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knit stitch tutorial

Step-by-Step Tutorial: The Knit Stitch
At the very heart of knitting are two foundational stitches; the Knit stitch and the Purl stitch. Exact opposites, these two centuries-old techniques work together to create the majority of the many beautiful stitch patterns you'll encounter along your knitting journey.

What We'll Cover:
> How to Work the Knit Stitch
> The Knit stitch vs. Garter Stitch
> How to Practice the Knit stitch
> Quick Photo Visual Reference

In today's tutorial, we will be examining how to work the Knit stitch. This essential stitch is the first technique you'll need to master to start knitting. It's not hard and with a little practice, you'll be able to do it with your eyes closed (literally!).

For this tutorial, we'll be using Paintbox Cotton Aran yarn in color #650 Candyfloss Pink -- part of the Tudor Garden Collection. This soft, affordable yarn is excellent for beginners. It comes in a wide range of colors and is perfect for practicing your stitches. For this yarn, you'll want size US 7 (4.5mm) knitting needles. In this tutorial, we used Knitter's Pride Nova Platina needles.
paintbox cotton aran yarn
Step by Step Knit Stitch
When first learning to knit, it's important to only use light colored yarns. Using dark or multi-color yarns will make it more difficult to see the stitches, leading to mistakes and making it harder to learn how the stitches work.

To get started, we're going to cast on 17 stitches. You can cast on any number of stitches you like, using whatever cast on method you're familiar with. For this tutorial, we used a basic Thumb Cast On.
knitting thumb cast on
Hold the needle with the cast on stitches in your left hand. Hold the empty needle in your right hand.

Step 1: Insert the tip of the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle, from left to right. Your right needle tip should be under the left needle tip, with both tips stuck inside the same stitch.

This action is called 'inserting the needle knitwise'. This is a term you'll hear often as you learn more about knitting.
learn to knit photo tutorial
Before we continue, let's take a closer look at how our needles are oriented...

In the image below, we've loosened that first stitch, so that you can see how the yarn is wrapped around the needles. If you feel like you've inserted your needle incorrectly, gently pull the needles apart to loosen the stitch. Take a look. Your work should look like the image below. If it does, pull the yarn to tighten the stitch back up and let's carry on to Step 2!
insert needle knitwise
Step 2: Wrap the yarn around the tip of the right needle, by bringing it behind the right needle, then over the top of the right needle and under the tip of the left needle.
knit stitch step by step
Again, let's loosen this action up and take a closer look...

The yarn starts at the red arrow and is wrapped counter-clockwise around the right needle.

pink cotton yarn
Now for the tricky part. This may take a few tries to perfect, but you're almost there!

Step 3: Keeping a taut tension on the yarn, pull the right needle tip through the stitch, bringing the loop of yarn that you just wrapped around it, to the front of the work.

nova platina knitting needles
If you're having a hard time with this step, don't despair! This is the part of the Knit stitch that most often confuses new knitters.

Let's take a quick look at what we're trying to do...The loop that we wrapped around the right needle tip in Step 2 (below left) is the same loop that you are pulling through, which is sitting on the right needle at the end of Step 3 (below right). The arrows in each image are pointing to the same part of the yarn.

how to knit
Whew! Once you've mastered Step 3, it's just a quick swipe to finish your stitch.

Step 4: Pull the right needle away from the left needle until the two needles separate. You will want to do this gently, so that you don't pull the un-worked stitches off the left needle in the process.

Congratulations! You've completed the Knit stitch. The stitch you just worked should now be sitting on your right needle, as shown below, while the remaining un-worked stitches are still on the left needle.

knit stitch close up
Continue to work knit stitches until you reach the end of your row. Simply repeat Steps 1-4 the same for every stitch. In a pattern, this would be called 'knitting the row'. This terminology is confusing, because the entire craft is called 'knitting'. But when reading a pattern, the instruction to 'knit' refers specifically to the Knit stitch.

One row of Knit stitches completed:

row of knitting
While your first knitting stitches may take an agonizingly long time to complete, don't give up!

Though learning to knit may seem daunting, here's something to keep in mind; Miriam Tegels once started her first Knit stitch exactly like you. But on August 26th, 2006 she became the world's fastest recorded knitter, when she worked 118 Knit stitches in 1 minute. And someday, so might you!

Knit vs. Garter
The Knit stitch vs. Garter Stitch
In knitting jargon, the term 'stitch pattern' refers to the pattern created when all your individual stitches come together to create a piece of fabric. A 'stitch pattern' is compromised of one or more different stitches, worked together in a certain sequence to create a fabric with a certain appearance.

The Knit stitch is not a stitch pattern. It's just a single stitch.

When you knit every stitch on every row, you create a stitch pattern, which is called Garter Stitch.

Here, we've worked 25 rows of Garter Stitch (knitting every stitch on every row).
garter stitch tutorial
Garter Stitch is one of the most basic, yet widely used, knitting stitch patterns. It's thick, squishy and identical on both sides. When you look at a piece of Garter Stitch, you will see horizontal lines of alternating 'bowl shape' stitches. The bottom is ◡ shaped, while the top is ◠ shaped. Combined together, knitters call these horizontal lines 'Garter Ridges'.
knitted garter stitch
You have to knit 2 rows to create 1 Garter Ridge. The first row you knit and every odd row thereafter (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.) creates the ◡ shaped stitches. The second row you knit and every even row thereafter (2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, etc.) creates the ◠ shaped stitches'.
How to Practice Knit Stitch
How To Practice the Knit stitch
Before you explore new stitches and techniques, it's a good idea to practice working the Knit stitch. Once you're comfortable with it, try the Purl stitch. And once you're comfortable with both, the whole world of knitting will open up for you!

There are numerous things you can make to practice working your Knit stitches:

COASTERS: A good small project for practice is coasters. Find a skein of worsted weight yarn in a light color and grab some size US 7 (4.5mm) needles. Cast on 18 stitches and work in Garter Stitch (knit every stitch on every row) until your coaster is square. Then cast off. Pure cotton yarns, such as the Paintbox Cotton Aran used in this tutorial are easy to work with and ideal for coasters.

SCARVES: Perhaps the most popular first project among knitters, a Garter Stitch scarf is a perfect way to practice your Knit stitches, while making something fun and practical. To make a scarf, find a soft worsted weight yarn in a light color and size US 7 (4.5mm) needles. For your first scarf, a pure wool yarn is the best choice. Pure wool yarns are warm and easy to work with. Choose a soft, affordable wool, such as Cascade 220, Ella Rae Classic Wool or Plymouth Yarns Galway. Cast on 30 stitches (or more, if you want a wide scarf) and work in Garter Stitch by knitting every stitch of every row, until the scarf measures your desired length. Cast off. To make your scarf really pop, cut 12" lengths of yarn and attach them to the ends of the scarf to create fringe.

BABY BLANKETS: If you have a new baby in your life (or one coming soon!), there's nothing more rewarding to knit than baby items. To knit a simple Garter Stitch baby blanket, choose a soft worsted weight yarn in a light color. Washable cotton or acrylic yarns work perfectly for baby blankets. The Paintbox Cotton Aran yarn used in this tutorial is perfect for a baby blanket and comes in many pretty baby colors! You'll also need a size US 7 (4.5mm) circular needle to accommodate the number of stitches. Cast on 150 stitches (to make a blanket approx. 30" x 30"). Work in Garter Stitch (knitting every stitch on every row) until the blanket is square. Then cast off.
Quick Visual Knit Stitch
Quick Visual: The Knit Stitch
Here's a quick at-a-glance reference for working the Knit stitch:
Comments (2)
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.
5.0 | 2 Ratings

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Apr 12
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I'm new to knitting and was looking for a photo tutorial that shows some basic stitches without having to start and stop on Youtube. This article was perfect for me! 😀


Aug 05, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for this detailed beginner guide! The quick visual is very helpful.

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