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Learn To Knit: Video Tutorials for The Beginner

Updated on January 2, 2011

Welcome to the wonderful world of knitting!

As a knitting instructor at my LYS (local yarn shop) I'm always on the look-out for resources for new knitters. There's so much out there, from books & DVD's, to free online tutorials. You'll find all of these here as well as free patterns written by a professional knitter! (Ya, that would be me. ;)

(photo by Johntex)

Getting Started - Choose your yarn, and let's get knitting!

(photo by Frode Inge Helland)
(photo by Frode Inge Helland)

(photo by Frode Inge Helland)

A simple scarf is the perfect way to learn the basics of knitting. By the time you finish, you'll know how to prepare to knit by putting stitches on your needle, how to work them, and how to successfully finish the scarf so that your work doesn't unravel. These skills are called casting on, knitting, binding off, and weaving in ends. Here's a basic pattern to get you going. Check out the vids below for help. Good luck, and remember: Have fun!

My Very First Scarf

Materials

Yarn: One skein of Lamb's Pride Burly Spun (100% wool, 132 yds, bulky weight)

Needles: US Size 15 (10mm)

Notions: A large, blunt sewing needle

Instructions

Cast on 10 stitches, leaving a tail of yarn at least six inches.

Row 1: Knit every stitch.

Repeat Row 1 until the scarf is desired length.

Bind off, again leaving a six inch tail.

Use your sewing needle to weave in your tails.

(photo by lollyknit / CC BY 2.0)

Scarf Supplies - Ready to knit that first scarf? Here's what you need.

Brown Sheep Burly Spun - Ruby Red (BS180)
Brown Sheep Burly Spun - Ruby Red (BS180)

I love Brown Sheep yarns. Not only are they high quality, but are made in the USA. Nebraska, to be exact.

 

The Power of The Knit - Other things to make with the knit stitch.

The Knitting Experience Book 1: The Knit Stitch, Inspiration & Instruction
The Knitting Experience Book 1: The Knit Stitch, Inspiration & Instruction

The first in a wonderful line of books, The Knitting Experience: Book 1: The Knit Stitch, is a wonderful addition to a new knitter's library. With clear, easy to understand instructions, it shows how to make everything from scarves to ponchos to sweaters using only the knit stitch.

 

Customized Tube Scarf - Purling and Stripes, Right and Wrong Sides

The knit and the purl are the foundation stitches of knitting. Actually, they create the same stitch, just flipped around. Think two sides of the same coin. The knit stitch makes a flat "V" shape on the front of the work just under the needle, with a bump on the opposite side. The purl gives you a bump on the front, with the V hanging out on the back of your work.

The knitted fabric that is created when all of the Vs are on the same side of your work, and all of the bumps are on the opposite side is called stockinette stitch. The side with the Vs is commonly known as the right side, while the bumpy side is the wrong side. No judgments here, it's just a way to easily say "side that is usually facing out to the public" (right side) and "side that is usually on the inside of a garment" (wrong side.) You will commonly see these abbreviated as (RS) and (WS) in knitting patterns.

Stockinette stitch (often referred to in patterns as "st st") curls up on itself. This scarf takes advantage of the natural curling to create a warm wrap for those chilly days.

Once you learn to stripe, this scarf is entirely customizable. Make big, chunky stripes in team colors for your favorite sports fan (even if that's you) or go with smaller stripes for a more sophisticated look. Stick with two colors, or make a multi-hued beauty. The sky's the limit when it comes to the number of colors and striped that one scarf can hold!

My Way Tube Scarf

Materials

Yarn: At least 300 yards of a worsted weight wool, acrylic, or wool blend yarn. I recommend two balls of Plymouth Encore (85% acrylic 25% wool, 200 yds, worsted weight). But, this 300 yds can be made up of smaller bits of many different colors and yarns, just as long as they are worsted weight and feel nice against the sensitive skin of the neck.

Needles: US size 8 (5mm).

Notions: A large, blunt sewing needle.

Instructions

Cast on 40 stitches.

Row 1 (RS): Knit all stitches.

Row 2 (WS): Purl all stitches.

Repeat Rows 1 & 2, striping at will, until scarf is desired length.

Bind off.

Weave in ends.

(stockinette photos by breibeest / CC BY 2.0)

(tube scarf photo by 18581265@N05/ / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Magical Knitting

Did that picture of the tube scarf remind you of a certain boy wizard's wardrobe? Then, check out this book dedicated entirely to the knitting of the Harry Potter books. Within these pages are the secrets of creation...well, of creating everything from the (in)famous Weasley sweater to Dobby's socks.

Ribbed Fingerless Mittens - Ribbing and Seaming

Once you've mastered both the knit and the purl, you are ready for ribbing. You make ribbing by alternating between the knit and the purl stitch on the same row. This makes an elastic fabric that fits snugly and stretches to fit the shape of whatever it's on.

The fingerless mittens below will give you a chance to practice both ribbing and seaming. They're handy, too. I use mine all the time for driving or walking the dog.

Ribbed For Your Pleasure Fingerless Mittens

Materials

Yarn: One ball Cascade 220 Superwash (100% machine washable wool, 220 yds, worsted weight)

Needles: US size 8 (5mm)

Notions: Two split ring markers or safety pins. A large, blunt sewing needle.

Notes

Work any instructions given inside parenthesis () the number of times it tells you to. For example: "(knit two, purl two) nine times" means that you will alternate between knitting two stitches and purling two stitches nine times, for a total of 36 stitches.

When you seam using the mattress stitch, one stitch from each of the edges you are seaming with will fold to the back of your work. I've taken this into account when designing this pattern, and added an extra two stitches. That's why you have an extra two knit stitches at the end of row one, and the extra two purl stitches at the end of row two.

Instructions

Work these instructions twice for a pair of mittens.

Cast on 38 stitches.

Row 1: (Knit two, purl two) nine times. Knit the last two stitches.

Row 2: (Purl two, knit two) nine times. Purl the last two stitches.

Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until the work measures eight inches.

Bind off loosely, being sure not to pull your stitches too tightly. If your bind off is usually tight, try binding off with a needle one size larger.

Seaming:

Fold mitten in half the long way, holding it on your hand. Line up bind off edge with the lower knuckle on your index finger, so that the lower section of the finger is covered. You may want to get a friend to help you with that.

With your split ring markers (or safety pins) mark the top and bottom of the opening that comfortably accommodates your thumb.

Cut a piece of yarn twice as long as the length of the mitten from the bottom edge to the bottom marker. Using the sewing needle, seam this up, being sure to leave tails of at least six inches at both ends.

With a new piece of yarn, use the same technique to seam the edges from the top of the mitten to the top marker.

With the sewing needle, weave in your tails.

(photo by moria / CC BY 2.0)

Mitten Supplies

Cascade Yarn 220 Superwash Paints 9861 Evening Skies
Cascade Yarn 220 Superwash Paints 9861 Evening Skies

Cascade 220 comes in an amazing variety of colors including tweeds (called Quatros) and multi (called Paints.) One of my local yarn shops has the "Nook 'o Cascade 220" with uncounted cubbies filled with the stuff. The superwash featured here is great when making a project that will end up in the washing machine.

 

Increasing and Decreasing - Changing the number of stitches on your needle

Now that you can knit and purl, you're hot stuff. You can make all sorts of recutangular projects. Scarves, washcloths, and even purses can fly off your needles at warp speed. But, at some point you'll want to knit something else. Hats, mittens, and sweaters usually require you to increase or decrease the amount of stitches while you are knitting. So, gather 'round and check out the most popular ways of shaping.

Instead of trying to incorporate all of these techniques into one project, I've listed a few links to free patterns using shaping. Enjoy.

Gaia Shoulder Hug(pdf) A beautiful light weight triangular shawl. The brilliantly multi colored yarn used reminds me of a sunset over a still lake. Gorgeous!

Beginners Rolled Brim Hat A great intro to hat knitting. Knit out of a lovely multi worsted weight yarn that does all of the striping for you!

Pocket Book Slippers Insanely easy Mary Jane-ish slippers. A little clarification, though: When the designer says "increase in each stitch" go with the knit one in front and back increase.

Build Your Skills

I Can't Believe I'm Knitting is a classic skill building book for new knitters. This updated version, along with it's DVD counterpart, features clear instructions for patterns that will stretch your knitting muscles, but not pull them.

Free Patterns! - Can't get much better than free, eh?

There are tons of free patterns out there. I mean tons. Unfortunately, sometimes it's a case of you get what you pay for. Fortuantely, there are a lot of good patterns out there, too. Here are my favorite sources for free patterns.

Outside the Decorative Felted Box - Knitting that pushes the edge

Want something a little more edgy? Punk, goth, and chic urban patterns fill the pages of these books that take knitting out of the box, and on to a whole new plane. Go ahead, let your inner Joan Jet shine.

Let me know what you think. All feedback welcomed. :)

Stitch N...um, Comment!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Glad I saved you in my bookmarks. Really enjoy this site.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      RS Skills

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      RS Skills

    • MerryChicky profile image
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      MerryChicky 7 years ago

      @justholidays: Garsh, thanks! :)

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 7 years ago

      Very well done! Interesting. Great layout. Perfect instructions.

      Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • MerryChicky profile image
      Author

      MerryChicky 7 years ago

      @Stazjia: Thank you! I really appreciate your help on this one. :)

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 7 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      What a terrific looking lens and so full of good information for the beginner at knitting. Lensrolled to my two relevant lenses.

    • MerryChicky profile image
      Author

      MerryChicky 8 years ago

      Thanks for the kind comments, I'm glad you liked my lenses! Good luck on your knitting adventure. It can get quite addictive. :) [in reply to Tiddledeewinks]

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 8 years ago

      I'll be coming back as I have a scarf I didn't know how to finish off. A girl way back in my junior high days showed me how to knit during English class! I don't have relatives that knit. I self taught myself to crochet, but never really got too far. My daughter (Eelkat on Squidoo) taught herself to crochet. I love all things handmade and used to sew a lot. I like knitting I think better than crochet. 5 star lens and thanks for the info.

    • MerryChicky profile image
      Author

      MerryChicky 8 years ago

      thanks, I'm glad it inspired! [in reply to kmax]

    • profile image

      kmax 8 years ago

      I've been wanting to learn to knit, and your lens inspires me! You've done a great job. Thank you.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Nice lens, very well done! Winter is coming, I'm cold, need to learn to knit - fast!

    • profile image

      happy-jack 9 years ago

      I live in Europe, and can not get some

      very nice materials you people can.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      Nice Lens. I crochet but I've never tried knitting. Your directions are clear and easy to understand.

      5 stars

      Liz