Always wanted to start knitting, but never quite had a clue where to begin? In this series, we aim to take you back to basics, by starting where every knitwear project normally starts: in the yarn shop.
Picking the right yarn
If you’re starting completely from scratch, you may want to start with a simple scarf or blanket – anything square. The easiest thing to do is check the pattern for what yarn and needle size is recommended for the project, and this is where you begin. If you’re aiming to knit a blanket or scarf by casting on a random number of loops and just going for it (which is totally fine to do as well), you’ve got a bit more freedom. You can choose a number of different yarns – whilst bearing in mind that the thinner the wool, the thinner the scarf/blanket and the longer it’ll take to knit. For beginners, we therefore recommend a chunkier yarn.
Choosing the right needles
When you’ve chosen the yarn, make sure you grab a pair of knitting needles that matches the indicated size on the label. Find out if you need short needles, long needles, circular needles, short circular, long circular – the list goes on. A rule of thumb is, if you’re knitting something big, go for the longer size, for something small, go for shorter needles. The higher the number of your needles is, the chunkier the knit will be.
For baby outfits, we tend to be somewhere around needle size 3-4 – just remember that the smaller the number, the thinner the yarn, and the longer it will take to complete your project.
Let’s say you’re knitting a scarf, and you want it quite chunky. Find a yarn that looks chunky, look on the back, see if it says needle size 6/7/8 (chunky), and go find the right needles. For a standard scarf, you want to be knitting back and forth, so straight long needles would be the best, although you can also easily use round needles for knitting back and forth if you want. For a hat, you want a smaller round needle.
If you want to use a specific pattern, make sure you check the recommended yarn. Let’s say it’s Drops Merino Extra Fine – on the label it says needle size recommended is 3.5-4 – so that’s where you start.
Now we’re almost ready to start knitting. The first thing you want to do is get the correct end of the yarn. It’s not the one that’s wrapped around the outside, like you might think. Dig your fingers into the hole in the side of the skein and pull out the little ball that’s hiding in there, and that’s your starting point.
In fear of repeating a lot of youtube videos, Garnstudio DROPS Design has some great tutorials – including this complete beginners video to how to start knitting.
A couple of pointers: make sure you allow for the number of loops you need by making the slipknot quite far down the end of the yarn. If you want to get the garment to the exact fit of the pattern, knit a tension square to ensure the gauge is correct. This is less important for a scarf or blanket, but very important for a fitted garment.