How To Knit: Casting On Your First Stitches


How to Knit: Casting On Your First Stitches

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Knitting for Beginners

After years of being intimidated, I finally decided to learn how to knit by taking a 2-hour class at my local yarn shop, Piedmont Yarn. I love crafting things with my hands, but knitting always seemed so puzzling. After months of working with Lea and speaking with our Leafcutter knitting customers, I was finally inspired to grab a pair of knitting needles and cast on. I’m happy to report I have quickly picked up the rhythm of the simple knit stitch. Further progress, however, will require much more practice and instruction!

Why Learn to Knit

Knitting appealed to me as a tech-free activity that I could take anywhere. I am trying to cut down on my screen time and learning to knit has so far been a great relief. I like to listen to music, catch up on an audio book or chat with friends while knitting. It is very satisfying to look down and see the progress I have made after a knitting session. Knitting is also meditative, it allows my mind to just focus on the stitches and nothing else. Another bonus: there are actual scientific studies on the far reaching mental and physical health benefits of knitting.

With my new found enthusiasm for knitting, I have scoured the internet to bring you the best resources so that you too can learn how to knit.

How To Knit: The Basics

  • Use a smooth, medium weight synthetic or wool yarn and matching sized needles (any sizes 6 to 10) to start.
  • Bamboo Needles are best for beginners because they aren’t as slippery as metal or plastic.
  • Practice makes perfect. I think knitting is all about getting into the rhythm of the movement, teaching your hands how to use the needles and manipulate the yarn.
  • Remember to relax! While you are starting out you will most likely find yourself hunched over in concentration. Take a breath and allow your shoulders to fall. If things get intense, take a short break. Make a cup of tea and come back to your stitches.

Find Personalized Help

I found that when starting out, it’s best to knit along side another person who knows how to knit. They can watch for common beginner mistakes, see your progress, and help you stay on the right track. That way you’re not teaching your muscles to remember the wrong motions.

Knitting shops offer classes or drop in hours where they will tutor you with a project. These are often free and you’re sure to meet other folks who are also just starting out. You can also find weekly knitting groups through your local yarn shop where you can expand your knitting support circle.

It seems to me that one of the tougher aspects of knitting is that correcting mistakes is its own skill to be learned. You have to knit backwards to undo an incorrect stitch. This is where YouTube can come in handy, especially when you aren’t knitting next to someone who can help.

Best Online Resources

These are the most helpful websites with diagrams and step-by-step instructions for beginning knitting. Give them a spin and see which instruction styles suit you best:

Craft Yarn Council : Learn to Knit Stitch
 provides an illustrated guide to cast-on and complete the knit stitch.

TutsPlusVideo Tutorials teaches knitting fundamentals.
Stacy Perry’s Very Pink has lots of easy to understand video tutorials from learning to knit, to creating finished pieces.

New Stitch a Day shows everything you would learn in a Knitting 101 class and then some.

dummies - fixing dropped stitch
Knitting For Dummies is a helpful video series on YouTube. created an iPhone app to help you knit when you’re offline.

Best How to Knit Books

Stitch 'n Bitch
Far and away Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook is the favorite book for beginners. It teaches the terminology and fundamentals in a fun and easy to digest way.

Vogue Knitting Quick Reference is a spiral bound reference that is useful to have on hand for any level of knitting. This is the book that knitters go back to again and again for tips and tricks.

knitting wo tears
Some people feel knitting is one of the trickier crafts to master and the aptly named Knitting Without Tears offers solutions to common problems and help with starting projects.

Easy First Projects

A dishcloth is a classic beginners project. This video tutorial is accompanied by a free downloadable pattern.

This free scarf pattern is perfect for those just starting out because the pattern easily hides mistakes.

one skein
One-Skein Wonders is a good resource for easy to manage one-skein projects.

Beyond the Basics

Once you’ve mastered the basics, spend some time with the whimsical projects in Lea’s book, Knit the Sky. Many of her creative patterns are relatively simple to follow and most do not require advanced skills. Also be sure to check out our round-up of 25 Scarf Knitting Patterns. This is a great list of new patterns to push yourself beyond simple knit and purl stitches.


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Grew up in Los Angeles and now living the dream in Oakland. Obsessed with all things miniature, vintage and/or made of paper. The character of Buttercup (The Powerpuff Girls) was based on me.

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