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Knitting: A Beginners Guide

Fun and not as difficult as some might think, knitting is a great way to help you relax and unwind, whilst creating something truly special in the meantime. Perfect for those of all ages, knitting is a hobby that can be fulfilled even when on the go - all you need is a pair of needles, some yarn, and a design that you're eager to create. Covering all the essentials to help you kick-start your first knitting project, our handy guide includes all you need to know when it comes to mastering the skills of purling, casting, and binding.

 

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Essential Skills and Tools

When it comes to knitting you'll more than likely find yourself using the same core skills in each and every project. Forming the foundation for learning more advanced and technical stitches, here are the basic terms that you'll need to know:

  • Casting On - This is the initial stage of knitting. Casting-on is the process of creating loops and stitches on your needle. There is more than one method to casting-on, but all of which enable you to create loops on the needle that will soon become the first row of stitches. Some popular methods include a wrap cast-on, knit cast-on, cable cast-on, and even a frilled cast-on.
     
  • Knit Stitch - A knit stitch is the most basic component of any knitting project. With each and every knit stitch you will essentially be creating a V-shape with your needles as they cross over. If you decide to only use knit stitches, you are working in what is called a garter stitch. What's more - knit stitches can also be combined with purl stitches to work in stitch patterns.
     
  • Purl Stitch - A natural progression from the knit stitch, the purl stitch, although looking like a little lump, is essentially a back-to-front knit stitch. Keeping track is highly important when learning how to purl, so make sure you count each and every stitch to avoid over or under-stitching.
     
  • Casting Off - This process is how you finish your knitting project. By creating a final row of stitches, you're ultimately making an edge that won't unravel. Some popular methods include a standard straight-edge cast off, a knit cast-off, a stretchy cast off, an l-cord cast off, and even a picot cast off.

Needle Size and Thickness

If you find yourself stuck on which knitting needles to use for a certain task, then it's worth remembering that every needle size and type has its own specific purpose. What's more - as you decrease in needle size, then it's more than likely that you'll also need to re-consider your chosen yarn-type too. 

Knitting needles are available in an array of sizes, and all you need to remember is that the smaller the number - the smaller the needle!

Knitting needles between the sizes of 3 and 5, such as the Milward Single Pointed 3.25mm Knitting Needles or the Milward Single Pointed 4.5mm Knitting Needles are suitable for use with sport-weight yarns. Needles between the sizes of 5 and 7 are great for use with double knit (DK) yarns, whereas those sized between 7 and 9 are often the most popular sized needle - one that you might start to learn to knit with.

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Choosing The Right Yarn

It's important to note that there are many different types of knitting yarn - not just Wool. Although Wool tends to be most suitable for beginners, due to it's super-stretchy composition, Acrylic, Cotton, and even Linen Yarns are equally as popular.

When planning your next project, it's worth remembering that different yarn-types will yield different results. Wool can sometimes feel slightly itchy when worn but is known to hold it's shape well after blocking (stretching or re-distributing stitches once complete). Cotton is a strong and breathable yarn but can often fail to block due to its rigid composition, and Acrylic, although cheap and durable, is often regarded as second best when compared with more natural-fibred yarns.

Confused about what weight means when it comes to choosing your yarn? Simplistically - weight means thickness. Many knitting guides will suggest the appropriate yarn thickness that is needed to help you create your next project with ease. DK yarns are thicker than fingering yarns that are most suitable for knitting socks and hats. On the other hand, Aran yarns are extremely versatile making them the most suitable weight for beginners.


Picking The Perfect Pattern

No matter whether you're looking to create your own clothing accessories or personalised gifts, there are plenty of pattern guides available to inspire creativity. Filled with all the vital information you need to know ahead of starting your project, such as the needle size and the appropriate yarn-type, pattern books are great for those looking to work their way through a number of designs with ease.

Learning a creative new hobby can be a great way to unwind and have some fun. If knitting isn't for you, or you want to take up another crafty activity, why not check out our handy Crochet: A Beginners Guide for more inspiration.

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