Knitting: Getting started

I am a self-taught knitter, having learned from a book. If you, like me, prefer to learn from a book, I highly recommend a trip to the local library. Take as many books as you can, because they will all explain things a little differently, and sometimes a side-by-side comparison of the same basic instructions is actually the most useful way to understand. This approach is still my go-to for any new thing I want to learn, but these days there are so many more ways to learn. The Berroco Learning Center has a whole category of free YouTube videos to walk you through every step in a knitting project—from answering the most basic of how to begin questions to the finishing touches. Here is a step-by-step guide to get a new knitter started.

Yarn comes in balls, center-pull balls (sometimes this is called a torch), and skeins or hanks. Balls and center-pull balls are ready to go right away—no need to wind them if your yarn looks something like this.

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You may want to check out this blog post on how to get start a center-pull ball here. Center-pull balls are great because they don’t roll around, but if you don’t know where to begin pulling that center pull ball you will end up with a big tangle of yarn barf (technical term). Our Berroco Ultra® Wool is specially wound so that you can easily pull the starting tail out of the ball without having to look for it.

And if you have a hank or skein (may look like the hank of Berroco Macro™ here) you will need to wind your yarn. Amanda made a great video on that, you can watch it here.

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When your yarn is ready, you will need to swatch. The swatch is how you will determine your gauge. Gauge is the number of stitches per inch (or centimeter) of knitting. Every pattern has a suggested gauge; for the best results, you want to match that as closely as possible. Most yarns come with a suggested gauge printed on the ball band or wrapper. This suggested gauge can be a useful guide when shopping for yarn but it is just that, a guide to help you match patterns and yarns.

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First part of swatching—get the yarn onto your needles! This video will help you cast on—cast on the number of stitches you think you will need to make a 5 inch (or larger!) sample of knitting.  The number of stitches you’ll need to cast on is the suggested number of stitches per inch times 5 . Why cast on for 5 inches if you only need to measure 4 for gauge? Because the stitches at the beginning and end of the row tend to distort slightly. If you have a specific pattern in mind, start with the number of stitches per inch recommended there, and the stitch pattern suggested too.

Now start knitting! This video will get you working the knit stitch, and this video will show you how to purl. When you can knit and you can purl you are knitting! That’s all there is too it. When you get a good 4–5 inches of knitting done, you are ready to measure your gauge.  Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get gauge on the first try—everyone knits differently, you may need to go up or down a needle size (or two or three).

Now you’re ready to make a project! Here are some great first knitting projects that work up in no time at all: Fosdyke (featured above), knit in Berroco Macro and fringed with Berroco Suede. Yue knit in Berroco Millefiori® BIG. Snug knit in Berroco North Star®Priyome knit in Berroco Noble®. Quinoa knit in Berroco Brio®.





4 thoughts on “Knitting: Getting started

  1. I taught myself to knit more than 50 years ago. We didn’t have the internet, videos, or email. I just muddled through until I had it. I did the same thing with crochet and needlepoint. I wish I had had all the current tools available then.

  2. Hello. Who was the winner of the Bindrune Giveaway? It was to be announced 11/27, but I haven’t been able to find it.

  3. Hi, I am going to be starting the Marsh Tee. I am fairly new to knitting but have been crocheting for decades. Question: The pattern says, “Finished measurements: Bust – 38(42, 46 etc)” is this the bust size of the person who’s going to wear it? If her bust size is 36″ I would make the 38″ measurments? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kelly! The finished measurements are the literal finished measurements of the garment. They have nothing to do with the size of the person who will be wearing the garment. We have a blog post that may be helpful with understanding ease and how it works:

      But to answer your question, yes, I would recommend knitting the size 38″ piece for a person with a 36″ bust measurement. It won’t have as much ease as shown in the photos but the 42″ would have maybe too much ease, though that is a matter of personal preference.

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