Learn to Knit

Keep calm and carry yarn

The following are lessons you can do in order (or not) to walk you through the basic skills and knowledge you need to learn to knit. Also be sure to check out these patterns even a beginning knitter can tackle.

All you really need to get started knitting is a skein of yarn and pair of knitting needles in the corresponding size. To work through these next several lessons, I recommend a skein of worsted weight yarn in a light color (it’s easier to see the stitches when you’re first learning) and a pair of straight, size 8 needles in a material of your choice (I suggest bamboo or wood to start.) More information is provided in this post, or here are a couple of recommendations to get you started:

There are a lot of different kinds of needles (not to mention other accessories), which I found to be confusing when I was first learning to knit. During this lesson you’ll also learn about everything I keep in my knitting bag, and the other knitting tools I keep close at hand.

In this lesson, you’ll knit a garter stitch coaster, which includes learning the following:

  • How to pull the yarn from the middle of the skein,
  • How to tie a slip knot,
  • How to hold your yarn,
  • How to cast on using the continental method,
  • Which way to wrap the yarn (always counter-clockwise),
  • How to keep your yarn and stitches in the correct orientation, including how to make sure you pick up your project and resume knitting in the right direction after sitting it down in the middle of a row,
  • How to make a knit stitch with the continental style of knitting (i.e., holding the working yarn in your left hand),
  • How to knit garter stitch,
  • Where your yarn should be after you turn your work,
  • How to bind off, and
  • How to weave (or sew) in the ends.

Want more practice? After lesson 2, you’ll have all the skills you need to make this garter stitch headband. Check out the pattern post, which includes a step-by-step video tutorial.

In this lesson, you’ll learn to purl and knit the rib stitch while making these Beginner’s Knit and Purl Fingerless Gloves. You’ll also learn how to tell whether a stitch was a knit or a purl.

After knitting the fingerless gloves in Lesson 2, you’ll be all set to knit the matching Beginner’s Knit and Purl Hat.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to do the following:

  • Go back to repair a stitch from a previous row,
  • Pick up dropped stitches from a previous row when knitting in both stockinette and garter stitch,
  • Pick up all your stitches if you need to get your work back on the needles,
  • Learn about tinking and frogging as methods to rip out your work if you make a significant mistake and need to go back, and
  • Learn a couple of different methods for using lifelines to save your work.

This fun pattern is great for beginners and looks really beautiful when finished. In this lesson you’ll learn how to do the following:

  • Knit the long tail cast on, which is arguably the most frequently used cast on method,
  • Use stitch markers and row counters,
  • Do yarn overs (YOs),
  • K2tog and P2tog (and learn what that means),
  • Do Jenny’s stretchy bind off,
  • Sew a button (for the mug cozy),
  • Add fringe (to the coaster), and
  • Block your knitting.

After knitting the Woven Mug Cozy and/or Coaster in Lesson 5, you’ll have all the skills you need to knit this beautiful baby blanket. It’s a simple back and forth between knit and purl stitches, which will be easier to keep straight with the tips I shared about using stitch markers and row counters.

This quick Weekend Scarf project uses a drop stitch to create the open fabric. Knitting it as an infinity scarf also allows you to learn the provisional cast on and three needle bind off.  

Want to try another scarf?  The Loose Knit Infinity Scarf is similar to the Weekend Scarf in that it uses and extra large needle and dropped stitches to create a loose weave.  It also uses the provisional cast on and three needle bind off to connect the ends of this infinity scarf. 

This cute Mitten Ornament provides a chance to practice the Make One increases (M1L and M1R) as well as the mattress stitch.

Learn how to knit the lace in this beautiful Fall Leaves Shawl through a combination of SSK, K2Tog, and Yarn Overs. You’ll also learn how to customize a rectangle shawl so it’s just how you want it to be.

Advanced Beginner and Intermediate Techniques

The following are skills for advanced beginner and intermediate knitters:

The ear warmers project in this lesson provides a cute and quick introduction to cables. You’ll learn how to knit:

  • Cables,
  • The provisional cast on, and
  • Three needle bind off.

Learn how to knit the Traveller’s Hat, which is a great first hat that’s gender neutral and suitable for beginners or intermediate knitters, depending on which cast on you choose. This lesson includes the following skills:

  • Introduction to knitting in the round;
  • How to make sure your hat will fit;
  • How to knit a gauge swatch;
  • How to knit the circular tubular cast on for 1×1 rib;
  • How to change colors when knitting in the round and knit a jogless join; and
  • How to make a pom pom.

Additional Practice: Jaye Hat or Tivoli Slouch Hat

Jaye Hat
Tivoli Slouch Hat

If you want to try another hat, the Jaye Hat is another slouchy option that’s somewhat similar to the Traveller’s Hat.  Or you might also like the Tivoli Slouch Hat.

This lesson shows teaches the techniques needed to knit these adorable Harry Potter, raglan-style sweater ornaments, which are great for Christmas gifts. You’ll learn:

  • How to knit on double pointed needles (and avoid common problems doing so),
  • Knit front back (Kfb),
  • Move stitches to scrap yarn for the sleeves, and
  • Do duplicate stitch to add the letters.

In this lesson, use all of the following skills and knit along while making a practice sock. After that, you’ll know all the techniques necessary to knit full sized socks!

  • Turkish Cast On
  • M1L and M1R increases
  • Wrap and turn
  • K2Tog and SSK
  • Traditional Magic Loop
  • Jenny’s Stretchy Bind Off

After you’ve mastered the practice sock above, level up by learning to knit socks two at a time while making the comfy slippers! You’ll build on the skills in the last lesson and learn the following:

  • How to wind and organize your yarn to knit socks two at a time
  • How to knit two socks at once using magic loop

Additional Resources

There are a lot of new terms and techniques to learn when one is beginning to knit – it almost feels like a different language. Refer back to this Glossary early and often to help keep it all straight.

A hank of yarn has to be wound into a ball or cake before it can be used in a knitting project. Learn three different ways to wind yarn in this video tutorial.

More lessons will be coming soon!

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