How to Knit: Casting On Your First Stitches
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.
Best How to Knit Books
Easy First 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.