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Learn to Knit

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published December 3rd 2010
When you were a kid you may have seen your Granny murmuring knit one, purl two, as she sat on the good chair, clicking away with her knitting needles, but these days you're more likely to hear the same from the well dressed lass on the train. Yes, girlfriend, knitting is cool again.

It could be that in times of financial austerity it's one of the easiest ways for a person to increase their wardrobe, or it could be that chunky home-made knits have been in the last couple of years and why pay Ralph Lauren to make you one when you can make something just as good yourself. Or it could just be that people have realised that knitting isn't just thrifty and practical, it's also relaxing, rewarding and surprisingly fun.

The clickety click of industry is also quite soothing if you're the one in control of the needles. So start off with a big scarf to get your knitting groove on and you'll be in Arran sweaters in no time.

You only need two things to start knitting:
A skein of worsted-weight wool or yarn lighter colours are easier when you're learning.
And a set of size 8 knitting needles wood or bamboo ones are easier for beginners because they're less slippery.

The first thing you need to know about knitting is how, and where, to hold the needles. You hold the needle in your right hand in much the same way as you would hold a pen, and you hold the left hand in much the same way but with the forefinger underneath, rather than along side, the tip. When you've cast on which means you've begun knitting it helps if you thread the yarn between a few fingers of your right hand so you can feed it neatly into the needles. Casting on is the real beginning of your craft, but it's no use casting on until you have an idea of how to hold your needles.

There are two ways to cast on, one which uses one needle and one which uses two. You can usually use the one needle method for your basic beginners patterns.

1. Start by making a slip knot about a metre from the end of your yarn. Wind it twice around the two fingers of your left hand and hold both ends in your left palm.
2. Use a needle in your right hand to pull the bottom thread inside and on top of the top thread so that there's a loop, then pull all the ends so that it tightens around the needle.
3. Once the slip knot's secure, make sure that your ball of yarn is over your forefinger and loop the loose end of yarn over your left thumb. Then slide the needle though the loop along your thumb and use your right forefinger to guide the yarn from the ball around the needle and pull the loop around your thumb though to make the first stitch.
4. Then remove your thumb and pull tight - and that's your first casting on stitch done. Your patten will tell you how many of these you need to do, it will probably be quite a few though.

Knitting proper is less time consuming per stitch than casting on. If you're doing it right it looks like you're moving your work from one needle on the other one stitch at a time. Set your needles up so that all the stitches you just cast on are on your left needle. A basic knit stitch starts with the wool at the back of your work and involves inserting the needle in your right hand under, and from left to right, of the closest stitch on your left hand needle, then looping your yarn under and on top of the right needle. You then pull your right needle over your left, letting the loop pull though and easing the stitch off your left needle. Then keep going until all the stitches are on your right needle.

Once you've mastered the basic knit stitch, move onto the other basic stitches: purl, garter stitch, stocking stitch, reverse stitch and ribbing. As well as creating different patterns in your work, different stitches change the tension of the yarn that's how to do cuffs and neck lines etc.

But before you get on to those you might want to cement your new knit stitch skills by making that scarf here's a free scarf pattern with more handy hints for beginners.

Hopefully these instructions proved how easy it is to knit? well, the very, very good news is that it's far easier to learn when you have someone to teach you, and it's far more fun when you have someone to gossip with over your handicrafts. So the very best way to learn to knit is to join a knitting group or circle in your area. One organisation is riding the wave of the contemporary knitting renaissance and that's Stitch n' bitch, who have groups of chicks with sticks all over the world that you can join. And these ladies know all the very chicest patterns: how 'bout a knitted backpack with matching phone cover, a beanie with kitten ears, or a knitted bikini? (They have sweet scarves, sweaters and cardis as well of course.).
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Why? Nanna never had so much fun (or looked so hot)
Cost: Surprisingly little!
My godmother taught me how to knit when I was about 10 years old and I used to do it every time I went over to her house, but then I stopped as I got older and I actually regret it because she makes me some lovely scarves which I would love to make for myself and as presents. Now I am into cross stitching which is easier because you are actually tracing around the patterns and it is not 3-D it is like a picture made out of wool!
By Lil Uni Girl - senior reviewer
Saturday, 1st of January @ 01:47 am
I was exactly the same - I got into cross stitch, but am now back to knitting. In the end it's a lot more practical...
By Kat Parr Mackintosh - senior writer
Sunday, 2nd of January @ 06:37 pm
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