The Best Way to Learn to Knit

Whenever I talk about knitting projects, people often ask me how to learn to knit. Burke asked in the comments of this weeks post:

I was wondering if you had any tips for someone wanting to learn to knit. Did you just pick out a pattern and give it a go, learning as you went along?

The short answer is yes, that’s basically what I did! But I thought I would write a nice long thorough response as a post, as there might be others of you who tune in for the sewing, but are curious about the knitting too. Keep in mind, I’m no knitting expert. I’ve only been knitting since April of 2011 – less than two years! And I’d be happy to recap my knitting experiences if it helps you start learning to knit yourself.

i knit something! a knitted cowl(my first ever completed knitting project!)

How did I learn? Self-taught, basically! I borrowed an old pamphlet from my mother with the basics of casting on and making knit and purl stitches. I learned by watching YouTube videos and searching pattern terms as I went. I joined Ravelry, and searched out free, easy patterns to start with. Every time I came across a term I didn’t understand, I searched on Youtube for a video to help me out. Even if was as simple as ‘bind off’ – I searched it and watched someone demonstrate how to do it!

Some videos I had to watch multiple times to get it figured out, and some videos I still watch when I come across certain techniques (Kitchener stitch, I’m talking about you…I’ve watched it so many times I know exactly when she’s going to talk about putting your kids and pets and  spouse away so they don’t distract you.)

Here’s a list of the projects I worked through, from beginning to end:

  • Cowls: simple seed stitch or ribbed or garter stitch is best! Free patterns are often simple, beginner ones.
  • Hats: quick, and you learn to increase and decrease
  • Scarves: keep in mind, a scarf is a lot of knitting and can get boring if you’re impatient. I turned a scarf into a cowl because it was just too boring to finish such a long, repetitive thing!
  • Hats with cables: good way to learn cables, on a small item
  • Fingerless mitts: useful, and good practice in making two of something
  • Socks: because, warm feet!
  • More cowls and scarves, including ones with charts. Charts are not hard, but you have to read each stitch and follow the key. Like a paint-by-numbers, sort of.
  • A sweater! (Took me three tries to get it right though.)
  • More sweaters
  • More hats
  • More socks

I knit what I wanted, I didn’t make anything just to learn. I think if you have a desire to make the project, it’s more compelling than knitting swatches or washcloths just to learn. I know that some people start off knitting washcloths to learn, which is cool if you want washcloths! But if your main draw to knitting is to learn to make your own accessories, then I’d try making something you really want to wear.

st james sweater back and front(my first sweater)

However, I made a lot of really silly mistakes learning this way. The first thing I got stuck on was how to alternate between knitting and purling – I somehow missed the step where you move the yarn back to the front, or to the back, and ended up with very tight stitches and a lot of extra wraps around the needle. That took me a while to figure out!

For the longest time, I had a hard time with yarn-overs and remembering how to wrap the yarn. The first project I ever made with yarn-overs, I did them all as double yarn-overs so the holes were huge!

knitting fail(yeah – my first actual knitting project didn’t turn out at all!)

I’m sure there have been many other things I got stuck on but these two stand out because if I were learning in a class I’d have someone there to gently correct me and explain how to do it, as I went to wrap my yarn incorrectly or start purling with the yarn in the back.

I also had plenty of great suggestions from you guys in the comments of this post, way back in 2010 when I was wondering if I should learn to knit at all. If you are considering taking up knitting, read the comments for recommendations!

I also still get really good recommendations in the comments of my blog posts, so thank you, knitters who read here!

I also go to a knitting night and learn all kinds of things from the talented ladies I meet with. It’s almost the kind of learning you learn by accident, like when someone asks a question and a handful of people chime in with their suggestions or share their experience with that technique. I absorb a lot of information through casual conversation!

I’m a trial-and-error kind of learner, I’d rather get my hands on the materials and start playing around than listen to a lecture. I don’t mind making mistakes and I don’t mind having to look up every term every time I get stuck. I’m also stubborn (or determined, both are true) and I will keep on trying if I really want to make something work. My desire to own and wear cute knits was stronger than the frustration of making mistakes!

audrey in unst cardigan, in happiness blue(success – a cute sweater to go with my handmade dress!)

I’m sure that’s not the best way for everyone though. My youngest sister learned to knit late last year by the same trial-and-error method, looking stuff up online when she got stuck (or asking me) and she’s already knitting socks and lace shawls. (Although, she did make some interesting mistakes as well while learning.) She’s like me though, in that if we really want to do something or learn something, we won’t stop until we have it mastered! So if that’s your temperament, self-taught knitting might work for you. If you like to be helped, or prefer a social atmosphere, classes or lessons may be more your speed.

So I’m curious: How did you learn to knit? What do you suggest for Burke to get started? What would you say is the best way to learn?

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77 Responses to The Best Way to Learn to Knit

  1. Kathryn February 7, 2013 at 6:12 am #

    Much of my inspiration to learn to knit came from you, Tasia – thank you so much! My queue on Ravelry is just full of things you’ve made. ;)

    My aunt showed me casting on, knitting and purling at Christmas time and I’m really enjoying it. I haven’t had another session with her since but has been my primary resource instead. They have loads of wonderful, clear videos and a great iPhone app that’s well worth the few euro to have on the go. The VeryPinkKnits Youtube channel is a close second.

  2. Tessa February 7, 2013 at 6:16 am #

    I’m left handed. I’ve been a self taught knitter for maybe 3 years now, but I could not figure out why I was SO SLOW. It would take me forever to do these projects, and then I’d read about someone (like you, Tasia) that was busting things out left and right. I finally realized it was probably because I’m left handed and knitting is a right handed endeavor unless you want to learn to knit left handed (switch the tasks of each hand and read the pattern backwards). That’s where I’m at right now, I spent so much time trying to knit like the videos I don’t know if I want to try to re-train myself left handed (such a hassle) or push on right handed until I just get it.

    Does anyone else knit left handed, or is left handed that knits right handed?

    • Miriana February 7, 2013 at 6:21 am #

      My general purpose knitting book shows how to do the stitches left handed (I think). I’d try and learn again if I were you – an investment in time now which would pay off later with speedier knitting.

    • K-Line February 7, 2013 at 6:36 am #

      I’m left handed too, but for some reason, I didn’t find it difficult to learn British knitting in a right handed fashion. Continental-style (also “right handed” from the perspective of pattern reading, though the yarn is held in the left hand), however, which you’d think would be easier for a lefty, still eludes me.

      I have heard that it’s not a great idea to learn left-handed knitting (as opposed to Continental which is also sometimes called left-handed knitting but is not the same thing) unless you are SO dominantly left-handed that nothing else works. If you use your right hand dominantly for anything (instrument playing, ball throwing) or if you are dominantly right-footed (the one you walk forward with first), you’re likely to get faster knitting right-handedly, and the instructions are so much easier to understand that way.

      Note: Not suggesting that you shouldn’t do what works best for you, and obvs, you’re living in your own body. Just some feedback as a fellow leftie.

    • Amanda February 7, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      I’d recommend against reading patterns backwards and knitting “left-handed.” I have a good friend who did this and now that she’s more advanced every fancy stitch pattern is a pain for her to reverse engineer. Instead, learn to be a “picker” instead of a “thrower.” This is known as the Continental Method (as in the European Continent). Then you carry your yarn in your left and use the left hand to place the yarn around the working needle (still held in the right hand). Think of knitting like playing the violin or the piano…you don’t reverse the working hand just because you’re left or right handed.

    • Truly Myrtle February 7, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      I am a left hander that knits right handed – I throw rather than pick but have taught myself both so I can do two colours at the same time (fabulous time saver!) I was just taught right-handed when I was really young so have never known any different. My daughter is also left handed but at 9 she is a pretty proficient right hand knitter. I don’t know if it would work for all left-handers though?

    • Eleyna February 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was 9 and she was left-handed. So even though I’m right handed, I knit left-handed. It’s a bit frustrating trying to watch youtube videos but I think it’s too late for me to switch over now.

      If you think you can re-train yourself, it would be cool for you to be an ambidextrous knitter!

    • Lynda Meyer February 8, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      Hope this goes thru!! Keep knitting right handed and don’t judge yourself. Left handed knitting is a nightmare. All knitters start out with 10 thumbs. I am also a lefty and at age 12 was somehow blessed with the knowlege to knit like everyone else. I find that I use my left hand to pull my work onto the r needle rather than push the r needle in the stitch. A subtle difference but after about 50 years of successfully knitting r handed I know I can do it. I had a friend who knitted l handed and when she would have a problem nobody could help her ie take out her work and fix it including me.

    • Laurie February 12, 2013 at 9:27 am #

      Tessa, I’m a left-handed knitter and have been ever since I learned more than a decade ago from a pamphlet that showed the basics of knitting for both right and left-handed people. The only time I had trouble with a pattern (because I don’t switch things unless I know it’s going to affect the slant, i.e. ssk versus k2tog) was when I worked on cabled hearts in a baby blanket; I had to reverse the directions in order for the cables to look right. In the long run, it’s forced me to understand the craft and the stitches in a way right-handed knitters don’t need to. Looping the yarn through the fingers of my left-hand, I “throw” 75% of the time I knit (though I never take my hands off the needles), but when I work with two or more colors, I knit with both hands, “picking” with my right hand (Continental method). In my experience, picking is quicker, but to try to relearn how to pick with my left hand slows me way down and just frustrates me, so I have resigned myself to the “slower” pace of a thrower. :) You might try knitting w/ the yarn in your left hand to see if you catch on quickly or try the Continental method, otherwise stick with what you’ve already learned so you can become proficient at it. :)

  3. Miriana February 7, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    I learned when Pregnant and got the Debbie Bliss book Baby Knits for Beginners which explains how to knit (the basic stuff anyway – although she pretends that circulars don’t exist) and has a number of projects, each introducing a new technique. Knitting for babies is a good way to start as it doesn’t take much wool or time, and the fit isn’t as hard – if it comes out big, they’ll grow.

    If you’re not surrounded by friends having babies, I agree with you that hats, cowls and fingerless mitts are the way forward. I’ve been knitting for four years and have only made one scarf – it’s beautiful, but nearly drove me insane with boredom.

    When ready to make clothing, a sleeveless body warmer might be a simple way in.

    Oh, and Ravelry is insanely amazing. I can’t believe that sewists put up with Pattern Review – just looking at its amateurish look and feel makes my eyes hurt.

  4. Nanette February 7, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    I taught myself how to knit…incorrectly. The stitches looked fine to me, but I was knitting through the back loop instead of the front loop, which meant that they were all twisted. But since they were consistently twisted, it wasn’t a problem until I started making things that required decreasing by knitting two stitches together. Then everything went south.

    I didn’t find out until I took a knitting class at a local yarn show, and the instructor very gently and politely helped me get un-twisted. And I’ve been knitting the standard way ever since!

    I learned to knit back in 2003, and there weren’t as many YouTube videos and blogs and online classes out there, so I learned from a book. I love in-person classes–they’ve been a great help to me–but I think that new knitters should choose the approach that is best for them. All in-person classes are not created equal, and some people prefer the solitary pursuit of figuring it all out from a book or by watching the same fifteen seconds of a YouTube video over and over and over until it sinks in. (I’ve been there.) So I really don’t think there’s a best way, just a way that’s best for each individual knitter. My suggestionto Burke is to experiment widely, both with ways of learning and with new skills. Remember that it’s just yarn and you can always unravel it if it doesn’t work out. Nobody’s going to get hurt if you make something ugly or weird-shaped, and years later you can look back and laugh it it.

    Oh, and join Ravelry. It’s a great community and you’ll find plenty of friendly help there (plus yarn and pattern enabling).

    Happy knitting!

    • Truly Myrtle February 7, 2013 at 10:16 am #

      Knitting through the back loop doesn’t actually have to be wrong – if you purl the opposite way too :) It’s called Eastern knitting. I love that with knitting – there are really no rules.

  5. K-Line February 7, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    T: We have EXACTLY the same story. I started in April 2011 too, with all of the same philosophies and, apparently, the same personality :-) And the yarn over situation almost drove me to suicide on my 2nd project. I find it totally bizarre that we are so aligned in this. I should say that I only knit sweaters from the start. Socks, cowls, scarves, mitts – those didn’t really interest me. As time went on, they became more appealing. So in that respect we approached things in an inverse way.

  6. Rachel February 7, 2013 at 6:39 am #

    I taught myself to knit basically the same way. I wanted to knit Kate Davies “Owls” sweater. I started with the basics of learning to knit and purl and then I made a cap for my husband. Then I made a cap with cables. Basically I taught myself the techniques the sweater used. Then I knitted the sweater and thankfully it fit. I stopped for awhile, but now I want to knit Kate Davies “Paper Dolls” which involves fair isle knitting. I taught myself fair isle once again using a cap. I knitted the sweater but it was too small-bummer :( I am going to reknit it in a larger size.

  7. lisa g February 7, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    timely post! i’ve been wanting to learn how to knit but really had no idea where to begin. i’ll definitely refer back to this post for tips!

  8. louize February 7, 2013 at 6:48 am #

    Ha, I know exactly which knitwitch video you are referring to, I have watched it a hundred times myself, although I always wonder about the glass of wine when you are doing something that requires so much concentration you need to isolate yourself from all living creatures for!
    I too taught myself to knit with youtube – and the people (and patterns) on ravelery are amazing.

  9. Gemma February 7, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    I started out with the Stitch N Bitch book which was really helpful not only with the basic techniques but also with the all the other stuff that’s quite confusing in the beginning – needles, yarn weights, how to read patterns, all the accessories etc. I’ve also taken the Hats Four Ways Circular knitting course on Craftsy which is great – I love Craftsy! SO much fun! I’ve got two small children so getting out to knit with others isn’t really an option at the moment so an internet course is perfect. I’m going to conquer sock knitting next!

    I agree that it’s best to choose projects that you actually want to make – you’ll get bored otherwise.

    • Tiffany February 7, 2013 at 11:14 am #

      The Stitch ‘n Bitch book really helped me out, too. I definitely recommend it.

  10. Stacy February 7, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    I went to a knitting group much like the one you attend. I got the basics, but our knitting group only meets once a month. I spent a lot of time with youtube and reading books at the local library. I have only been knitting since November 2012, but I love it and I’ve completed 10 projects and am working on project #11. It really does depend on the type of learner you are. If you’re hands on, like I am, just jumping in is often the best solution. I’m one of those people who is eager to learn, so I am always in search of learning more about whatever I am working on. I go to knitting group once a month and wouldn’t miss it for the world, there is a lot of info in the minds of all the lovely ladies I knit with and they are always eager to see what everyone is working on and more than willing to help you through the rough spots. My best advice is to seek out other knitters in your community, find people willing to share their knowledge.

  11. Miriana February 7, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Oh, and for a bit of inspiration while knitting these three blogs are pretty hard to beat. All three are brilliantly written.

    Yarn Harlot (
    Needled (
    Mason-Dixon Knitting (

  12. meganleiann February 7, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    I’m learning how to knit (and crochet) right now. My hang up is the needles. For every hat it seems you have to buy at least three sets of needles. Since I love it, I want to buy good needles, but it raises the cost of everything I make for a time. It’s making knitting a bit cost prohibitive for a while.

    • Meg's February 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      I’ve bought numerous needles at thrift stores for cheap. It’s worth checking out.

      • Tasia February 7, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

        I did that too at the start! Then I splurged on an interchangeable needle kit, because I figured if I gave up knitting it would be easy to sell a full kit. But the needles are easy to find at secondhand stores – just check that they are proper pairs not mismatched single needles.

  13. Jessica February 7, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    First, I have to say that I am not employed or endorsed by Craftsy, But I have to tell you that their Knit Lab class is perfect for beginners. I had knit as a child but never learned to cast-on this always seemed to be a great mystery to me. Watching the instructor Stephanie who teaches casting-on during the cast as well as going through all the stitches made it so simple!

    I recommend the class to anyone who wants to learn to knit but is a little nervous about giving it a go blind.

  14. Lauren February 7, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    I’m the type of person who has to have someone sit beside me and actually show me how to do something (and also correct me when I’m wrong), so I had a friend teach me how to knit. We met (and still do!) for weekly knitting nights, and every week she would teach me a new technique. Now I’m at the point where we actually learn stuff together :) I also meet up with some ladies for a different knitting night (this one is at my LYS), and you’re right about just picking up things through general conversation – the knowledge that gets passed around that table is incredible.

    I still can’t learn through books, though, and watching videos is touch-and-go for me. If it’s something I’m somewhat familiar with – say, a new way to bind off – I can slog through the video, but for entirely new techniques like colorwork, I need someone to actually sit there and show me how to do it.

  15. Diane @ Vintage Zest February 7, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    Oh my gosh, I am in love with both of your sweaters! I learned how to crochet in college, then taught myself how to knit soon after from a book. I know how to do the basics, but I’ve never made anything more than a scarf, and a cable-knit purse (which began as a sweater). I just can’t make heads or tails of the patterns, and I have a feeling that I may have to get some professional help to walk me through how to read those things!

    I started sewing about 9 months ago, and I realized that I know so much more about sewing than knitting because of the night class I attended. Your sweaters DEFINITELY inspired me to find a class out there. Thanks!

  16. Debbie February 7, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    For me, the best way to learn is to find a good book with lots of easy to understand instructions and diagrams. I learned to knit from an old copy of Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework that we had lying around the house. It took me a while to grasp the concept of a purl stitch, but once I finally “got it” the whole knitting world opened up to me :)

    I do turn to the internet occasionally for help with techniques, but most of the time can get by studying the pattern’s instructions or diagrams.

  17. LT February 7, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    I’m still learning to knit myself, but I’m finally at a stage where I understand patterns! Once that happened, I started to run into wonderful knitting books in bookstores everywhere, and it took me FAR too long to realize my best resource (other than youtube): THE LIBRARY! They have books upon books of patterns and techniques (i.e., many of the books listed in this comment section), and having a deadline for return motivates me to keep going.

  18. Susan February 7, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Yep, I learned just about like this too. This statement: “I think if you have a desire to make the project, it’s more compelling than knitting swatches…” — I could not agree more. In fact, I just taught myself to knit last year, and my first FO was a pair of socks. Most people think I am crazy for that being my newbie project, but the truth is THAT is why I wanted to learn. So it kept me much more motivated to learn, despite any difficulties that came up. Great post!

    • KristiEllKay February 7, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      Haha I completely agree with this! I started knitting because I was trying to find the right kind of lace (turns out knitted lace was exactly what I had been wanting!). I had crocheted and then taught myself to tat lace; neither worked, so I started knitting lace. My very first project was a lace scarf, worked off of a chart. I never find out things are “scary” or “hard” techniques until after the fact; sewing with knits never terrified me because I didn’t know they were “scary” haha.

  19. Sew Little Time February 7, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    my gran taught me when i was 7! my mum and gran have always knitted so i guess it just thought everyone did! i do learn a lot of things i’m not sure about through googling for blogs and you tube videos – i just learnt wrap and turn/ short row shaping this way. my sister in law has learnt much more recently the same way.

  20. Stephanie February 7, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    I’m also a self taught knitter. Youtube is a great resource for newbie knitters. I’d say pick something small to start with (especially since I was a glacially slow knitter when I started!). It’s also handy to have a good reference knitting book around. I just have a couple that I picked up at a used book store for cheap.

  21. Samina February 7, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    I’ve been knitting for about 12 years & learned how to knit from a Lion Brand “Teach Yourself” type booklet that I got @ Jo Ann Fabrics. I’d tried other books, but this one just clicked for me. With the plethora of You Tube videos out there, I generally steer people who want to knit to the internet, since I think that most people are better able to learn when they get to watch someone else. I usually go to the Google gods when I’m figure something new out in my knitting.

    I learned to knit by carrying my yarn in my right hand (throwing), but taught myself to knit to carry in the left (plucking/Continental), which is now my standard method of knitting. I’ve never been a particularly fast knitter, but I’m faster, more comfortable, have better tension knitting Continentally.

    My best friends & I are all in different states, but we make an effort to get together annually for a knitting retreat or get together, so it’s been a lovely way to keep in touch with friends that I wouldn’t ordinarily get to see otherwise.

  22. TriMama February 7, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    I learned to knit in much the same way as you, Tasia. I come from a family of knitters and my mom tried to teach me several times over the years. It never stuck. A year and a half ago I decided it was time to learn for good. I checked out a bunch of knitting books from the library to get the general idea of how to read a pattern, what types of yarn to use, basic construction, etc. However, I still cannot for the life of me understand those little line diagrams that show you how to knit a stitch. I absolutely need to watch, and rewatch, a video. Thank goodness for YouTube!

  23. Seraphinalina February 7, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    I don’t know how to knit, but I have recently learned to crochet. What I find difficult is reading patterns. The language just isn’t turning into a picture in my head and I have a hard time trusting the pattern or my own judgement on which stich to hook into or over or… whatever. I understand the stitches well from watching videos online, but I really stumble at reading patterns. I’ve needed help from my MIL and my mom to figure out because my first stab at reading the pattern has not been right yet.

  24. Laura February 7, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    I was taught to knit by my mother, but it didn’t really click until I was in college and needed something to keep my brain busy. The funny part is that I didn’t learn to purl the first time, so I just knit to the end of the row, then knit back the other way, on the same side. I’m not sure it that’s left-handed knitting or what, but it certainly was odd. Eventually, I found some videos, Knitty tutorials, and a stitch dictionary that helped me along. I’m a very “figure it out myself” kind of person, and I always like to choose my new projects to challenge me to learn something new, even if it’s just a new increase stitch. Though good-old garter stitch is always soothing. Today I’m learning a picot bind off for a shawl!

    Now, I’m apparently the go-to person to teach my fellow grad students how. I always encourage the people I teach to knit to figure out what they want to make so they can have a goal before I even show them the first step. Like what you were saying, the end goal can really help stave off the frustration.

    Love your Audrey in Unst! I’ve been meaning to make it for a while and that color is fabulous!

  25. AnaJan February 7, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Nice post! In general, I really like your how-to posts with loads of handy advice.
    I learnt to knit as a child, I think I was around 6. My mom and grandmother used to knit and I was always curious to learn it. So my mom taught me, but she was afraid I could hurt myself with large knitting needles, so instead of knitting on them, I knit on a pair of ink cartridges from ballpoint pens! It was hilarious, but it worked well. :)

  26. Sarah O February 7, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    I started out by getting a Stitch n Bitch book and watching YouTube videos, but soon I got concerned that I wasn’t doing it right and I took a beginners knitting class at my local yarn store (shout out to the Yarn Barn). My first project was a dishrag, but soon I moved on to make my own Harry Potter scarf. I still use YouTube and Google to look up new abbreviations and techniques and use Ravelry to find new patterns.

  27. Emily February 7, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I taught myself the basics using one of those “Teach Yourself to Knit” kits from Michaels, and then googled different techniques and terms as they came up in patterns. My first project was a stockinette baby hat knit flat and then seamed up. I must have started over 4 or 5 times, but I did it! I think starting with a small, simple project is the way to go. People always say to start with scarves, but they take forever and it’s easy to run out of steam. I also recommend joining ravelry and finding a local knitting group.

  28. TMachan February 7, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    I learned to knit after receiving some books and supplies for Christmas 2011 from my husband. I’ve always loved the look of cables and Fair Isle, and so when Tasia started, I started talking more about my desire to learn to knit. I don’t know anyone who knits, so I had little help besides my books – “Teach Yourself VISUALLY Knitting” by Sharon Turner and “The Complete Photo Guide to Knitting” by Margaret Hubert. Since I don’t have a lot of time, I’ve been slow about projects, and only recently finished a scarf for my husband and am in the works of a hat for myself. But both books are clear in their directions, have plenty of styles of knitting to learn, and a few projects (but are not really inspiring). I found them helpful, so I would recommend them.

  29. maddie February 7, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Thank you for sharing your knitting history. I’ve been sewing for six years and just had my first experience with knitting. Boy was it a horrible experience. I was awful! I blogged about and many of my readers encouraged me to continue trying, which I’m totally going to do.

    • Truly Myrtle February 7, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      I was one of those readers ;)
      And, yes. You totally have to try again…

  30. Emma February 7, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    I learned to knit a little while ago from some friends, and made a hat, but then I put down my needles and forgot everything. I went to a Trade School Vancouver knitting class a few weeks ago and now I’m hooked again! I just don’t want to make a scarf for my first real project. I’ve made so many scarves when I was learning to crochet and they’re boring. Might try a cowl.

    Is your knitting night at one of the yarn stores in Vancouver?

    • Tasia February 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

      Nope, through meetup, none of the yarn stores are very close to home or work!

  31. Julianne February 7, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    I watched the free videos on to learn how to knit basic stitches. I had no idea what I was doing at the beginning, but internet videos have been so helpful!

    Now that I have been knitting for 2 months, I’m able to follow illustrated stitch instructions (which were completely in-decipherable at first). As I gain greater fluency I’m becoming more confident and adventurous.

    So far I’ve made about 7 hats and one scarf. I’m so eager to start on a sweater and socks! And Fair Isle, I can’t wait to do all those beautiful patterns. I think my next skill will be mosaic knitting with some Cascade 220 I picked up on a trip to San Diego. Yarn as a souvenir is wonderful!

    • K-Line February 7, 2013 at 10:06 am #

      I agree. Knittinghelp has been one of my best learning resources.

  32. Erin February 7, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    I have two sweaters with the backs done that were abandoned long ago – both attempts at teaching myself with knitting books and the internet and the odd help from my mom (who is really a crocheter). I found this process very frustrating and slow. This year, I took a learn to knit class and I’m almost done a toddler sweater! With an instructor there, everything finally “clicked”. I’m MUCH faster, and I have a tonne more confidence, plus with taking a class, I met some new people and got out of the house. I look forward to it every week, and I now have the confidence to tackle a more complex projects (and a new resource if I have questions). For me, learning on my own wasn’t enough, or early as fun. When this class is over, I’m going to search out some knitting groups in my city.

  33. Truly Myrtle February 7, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    I know that my grandmother taught me to knit – but I was about 6 and I don’t remember actually learning. But, it is only since having kids that I have really knitted like crazy and only since 2010 and discovering Ravelry that my knitting has improved in leaps and bounds.
    My advice? Knit every day. Practice definitely makes perfect! Try stuff. You’ll be surprised how easy stuff is once you know how – Youtube is a godsend. Join a knitting group – it is fantastic fun knitting with other people. Don’t be afraid to unpick your knitting – it happens to ALL of us ALL THE TIME!!!
    I fell in love with Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker and their books fill you with confidence that you can do anything knitterly if you put your mind to it.
    And finally, buy yarn you love. Nothing is more inspiring than delicious yarn. Personally I avoid acrylic – but everyone has to find their own thing.

  34. Kim February 7, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    I learned to knit as a child from my mother. Anyone looking for a great site for learning how to knit is . Great videos and professionally done, patterns with videos to go with each pattern step by step. Fantastic for beginners and experienced knitters!

  35. KristiEllKay February 7, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    I’m of the belief that you just pick something you want to make, find some yarn you think is cool, and dive right in. It makes it worth slogging through youtube videos, knitty articles, and all sorts of conflicting blog advice if, at the end, you have something you’ve always wanted.

    The only thing I would throw into the progression is colorwork; if you feel like you’ve mastered something, but you’re not really up to trying a brand new thing, try doing the same mastered technique with different colors. Double knitting is a really good place to start with colorwork, because you can just do simple stockinette, but you get the thrill of seeing the chart appear in your knitting, in color!

  36. juebejue February 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    I TOTALLY know which kitchener stitch video you are talking about – i’ve watched that one so many times as well!! :)

    • Tasia February 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      Haha, yup! It’s great to re-watch each time as a refresher.

  37. Eileen February 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    I was wondering which pattern you used to make the dress you’re wearing in the last photograph? It looks adorable.

  38. Kate February 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Love all these responses! …and just wanted to put in a plug for learning to knit or develop your skills via your local yarn shop. I work in a fabulous yarn and fabric store, and can’t tell you all how much we appreciate the customers who come in and take our classes! I feel really lucky to make a living putting my skills to good use, and I know my coworkers feel the same.

    When you take a class at a yarn shop, you’re putting your money toward building a specific kind of community–and a crafty community is so, so valuable! Also, because our classes are popular, and because a lot of folks buy their class supplies from us as well, we are able offer a really wide range of gorgeous yarns from all kinds of artists, further spreading/supporting a love of craft.

    …getting off my soapbox now! I feel super, super lucky to have access to such a community, and I really, really encourage new and want-to-be knitters to check out the shops, knit-nights, and other local options serving those who make stuff!

  39. photosarah February 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    I learned to knit through a class at a local church. I knew how to crochet and was always scared of knitting because I thought it was too complex. (I do dislike the ability to screw up a whole row at once instead of just a stitch…) I only went to the class for a few weeks, but learning how to knit and purl in person was invaluable. From there I went to Youtube to fill in the gaps. I so enjoy knitting now and find it hard to put my knitting down!

    I’ve made some hats and scarves (and one endless baby cardigan), and recently completed my first pair of fingerless mitts. Knitting isn’t nearly as scary as I thought. I’ve tried double-pointed and circular needles and feel pretty okay on all of them! I want to try a sweater and am looking forward to buying some nice quality yarn to make it.

  40. Burke February 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    Thank you! The post and comments have been so helpful!

  41. Laurie February 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I have started buying the Jane Austen Knits magazines and love many of the projects but I have no idea how to knit. Perhaps it is possible for me to learn afterall!

  42. Lucy February 7, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    I learned to knit from my mum when I was about 7, but couldn’t really do anything more complicated than scarves. But, wow, Ravelry is awesome! Not just for the patterns, but the forums too.

    I’ve learned that I don’t have the patience to knit things in pieces – I have to use in the round patterns wherever possible. I really struggle with instructions that just tell you to do the same thing but in reverse, like for cardigan fronts (I’m one of those people that have trouble thinking in 3D).

  43. Linda February 7, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Loving this post and am another one who finds it so timely! I am just now learning to knit, and I have the sewing bloggers to thank for it, particularly you, Tasia. I have been trying to sew for about a year now, and have just been completely frustrated with sewing clothing. Bags, pouches, toys, kids clothes . . . all of that is fine, but fitting for myself has been a nightmare. I’m at the point right now where sewing is not fun (at the moment, hopefully it will pass), so I turned to knitting, thinking I could maybe make myself a nice, soft cowl and it would make me feel better :) So far I’m halfway through a dishcloth — good practice for me and I will use it, so totally okay! I hope to move on to a scarf or cowl too, but don’t have a lot of time to devote to hobbies, so it could take me a few weeks finish – lol. Oh, I tried to learn using Craftsy’s Knit Lab course, but I guess I’m in the minority as I really didn’t like it, and don’t like the format. Only watched the first few lessons and then went home to Mom for a few days to really get it. Now I rely on when Mom’s not available!

  44. Amy February 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    I learned to knit on coffee breaks with my co-workers. They taught me how to make baby sweaters and booties when I was pregnant with my first child.

  45. Giggles in the Sun February 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    my tip would be to knit with yarn that you like to wear for example although it is easier to knit with acrylic and wool then with cotton, if you wouldn’t wear it then there is no point. Also just start … no really … don’t try to understand every little detail of the pattern before you start, cause it is easy to loose yourself and never start.

    Although I can’t really talk much. While I have been knitting for 20 years I have only this year taken the plunge and started a sweater. I did intend to do the St James, but the pattern was taken down, so now I bought a book and hopefully it’ll work out :-)

  46. Hilde February 8, 2013 at 5:00 am #

    I learned to knit first in primary school, but then we only produced weird shaped squares. When I was 17-ish my mum told me I had to learn how to knit a pair of mittens, a pair of socks and a sweater before moving out at age 19. And so I did, except the fact that the sweater were never put together in the end…

    Since then I’ve knitted several sweaters, amongst them this now very hip and popular Marius sweater of Norway:, but I prefer knitting socks, as they are simple and quick to make and quite handy!

    For beginner projects, as with sewing, knit something you’ll wear! I never recommend my friends to start with a scarf, because I find it the most boring knitting projects as well as it is very time consuming. Socks are again my all time favourite :) However, a sister of mine started right out on this beforementioned Marius pattern. She succeeded of course, because her motivation for getting this sweater was so high.

  47. Rosemary February 8, 2013 at 5:18 am #

    I knew some of the basics, from when i was a child. So when i started knitting again i would look on YouTube to get a visual on different techniques. I actually did not start following patterns at all, for about a year, i would just cast-on a number or stitches then work out what i was about to make: scarf, gloves, camera case…etc. But eventually i realized that if i was to improve i would need to learn to read patterns. So I took books out from the library and eventually hit on Raverly.

    You have not been knitting for as long as me yet you are such a productive knitter. You obviously have a talent for it.

  48. Amanda February 8, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    Thank you for this post – I’ve been interested and curious about knitting; mainly because of the super cute sweaters I see floating around the blogosphere, and the fact you can take it with you! ^__^ It just seems so daunting when you don’t even know the most basic terminology or where to even begin!! LOL.

    I have always known I will eventually learn to knit, and I’ll probably do it the same way as you – that’s essentially how I have learned a lot of things, including many of my sewing skills ^_^

  49. Melissa February 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    I learned much the same way—YouTube & Google are awesome for remembering what skpo and wyif are supposed to mean! I picked up a learn how to knit book, some Susan Bates needles, and Lion brand yarn and made a ribbed scarf—and loved it! I jumped to a sweater next and went to the local yarn shop to upgrade my tools and yarn. I learned a lot by spending Sat. afternoons at the shop; other knitters would always drop in and work on whatever they had on the needles at the time. I ended up taking a few classes there too. If you have a store nearby, see if they have impromptu gatherings; it’s a great place to start. You’ll learn a bunch, and it’s fun!

    I recommend trying your hand at knitting “in-the-round.” You can make some terrific sweaters (socks, hats, and lots of other things) this way, and it makes finishing much faster and easier. Many of the Interweave Knits magazine patterns are this way, and nearly all of the Reynolds’ Lopi patterns are as well. The best thing is that in-the-round is super fast for hats, and you’ll are all set to make an awesome Norwegian cardigans.

    When I was first starting out, I found it was much more enjoyable to stick to patterns that called for larger needles (size 8 up) and yarn (at least worsted, preferable chunky), as those items will knit up much faster. Wool and other fuzzy yarns are also a lot more forgiving than cottons—which can show uneven tension much more easily. It can help to stick to brighter or lighter colors; it’s near to impossible to see your stitches in black mohair. Some knitters prefer bamboo needles because they are “stickier”; (Clover makes some good ones). But I found the super smooth metal ones better because the stitches move around so much easier; (I love my Skacel Addi Turbos.) It’s a matter of personal preference really.

    Happy knitting!

  50. Lara February 9, 2013 at 12:50 am #

    Great post… i love ravelry too… some great ideas you can pick up there. But i also found this dvd where you can learn to knit your own icelandic wool sweater…

  51. Camille February 9, 2013 at 1:54 am #

    I started knitting first with a book (Stitch ‘n Bitch) and then got some help from a friend. Like many, my first project was a scarf. I know that knitting dish cloths is kinda boring– but they are actually a fantastic “fill in bits of time” knit. Plus you get a lovely dish cloth that you can wash and reuse- rather than paper towels or plastic sponges. New knitters, don’t disdain the dish cloth! :)

  52. Jo February 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    All great advice on here. I recommend as well, it is an amazing free resource. Videos are king when it comes to learning knitting!

    Also, as a beginner, me and an advanced knitting blogger teamed up to do a knitalong of my first garment. It was the free Miette Cardigan pattern. :) (You can find all the posts tagged together on my blog, and hers too). I would recommend checking it out- my blog pal Gail is an amazing knitter and teacher, and I blogged all my learning experiences. There are loads of cool things like this online. And loads of wonderful knitters who are only too keen to share their passion with you if you just ask!

    My final advice is just DO IT! Don’t worry about it being too hard. Just like you Tasia, jumping in is the way to learn. Get focused on a project you love and GO for it! :D

  53. jaclynmariet February 9, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    My mom taught me to crochet when I was quite young, which gave me an interest in yarn crafts. Later, when I was probably about 7th or 8th grade, my grandma taught me to knit. She was German, so she taught me to knit Continental-style–which, since I already crocheted, made a lot more sense to my brain. (I have tried it the other way, and I simply cannot wrap my head around it.) I learned to knit with a ribbed hat pattern in the old “Learn How” book (it’s a pamphlet-style book that teaches the basics of crocheting, knitting, tatting, and embroidery). I think it was 11 inches of straight knit 2, purl 2…lots of practice! I have always cherished that experience of learning to knit with my grandma, since she passed away a few years later.

  54. Keri February 10, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    I am taking a knitting class at my local community college. About a year ago, I tried to teach myself using library books and the internet, but was having alot of trouble. I was too intimidated to go to a yarn shop and ask for help! I am also left handed, and I couldn’t decide if I should be knitting left-handed or not, or which hand to carry the yarn in. My teacher had everyone knit right handed, and told us not to carry the yarn in either hand at first – just let it hang. This way you have to pick it up each time to wrap it, and you just naturally start doing it with one hand or the other – and then you know whether you want to be an english or continental knitter. This has worked really well for me, and I like the structure of a weekly class with homework assignments!

  55. Alethia February 10, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

    Thanks so much for this information! I just asked another blogger, sharing her beautiful knit sweater , if there was a beginner knitting kit. This post is right on time for me to see it!!

  56. Emma February 16, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Hi, I love your knitting! I was wondering if you could tell me where you found the pattern for your blue cardigan (in the last picture?). Thanks!

  57. nicole September 19, 2013 at 3:19 am #

    beautiful knitting loved your sight

  58. Mark August 25, 2014 at 11:34 pm #

    I picked up some needles and promptly hated them. I could knit but not purl in the English style. After awhile someone gave me a bunch of circular needles and I learned about continental style. After a short glimpse into YouTube I was knitting and purling right along with circulars and the continental style. Sometimes its just what your body likes. I like the shorter needles that don’t drag at your wrists like weights when you have them full of stitches and its better on my hands to handle yarn left handed and working needle right.

    Now if I could just loosen up my stitches some more.

  59. thea October 3, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    I got “it” for my 6th years birthday – I wanted to learn to knit and got needles and yarn.
    The best gift ever :)