitch patterns that result from knitting and purling.

The Garter Stitch

Using the knit stitch for every stitch and every row, the Garter Stitch is the most common stitch for beginners to practice.

The Stockinette Stitch

Also known as the Stocking Stitch, this design involves knitting one row, purling one row, and continuing the alternating of rows throughout. This is the next most common pattern for beginners to knit a scarf, for example.

The Moss Stitch

The Moss Stitch calls for alternating one knit stitch and one purl stitch in the first two rows, then alternating one purl stitch and one knit stitch in the third and fourth rows. Likewise, rows five and six would be k1, p1; and rows seven and eight would be p1, k1, and so on.

The Seed Stitch

A bit more involved, the Seed Stitch is a pretty design that results in a series of small grids. The required pattern calls for twelve rows of the following:

  • Purl row 1 and all odd-numbered rows (3, 5, 7, 9, and 11).
  • Row 2: p1, k1, p1; then k1, p1 across.
  • Row 4: k across.
  • Row 6: p1, k7, p1; then k7, p1 across.
  • Row 8: k across.
  • Row 10: p1, k7, p1; then k7, p1 across (same as row 6).
  • Row 12: k across.
Good luck, have fun, and when you master these first few knitting for beginner stitches and patterns, come back and see us for your move to more involved knitting projects. For, we know you will be hooked, addicted, if not obsessed with your new skill and hobby!

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I always have trouble knitting button holes into cardigans. Do anyone know a neat and simple way to make them, other than the usual cast off two, cast on two, which always looks messy in a rib button band
grumpy gran - 25-Apr-13 @ 7:38 PM
This is a great introduction, but it's one of those articles that could benefit from illustrations. I tried to follow and it took me several attempts to get it all to work right. I'd probably have managed it faster if i'd been able to see how it was done. Other than that I really enjoyed this and it'll encourage me to discover more about knitting and maybe it'll become a hobby - it'd certainly be a useful one, although I don't know whether my kids will want to wear home-knitted jumpers to school - they only want designer labels!
claire - 4-Jul-12 @ 8:40 AM
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