A Beginners Guide to Knitting

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A Beginner's Guide to Knitting

Knitting is a great way to create handmade scarves, blankets, sweaters, and bags using a technique that involves two thin needles and some yarn. Knitting is not difficult, but it can take some practise to pick up the basic stitches and gain confidence. A knitter who is just starting out should practise the basic types of stitches, casting on, and casting off before taking on a big project.

Once a knitter is ready to take on a project, selecting a pattern to use as a guide can be a fail proof way to complete a large creation. Knitting patterns are generally easy to follow and provide complete instructions for how to create and finish a project such as a sweater, blanket, or hat.

Before taking on knitting, it is best to assemble all the equipment and supplies that are needed so the knitter does not lose focus on the task at hand while searching for needles or scissors. For best results, a knitter should have one location such as a knitting bag or basket to store all of the supplies needed for knitting.

Tools Needed

Any creative endeavor requires supplies, and knitting is no different. A knitter should prepare adequately for a knitting project no matter how large or small it is. The right equipment is needed to properly learn how to knit, and though there are some minor differences in the various knitting yarns and needles, there are some basic essentials which help every knitter successfully begin this new hobby.

Yarn

When it comes to choosing yarn for a beginner's first project, it is best to go with a yarn that does not have too many special features, such as mohair, fuzzy yarn, or a yarn that is too bulky or thick. The buyer should choose a straightforward, inexpensive yarn to practise with that is a basic colour without being dyed other colours. It is also easier for a beginning knitter to see the stitches when using a white or light coloured yarn as opposed to darker shades.

To practise basic stitches, a general skein of plain, average weight yarn works. For other projects once a knitter becomes more comfortable, he or she can choose yarn based on what type of project he or she is working on, such as softer lambswool for a baby blanket or bulky yarn for a scarf. Synthetic fibres are easier to control, and a couple of good brands are Sirdar and Aran.

Knitting Needles

For a knitter who is looking for a set of knitting needles, the sheer selection can be confusing. Needles are made of various materials, such as plastic, metal, or bamboo, and they also come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colours. For a beginning knitter, the material the needles are made of is a personal preference. Metal needles are easy to use, and they hold the yarn nicely without tears or snags, so this is a good option for a knitter just starting out.

Plastic needles are lightweight, and once knitters become faster, they are a good option. A beginning knitter will most likely have better success with either wooden needles or metal needles. Shorter needles are easier to handle, and the type of yarn being used determines the size of the needles. The buyer should check the label on the yarn to determine which size or gauge of needles works best for that particular style of yarn, and purchase the accordingly sized needles.

A knitter who is working from a pattern can also see a notation on the pattern which tells him or her which size and type of needles work best for the project. This serves as a guide when purchasing needles to create a specific type of project. A beginning knitter should avoid using circular needles, which are best for knitters who are more experienced.

Scissors

A small pair of sewing scissors is needed to snip ends of yarn and cut lengths of yarn. There are also specialized yarn cutters created specifically for this purpose. For a knitter who wants to knit on the go and take the project on the road, a yarn cutter is safer than scissors and quite simple to use.

Crochet Hook

Though knitting and crocheting are two different types of crafts, a seasoned knitter often has a crochet hook on hand to help with stitch corrections, such as dropped stitches. The curve on the end of the crochet hook is handy for inserting yarn into holes and helping with these types of errors, so it is convenient for a knitting beginner to have one on hand to help avoid the frustration that comes with dropping a stitch in the middle of a project.

Tape Measure

A tape measure is necessary for a knitter once he or she has begun to feel comfortable with the basic elements of knitting and are ready to take on patterns. A tape measure is essential to measuring yarn and making perfect squares for blankets, or measuring the right amount of stitches needed for a project. A tape measure is an integral part of every knitter's kit.

The Basics of Knitting

Once the knitter has gathered all of the necessary tools needed to begin knitting, it is time to get started. The knitter should remember that it takes practise to gain confidence and become a successful knitter, and learning the basics of the craft helps speed up the learning process.

Create a Slipknot

The very first step a knitter needs to learn is the essential slipknot. This is the first stitch that is put on the needle, and it lays the foundation for the other stitches. For a basic slipknot, a knitter should measure roughly 30 centimetres into a length of yarn and place his or her fingers. The knitter should then make a loop with the yarn, and pull the looped end of the yarn through the loop.

The knitting needle should go through the loop, and the knitter can then use both ends of the yarn to tighten the loop on the needle. It should look like a stitch placed on the needle.

Casting On

The next step to knitting is called casting on. This is when the knitter begins to create a row of stitches in order to make a larger project. Casted on stitches should look alike and form rows of neat stitches. To cast on, a knitter should grasp the needle that has the slipknot on it in the right hand. Next the knitter should lay the loose yarn across the palm of the empty hand, and slip the needle underneath so the yarn is lying over the needle. This should form a loop.

The knitter should pull that loop through itself to create a stitch next to the slipknot. It is essentially similar to tying small knots by hand across the needle. The knitter should keep stitches loose and uniform.

Basic Knit Stitch

Once the beginning knitter has learned to cast on, it is time to learn the most basic, essential stitch of knitting. This is the simplest stitch to master for a beginning knitter. The needle that has the stitches already on it should be held in the knitter's left hand, with an empty needle in the right hand. The empty needle should then be stuck under the closest stitch toward the end of the needle, and the needles should be crossed over each other to form an 'X' shape.

Next, the knitter should grab the yarn hanging loose from the end of the left needle and place it over the right needle, crossing both of the needles. The right needle should then be threaded through the loop that was created on top of the left hand needle. The knitter's right needle should then slide over until the loop falls off of the left needle and creates a knitted stitch. The knitter should continue to create stitches in this fashion until the left needle is bare. The knitter should then place the bare needle in the right hand and the needle with the stitches on it in the left hand, and repeat the process.

Casting Off

Casting off is also called binding off. This is the step that a knitter needs to take to ensure that the creation is not lost or becomes undone until he or she picks up knitting again, and it also helps when completing a project. To cast off, the knitter should first slip a stitch onto the right needle from the left needle, similar to knitting. The knitter should then place the needle into the stitch that was transferred to the right needle, and do this by inserting the needle from the front of the yarn and going from the left to the right of the stitch.

This should enable the knitter to place the stitch over and off the right needle. The knitter should continue to cast off the remaining stitches from the left needle until there are no more stitches left. The knitter can close the stitches by pulling the end of the yarn through the last stitch to finish it up.

Conclusion

Knitting is a great way to relax and express creativity for many crafters. Although it may seem difficult at first, once the beginning knitter becomes more confident and gains speed while knitting, it is a fun way to create many types of items from baby blankets and throws to thick scarves and sweaters for winter. Various types of yarn are available for a wide range of projects and patterns and can be obtained easily to help teach an inexperienced knitter how to make his or her own creations using needle and yarn.

Knitting is a good way to unwind and pass the time. It is also a good way to create handmade gifts and items to save money, and there is nothing more special than a handmade creation. A knitter who enjoys knitting may enjoy crocheting as well, which is a natural progression for some crafters. Crocheting uses only one needle, while knitting uses two. Different types of needles are best for different types of projects, so the knitter should read knitting patterns thoroughly to ensure he or she is using the best needles for every individual project.

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