Knitting 101: Part 1

Meet Elisa, the creative designer behind knitting patterns at McLaughlin Designs.  If you want to make a fashion statement with your knitting creations, then by all means drop what you are doing and run to her pattern shop. But, oh! Fiona's Frills is there for those without patience to knit (impatience can be a virtue, right?) to fill any accessory voids you may have. Let's get ready to knit!
 
Go and be pretty,
Sara
 
 
Welcome to Knitting 101: Part 1. I have always loved teaching and enabling others to create. I stumbled upon designing knitting patterns a little over a year ago, and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I am so excited to be able to do a knitting lesson on Craft Snob. Sara has been fabulous to work with and I am so excited about what she is doing here. So, let's get started.
Today I am going to talk about the materials you will need to begin knitting. You can find the basic knitting materials at any craft store, even most Walmart stores carry them.
 
Materials:
 
  • Straight Knitting Needles (size 9-11)
  • Bulky Weight Yarn (bulky acrylic pictured)
  • Scissors
  • Stitch Markers
  • Yarn Needle (pictured is a dental needle which I like to use and also a small crochet hook). I didn't have yarn needle on hand but you can see what they look like here.
  • Knitting Needle Organizer
I will be giving a brief description of each item and will include a link at the end if you wish to purchase exactly what is pictured.
 
Knitting Needles -There are three options to consider when shopping for knitting needles:
  • Determine whether the pattern calls for straight, double point, or circular needles
  • What material the knitting needles are made of
  • Size of the needles required
Needle Type
 
  • Straight Knitting Needles – great for flat items such as scarves or even simple bags. They are usually the beginner's first introduction to knitting because practicing simple stitches and making swatches is easy when using straight needles. For this tutorial, we will use straight knitting needles.
  • Circular Needles – used for anything that has a circular cylindrical shape such as hats and cowls. They allow the knitting to be continuous as you just keep knitting in a spiral upward. There is a cable attaching the two needles together. This allows you to knit with ease without losing any stitches. The cable can vary in length the shortest option for circular needles being 16 inches from point to point. You can also use circular needles for straight pieces such as blankets but that is for a more advanced lesson.
  • Double Pointed Knitting Needles or DP Needles – great for small cylindrical items such as socks or gloves. These needles come in packs of four or five and are straight with points on either end. These we will also not be touching on in Knitting 101.

Needle Material – The next thing to think about is what type of material you want your needles to be made of.

This is a little more important with knitting than crochet because your needles are rubbing together so the material they are made from directly affects the speed and ease of your knitting. Wood is the most fun to work with because the needles are smooth, don't clack, and warm to the touch. Metal can provide speed in knitting and they are very affordable. Plastic is also not very expensive, however they are slower once you get to advanced knitting. I personally am not a huge fan of plastic knitting needles (that is why there are none pictured), however, that does not mean they will not work great for a beginner. Whatever you choose to purchase is fine in this area. Find what is available and in your price range.

Needle Size – The size of your needle will depend on what your pattern asks for. The size refers to the circumference of the needle. A larger number indicates a larger needle width. Each knitting needle has a US size and a Metric size. The size you will need for this tutorial should be between a US 9 (5mm) – US 11 (8mm). The reason I am having you start with larger needle sizes is when most people start knitting their stitches are tight and difficult to manage. With the larger needles it is easier to keep your work loose.

Yarn – This is a hard subject for me because, although I am a thrifty person, I LOVE expensive yarn. The difference is unbelievable and I don't know if I will ever go back to acrylic after using a peruvian wool or marino wool/cashmere blend. They are quite a bit more pricy but SO worth it once you know what you are doing. A few brands I like are Malabrigo, MadelineTosh, and my favorite yarn is from a woman who hand dyes her yarns and sells them on Etsy. You can check her out at SKEIN YARNS.

For starters, inexpensive acrylic will work great! Whatever you already have on hand from the Crochet 101 Lessons will work great. If you are purchasing yarn for this tutorial I will be using Vanna's Choice.

I guess I should take a moment to talk about the different materials you can purchase yarn in. You can get yarn made out of acrylic, wool, angora, silk, cashmere, cotton, bamboo, and even corn. Then you have blends of yarn where they will be made of 80% wool and 20% acrylic. This allows for a middle ground. For example, in the wool/acrylic blend you are getting the ease and warmth and smoothness of the wool and the affordability of acrylic both in one yarn. Use what you like and experiment from time to time with something new. Cotton is fun because it breathes and is soft and light weight. My pattern Double Take Cowl/Hat is knit in cotton yarn.

Most of my other patterns are knit up in a %100 wool yarn. You can always substitute an acrylic yarn, but sometimes this means you will have to make a few adjustments in the pattern. If once you have a bit of knitting experience you want to look into trying something a little more expensive here are a few online shops you can consider purchasing from.

Another great option is to support your local yarn shop. I don't have the benefit of living close to a local yarn shop but I wish I did. I always try to visit one when I am in town.

After deciding on a material you have to pick your yarn weight. Remember, this is usually determined by your pattern. For this lesson, you can look for the number 4 on the skein label. The 4 indicates worsted weight yarn. You can see more clearly the different weights of yarn here.
 
Yarn Label – I have circled what you need to look for in the photo to make it easy for you. Above the red circled area is the material your yarn is made of. To the right is a gauge indicator. This is how many stitches and rows of this particular yarn will go into a 4×4 inch square. Don't worry about this now it will not affect you knitting in this lesson.
 
Scissors – Embroidery scissors work great since all you are doing at this point is snipping your yarn. But to start any scissors will do. These beautiful vintage scissors I had imported from Japan.
 
 
Stitch Markers - These are necessary with knitting, but you won't need them with these lessons. They are small rings that are slid onto the knitting needles to help keep track of stitches. Usually they are placed every 5 or 10 stitches so you can count your stitches more easily and check if you have added or lost stitches. They come in plastic or metal or you can make them yourself out of extra yarn. I usually do that because I always forget to purchase them. Here is a link to some if you wish to purchase them online to have for later.
 
Yarn Needle – You will need one for this lesson. They usually cost about $2.00 at Walmart or Joann's. Or you can purchase them here.
 
Knitting Needle Organizer – I never organized my needles until Sara asked me to include how to organize and care for my needles. Until now, I have been keeping them in an apothecary jar. It was lovely, but not very helpful for finding the needles when I wanted them. I did a little research and I found this awesome shop Fanciful Belongings. I contacted the owner and asked for a specific fabric pattern I had in mind. She went out that night and got the fabric and I got the organizer in the mail today. I love it and highly recommend purchasing one if you decide to get serious about knitting and crochet. You don't have to go the Etsy route you can find organizers in the same section as the other knitting supplies.
 
 
That wraps up our lesson for today. Next week we will start knitting!
-Elisa

5 Comments
  1. Thanks for the lovely tutorial. Just had to write and say "hi" to another Elisa out there. So… Hi! :)

    • You’re the second Elisa I’ve ever heard of. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. That is AMAZING! I have only ever met one other Elisa. Nice to meet you! Thanks for checking out the tutorial.

  3. True, I'm learning how to knit, but FORGET THAT!!  Those scissors are fantastic. Where, oh where did you find them?

    • I get them online from Japan. It was a bit of a risk because every email I received was completely in Japanese and there was something mentioned about possible extra taxes from the US customs, however, THEY WERE WORTH IT!!! I think they end up coming out to around 9.00 apiece with everything included…maybe a little more. Hard to tell because everything was in YEN. Good luck!
      You can find them HERE.

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