Embark on Your Knitting Journey: A Beginner's Guide to Starting Your First Knit Project

Embark on Your Knitting Journey: A Beginner's Guide to Starting Your First Knit Project


Welcome to the wonderful world of knitting! There are thousands of reason to pick up some needles; wanting to make your own clothing or accessories, self-expression, mental health, or it just looks fun whatever the reason, it’s an amazing craft.


I learned to knit at the age of 7, my mom brought me along to our local yarn shop and still to this day I remember walking through the doors and being stunned at all the beautiful fluffy yarn everywhere. It took all of about 3 seconds for me to become overwhelmed with excitement and politely ask the shop owner if she would teach me how to knit. I remember she said, “alright sit your ass down let’s teach you how to knit” - I knew she meant business and I didn’t want to blow my chance at learning this new mysterious craft. We sat there for about ten minutes, I absorbed as much as I could, and came home with a skein of 70’s-shag-green chunky yarn and some giant needles to match.


Now keep in mind, when I was 7, there was no YouTube, no blogs, none of that! These days, there are countless helpful sources on the internet to make knitting a simple and satisfying hobby to get into. My first project was stitched blind, pretty much just hoping I was doing it right; eventually asking mom to take me back to the shop. My stitches were all over the place, there were unexplained holes, dropped stitches. I want your knitting journey to be simpler than mine!



Getting Started - Yarn


Tip #1 - Don’t pick black yarn for your first project.

Choose a color you are excited about, but don’t go for anything too dark. Dark yarn is gorgeous, but more difficult to see than a lighter colored yarn. When you’re starting out it’s vital that you can see each stitch and see any mistakes as you go along.


Tip #2 - Use a DK weight yarn or heavier.

This isn’t a hard-fast rule (honestly none of these are, you’re a free person!) but personally I believe that using at least a DK weight yarn is easy to see your stitches and your project will go by a bit quicker. Knitting isn’t a race, but the lighter weight the yarn, the longer your project will take and sometimes it’s hard to keep motivated when your rows aren’t creating much fabric.


Tip #3 - Slippery yarn is not your friend.

Let’s be honest, you don’t need help accidentally slipping stitches off your needles when you’re starting out. Do yourself a favor and avoid bamboo, silk, linen, rayon, and cotton. These yarns are great when you get your groove with knitting, but to start it is helpful to use a nice wool or acrylic yarn on some wooden needles.



Selecting Needles 


It’s easy to look at the needle section and get overwhelmed straight, circular, metal, wood, plastic double pointed??? Don’t panic. I would say the most important choice is the needle material. I learned on plastic needles which is absolutely fine. But, similarly to what I mentioned in the yarn category, slippery is not your friend.


I highly recommend wood needles for your first project. They have great grip, helping you keep your stitches on your needles, leading to fewer dropped stitches, which means less stress! As far as what style to pick; circular needles are the most versatile, you can knit straight or in the round giving you a lot of flexibility.


If you chose your yarn first, there should be a needle size suggestion on the label. All knitting patterns will describe the needles and yarn you need, so if you’re starting with a pattern; simply follow their suggestions.



Pattern Choice


Start with a simple pattern with clear instructions.

I’ve put together a Ravelry page here if you need some pattern inspiration. I’ve tried to pick some simpler projects of manageable size that are written clearly. Please know that I have not personally knit each and every one of these patterns, but I picked designers that I know write high quality patterns and should be easy to follow.

I recommend starting with a project that focuses on just knitting and/or purling before moving on to more advanced stitches and techniques such as cables or lacework.


The Basics


There are many, many, many ways to cast-on but I’m just going to link two ways that I think are a good starting points.

The first is the way is how I learned, a knitted cast-on. If you’re starting with a scarf or something that doesn’t need to be too stretchy, this is a good cast-on method. I like to teach this cast-on because you are basically learning the knit stitch a the same time.


The second way I suggest casting on as a beginner is the Long Tail Cast-On. This cast-on gives you a stretchier edge that looks smooth and is typically looser than the knitted cast-on, making your first row easier to knit.


Overall, I think the longtail cast-on is more versatile, so it is definitely worth learning.



Knitting & Purling


There are two fundamental stitches: knit & purl. Once you’ve cast-on the number of stitches required in your pattern, you will be working from right to left.

Below is a video by RJ Knits explaining how to knit - he is so helpful in explaining the knit stitch.


Next is learning to purl. Your pattern may not require it, but eventually you will need to know how to purl! Again, I’ve linked a helpful video from RJ Knits explaining how to purl. 




Troubleshooting Common Issues

Are your stitches looking wonky and inconsistent? You may be having tension problems. Getting a consistent tension as a beginner is difficult so don’t be hard on yourself. Tension comes with practice, figuring out your favorite way to hold your working yarn, relaxing all things that come with time.


Dropped stitches it looks like a run in a pair of tights.


This can happen for a number of reasons, most likely your stitch simply fell off the needle. This is an easy moment to panic, but don’t! This fix is actually much easier than you would think. Ready for another video??




Celebrate Your Progress



Life advice and knitting advice; embrace your imperfections! Always easier said than done, but knitting is supposed to be fun. Yes, it can bring frustrations but solving your problems is also quite satisfying and rewarding. Keep in mind that each stitch you make is a step toward mastering this craft.


A bit cliché but, it really is about the process. Yes, we are knitting with the intention of a physical item at the end. But, make sure you relax, find your groove, and experience the calm that can come with knitting. Most everyone I’ve met who knits or crochets, does it for the meditative feeling it gives you (also, don’t worry if you don’t feel this during your first project, but it comes with practice and confidence in each stitch).


I really hope you find joy in learning this new craft. Fiber art is underrated and the community that surrounds it  is wonderful, inclusive, and more diverse than most people realize! I encourage you to continue pushing yourself after your first project. I’m often posting knitting/crochet inspiration here at Keep Me in Stitches so, please, sign up to my newsletter so you can stay in the loop!


Keep stitchin’ my friend.

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