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Learning to Knit

Interested in knitting, but don't know how? See a pattern that you really want to try? Well, knitting is easy to learn and incredibly rewarding. Like any other craft, it looks complicated at first and can be daunting, but it's really not. With the right resources to guide you, you can be knitting like a pro in no time.
There are three essential things which you need to get started: a good beginner's book, yarn and needles.
Learn to Knit Books:
There are an abundance of books out there aimed at teaching the art of knitting. Everyone has their favorite, but some good ones include How to Knit and A to Z of Knitting, as well as The Complete Beginners Guide to Knitting DVD. There are lots of good online video tutorials as well, but be careful which ones you choose. Some can be more confusing than beneficial and teach odd ways of working techniques. Good online video sources include Very Pink Knits and KnitPicks.
There's a huge selection of natural yarns available, ranging from plain wool to cashmere. For beginners, we recommend worsted weight wool yarns. Some good choices include Ella Rae Classic Wool and Cascade 220, which both come in a wide array of colors. We recommend buying several balls of each color so that you have enough to finish your first projects. Always use light colored yarns for learning, because it makes it easier to see the stitches on the needles. Though they can be eyecatching, avoid using multi-color yarns right away, until you've had a chance to learn the basic stitches.
Knitting Needles:
Standard knitting needles range in size from size US 000 to US 17 and are available in three styles: straight, circular and double pointed. Knitting needles come in a range of materials, including wood, metal and plastic. For beginners we recommend bamboo straight needles because the stitches don't slide off the needles as they often do with metal or other wood needles. Resist the urge to buy cheap plastic or aluminum needles. Knitting needles can be bought individually or as sets. For learning, you only need one pair of straight needles. You can learn using circular needles as well, but most knitters find straight needles easier for learning. Size US 8 (5 mm) is the standard size recommended for beginners and will be perfect for all your knitting needs, until you begin working from regular knitting patterns. Even for small children learning to knit, a size 8 will usually be fine, but if you want something a tad smaller, go for a size US 7 (4.5 mm). Good needles to begin with include Addi Bamboo Single Points or Knitters Pride Bamboo Single Points.
As your knitting skills advance, you will require a number of accessories such as stitch markers, cable needles, stitch holders and so on. There's lots of different accessories available, but the must haves for most basic level knitters include:
  1. Sharp craft scissors, such as these Foldable Mini Scissors. Sharp scissors are essential for clean cutting of yarn, so you'll want to have your own pair devoted to your knitting. Foldable scissors are convenient, because they won't poke holes in your bag, or pocket.
  2. Tapestry needles, such as Chibi 3 Piece Needle Set. Tapestry needles are going to be necessary from the very beginning and in time you'll like build up a larger stash of them, because you're going to need them for every project. Plastic tapestry needles are also available, but stick to metal ones, which will last longer and are firmer, which makes them easier to work with.
  3. Measuring tape, such as Retractable Tape Measure by KnitPicks. Any sewing measuring tape will work, but retractable ones are easy to use and bring with you on the go.
  4. Stitch markers are also as essential, such as Clover Locking Stitch Markers. There are tons of stitch marker styles out there and collecting stitch markers is the knitters version of stamp collecting. But for beginner uses, one package of locking stitch markers is all you'll need.
Once you're ready to expand your skills, you'll be looking for more accessories...but these are the four core accessories that will get you going. Though they may be tempting, watch out for cheap accessory sets, that claim to include "tons of pieces to cover all your knitting needs". Many such eyecatching sets are available on Amazon, but you'll be sorely disappointed with the quality. If you're looking for a set, be sure to check reviews first and stick to popular sets by name brands, such as the Clover Knit Mate Accessory Set and The Knit Kit.
Stitch Dictionary:
Though not a beginner essential, if you try out knitting decide it's the craft for you, you'll likely want to invest in a stitch dictionary. A good stitch dictionary will help you to expand your skills and give you lots of stitch patterns to try out on simple projects, such as scarves and washclothes, before you begin purchasing individual knitting patterns. Good beginner to mid-level stitch dictionaries include 400 Knitting Stitches by Potter Craft, 750 Knitting Stitches, The Big Book of Knit Stitches and Knitting Stitches Visual Encyclopedia.
Knitting is a timeless and increasingly popular pastime. With the supplies listed above, you will be able to master even the most difficult knitting techniques in no time. So, sit back and enjoy knitting -- the natural way!
Please see our Beginners FAQ page for commonly asked beginner questions about knitting.
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