My grandmother learned to knit when she was a little girl, back when knitting was a necessity, rather than a decorator trend. Warm hands and feet in 19th Century New England depended on the production of mittens and socks by knitters. Very plebeian, really. My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was eight, simply and efficiently, and in about 10 simple steps.
Step 1: Keep It Simple
When choosing your first project, simplicity is key. If you think of knitting as creating a textile by using a series of loops and knots, you are less likely to be overwhelmed. I would recommend knitting a small, one skein (yes, yarn comes in skeins) scarf to get started. Yarn also comes in different weights; fine for lace knitting up to bulky for heavy sweaters. Choose a moderately bulky yarn, something like Brown Sheep Company. Inc.’s “Lambs Pride” and a pair of Susan Bates size 10 straight knitting needles. That’s all the equipment you will need for now!
Step 2: Casting On: You’re Ready To Begin
Casting on, or forming the first row of stitches for your knitting project is a critical step in the process for a myriad of reasons. It really sets the quality tone for your work. There are hundreds of different ways to cast on stitches, but there are two important things to remember, which ever method you choose to use; cast on loosely. Let me say it again – CAST ON LOOSELY! If you don’t, your work will always be too tight at the beginning, causing fit issues when you are finished. (I’m talking apparel here, sweaters, vests, hats, etc.)
Also, leave a long tail for casting on. There is nothing more frustrating than attempting to cast on 20 stitches and having a tail only long enough for 18. You want to have at least 3-4 inches of a tail when you are done casting on. Otherwise, you run the risk of unraveling – every knitter’s nightmare.Because neither my grandmother nor I am in your living to physically show you how to cast on, I suggest you watch a video about casting on at the youTube website. This is one that I especially like: Casting On
Practice for a few minutes until you have it figured out; then we will get down to business.
Step 3: Knitting
So you’ve practiced casting on. Once you have that figured out, you are ready to begin your project. I suggest you start with a simple, straight scarf. There is a low margin for error, and you can end it at any time, although most straight scarves are between 60 and 72 inches in length.
Using your bulky yarn and your US size 10 needles, loosely cast on 20 stitches. Casting on too tightly will make it really hard to knit your first row of stitches. It may also ruin the shape of your scarf. If you are mindful of this, you will save yourself frustration later on.
If you are right handed, hold the needle with the stitches in your left hand and hold the empty needle in your right hand along with your yarn. Here is another link to a video that will help you get started: Beginning to Knit
Continue until you have knit all 20 stitches.