Knitting for Beginners – How to start, Essentials + Free Download

If you clicked through to a post with the heading 'Knitting for Beginners', you either want to:

  • start knitting,
  • or you have started but are unsure about a few things,
  • You are simply curious about the basics of knitting.

This post is the first in a series.  Here is the technique post on how to knit:

The links is this post is affiliate links and I will be compensated if someone makes a purchase as a result thereof.  It is a means to recover the cost of maintaining this site.

Who is Knitting for Beginners for?

  • Knitting is not just for 'old' people!  It can be enjoyed by all, you just need to have the desire to create.
  • It is a craft of precision and definitely not as forgiving as crocheting.  A mistake can be noted easily and if you are a perfectionist, prepare yourself to rip out a few stitches or rows.
  • Someone who is prepared to learn the correct basics of knitting from the start, because she/he wants to enjoy a life of knitting!
  • If you are constantly busy and hate wasting time watching Netflix - you can still watch but knit whilst doing so!
  • Are you spending lots of hours travelling - now you can have a keep-me-busy-companion!
  • Need to relax and unwind - knitting is said to have the same effect as yoga on your mind and body, the repetitiveness relaxes you, and the side-effects are something to be proud of.
  • Remember - you must start somewhere.

More on - Who is Knitting for Beginners for:

  • Knitting gives you a sense of accomplishment - it boosts your confidence and leaves you proud...just think how precious a knitted blanket will be to an expecting mom!
  • You are self-disciplined and steadfast and will work consistently to complete what you have started. (Confession time:  I may not complete all my projects at once...I have multiples running at the same time...some for....years!!)
  • Knit items make excellent gifts - not always cheap but very special.


To start knitting, you'll need at least two knitting needles and yarn/thread.

Start, by  first making a slip-knot (which will form your first stitch) and then follows the CASTING ON of the rest of the STITCHES

There are two basic knitting stitches in all knitting - KNIT or PURL (and off course all the other stitches made up using either knit or purl or a combination of the two).

knitting cast on front stockingstitch knittingexplained Knitting for Beginners  – How to start, Essentials + Free Download

Knitting is the act of

  • Inserting one needle (right needle) into a stitch on the left needle, through the front (knit) or back loop of the stitch (Knit Stitch);
  • Wrap the yarn anti-clockwise round the point of the right needle;
  • Draw the right needle and yarn through the stitch, discarding  the stitch on the left needle and forming a new stitch on the right needle;
  • In the process, the 'old' stitch is slipped from the left needle into the bottom piece of knit fabric and the new stitch is transferred to the right needle;
  • The result is layering of stitches on top of each other to form a fabric piece or garment.
  • After you have knitted all the stitches on the left needle and transferred it to the right needle, you have completed a row;
  • When the row is complete, turn the work around and take the needle carrying the stitches, then the right needle, in the left hand.  The empty needle is held in the right hand ready to start a new row.
  • The back of the work now faces the knitter.

The Act of Knitting continued:

Knit items can be completed in one piece - like a scarf or multiple pieces like a jersey (think of a sewing pattern, the principle is the same).

Once your piece or item is complete, the stitches need to be CASTED OFF and the threads weaved in.

knitting cast off Knitting for Beginners  – How to start, Essentials + Free Download

Say you are knitting a buttoned jersey - you'll need to complete the following:

  • 2 sleeves, 
  • one back,
  • one left front piece and
  • one right front piece
  • apart from the buttonhole and button band (more advanced but still easy), you have completed the knitting phase of your jersey.

Then the process of stitching the pieces together starts and finally, you will have a finished knitted item.

This is the very basic process.

There are two methods of knitting (of holding your needles):

ENGLISH - the yarn/thread is kept in the right hand and looped over the stitch on the left needle.

CONTINENTAL - the yarn/thread is kept in the left hand and looped over the stitch on the left needle.

The explanation provided in this post is for ENGLISH KNITTING for right-handed individuals.



1.  Yarn - Many yarns are suitable for use in knitting. Choices differ in:

  • fibre content, 
  • texture, 
  • weight and 
  • ply.

When choosing yarn/thread, consider both STYLE and PURPOSE of the intended item.

Very important too - play with your selections of colors and mix in order to get an excellent match! 

Smart choice of colors turns a normal knit item into something spectacular.

2. Needles - Knitting needles are available as:

There are three standards of sizing knitting needles:


3.  Knitting Aids for Beginners - Many knitting aids are designed to make a certain task easier, such as:



The two most popular pattern stitches, are:

  • Garter Stitch - is achieved by knitting every stitch of every row and
  • Stocking Stitch - right (front) row is knit and back (or reverse or return) row is purl. 

Other than these two stitch patterns, patterns are categorized according to the effect the finished pattern created.


  • Textured stitches, such as chevron, basket or linen (moss) stitch;
  • Ribs (ribbings) like that normal 1 x 1 rib, 3 x 3 garter stitch rib, broken ribbing, cable rib;
  • Examples of Diagonal stitches are ripple, herringbone twill, diagonal couching stitch and more.
  • Lace stitches like the popular eyelet stitch, travelling vine or network stitch!
  • Faggot stitches are composed of eyelets arranged so that the eyelet holes run together.  Mesh and purse stitches are examples.
  • Knotted stitches, such as the popcorn stitch, bobble or trinity stitch;
  • Crossed stitches of which the wasp nest and chain stitch are pretty awesome;
  • Cable stitches you must have heard of.  Popular patterns are honeycomb and colled rope;
  • Novelty stitches, such as daisy and loop stitch;
  • Embossed stitch patterns form clusters of stitches, and look like a work of art.  Favorites are the tassel and grape patterns;
  • Smocked stitches namely smocked ribbing and smocking stocking stitch;
  • Aran knitting, a combination of cables, bobbles and twisted stitches;


color knitting

Apart from one colored project or items knitted with variegated yarn, more colors can be added to your knitting.

  • The easiest way to add color to your work is to add stripes; Other defined methods of adding color are:
  • Brocade knitting which is a combination of assorted color and different stitches added to a garment (or another knitting item).
  • Slip patterns are created when using the slip method to create textured patterns, colored patterns or for color and textured patterns.  (If you are wondering, yes, it involves slipping of stitches, always purl-wise, unless stated otherwise. 
  • Kaffe Fasset method
  • Fair Isle involves working two or more colors on one row of a pattern.
  • Shetland color work
  • Scandinavian color knitting
  • In the words of Vogue Intarsia is "a colorwork technique in which blocks of color are worked with separate balls of yarn or bobbins".  It is normally knitted from a chart.
  • Jacquard or Florentine patterns are worked with stranding.
  • Embroidery on knitting adds color and texture.
  • Bohus knitting is the method yokes are knitted in multi-colors;
  • Argyle knitting can best be described as a pattern like the diamond motifs found on socks.

The methods, patterns and stitches are not a complete list of all the different knitting methods, patterns and stitches but include most of the popular ones.

I am sure you cannot wait to get the next post in the series - if you are subscribed to my newsletter, you will receive the post by e-mail.

If not, look at this space!

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