A Beginners Guide To Learn To Knit

Learn to knit

Learning to knit doesn't need to be hard. Go from zero to knitting hero with this step-by-step guide.

Hey knitting newbie, you're in the right place to learn all the basic knitting techniques you'll need to knit a Cardigang masterpiece 😎

Don't know how to knit? Neither did we! But knitting doesn't have to be intimidating – with these tips and tricks, and the right tools (🍷) you'll be on your way to crafting the perfect cosy masterpiece in no time.

When you first look at a knitting pattern it can be pretty overwhelming, but here’s a little secret. You really only need to learn two stitches and you can knit basically anything! So strap in and let's learn to knit 💪

The most common knitting stitch patterns.

Most beginner patterns will use a combination of knit and purl stitches to create a garter stitch, stockinette stitch and rib stitch. 

Garter stitch

Garter stitch is a great beginner stitch because it's as simple as it gets. It's made when you knit every stitch in every row. It creates a stretchy fabric that is the same on both sides. 

Stockinette stitch

Stockinette stitch creates what's commonly known as 'knit fabric'. It's created by knitting all the stitches in one row, then turning your work and purling all the stitches in the next row. When created, the 'front' side of your work will look like it's made up of a series of V's, while the 'back' side will look like little waves or ridges.

Rib stitch

A rib stitch is a textured pattern usually used on the cuffs and necks of jumpers. It’s made by alternating knit and purl stitches in the same row, then knitting the same stitch sequence in the next row. 

Here's what these stitch patterns look like...

Knitting swatch
Knitting swatch

Let's learn to knit!

The knit and purl stitches are both created in a similar way and there’s a simple (if not slightly morbid!) way to remember the steps you need to follow; stab it, strangle it, scoop the guts out, chop its head off. Keep this in mind as we learn each technique. 

Knitting 101

Slip Knot

The very first step when you learn to knit is to get some stitches onto your needle. We call this 'casting on'. To cast on, we first need to create a slip knot. You’ll then use this slip knot as your first stitch and create the rest of your stitches from there. Here's how we do that 👀

Casting On

Like many things in knitting, casting on can be done in a number of ways. We use a range of cast on techniques depending on the yarn and needles we're working with. The two-needle cast on method is the most beginner-friendly method. Where the long-tail cast on can be a little quicker and we prefer it when using our Chunky Cotton yarn.

Long tail cast on

Two needle cast on

Knit stitch

Once you've cast on all your stitches, it's time to start knitting! The knit stitch is a handy little stitch that makes up the backbone of most knitting patterns. Each knit stitch looks like a little ‘v’. When you learn to knit this stitch is the first stitch we recommend you start with. Here's how to do a knit stitch 🧶

Begin by inserting the right-hand needle into the back of the first stitch on your left needle, wrapping the yarn around the right needle, and then pulling it back through. You’ve now created one stitch! Keep repeating this process in every row until you’ve reached your desired length. 

Knit stitch

Purl stitch

The second most common stitch, purl stitches look like little bumps (or purls!). It's the reverse of a knit stitch - where with a knit stitch your needle goes into the back of a stitch, the purl stitch puts your needle through the front of your stitch.

The purl stitch, when put together with a knit stitch lets you create a huge range of different styles. So let's give this one a go! 

Purl stitch

Rib stitch

Now that you knit how to knit and purl, you can knit a rib stitch. The rib stitch is made by alternating one knit stitch, then one purl stitch in the same row, and then knitting the same stitch sequence in the next row. Knit 1, purl 1 - repeat. 

Decreasing stitches

We reduce the number of stitches on our needle by knitting or purling some stitches together. This simply means we put our right needle into the second stitch on your left needle and collect both the first and second stitch and knit/purl them as you would a single stitch. 

Increasing stitches

We increase the number of stitches on our needle by creating a second stitch out of an existing stitch.

Casting off

Casting off is the way we finish a piece of knitting. We secure the stitches and cast them off our needles. To cast off, knit two stitches then slip the first stitch on your right needle back over the second stitch and off the needle. You’ll have one stitch left on your right needle. Knit another stitch so you’ve got two stitches on your right needle and then slip the first stitch off. Continue to the end of the row. When you’ve got the last stitch on your right needle, cut the yarn and thread this through the final stitch to secure. 

Changing colours

When we knit, we often have a need to change the colour of our yarn - think colour-blocked jumper or striped scarf! The neatest way to change colour or start a new ball of yarn is at the end of a row. For beginners, we recommend you simply tie the new yarn in a knot around the old yarn and start knitting with the new ball. Super simple! 

How to get yourself out of a bind 🚨

When you learn to knit, it's common for you to make a few mistakes. It's all part of learning! Here are a few handy ways to get yourself out of some common binds when learning to knit. 

How to undo stitches

Sometimes we need to go back a few stitches in our work. The most common reason for this is we realise a few stitches too late that we've messed up the stitch pattern and so need to go back and fix it. Undoing your work is easy enough - just be gentle and go slowly. 

How to avoid adding unwanted stitches

It's common for beginner knitters to accidentally end up with too many stitches on their needle. Here are the two most common ways stitches are added and how to avoid making this mistake. 

How to save a dropped stitch

Dropped a stitch? Don't fret! You can save it by following this technique. 

How to test your tension

Okay, now that you've mastered the basics, it's best to make sure your tension is spot on before you start knitting your masterpiece. We do this by knitting a “tension swatch”. It's a bit like goldilocks, if the tension is too tight, your piece will be too small, and if it's too loose it may not hold its shape and might be too big. 

To test your tension, you'll want to grab the yarn and needles that the pattern recommends you use - if you're knitting a Cardigang Knit Kit then use the yarn and needles included in your kit. Your pattern will tell you how many stitches and rows should make up a 10x10cm tension swatch. Cast on 4-6 more stitches than the gauge should measure then knit in the specified stitch (generally stockinette) until your piece measures just over 10cm. Then grab your measuring tape and count your stitches and rows. If you've got more stitches or rows than the instructions say you should have, your knitting is a little too tight, and if you've got less your knitting is too loose. Adjust your tension by holding the yarn a little more tightly/loosely as you knit.

Tension swatch stitches
Tension swatch rows

Well done! You've learned all the basics you need to knit almost anything 👏

Remember learning a new skill can be a little challenging at first, and you’re bound to find yourself making some mistakes along the way. But as with learning anything, your brain and your hands slowly start to get the hang of it, muscle memory is created, and soon the thing you found tricky/daunting/scary is like second nature! 

Ready to dip a toe in with a fully-kitted up Cardigan Knit Kit?

Our kits come packed with all the goodies you need to knit a masterpiece – incredibly easy to follow instructions, the perfect amount of wool, sticks to click, and a totes amazing tote.

Cardigan footer images

Looking for something a little more personal? 

Book in for a one-on-one knitting or crochet session with the Cardigang Hotline ☎️. These sessions are designed to help give you the skills you need to create a masterpiece. Whether you're just starting out, or you've got a specific question or problem (dropped a stitch, no stress!), we're here to get you out of a bind.

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