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Beginning Knitting – How to Start Knitting

For someone who wants to learn to knit, beginning knitting can seem confusing at first. You may be wondering just how to start knitting and what you need to get started.

When you are just beginning knitting all you really need is a ball of yarn and some comfortable knitting needles.

I will help you choose both of these supplies for knitting so that you can start knitting as quickly as possible.

Beginning Knitting – Choosing A Ball Of Yarn

ball of yarn

Even I get overwhelmed with the amount of beautiful knitting yarns out there. I can spend hours going through all the different types of yarn, the color, the texture.  And there’s always something new.

I just love it!

It’s amazing what they have for choices, and choosing the right ball of yarn for your knitting project can be puzzling. I’ll help you narrow down your choices.

When you’re just getting started with knitting, buy a smooth worsted weight yarn. Save the really fancy yarns for later when you’ve had some knitting practice.

For beginning knitting I would start with a yarn like Lion Brand Yarn Vanna’s Choice Make sure to pick out a nice light color too so that you can see your stitches better. This yarn is really nice to practice knitting.

Make sure to check out the yarn label (ball band) too because it also gives you important knitting information that you’ll need.

Actually I’ve created a page on reading yarn labels:  Here is how to read a yarn label.

One note on picking out knitting yarns.  I wouldn’t buy cotton yarns yet as they don’t have any stretch and may be rather difficult to knit with. Cotton yarns are wonderful though but give yourself some practice time first.

Beginning Knitting Needles Which Ones to Choose?

beginning knitting needles

Knitting needles are the next important tools for knitting you need. There are loads to choose from and they come in many different materials like bamboo, wood, plastic, aluminum and so on.

Because you are beginning knitting and just starting out you may want to experiment with different needles to see which ones you like. After all you will need a few pairs.

Or you may even want to consider circular knitting needles. You can still knit flat with them and the great thing is they hold a lot of stitches for bigger knitting projects. Every knitter has their favorites to work with though and you’ll find out  what you like as you go along.

I have two favorite interchangeable knitting needle sets I use and I love both. Denise and Knitters Pride.

Bamboo or wood needles are great choices for beginners. Knitting stitches don’t slide off the needles as easily. They’re also very comfortable to work with. Plastic and aluminum are quite slippery and your knitting stitches can easily slip off the ends.

Which Size Knitting Needles Should You Choose?

I would start knitting with a medium size needle (medium yarn, medium needles), around a size 6 (4mm), 7 (4.5mm) or 8 (5mm). These sizes are often used for medium weight yarns and they feel the most comfortable in your hands. I like these sizes too. They just feel like the right size for my hands.

If you decide to buy straight knitting needles you may want to consider the knitting needle length too. They range in length from 7 inches which is usually used for children, and go up from there; 8 – 14 inches. I find the shorter lengths less cumbersome and much easier to use than the really long ones. Even the ones for children are great while you practice.

Just remember that when you start knitting bigger items you may need a longer length knitting needle in order to hold all the stitches.

Note: The size of the knitting needles and the size of the knitting yarn should compliment each other so:

  • Really thin knitting yarn – really thin knitting needles and
  • Really thick yarn – really thick needles

I created a little page about knitting needle sizes here to help you understand about the sizing. Plus you can download a nifty knitting needle conversion chart as well.  Pop on over, I’ll wait right here for you.

All done?  Great… Let’s continue…

Maybe you already have your ball of yarn and knitting needles?

So what’s the next step?

Then it’s time to put stitches on your needle and it all starts with a simple slip knot.

Here’s your first mini knitting tutorial on ….

How To Make A Slip Knot

The slip knot is the first stitch you’ll put on your needle and while there is a way to cast on without making one it’s still good for you to know how to do it.

When you start knitting, the slip knot becomes the very first stitch on your needle. More importantly it’s the stitch that fastens the yarn to your knitting needle so that you can cast on the rest of your knitting stitches.

I’ve been asked whether you include this stitch in the stitch count after all the stitches are on your needle.  The answer is yes. When you cast on all the stitches you need, you don’t take the slip knot off the needle.


beginning knitting slip knot


Take a length of yarn about 6 – 10 inches long and make a loop crossing the long end of the yarn (the ball end) over the shorter end to create the loop.




beginning knitting slip knot


With the working yarn (the ball end) stick the yarn behind the loop kind of cutting the loop in half like in the picture.




beginning knitting slip knot


Then take your knitting needle and insert it underneath that piece of yarn and just pull it through the loop.




beginning knitting slip knot


Now just pull the end so that the loop snugs up nicely on the needle. Not too tight.





And that’s all there is too it.  Simple right?





Now you’re ready to learn how to cast on the rest of your knitting stitches. I’ll give you three cast on methods so you can choose one that you like.

If you’re not quite ready for casting on stitches maybe you’re wondering how to hold all this knitting stuff in your hands.

Here are some ideas about how to hold your knitting needles and yarn

Beginning knitting is fun and exciting. Hopefully you aren’t confused anymore but understand some basics of knitting and are ready to start knitting up some fun.



When you’re ready you can head over to my knitting instructions page or cast on methods page

Take your time and have fun with it.

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2 thoughts on “Beginning Knitting – How to Start Knitting

  1. I have a pattern for mittens that calls for #4 needles starting with 36 stitches. I only have #5 needles. How many stitches should I cast on?

    1. Hello Carmel There’s really no way of knowing for sure because I didn’t write the pattern. The best thing to do is get the knitting gauge they ask for in the pattern. Otherwise you’ll really need to use the needles they ask for. Here’s my page on knitting gauge if you’re not certain how to do it.

      I’d like to really encourage you to ask knitting questions in my community forum as I don’t normally answer questions here. It’s totally free to join. That way I have much more room to help answer questions. Hope this helps. Happy Knitting!

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