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How to Use Knitting Needles: A Beginner's Guide - InfoBarrel
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How to Use Knitting Needles: A Beginner's Guide

By Edited Mar 25, 2016 0 0

Welcome to the World of Knitting!

If you are brand-new to knitting

, welcome to the wonderful world of knitting! You can create a variety of items, from laptop covers to sweaters to stuffed animals...the possibilities are endless. First off though, we’ll have to get started on the basics and getting the hang of knitting. I will address some frequently answered questions about knitting, and then we can get started!

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of needles should I use?

For a beginner, it’s better to use a slightly larger needle size, such as 4.5 mm (US 7) to 6.0 mm (US 10). The reason for this is that smaller needles can be tricky to work with if you are not used to using needles, and they knit at a slower pace than larger needles, which can be frustrating for a newcomer who wants to see their lovely creation.

Knitting needles can be made of metal, plastic, wood or bamboo. They each have different feels, and the yarn hangs on differently to each of them. The metal is the coldest to the touch at first, taking a while to warm up. Plastic is a little warmer, and wood and bamboo are warm to the touch. Yarn is more slippery on metal and plastic, and sticks more to the wooden and bamboo needles. Starting out, you should probably use a stickier type of needle, such as bamboo, so that your stitches do not slip off.

You may probably know there are different types of needles, such as straight needles, circular needles and double-pointed needles. It’s best to get started on straight needles for a chance to practice knitting in the beginning – you can progress to the other types when you’ve knit a couple items!

So, to sum it up, the recommended needles are: between 5.0 mm and 6.0 mm, wood or bamboo, and straight needles.

What kind of yarn should I use?

Ah, the yarn. If you have stepped into your local yarn store (abbreviated as LYS for short), you were probably astounded by all the beautiful shades, textures, variations, thickness and unusual yarns. Or, perhaps you were wowed by the yarns you could buy online. I know that I still am.

To start off, aim for a regular, non-varying yarn. Nothing too crazy just yet. It’s a good idea to choose a color that contrasts with your needles to begin with so that it’s easier to see your yarn as you work. Choose needles and yarn sizes that match one another. The Craft Yarn Council has developed a chart with the yarn weights as seen below. The first row, with the numbers from 0 to 6, describe the type of yarn thickness. These labels can normally be found on yarn packages. Then, below is the recommended needle. For instance, if you have knitting with a worsted wool that has the label

size 4 worsted yarn
, you would typically choose a pair of needles between sizes 7 and 9.

Categories of yarn, gauge ranges, and recommended needle and hook sizes

Yarn Weight Symbol 
& Category Names

 
size 0 yarn
 
size 1 yarn
 
size 2 yarn
 
size 3 yarn
 
size 4 worsted yarn
 
size 5 yarn
 
size 6 yarn

Type of
Yarns in
Category

Fingering
10-count 
crochet 
thread

Sock,
Fingering,
Baby

Sport,
Baby

DK,
Light
Worsted

Worsted,
Afghan,
Aran

Chunky,
Craft,
Rug

Bulky,
Roving

Knit Gauge
Range* in
Stockinette
Stitch to 4 inches

33–40**
sts

27–32
sts

23–26
sts

21–24
st

16–20
sts

12–15
sts

6–11
sts

Recommended
Needle in
Metric Size
Range

1.5–2.25
mm

2.25—
3.25
mm

3.25—
3.75
mm

3.75—
4.5
mm

4.5—
5.5
mm

5.5—
8
mm

8 mm
and
larger

Recommended
Needle U.S.
Size Range

000–1

1 to 3

3 to 5

5 to 7

7 to 9

9 to 11

11
and
larger

Crochet Gauge*
Ranges in
Single Crochet
to 4 inch

32–42
double
crochets**

21–32
sts

16–20
sts

12–17
sts

11–14
sts

8–11
sts

5–9
sts

Recommended
Hook in Metric
Size Range

Steel***
1.6–1.4
mm

2.25—
3.5
mm

3.5—
4.5
mm

4.5—
5.5
mm

5.5—
6.5
mm

6.5—
9
mm

9
mm and
larger

Recommended
Hook U.S.
Size Range

Steel***
6, 7, 8
Regular
hook B–1

B–1
to
E–4

E–4
to
7

7
to
I–9

I–9
to
K–10 1⁄2

K–10 1⁄2 to
M–13

M–13
and
larger

What is gauge?

Gauge refers to a small knitted sample used to determine how many stitches there are across and in rows in a typically 4 inch by 4 inch piece. This step is important to do before starting on a project where sizing is an issue, such as a jacket or sweater. Many people make the mistake of thinking a gauge is optional, when it is actually very important to save frustration and hassle later on. After all, you don't want to be halfway through a sweater and realize it's the wrong size!

How do I use knitting needles?

Casting On

Now we’re onto the good part – the knitting itself! First off, you must cast on with your yarn. Begin by determining how many stitches you must cast on. Leave a long end (the tail end) of the yarn before your knot, which will become your first stitch. Generally, half an inch is for one stitch. Make a loop with the yarn, and then twist the loop and pull the long end (the ball end) of the yarn through the loop. Fasten the knot. Place loop onto needle and fasten yarn loop by pulling on the ball end.

Next, put your hands between your two pieces of yarn. The tail end should be looping around your thumb away from the needle, and the ball end should be looping around your index finger away from the needle.

To make a stitch, pick up the yarn on the far end of the thumb, go through, and then go in between the yarn on the index finger. Pull the needle under the thumb yarn. Tighten the stitch. Repeat the process until you have the desired number of stitches.

Watch the video below for a demonstration:

How to Knit Stitch

To knit, put the working yarn behind the needles (as opposed to in front). Place your needle with the stitches in your left hand, and the empty needle on the right. Place the right needle underneath the left needle and through the stitch so that your needles form an “x”. Take the yarn, loop it towards you and then away on the right needle, and then pull your right needle through with the loop you have just made. Repeat this process.

How to Purl Stitch

To purl, first put the working yarn in front of the needles. Place the right needle through the stitch on top of the left needle. Loop the yarn towards you and then away onto the right needle, and then pull the right needle through with the loop you have just made. Repeat this process.

Cast off

Now, we will cast off. If you are facing the knit side, knit two stitches onto the right needle, then lift the first stitch over the second stitch. Now you will have only one stitch on the right needle. Knit another stitch, and then lift the previous stitch over the newer stitch. Repeat this process. At the end of the row, pull the yarn through and cut it off.

For the purl side, the method is the same, except you purl instead of knit.

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Sample Beginning Project

A short, fun project is ideal for beginners, such as a dish cloth! You can basically knit a square using the cast on, knit stitch, purl stitch and cast off mentioned above.

Enjoy!

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