Knitting and crocheting have become popular hobbies. Given the abundance of free patterns online, beautiful designs displayed on Pinterest, and the joy of receiving a handmade gift, it’s no wonder. Perhaps you’ve seen a beautiful scarf and wondered what it would really cost to make one. Maybe you have a love for the craft and lots of gifts to make for Christmas. January is a GREAT time to learn a new and productive hobby. During winter, you’re often cooped up in your house twiddling your thumbs. Instead, twiddle your knitting needles and get a head start on your Christmas gifts.
There are many ways to learn to knit:
- Family – If you have a beloved family member that knits, you should ask if they can teach you. It’s very satisfying to give someone a knitted gift or show off a cozy scarf that you made and say, “My aunt/grandmother/mom taught me how to knit.”
- Classes – Your local craft store might offer knitting classes. Check for deals on social deal websites such as Groupon, Living Social, Sweet Jack, or Amazon.
- Teach Yourself – If you want to teach yourself to knit, you can watch YouTube videos online (recommended) or pick up a book on knitting.
To learn more about knitting terms or supplies, go to About.com or Wikipedia. In this article, you’re going to learn by doing.
Pick a Pattern
Go thee to the internets and seek! For your first knitting project, you are looking for a simple scarf or dishcloth pattern that is defined as a BEGINNER project.
Yarn websites have images in their search results, making it easier to find something that YOU would like:
- Lion Brand Yarn Patterns
- Red Heart Yarn Patterns
- Patons Yarn Patterns
- Bernat Yarn Patterns
If you’re ready to jump in and start knitting, check out the Patterns I Have Used below.
Buy Your Supplies
After you choose a pattern, you need to purchase your supplies. The best thing about finding a pattern on the yarn manufacturers’ websites is that you KNOW that the pattern was made for exactly that yarn. The patterns will also tell you how much yarn you’ll need and what size knitting needles you’ll need.
Also, even thought the patterns may or may not mention it clearly, you will need a few large-eyed needles (darning needles) to finish your product. I also recommend getting some Fray-Check. If you have any questions while at the store, you can always ask a clerk for help.
Unless you get very lucky, you will probably be paying full price for most of the supplies for your first project. Later, as you are stocking up for projects that you enjoy doing, you can watch fabric store websites for sales and coupons.
If you plan to knit a one-ball scarf for your first project, view the following instructions:
Cast on 14 stitches.
Work in Garter stitch until piece measures about 65 in. (165 cm) from beginning.
Weave in ends.
And naturally, as a beginner you have no clue what that means. Thou must summon the youtubes! In other words, get on YouTube and search. Or, view some great YouTube Videos below.
For the above example, you should know that “Casting On” is the method you use to start knitting. Watch the video below to learn how. A Garter stitch is a continuous knit. You knit in one direction, then when you get to the end of the row, you flip your knitting over and knit in the other direction. Fastening off is how you finish off the knitting after you have knitted your last row. Weaving in the ends is what you do with the threads at each end of your item to ensure that the item doesn’t start fraying loose. Have you ever seen a cartoon of some character like Wile E. Coyote wearing a sweater when a thread gets caught on something? The entire sweater “unknits” itself. You want to prevent that phenomenon.
Types of Stitches
Here is a great article by Vogue Knitting on the Basic Knitting Stitches. This page is wonderful because it tells you about the stitch and has an image for each type of stitch. Most stitches are some combination or variation of knitting and purling. Check out the videos below to learn what that means.
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It is much easier to learn to knit after watching someone else do it and explain the process.
Knitting: How to Cast On
Casting on with one needle and the long tail.
How to Make a Knit Stitch (knit)
The English-style knit stitch is a common stitch. This video shows you how to knit in the English style, where you hold the ball yarn in the right hand and wrap it around the right-hand needle as you create stitches.
How to Purl (purl)
The English-style purl stitch is a common knitting stitch. This video shows you how to purl in the English style, where you hold the yarn in the right hand and wrap it around the right-hand needle as you create stitches.
Yarn Over Stitch (yo)
In this tutorial, you’ll learn the simple yarn over stitch, otherwise known as “yo”. Often used in lace knitting, the yarn over method also works for increasing stitches. The best part is that it’s incredibly easy to master!
Knit Two Together (k2tog)
Knitting two together (k2tog) isn’t as complicated as it sounds. All that you do is treat two knit stitches as if they were one stitch, and knit them together instead of separately. This popular method for decreasing creates a slope that slants slightly to the right. Learn how to k2tog in this free knitting tutorial.
How to Add a New Ball of Yarn
This is an easy, up-close demonstration of HOW TO ADD A NEW BALL OF YARN By Judy Graham, Knitter to the Stars, whose knits have appeared in movies, TV, and concerts for over 30 years and who has been hand-knitting for over 50 years.
How to Pick Up a Dropped Stitch
Dropped stitches can cause knitting to unravel, so you must pick up (fix) that dropped stitch. This video shows you how to find dropped stitches and how to fix them as you knit.
How to Bind Off Your Knitting
Finish your knitted piece by binding off (or casting off) to secure the stitches in the last row that you’ve completed. This video shows you how to bind off to ensure that your knitting doesn’t unravel.
Weaving in Ends
Learn how to weave in your loose ends the correct way.
Learn How to Crochet – Part 1 – Basics for the Absolute Beginner
This video is the first of a two-part series designed for the absolute beginner of crochet – as well as crocheters who want to review basic concepts. Topics covered include holding the hook & yarn, chain, single crochet, turning your work and finishing the project. Viewers will also learn how to create an easy dishcloth with this video. For more free crochet patterns, tips and tutorials, please go to http://naztazia.com.
Learn How to Crochet – Part 2
This video is the second of a two-part series designed for the absolute beginner of crochet – as well as crocheters who want to review basic concepts. Topics covered include beginning double crochet, half double crochet, triple & treble crochet, back loops, chaining between stitches, slip stitch, circles and crocheting in the round.
Patterns I Have Used
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I like to work through patterns myself before deciding if I want to reuse them. These are the ones I’m reusing and why.
Basketweave Baby Blanket
A baby blanket is a great first large project. I keep one ready at all times. In my first year of knitting, I went to FOUR baby showers! The basketweave design is simple to knit, but makes a beautiful finished project. After using this pattern a half-dozen times, I have created my own pattern with variations:
Below is the original pattern from Lion Yarn:
Lion Yarn Basketweave Baby Blanket (Download the PDF from me HERE.)
I found out pretty quickly while doing this project that I’m not good at counting rows. Especially when the rows are 134 stitches wide. Also, I found out that although the pattern called for 4 BALLS of yarn, they really meant 4 SKEINS of yarn. (In this case, a skein is equivalent to 2 balls for a total of 8 balls.) Additionally, when I got near the end, I found that even that wasn’t enough yarn. I needed an extra skein to finish. After reviewing the pattern, I found the problem. The original pattern called for using Lion Brand Babysoft yarn. Each skein is 5oz and 459 yards long (solid colors). When I went to buy the yarn, Bernat Softee Baby yarn was on sale and it was also 5oz. Unfortunately, it must be a thicker yarn because a 5oz skein is only 362 yards. Thus my need for the 5th skein. You would run into the same problem with Babysoft prints at 367 yards.
You also need to pay attention when knitting this pattern, with the 10 knit & 10 purl stitches that alternate across and then alternate every 12 rows. I had to back out multiple times after screwing this up while watching TV. I now listen to audiobooks while knitting this so I can keep my eyes on it.
Because of the many reasons listed above, my patter includes the following:
- One side of the blanket has 12 stitches and the other has 13 stitches. This helps you keep track of what row you’re on.
- The pattern includes a chart that you can use to check off each row as you knit it.
- My pattern specifies how much Softee Baby yarn to use.
Time to Complete: About 45 hours.
This dishcloth pattern was given to me by my aunt. It was a copy of an old typed pattern. If you look at the image, you’ll see a green dishcloth made from a solid color and another one made from a self-striping yarn in a beige/pink/white color set. You actually knit this on the diagonal, so the striping is diagonal, which adds visual interest. Here is a copy of the original pattern:
This pattern has a few different stitches that you will need to learn: Slipstitch, Yarn Over (YO), and Knit 2 together (K2tog). You can learn all of those from the YouTube videos included above.
I found that this was a great pattern to knit mindlessly. You start with 4 stitches and continue adding a stitch to each row until you get to 45 stitches. Then you reduce a stitch on each row with the K2tog until you get back down to 4 stitches.
Time to Complete: About 2 1/2 hours.
This is a pattern that I edited a little. The pattern was simple enough. Knit a square then add a crochet loop at the top. Here’s the original pattern:
Lion Brand 1-Hour Knit Potholder
The changes I made were to do a Purl stitch on the first and last stitch of every knitted row. I also knitted it with 2 strands of yarn instead of 3. I did that by accident since I had only bought 2 balls of the color I needed. Also, make sure you watch the videos on how to crochet a chain stitch for the loop.
This pattern was also easy to knit mindlessly.
Time to Complete: About 1 1/2 hours.
Scarf – Quick & Cozy
This is one of those crazy patterns made with super-thick yarn and size 50 needles! The scarf is actually pretty wide, but curls up to look more rounded.
Lion Brand Quick & Cozy Marylebone Road Scarf
I found that I could make two scarves out of the 3 skeins of yarn. I did this by weighing one of the skeins before starting, then stopping just before the weight was down to half of the original. (Yay, kitchen scale!) These will make great gifts and they don’t take long to knit.
This pattern was also easy to knit mindlessly.
Time to Complete: About 1 hour.