Beginner’s Guide to Knitting

I was convinced to begin knitting years ago when one of my college classmates did a persuasive speech on why I should. Her powerful words still have me knitting today! What I once assumed was a “granny hobby” is now an artistic craft I have indulged in for years. It has forged several scarves, hats, sweaters, and gloves.

Why Knit?

Homemade chunky Scarf

So, why knit at all? Most will tell you how easy and cheap it is to just buy a knitted item from your favorite clothing store. This is true, but the beauty of knitting (as with sewing and crocheting) is the empowerment one feels after creating a garment from scratch, and then wearing it out in the open. On days when I wear something I have created, I feel more confident and unique.

There is also the creative aspect—you can customize something to be any color or design, making it one of a kind. The creative process is so enjoyable! I might see a beautiful hand painted yarn at the farmer’s market or a plushy super bulky yarn at the crafts store, and be inspired to create a colorful cardigan or a blanket to keep warm.

Knitting is also therapeutic. Along with sewing by hand, I love to knit on stressful days. I sit on the couch with my needles, put on a lighthearted and wholesome show or movie, and knit away as the needles and yarn organize my thoughts.

Perhaps my favorite thing about knitting (and crafts in general) is creating something out of affection and gifting it to someone. I am always overwhelmed with emotion when a friend or family member wears something I have made.

Basic Supplies:

Size 11 and 13 Knitting Needles

Size 11 to Size 13 Knitting Needles: Needles come in different sizes and materials. For beginners, I suggest needle sizes 11 (8.0mm), 12 (8.5mm), or 13 (9.0mm) because they are easier to handle and can knit projects relatively quickly. The more economical knitting needles are made of plastic, but I recommend metal or wooden needles because they are both eco-friendly and tend to have sharper points, which is super helpful when catching yarn as you knit.

Official Needle Sizes from the Craft Yarn Council

Varieties of bulky yarn

Bulky Weight Yarn: Yarn comes in several weights and textures, but the easiest weights to work with as a beginner is any yarn weight between “bulky” or “super bulky.”

Official Standard Yarn Weight System from the Craft Yarn Council

Yarn can be made up of a variety of different fibers. Beginner-friendly fibers include wool blends or superwash wool. Wool blends are yarns made with a combination of wool and another fiber such as acrylic or cotton. Superwash wool is wool that is treated in a way that allows it to be machine washable. Untreated wool stretches and usually must be washed by hand and reshaped or blocked on a flat surface. Machine washing and drying may result in the wool shrinking and felting.

Cast-On and Cast-Off

The video below shows two methods for casting on stitches: Short-Tail Cast-On, Long-Tail Cast-On, and how to Cast Off.

Knit Stitch and Purl Stitch

The video below shows how to knit and purl to get the Garter Stitch and Stockinette Stitch.

Best Projects for Beginners

Fingerless Gloves: Most people start with a scarf as their first knitting project, but I highly recommend fingerless gloves. These are much easier to complete because they take a fraction of the time knit and require the same skills needed to make a scarf. Also, if you make a mistake (such as dropping a stitch), it is much easier to pick up your stitches again and save your project. You would start your fingerless gloves as you would a scarf, but with fewer stitches and fewer rows. After casting off, you would sew the lengthwise ends together and leave a hole for your thumb.

Scarf: Scarves are popular first projects since all you have to do is cast-on your desired number of stitches, knit up the scarf to your desired length, then cast-off and weave in the loose ends.

Hat: Hats are another great first project since they knit up quickly like fingerless gloves. To get the hat shape, you just have to shape the crown, which is done by decreasing—knitting two stitches together within a certain number of rows as designated by a pattern.


Knitting Glossary and Abbreviations

Colonial Williamsburg Part 5: Tarpley, Thompson & Company Haul

I Sewed an Outfit Using 18th Century Reproduction Fabric


Official Needle Sizes and Official Standard Yarn Weight System references from the Craft Yarn Council:

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  1. Thank you for this post, 👌👌

    1. You’re quite welcome! Thank you for reading! ☺️

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