knitting instructions

How to Knit for Beginners

This section on basic knitting instructions is where you will find out all about the nuts and bolts of knitting.

Step by step knitting instructions for beginners:

1. How to make a slip knot

The first step in knitting is to learn how to make a slip knot in order to attach your yarn to the needle.

1. Pick up the yarn approximately 12cm from the end with your left hand.

slip knot 1

2. Create a loop by taking the long end of the yarn (attached to the ball) and winding it over the top of the shorter end.

how to make a slip knot 2

3. Hold the point where the yarns cross, creating the loop, tightly between your left thumb and forefinger.

4. With your right hand take the long end of the yarn (attached to the ball or skein) and put it under the loop and up through it, creating a new loop.

how to make a slip knot 3

5. Take the new loop with your right hand and pull until the first loop has tightened.

6. Place this new loop over the end of your knitting needle and pull the long end of the yarn to close the loop over the needle.

cast on 5

Congratulations! This is your first slip knot.

The next step in learning how to knit is to learn how to cast on.

When you are learning how to hold your knitting needles and yarn, it is going to feel a bit awkward at first. It can take a while to find a comfortable position and it is worth trying out some different styles of knitting.

With English Knitting (where you hold the yarn in the right hand) the traditional way you hold the needles is like a pencil.

2. How to hold your yarn

Hold the yarn like this:

  1. pass it over your index finger, then
  2. under your middle finger, then
  3. over your ring finger, then
  4. under your little finger

By gripping the yarn with your little finger you can control the tension.

Here is a photo to show you what I mean (and yes, I realize that I probably need a manicure!)

how to hold your knitting needles and yarn

To be honest, the most important thing is that you find a comfortable way to hold your needles and yarn. Whichever method you choose, the aim is to be able to create the necessary tension for even knitting.

I have a rather unusual style of holding my needles – rather like a knife and fork. Also, I hold the yarn taut with my index finger and thumb and my three outer fingers. Each to their own!

[NB There is a different style called Continental Knitting, where the yarn is held in the left hand, which you may find more comfortable. I have not covered that here because I do not knit in this fashion.]

Now you know how to hold your knitting needles and yarn, the next step is to learn how to cast on.

3. How to cast on

To “cast on” means to add the required number of stitches to your knitting needle. Find out how many stitches you need by reading your pattern. Alternatively, if you are just experimenting, start with at least 15 stitches.

There are several different ways to add stitches, but I find the following method the easiest.

1. Take your needle with your first stitch on it (that you created by learning how to make a slip knot ) in your left hand. Then push the other needle behind it, through the back of the loop.

how to cast on 1

2. Holding the needles in your left hand, with your right hand, wind the yarn around the back of the rear needle and pull the yarn so it is taut.

How to cast on 2
how to cast on 3

3. Pull the rear (right) needle towards you, catching the wrapped yarn and hooking it through the first stitch.

how to cast on 4

4. Lift the right needle upwards so that you now have one loop on each needle.

5. Push the left hand needle into the middle of the loop on the right hand needle.

how to cast on 5

6. Now pull the loop across by removing the right hand needle, so that you have two stitches on the left hand needle.

Congratulations – you have now cast on your first 2 stitches!

Just repeat these steps until you have added as many stitches as you need. When you have finished, your stitches will look something like this

how to cast on 7

The next step in your knitting journey is to learn how to knit (ie do a knit stitch).

4. How to Knit Stitch

Learning how to do the knit stitch can be fast and easy.

After you have learned how to make a slip knot and how to cast on the next stage is to learn the basic knitting stitch.

Here are some step by step instructions to guide you on your way.

How to do the knit stitch step by step

1. Push the right hand needle through the first loop and behind the left hand needle.

2. Ensure the yarn is at the rear of the needles and wind it round the rear (right hand) needle in an anti-clockwise direction.

3. Catching the yarn with the right needle, pull a loop of the yarn through the first stitch, bringing the right needle in front of the left needle. You will end up with a loop on the right needle and all the stitches on the left needle.

4. Now pull the top stitch off the left needle by pulling on the right needle.

5. Repeat the above steps.

Here is a picture of what your work will look like after knitting your first two stitches

Carry on until you have transferred all the stitches from the left hand needle onto your right hand needle.

Well done – you have learnt how to knit and have finished your first row!

5. How to Purl Stitch

Once you have learned how to purl stitch your will be able to start creating some great textured patterns. Here is a step by step explanation of this common knitting stitch.

1. Hold the needle with stitches on in your left hand. Then, with the yarn in front of your needles, push the right needle down through the first stitch as shown

purl stitch

2. With your right hand, wrap the yarn in an anti-clockwise direction around your right needle

3. Push your right needle back through the stitch, catching this new loop of yarn

4. Pull the top stitch up and off the left needle

You have now finished your first purl stitch. Yes, it is that easy!

These are the only two stitches you really need to know

Once you are confident with knit and purl stitches, you will be able to start your first knitting project!

6. How to Bind Off (Cast Off) – Coming soon!

7. Next Steps in Knitting

Once you are confident with these basic knitting techniques, you might also want to learn

How to Increase Stitches
How to Decrease Stitches

Knitting Instructions to finish off

When you have finished the knitting stage of your garment, you will need to know how to make it up. You will need to know

How to weave in ends (coming soon!)
How to sew seams (coming soon!)

Armed with these tools you will soon be ready to begin knitting. At the end of the day, you just need to start! You are only going to learn how to knit by doing it.

Once you are comfortable with the basics, you can try out some knitting patterns.