Learn how to knit. Cast on and the Knit stitch

I taught myself how to crochet more than 7 years ago, but learning how to knit was a challenge until about 4 years ago.

Every time I sat down with my yarn and needles, watching videos on how to knit and tried to repeat the movements, I thought I need a third or a fourth hand to handle everything at once. I mean, in crochet things are easy: with one hand you handle the yarn, with the other you handle the hook. A piece of cake.

Knitting style: Continental vs. British. Left vs. Right

But in knitting things are different. Because I used to crochet first, I was used to holding the yarn in my left hand and taking it with the hook, a movement I very easily adapted into my knitting. Which is why continental knitting is so natural to me.

There are 2 popular knitting styles: continental and throwing / British. Continental means yarn is held in the left hand, being handled with the needles. In Throwing or British Knitting, the yarn is held in the right hand and placed on the needles with the hand, instead of being taken directly with the needle. There’s also the combined knitting style, but that’s another story for another time.

How did I learn how to knit, then? One evening, over a cup of tea, a friend taught me. Thank you, Narcisa! It was the first time I managed to understand how to hold the yarn and how to cast on.

In order to learn how you knit you will need the following:

  • needles – 5 mm, 20 cm long, bamboo if you have them. Bamboo because you can get a better grip on the yarn;
  • yarn – anything worsted weight or DK. I am using Red Heart Detroit.
  • scissors

How to knit: Cast On!

How to hold the yarn and cast on is the first step in learning how to knit. By learning how to hold the yarn you learn about tension and you will be able, after a few hours of practice, to keep a steady pace and an even tension.

For a beginner, I recommend starting the long tail knitting cast-on with a slipknot in order to secure the yarn on the needles. You don’t need to do that every time you start a project (although I use it all the time, it’s a habit I developed while making amigurumi).
Unravel about 10 inches / 25 cm from the ball of yarn and make a knot with a loop. Insert both of your needles through the loop.

The 2 threads of yarn should flow below the needles. Place your fingers between the 2 threads. One thread should go after your thumb and one should go between your first and second finger, securing it. Both threads of yarn are then meeting in your palm, where you should keep them tensioned.

knitting holding the yarn

In the picture above I’m showing how to hold the yarn (before placing the yarn over my thumb). Next is the fun part: insert the needles below the first thread over your thumb …

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… and while holding the yarn on your needles, try to take the yarn from the second finger from above.

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Basically, you now have a loop that you must get off your thumb. This is the first stitch cast on. Repeat the movement at least 11 more times.

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Because I remembered my struggle when I was trying to learn how to knit, I made a video showing you the easiest cast on, the long-tail cast on. See below:

If you feel like you’ve mastered the simple long-tail cast on, you can also try another cast on, shown in the video below. This one gives a more elastic, even and flexible edge.

In this second video, I’m showing you how to do a slipknot, how to cast on using the long-tail cast on and how to work the knit stitch. I’m trying my best to make slow movements, so you can understand the process.

Because in this video I’m showing you how to do the knit stitch, I’m slipping the first stitch in a knit way, although, usually it’s slipped in a purl way. Which is a different story. But we’ll get there soon.

Please excuse my Darth Vader breath, my nose gets stuffy due to dry air.

I assure you, once you understand the movements in knitting, it’s super easy and highly addictive! So watch out, knitting is like a drug :)) You have been warned!

If you’ve tried to learn how to knit, I would love to see your first tries. You can post your pictures in the comments below or on the Facebook page.