Knitting can be done just about anywhere, and all you need is some suitable yarn and needles which can easily be found on eBay. Beginners can be put off by advanced techniques, but learning the basics of the craft does not take too long. Within an hour or so, it is perfectly possible to get the feel for knitting and to produce something worthwhile.
How to Start
The first things would-be knitters need to know is what sort of needles and knitting yarn to use. If smaller needles are selected, then thinner yarn is generally preferable. Many first-time knitters find that thick needles and yarn are best because it is easier to see what is going on. This means that the knitted yarn will end up with a stretchy, chunky look that would be ideal for a winter scarf, for example. Beginners should select straight knitting needles, as opposed to round or hooked ones, which are designed for more advanced techniques. Learning to use needles and yarn will also help novices to understand the basics of machine knitting.
Holding the Needles
Hold the first knitting needle as if you were holding a pencil. This makes it possible to attach the yarn in a technique called casting on. In the other hand, hold the second needle lightly over the top of the first one and use the thumb and index finger to offer fine control over its tip.
Holding the Yarn
Take hold of a length of yarn in your dominant hand. Thread the knitting yarn underneath the little finger, then around it. Pass the yarn over the ring finger and under the centre finger, weaving it back and forth. Finally, weave it over the index finger and use this digit to pass the yarn around the first needle’s tip. This method will help novices to apply tension on the yarn to control it.
Casting on is the name given to the process of making the very first stitches. Various techniques can be used, but the backwards loop method is the easiest.
Backwards Loop Cast On
Give yourself 30cm at the end of the yarn to work with and make a simple loop. Pass the free end of the yarn back through the loop and pull it through to form a slip knot. Slip one knitting needle through the loop and slide the slip knot up so that the loop closes around the knitting needle. Once the yarn is sitting snugly on the needle, the cast on has been completed.
Hold the cast on needle in your dominant hand, allowing the yarn to hang freely. Without picking up the short, loose end of yarn, grab the main section of yarn in the other hand and make a new loop with it, either around the back of the palm or over the thumb. Insert the needle through the new loop and then remove the hand so that a second loop is added to the needle. This is the first stitch. Continue to add further loops in the same way to make more stitches. This will become the first row of knitting. Try to keep all the loops facing together, because this will make the subsequent knitting easier.
Once the first row of stitches has been made, continue with further knitting stitches beneath them. The needle with the first row of stitches on should now be held in the non-dominant hand. This allows the other hand to hold the yarn and to control the needle which will now be doing most of the work.
The Knitting Stitch
Push the knitting needle that is held in the dominant hand through the loop that is closest to the tip of the other needle, underneath it, to form a cross. Wrap the yarn held in the dominant hand counter-clockwise around the tip of the needle that has just been pushed through. Gently pull the tip of that needle back through the loop it has just been inserted into, bringing the newly added loop of yarn with it. As soon as the needle is free, push it back forwards and over the top of the other needle.
If done correctly, the first knit stitch will have been made and it will now be sitting on the dominant hand’s needle. Continue this process for each of the loops in the row. Once the row is completed, all of the knitting will have progressed from one needle to the other. At this point, switch hands with the needles and begin again to form a new row of knitting stitches. Ultimately, this technique will make a rectangle of knitting which can be expanded to make a beginner’s scarf.