The Basics of Starting to Knit

August 19, 2011

Kim from Baby Feet taught me how to knit. Over the phone. So when I thought about how confused I was in starting (shut it, I hear the giggling about hand sizing) I wondered if other people felt the same way. I asked her to write a post on the basics of starting to knit; what to buy, books to read, etc. And here we go:

Today I’m guest/co-posting with Diana over at Hormonal Imbalances. This post was her idea — she’s smart that way. When she talked about taking up knitting when Sam left for training in Georgia she got a lot of questions about it. Since I was ‘teaching’ her (kinda) she suggested we do a post about knitting and I literally squealed. One, because I’d semi-hooked her. Two, because knitting is my crack. And yarn is readily available. It’s the gateway drug to felting, spinning .. . farming your own sheep! The web is my dealer. I buy weekly. The FedEx man delivers the stuff to my house and I greet him with shaking hands and a twitchy smile.

He fears me.

I need it. I crave it. Without it I am a shaking, shivering mess. What do I do with my hands as we watch TV? Drive in the car? Sit with family? What do I do when somebody has a baby? That baby

Baby hats - don't be afraid to have fun!

*deep breath*

About three years ago a dear friend, Erin, sat me down and said, “I’m teaching you to knit.” She put the needles in my hand, stood behind me and guided my hands through the old as time motions of knit one purl one.

The knit stitch

As I strung together my first row of stitches, which were juvenile and messy, I was hooked. She spent a good two hours with me, guiding my hands over and over. Teaching me to cast on. Showing me the knit stitch and purl stitch countless times until I had it right. She left me with needles, yarn and a love of knitting.

Three years later I’ve attempted to pass on what has become my obsession hobby to Diana 🙂

Here’s the thing about knitting that goes beyond the creation of a new hat, sweater or scarf: you build a memory every time you sit down to work. I see Erin’s hands when I ‘throw’ the yarn, as I make a knit stitch, because she taught me. My mom knits differently, so I don’t see her hands in that movement. I see Erin’s. But when I begin to knit socks? I’ll see my mom’s, because that’s what she knits. When I start a baby sweater I immediately think of Diana’s Bella, because I knit my first baby sweater for her. I remember what I was doing, where I was sitting. How worried I was that I wasn’t going to be able to do it. And now as I knit, as I pick up new projets, half completed hats and sweaters, they each have their own memories attached to them. They are each their own little ball of happiness that I unravel and knit into something beautiful.

Some resources to help you get started:

~Stitch ‘N bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller

This is the ultimate start up guide to knitting. It reads like a novel and has excellent illustrations of casting on, all the stitches and some patterns. I’d recommend starting with some easier patterns, though. I always tell people to start with a simple baby hat or scarf, then move on.

~The Knitting Answer Book

I actually knit with this book on my lap when I’m trying a new pattern. It’s small and fits nicely. Don’t be afraid to take notes in your books!

~One Skein Wonders

Erin gave me this book as my first pattern book – and I think I’ve knitted almost all of them. Or many of them twice. Or more.

~ Pattern Works I love this website for their gadgets to go along with knitting. They have all sorts of things I need to help me knit. Things I didn’t even know I needed. More crack!

~Knit Picks Oh, sweet yarn. This is my ultimate yarn supplier. They may know me by name. Possibly.

~On YouTube there is a series of videos by the Knit Witch. I believe she has books and a store of her own.

~Every knitter needs patterns. Many, many patterns. Daily sometimes. has them. For free. You need to set up an account, but that’s free, too. You can purchase patterns there as well.

Some personal tips from me, your average obsessed knitter:

~always use natural fibers — wool, cotton, linen, silk

~use wooden needles. They’re not as slippery and you’ll have better control.

~don’t be afraid of circulars — use them as straight needles until you’re ready to knit in the round.

~don’t be afraid to just try. Violet is 8 and she’s learning. She can already do the knit stitch. And Sarah is going to be learning soon. She’s 5.

~practice. Make long scarves or pot holders until you’re confident, if that’s what feels right. I have many in my closets and drawers.

~find a GREAT yarn shop. Michael’s just doesn’t cut it for good supplies and yarn. Really. Plus, you need the knowledge of the owner.

~one final tip: have fun. Enjoy. Knit Purl LOVE


  • Discount Beats By Dr.Dre Studio Superman For Dwight Howard Special Edition

    March 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    relevant of a post i do have to admit that i do read alot of these a day but will defitenlely stay up to date with any new info and thanks for the blog ..

  • Valerie

    August 24, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Knitting and felting are great but forget the sheep…Get alpacas. I have both and only one of those keeps getting into constant messes and making me want to eat a lot of lamb chops.

  • Lindsay

    August 20, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I just starting knitting (found an awesome local shop with a knitting group). Started practicing and then moved on to a felted purse for my sister’s birthday. I hope it turns out!!

    Great list of resources. I love Stitch ‘n Bitch & am so excited about the websites for free patterns. Ravelry looks amazing. Could create take-out dinners for a week.

    I so don’t need another hobby right now, but I do it while I’m watching movies at night. The repetitiveness of knitting has a very calming effect…until I drop a couple stitches. Haha.

  • Laura

    August 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing. My Grandmother taught me to knit when I was young, but I have forgotten. I’ve always pondered about picking it up again. Maybe I will!

  • Elle

    August 19, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I loved this, thank you! I have a friend who is planning to teach me how to knit when we can get it scheduled into our busy lives. I really just want to be able to make my own leg warmers – because I’m obsessed with them.

    1. Kim

      August 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      Ooooh, the patterns for leg warmers! And you make tiny ones — baby legs! Schedule it in NOW!

  • Samantha

    August 19, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Loving this. Thank you for including some pictures. I always find them so helpful.

    I’ve wanted to knit forever, it seemed so hard and complicated. This makes it a lot easier!

    1. Kim

      August 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      Go for it – it’s so rewarding!

  • Sara

    August 19, 2011 at 6:58 am

    My cousin is on ravelry, and she made me some covers to fit on the old swiffer sweeper handles… they’re awesome for picking up dog hair!

    1. Kim

      August 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      Your cousin is on Ravelry? Like, I can get a pattern from her?? and nobody gets hurt. 😉

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