Learn How to Knit

Have you ever watched your grandma use a computer? Remember how you spent an eternity cringing while she tried to figure out the difference between the right and left mouse button?? And how it took all your self-control to not push her to ground and do it yourself, because, seriously, it's not that complicated? Then you understand why I will not teach you how to knit. But! I will tell you how to learn to knit on your own.

Before you get started

It's a good idea to go into your first knitting attempt with the right expectations. Stop gazing lovingly at the princess shawl and spend some time reflecting on your grade school hand turkeys. Remember the awesome craftsmanship? The huge sense of accomplishment and pride in it's crooked feathers? Your loved ones' feigned appreciation for your handiwork? That's pretty much what you're in for here. Knitting isn't difficult, but learning any skill takes time, frustration, and patience.

And just so you know I know what I'm talking about, I present you the following:

Sad part is that this isn't even my first project. Really sad part is that I wore this. Often. With pride.

The goal with the below is to give you just the info you need to see if you like knitting enough to keep going, and give you an idea of the next steps. As unglamorous as the washclothes may be, it's best to do something small to get all your mistakes out.

If you try to start on something like a scarf, you'll end up with something that starts awful, but by the end (if you ever make it there) looks good. You will either never wear it, or wear it and look HILARIOUS. Also, scarves are tedious, even for people who already like knitting. Baby steps. You don't start running by doing a marathon.


Buy This Stuff

For a new knitter, I recommend either visiting your local yarn shop or checking out KnitPicks.com. Don't bother with the big box craft store - you don't save much money, the quality is pretty lame, and the staff gives bad advice as often as good.

KnitPick's mission is to provide luxury knitting at affordable prices, and in my opinion, they do a good job. It's not the best stuff out there, but it's better than the big box stores at the same prices or cheaper. Also, I heart their interchangeable needles. I should probably note that they aren't paying me to say that, but I'm not above a kick back if a box of yarn where to appear on my doorstep.

  • Yarn -
    • You'll need 50 gr per washcloth you want to make.
    • Get worsted weight yarn in a cotton. Acylic or cotton blended with bamboo or other plant fibers is fine. The first projects are washcloths, so you want something you can throw in the wash. No wool. Comfy, Shine or Simply Cotton would all be fine.
    • Get any color you like, but I recommend a solid, light color. It makes it easier to see the stitches.
  • Needles -
    • Get 24 or 32" Size 8 (5.00 mm) circular needles.
    • I recommend circulars for a couple reasons. They are more comfortable on the wrist, you don't have a big floppy stick hitting the person next to you, they are more versatile for future projects, and you don't have a loose needle that gets separated from your project. I don't use any of my straights any more.
    • The material doesn't matter. If you decide you want to keep going, experiment with bamboo, metal and acrylic ones to find what you like, but to get started, these are great.
  • Notions

All that should cost you $15-$20, which isn't too bad for trying something new.

Do this

There are a couple different ways to knit. All the stuff below is done in continential, because that's what I do. There's no right or wrong way, though, so whatever works for you is fine.

Also, I didn't make these videos, but the people that did are awesome.

Get Comfortable Holding the Yarn


Cast on 40 stitches with a knitted cast on

I am choosing to have you use this one because it's the most similar to the knit stitch, so it's easier to learn. Once you get going, you'll want to try different cast ons.


Knit until it's about a square

You're knitting (as opposed to purling, the other stitch) on both sides, so this is called 'garter stitch' and is the most basic knitted project.

She says to insert 'from left to right'. What she means is to not twist the stitch. They should look like little "U"s, with no twist at the bottom.

Cast off

This is a little confusing, because she's casting off (binding off is the same thing) from a piece of stockinette stitch, when you have garter stitch, but it's the same idea.

Without a doubt, you'll drop stitches. Fix them. It's good practice.

Weave in the ends


Celebrate your new washcloth!

It probably looks a little frumpy, but use and love it anyway. Enjoy the awesomeness of having made something useful for a while, move on and when you make better ones, bury it deep in the trash, never to be spoken of again.



With one under a belt, try making another one. My Simple Weave Washcloth is a good one to practice purling, because it'll give you a chance to see how they interact with the knit stitches.

You should already have all the skills you need (you can sub the knitted cast-on for the called for cable cast-on), except how to purl:

What now?

You should now at least know if this is something you want to keep trying. Now it's time to decide what you're interested in making.

If you want to learn cable, practice with this washcloth. The eyelet cloth is a good babystep for lace.

Or, if you're feeling adventure, hit up Ravelry.com's free pattern search and find something awesome to make. There are a couple resources below for helping when you hit things you don't know how to do.

Ways to Get Knitting Help

  • Your local yarn shop should offer classes for somewhere between $50 and $100, once you buy your supplies. They should give you a basic overview of everything, teach you the stitches you need, etc. Probably the fastest and easiest way to learn if knitting is right for you. Also, many have knitting nights where you can pick the brains of experienced knitters. Don't be scared! There's always someone who likes to help.
  • Ravelry.com - The amazing pattern search and project organization are nice, but the real gem of the site are the groups. Find a beginning knitter one and make some friends.
  • KnittingHelp.com - This is a giant encyclopedia of how to do techniques. It's very helpful if you forget the difference between ssk and k2tog, like I seem to on a weekly basis.

Experienced Knitters - What am I missing? Newbies - What is confusing?