10 steps to learn how to knit

"There's great value to knitting or digging up your garden or chopping up vegetables for soup, because you're taking some time away from turning the pages, answering your emails, talking to people on the phone, and you're letting your brain process whatever is stuck up in there."

Chellie Pingree, American Politician.

For me, knitting is how I relax, and I totally agree with Chellie Pingree, it gives you the space to process what's in your head. It also allows me to sit through the hours of soccer my partner watches without me having to retreat to a separate room!

There are lots of reasons why people knit:

  • To make things to wear or have in the home

  • To make gifts for others, to celebrate something or cheer someone up

  • To pass the time while you are waiting for something, like a hospital appointment or during a long journey

  • Mental health benefits, such as mindfulness, reducing the risk of dementia, a sense of calm, time to process

  • Multi-tasking, especially good if you're one of those people who finds it difficult to sit still in front of the telly with your family.

If you have decided you want to learn how to knit, it can feel a bit daunting to start with. Take it step-by-step and you'll be a knitter before you know it! It takes practice, patience, and you should expect to go wrong! But believe me, the benefits above are all achievable.

Here are the 10 steps you should take to learn knitting...

Step 1: Set yourself an achievable goal

I believe that having a goal is fundamental to your development and success. A goal helps you focus your attention on your purpose and gives you ambition. The first step towards learning how to knit is to find something you would like to make. Make it an achievable goal though! Don't go for a complex multi-coloured cable-work jumper. But do choose something you want to wear or have around the home.

Have a look at knitting patterns for beginners, either online or in your local yarn shop or haberdashery. Ravelry is a great online source of patterns, some are free downloads, some are patterns that you pay for. Spend a bit of time browsing the patterns in a department store that has a haberdashery section. Get the one you want and pin it up somewhere so you have it as a reminder of what you're aiming for.

Step 2: Choose a learning method that suits you

Everyone learns differently and there are lots of different ways you can learn to knit.

You could:

- Take paid classes, either online, at a local craft shop, in a group or one-to-one

- Get free tuition, from a friend or relative, or even tips from a friendly shop assistant

- Use YouTube or online video tutorials

- Read books that teach you how to knit

It might take a bit of trial and error to find the learning method that works for you. You might find that a blend of self-help and tuition suits you, rather than one specific method.

Step 3: Find out about the materials and tools used in knitting

You don't need to invest a lot of money upfront in yarn, needles and other accessories.

My blog post from June 2017 explains what tools and materials you need to start knitting.

Take a bit of time exploring the different yarns and needles in your local craft shop. Feel the different yarns to see what they're like. For example, how does 100% wool feel compared to a yarn blend with cashmere or silk?

Familiarise yourself with some of the terminology too, such as row, round, stitch, right and wrong side of work.

Step 4: Learn the basics

Whichever learning method you've chosen, the first step is to learn the basics.

Learn how to:

  • Make a slip knot

  • Cast on

  • Do the knit stitch

  • Cast off

Practice, practice, practice! Take your knitting with you! Practice when you're on the train. Practice when you have a few minutes. Keep practising until it all makes sense and you don't have to think so much about what you're doing.

Step 5: Learn the purl stitch

Add a new stitch to your repertoire: the purl stitch! Once you know knit and purl stitches there are a huge variety of different patterns and fabrics you can create!

Practice, practice, practice!

Step 6: Learn stocking stitch

Stocking (stockinette) stitch is one row of knit stitches and one row of purl stitches. It's one of the most commonly used knitting patterns. Knitting pattern designers usually assume you know how to do it and will not describe the process within the pattern.

Check out our stitch glossary for a description of how to knit stocking stitch.

Step 7: Learn moss stitch

Moss (seed) stitch is a useful knitting pattern to practice changing between a knit stitch and a purl stitch within a row of knitting. It is a great one to help you 'read' the fabric as you create it. 'Reading' the fabric means you can look at it and tell what stitches you have done.

Check out our stitch glossary for a description of how to knit moss stitch.

Step 8: Learn how to unpick stitches

This is an incredibly valuable thing to learn. Otherwise every time you make a mistake you will be relying on someone else to sort out the problem and get you started again. You will inevitably make mistakes.

Even the most experienced knitters make mistakes. I make mistakes often, especially if I'm knitting whilst watching the telly or having a glass of wine! You find that as you become more experienced you need to concentrate less, and so it's just as easy to go wrong when you know what you're doing as when you're a beginner!

Step 9: Learn how to read and follow a knitting pattern

Knitting patterns do appear a little like a foreign language until you get used to them!

They tell you everything you need to know, stitch by stitch. They explain the yarn and needles to use, how to test your knitting tension, the abbreviations used within the pattern, and what to do for every single row.

Take your time and you will make sense of it. But if anything catches you out, ask a friend or look it up on the internet.

Step 10: Remember that knitting pattern you picked out in Step 1??

Go on...give it a go!

Inspired to learn how to knit?

Want to be taught in a class, with other people learning too? And get great guidance from an experienced teacher? Wool Couture Company offer a range of excellent courses at their Makery in Yorkshire. You can find out more and book on to a course via Wool Couture's website.

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