I have decided to learn how to knit, what do I need?

(49 Posts)
ilikeyoursleeves Thu 03-Jan-13 22:54:31

As the title says, I have decided to learn how to knit this year. I am a complete novice and I don't have a clue where to start other than to go to John lewis tomorrow to buy some needles and wool.

But what kind of needles? What kind of wool? I have looked at a few websites and it's a bit gobbledeegook. I'd like to start with trying to knit a baby blanket.

Any tips hugely appreciated! Thanks!

AlreadyScone Thu 03-Jan-13 22:58:04

Marking place to join in...

Anifrangapani Thu 03-Jan-13 22:58:18

Double knit wool and some charity needles in 4 - 5 mm.
I used Debbie Stoller Stitch and Bitch book

ilikeyoursleeves Thu 03-Jan-13 23:09:06

Thanks but even that is gobbledeegook, what is double knit wool? Is that what it's actually called or is it an action of 'double knitting'. And what are charity needles? Bought from a charity shop or is it a type of needle?

As I said, I am a complete novice! blush

tribpot Thu 03-Jan-13 23:12:58

You can buy knitting needles (just to be clear, pointy sticks - there are other kinds so I'm not just being ludicrously patronising) in charity shops OR in John Lewis. As you're going to JL anyway, I would pick up a pair of 4mm knitting needles, probably about 30cm long - shorter is better for getting started.

Wool comes in different thicknesses. Double knitting (DK) is the most used kind, John Lewis will have loads of different kinds of double knitting yarn. If in doubt, ask, or look on the label (I'll go and find an example in a sec).

More in a mo, I'm just pulling up the email I sent to a friend on this very topic yesterday.

brighthair Thu 03-Jan-13 23:16:00

A local knitting shop, a kind friend with endless patience, and access to YouTube gringrin
I just finished my first scarf and am on with my second. I had a (not very patient) colleague teaching me and luckily lots of people at work knit so I ask them for help

SwedishEdith Thu 03-Jan-13 23:21:32

Get the Ladybird book on Knitting - seriously! I bought it this year for my youngest me really and realised that this is what I must gave used to teach myself as a child. I need to re-read it as my casting on needs improving

You may find that your local charity shops have knitting needles. They do tend to be kept "below the counter" grin

Try to buy 4mm needles as these are the ones that you will use most with double knitting yarn.

Yarn comes in various thicknesses (also known as ply). 2ply and 3ply are thin wool used for lacy items such as baby shawls. 4ply is a bit thicker. Double knitting is thicker still and is very frequently available. Chunky, Aran and super chunky are thicker still. As a general rule thin wool needs thin needles, thick wool needs thicker needles.

You can buy double knitting wool (often abbreviated to DK) in places like Wilkinson's. This is perfectly fine for practice but I wouldn't make garments out of it <yarn snob> grin

JLP have knitting needle sets in the sale at the moment, BTW. Would agree to go for Double Knit thickness, as it is easiest to work with, and is not so fine that you feel like your knitting isn't "growing" quickly enough!

I think a crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches is very useful, and maybe a row counter (little gadget that sls onto your knitting needle, which you keep track f how many rows of knitting you've done. I find them useful especially when knitting large items like blankets.

Also you'll need some scissors and sewing needles with large eyes to darn in ends and sew up your creations.

Some dressmakers pins and a ruler are good for checking your tension.

Also somewhere to keep it all - so a bag of some sort - I use an old cosmetic purse for the little things, and a basket for the knitting itself. You'll probably have some of these items already.

That's it really.

tribpot Thu 03-Jan-13 23:29:14

Get yourself started on Knitting for Dummies - again, not intending to be patronising, this is a great site. The book is really well set-out, the only difficulty with the website is the pages are presented in order of popularity, so finding the 'getting started' stuff can be a bit tricky.

The John Lewis website will allow you to search for wool by thickness (they call it 'ply'). They do lots of DK - including some own-brand stuff that looks like reasonably good value and has the words 'double knit' printed on it quite clearly. I would go for something like the Sirdar Snuggly DK.

Next up is to join Ravelry (like Facebook for knitting and crochet) where you will find there is a handy Mumsnet group ready to receive you.

Now, I wouldn't necessarily start with a baby blanket, as it could be quite slow going and there's a fair bit to do. My two main suggestions are either:
- a blanket square (or two) for one of our Woolly Hugs projects
- a square (maybe a bigger one) from a yarn made of cotton (like this one, although there are alternatives which are cheaper elsewhere) which you can use as a dishcloth or face flannel. It's small, instantly useful, and it doesn't matter if it's a bit too wonky round the edges.

There are gazillions of patterns for squares on Ravelry - and a few ideas on the Woolly Hugs site.

If you really do fancy a blanket, decide if you want to make one in squares (more sewing up, but less intimidating to get going) or all in one piece like, say, this one. Also ask in JL, they will have knowledgeable people there. Either way, we are here to help!

SwedishEdith Thu 03-Jan-13 23:40:16
LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Thu 03-Jan-13 23:40:59

Good luck...I've recently taught myself with a book and when I get stuck You Tube, it's amazing how many tutorial videos are on there.

Try and find a local wool shop, they are always happy to advise.

Our local Hobbycraft runs a knitting circle, worth checking if you have o e near you.


tribpot Thu 03-Jan-13 23:41:47

How fab! And who could resist an egg cosy, the ultimate in 70s starter knitting projects smile (All those fuel shortages meant we had to keep the eggs warm)

tribpot Thu 03-Jan-13 23:44:21

Oh I forgot to say, YouTube is indeed brilliant as other posters have mentioned. One of my favourite sites of videos (which are all actually on YouTube) is Knit Freedom. Liat Gat is a fantastic teacher, you can download e-books with video courses in (these aren't free) or look through most of the vids on the page I've linked to, which will give you a great start.

SwedishEdith Thu 03-Jan-13 23:48:54

It's really sweet, isn't it? Can't find it just now but a few little "projects" in there.

jessjessjess Fri 04-Jan-13 01:03:02

Not managing to link from my phone but the book Knitty Gritty is v good.

boxoftricks Fri 04-Jan-13 01:07:46

I started with 4mm needles, and some double knit. And then promptly gave up as it took forevvvvver to get anywhere. I'm knitting a neck warmer, using some Paton chunky wool, and 8mm needles. I can SEE the stitches, but they are still close, not loose and baggy, and I'm making. Good progress, which is motivating. Don't start too small, you'll end up bored and giving up

ilikeyoursleeves Fri 04-Jan-13 10:29:56

Thank you so much for the advice! Especially Tribpot, great info there and I love that blanket you linked to. I am off out to buy supplies now, I will report back later! grin

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 13:42:24

I would be doing one of SwedishEdith's egg cosys if I didn't have two pairs of mittens to whack out in short order!

cupcake78 Fri 04-Jan-13 14:46:06

I got a set of kneedles and the knitting bible. I know the basics but basic books explain everything from wool types to how to get started and basic stitches. With this, YouTube and abit of patience you'll be knitting scarves in weeks grin

Doyouthinktheysaurus Fri 04-Jan-13 15:24:36

You need a whole lot of patience ime! <failed knitter emoticon>

I can crochet having taught myself and I love it but I can't get to grips with knitting! My stitches disappear if I accidentally drop one so I can't get it back, I end up with more stitches at the end of the row than I started with, my tension is all wrong.....need I go onwink

I can't quite give up the dream though. I have visions of myself happily clattering needles at high speed while watching tv and chatting away with the dses knitting jumpers so lovely people ask where I bought them <deluded>

cupcake78 Fri 04-Jan-13 16:40:22

Don't hold your kneedles too tight, relax your hands and don't pull or stretch the wool just guide it! I love knitting. I'm not brilliant at it but I love it and its most definitely a practice thing!

fossil971 Fri 04-Jan-13 20:10:18

I learnt to knit from that Ladybird book in about 1976 <nostalgic> I made the pencil case, too. I picked up a copy in a charity shop a few months ago and it was brilliant to see it again. The dad in the knitted tie!

A lot of John Lewis branches do short knitting classes, or one of the consultants in the knitting section will be a knitting expert and perhaps get you started if it's not too busy. They will set you up with a good book and the bits you need.

Also if you sign up to Ravelry.com you can look to see if there is a knitting group in your area, as well as getting inspiration for hundreds of things to knit.

I made the Circular Shrug which is very easy but it gets much admired.

ilikeyoursleeves Fri 04-Jan-13 20:10:23

Hi, today I bought four balls of this in dark green, light green, plum and cream. I have visions of a lovely striped baby blanket using these but I haven't even taken the stuff out the shopping bag so no doubt I will soon be back venting my frustrations!

I also bought some 4mm straight needles and a crochet hook. Now all I need is to get the ds's to bed so I can start! Oh and I got the 'Stitch and Bitch' book on eBay for a fiver smile

Wish me luck!

Doyouthinktheysaurus Fri 04-Jan-13 20:19:57

You tube is your friend, it's great!

Good luck.

Be prepared to find yourself tied up in knots at first. My mum showed me an easier way to cast on so I can do that but that's pretty much as far as I get.....

Vajazzler Fri 04-Jan-13 20:34:01

I learned to knit late last year so that i could contribute to a woolly hug blanket for cupofteaplease. With the help of a couple of youtube vids i was off and am now making squares aplenty for an angel hug blanket. I then need to teach myself how to sew it together!!!

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 20:44:09

Good stuff - just take it slowly. It will seem very odd at first - when I was teaching people recently you realise just what a strange set of movements it is to explain!

ilikeyoursleeves Fri 04-Jan-13 21:14:57

Hmmmm I just did a row of casting on which looked good, then I tried to do a knit stitch but it looks like I've done another casting on row??? Cos now on the needle there is millions of wool and I can't see individual stitches! Argh, start again...

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 21:26:41

Interesting, did you actually slip the needle off the stitch for the knitting row? Or did you carry on adding stitches like when you were doing the casting on row?

Have a look at 'The Knit Stitch (American/English)' on the KnitFreedom videos page - under 'The Basics'. Basically right hand needle goes through the stitch on the left hand needle, yarn goes under then over the right hand needle, then pull the right hand needle back towards you, catching the newly-made loop of the yarn as you do. Then you pull the existing stitch off the needle, et voila.

ilikeyoursleeves Fri 04-Jan-13 22:29:52

Woo hoo! I think I actually did cast on twice, I looked at a YouTube clip and I understand what to do now. I have knitted three rows with knit stitch and it could almost pass as a tiny scarf for a mouse!


However my shoulders now ache. How am I meant to hold my posture? My arms are sort of mid air!

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 22:38:00

Just relax the arms down until you're comfortable. I think people often find it easier to start with sitting at a table so they rest their arms on it for this very reason.

Well done on your first three rows, though! Good work!

YellowFlyingPineapple Fri 04-Jan-13 22:39:07

<<gets very excited>>

Oh can I join in please?

I started before Christmas and have knitted a 6ft long x 103 stitches wide woolen thingie which I am going to join to 3 other equal sized thingies to make a Granny blanket, well hopefully.

I am getting all my wool from Charity shops, so it is fairly bright and yesterday I got 5 big balls of wool for £1.50 and a fab thingie you put on the end of the needles when you have finished to stop your stitches falling off, so I was thrilled.

Yes, wool in charity shops does seem to be very under the counter, sideways glances and hushed tones, how exciting!

How do I cast off though?

tribpot Fri 04-Jan-13 22:43:08

Yellow - have a look on Knit Freedom under bind offs. Just the one at the top, do not look at any of the more complicated ones below that!

Please ignore the fact she is holding the yarn in her left hand, you just knit each stitch as normal and then pull the previous stitch over the top of the one just knit and off the right hand needle.

Will have a look in the morning for another video with the yarn held in the English/American style, i.e. in the right hand.

This is a very useful site
I also agree that Ravelry is your friend. The group that I am meeting tomorrow morning I have met through Rav. Didn't know there was an MN group though.

Casting off - knit your first two stitches (or purl them, if it's appropriate to your pattern), then use the point of your right needle to pull the stitch that was first OVER the second one and off the right needle. Then knit (or P) the next stitch, and then pass number two over number 3 and off the right needle. Cast off as many as you need. If your pattern is an American version, they will use the term "Bind off" instead of cast-off.

<dashes off to Rav to find the MN group, forthwith>

ilikeyoursleeves Fri 04-Jan-13 22:53:20

6ft long?! Wow! Sounds amazing! I'm planning on doing some practice ie learning just now then do a stripy baby blanket for my 6 month old bundle of joy smile

Oh crap.

Use the point of your LEFT NEEDLE to carry the casting off stitch over it's neighbour.

Sorry, laughing at Graham Norton show and MNing.

angry Naughty Meow75

demisemiquaver Sat 05-Jan-13 00:02:12

in similar position myself a few months ago....but luckily joined a knitting group...can you not see if there's one nearby?..good luck!!...also, have a look[in john lewis] at their ROWAN knitting pattn books : they're very inspiring!...there should be a couple of v basic stitching pieces in that can get you started........

tribpot Sat 05-Jan-13 08:12:29
Vajazzler Sat 05-Jan-13 09:02:17

Can anyone tell me what to do when i finish a square then notice a dropped stitch?

tribpot Sat 05-Jan-13 10:57:10

Vajazzler - this explains how to pick up a stitch after you've cast off, but it might be best to get an idea of how you would do it if you hadn't cast off first, since it's easier to understand when shown on live work.

Pick up a dropped stitch

The crochet hook technique might be easier to do than using two needles at this stage, some more pictures here and a video.

You basically do the same thing as shown here, working the dropped stitch up to the top, and then sew it into place on the edge so it can't drop again.

Vajazzler Sat 05-Jan-13 20:07:40

Thanks Tribpot

ilikeyoursleeves Sun 06-Jan-13 10:49:18

I am excited! I have finished my mouse scarf smile my first ever knitting! It's basically a rectangle about 40 stitches wide and 20 rows, starting off very wonky but ending better. I even did it in two colours and cast it off! I bought some circular needles yesterday so I'm now going to try my stripy baby blanket, if its wonky I'm sure my 6 mth old wont care smile

tribpot Sun 06-Jan-13 11:21:38

Fantastic work, ilikeyoursleeves!

ilikeyoursleeves Sun 06-Jan-13 15:04:32

My fingers are sore! Is this normal? ESP the pads of my index finger and thumb on right hand.

And the wool keep bunching up on the circular needles where he plastic circular bit meets the metal needle! Am I knitting too tightly or is this what happens?

tribpot Sun 06-Jan-13 15:44:41

Are these Pony circulars, ilike? They aren't very good, basically - it's hard to get any circular needle where the yarn doesn't catch on that joiny bit, but unfortunately the cheapo ones suffer worst from this. Don't worry about it, you just need to manhandle the yarn a bit (and not knit too tightly - but it happens to me and I am a very loose knitter).

Keep making sure your arms are relaxed. The soreness may also be to do with knitting tightly so you're having to push too hard to do each stitch. It should be easy to do a knit or a purl stitch (I don't mean you should find it easy to know how but to do should not require pushing).

ilikeyoursleeves Sun 06-Jan-13 17:25:10

Yes they are Pony ones. Though it seems a bit easier now that I'm in the flow and got past the first few rows. Think I'm being a bit ambitious though, I've done a row of about 200 stitches cos I want a decent size blanket but its going to take me til next Xmas at this rate! Managed to do 4 rows today in between seeing to my 3 boys!

tribpot Sun 06-Jan-13 17:41:12

Hmm yes - a blanket is not really a beginner's project! But you will speed up - it's just a question of staying motivated in the meantime.

ilikeyoursleeves Sun 06-Jan-13 17:52:08

It looked one of the easier options though cos I'm just doing knit stitch for the entire blanket! Though perhaps a scarf might have been better? Oh well ill see how it goes!

tribpot Sun 06-Jan-13 18:54:52

Just to let posters know we have a new blanket square project just started.

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