Everything you need to start knitting

Pat J. Fraley

This Saturday (13 June) marks the Worldwide Knit In Public Day, which was created by avid knitter Danielle Landes in 2005, and is run by volunteers to encourage people who knit to come together and join the community.

Previous years have seen organisers encourage shops, cafes, business owners and individuals to host their own knitting groups in local communities. Since the UK is still under lockdown, the event will be little different this year, but there are plenty of ways to engage with the knitting community virtually and online tutorials to get you started.

Until recently, knitting was a hobby we often associated with our grandparents, but thanks to Instagram, Pinterest and a global pandemic, arts and crafts have become much more appealing.

A quick search for knitting on Etsy brings up over 500,000 results, with chunky knit blankets being the most popular item in an array of handmade products.

There’s a whole host of free patterns and designs to follow online as well as clubs to join, for avid fans or knitting novices.

Although lockdown restrictions are continuing to ease, many of us are still spending the majority bioptimizerscouponcode.com of our time at home, so if you’ve ever considered taking up knitting, now is the time. Ahead, we’ve rounded up all the tools you need, along with classes and people to follow, to help you get started.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

How to start knitting

To help you get a grasp of the basics on knitting, Hobbycraft has a photo-illustrated tutorial you can find here, that’s easy to follow and simple to master.

It details the following four steps to begin casting your yarn onto the needle:

  • Create a slip knot and place onto the left-hand needle
  • Insert the right-hand needle into the loop on the left-hand needle from the front of the loop to the back
  • Wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle and pull back through
  • Place the loop from the right-hand needle onto the left-hand needle

You also need to match the yarn weight to your needle size. Bear in mind, the bigger the needle, the bigger the stitch.

Often you will see the word “ply” next to a wool’s name which tells you the thickness, or weight, of it. “DK” is another common term used which stands for double knitting, and often means it’s a lighter weight too.

For guidance on how to hold your needles correctly, craft retailer LoveCrafts has created a video tutorial here, which says: “Pick up a needle in each hand, in a gentle and relaxed fashion. Hold with your fingers and thumbs. Place each needle in your four fingers, holding the top with your thumbs, then grab the yarn in your hand and start knitting.”

Knitting needles

When shopping for your first pair, it’s important to consider what type of needle will work best with the yarn you’re using.

Knitting needles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from minuscule 2mm to chunky 25mm options, and are made from materials like bamboo, wood, plastic, aluminium and stainless steel.

Plastic or bamboo types are best for beginners as they’re inexpensive, lightweight and flexible and will fit most types of yarn comfortably.

These 12mm long bamboo knitting needles (Stitch and Story, £12.50) are ideal for a beginners’ pair as your yarn won’t slip off as you get to grips with them. They are also eco-friendly alternative to plastic needles.

Opt for beginners bamboo needles which are both easy to work with and eco-friendly (Stitch and Story)
Opt for beginners bamboo needles which are both easy to work with and eco-friendly (Stitch and Story)

Wool

There’s an endless amount of choice for wool to buy online, in varying materials such as acrylic cotton, blends and merino.

For a beginner it is best to use thicker yarns that are chunky, as this will make individual stitches easier to identify, plus the thicker it is, the quicker you can create something like a scarf or blanket.

We love this Paintbox yarns wool mix super chunky (LoveCrafts, £5) that’s a mix of 50 per cent acrylic and 50 per cent wool. It’s available in 60 shades, from duck egg blue to mustard yellow.

There's plenty of colourful wool choices to shop from when starting a new project, from neutral hues to vibrant shades (LoveCrafts)
There’s plenty of colourful wool choices to shop from when starting a new project, from neutral hues to vibrant shades (LoveCrafts)

Or this Hayfield bonus super chunky (The Knitting Network, £1.99) which comes in 18 neutral, vibrant and muted shades. It’s also machine washable too so it’ll be easy to keep your finished work clean.

Top tip: don't unravel all of your wool, instead unwind it as you go (Hayfield)
Top tip: don’t unravel all of your wool, instead unwind it as you go (Hayfield)

When shopping for materials, something that has a bit of stretch will also be easier for a beginner to work with, as this will help it spring into shape once finished and help you work through any mistakes you may have made.

It’s important to note too that once you have your ball of wool, don’t unravel it all to start your project, as you may not finish with it in one sitting and then you’ll have to wind it back into a ball by hand. Instead, unwind it as you knit.

Knitting patterns

Unlike other hobbies such as painting or drawing, knitting requires you to follow a pattern. It’s an essential part of getting started, especially for knitting novices who need some extra guidance.

Easily available online, many are free, such as this selection by LoveCrafts. Its online page covers patterns for everything from baby booties and hats to chunky throws and animal toys.

These nurse doll mates (LoveCrafts, free to download) caught our eye and could be a sweet gesture to a nurse you know who has been working on the frontline throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Hobbycraft also offers a wide, inexpensive range here, ranging from adult and children’s clothes to home furnishings like throws and blankets.

We’ve got our eye on this Sirdar snuggly DK cardigan and accessories (Hobbycraft, £3) which would make a thoughtful gift for a friend or family member who has given birth while in lockdown.

Storage solutions

Once you have all the equipment you need to start, keep your yarn dust-free by picking up a storage box or basket. Especially if you have pets that may love to wreak havoc on a ball of wool.

Until you can make your own, we love these two-toned baskets to keep your knitting equipment neatly stowed away (John Lewis & Partners)
Until you can make your own, we love these two-toned baskets to keep your knitting equipment neatly stowed away (John Lewis & Partners)

It can also be something you can make yourself once you’ve learnt the basics. This set of John Lewis & Partners cotton rope storage baskets (John Lewis and Partners, £25) are perfect for keeping your needles, yarns and patterns safe, and are a stylish addition to a room, particularly if you’re limited in floor space.

However, if you need a lid, this Brambly Cottage solid wood organiser box (Wayfair, £37.99) is ideal if you’re a beginner with not much kit.

This structured box with two compartments is ideal to keep your workspace clutter-free (Wayfair)
This structured box with two compartments is ideal to keep your workspace clutter-free (Wayfair)

The bottom drawer will allow you to store needles and patterns and the separate sections in the top compartment will help you keep all your other bits and bobs neat and tidy.

Best books

For tips and advice, you can always pick up a knitting book. Knitting for the Absolute Beginner by Alison Dupernex (Amazon, £7.99) is worth a read.

It details the essential techniques you need to master the skill through step-by-step photos and easy to follow instructions, with simple projects for adults and children to take up throughout.

For knitting novices, pick up tips, tricks and techniques in this book for beginners (Amazon)
For knitting novices, pick up tips, tricks and techniques in this book for beginners (Amazon)

By the end, you’ll be able to make a cable-knit cardigan and stripy scarf.

Simple Knitting by Erika Knight (LoveCrafts, £16.45) is another useful resource that is similar to attending a workshop. You learn how to knit then attempt the 20 projects within the book, each of which will build on your skills.

From home decorations to clothing, it’ll leave you inspired and better informed.

Online classes

Prior to lockdown, knitting clubs were one way to meet new, like-minded people and help new knitters explore the community. However, as big meet-ups are currently out of the question, there are plenty of virtual spaces and events to join, which are fortunately more accessible than being limited to groups in your local area.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne based studio for arts and crafts, The Fashion Lab, has set up free monthly Zoom meet-ups called Stitch & Bitch via Eventbrite.

Each session acts as a support group and virtual space to inspire one another on current projects. It’s recommended that you bring along what you’re currently working on and your favourite drink. Simply join the video call and enjoy.

East London is home to the @blackgirlknitclub, founded by Sicgmone Kludje and Vea Koranteng. It’s a community for black women and girls to share ideas and create a safe space to be creative through knitting.

From home decor to clothing, it offers not just inspiration but celebrates women of colour within the knitting sphere.

It has also begun a virtual knit series via Zoom, as an opportunity for fellow knitting fans to come together and discuss projects they’re working on, and meet other women who love crafts. All you need is your knitting needles and a yarn to knit while you chat.

People to follow

If you’re looking for inspiration on patterns and colour palettes or for some bite-size tutorials, Instagram has plenty on offer, such as @lovecraftsknitting, which uses its social media platforms to help knitters at all levels of experience.

Covering everything from clothing to toys, it’s a helpful feed of ideas, with step-by-step guides of colourful patterns, seasonal projects to try such as creating storage baskets to clothes to add to your wardrobe.

London based artist and knitter @ocean_bythesea is one to follow too, sharing her botanically dyed yarn in beautiful hues of blue, pink and purples, alongside running an Etsy shop under the same moniker where you can buy her yarn to use for your own projects.

Read more

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