How to Knit Demystified: Beginner Knitting Tips, Tricks, and Knitting Patterns

What’s it like to be a beginner? Sometimes it’s wandering aimlessly through piles of yarn, thousands of patterns, and wondering how to get started. Other times it may feel triumphant, attainable. The good news is that each and every knitter was a beginner at one point, and this wealth of collective knowledge is now at your fingertips.

The first thing you’ll want to know is that learning how to knit has its ups and downs, its false starts. But with perseverance, anything is possible. The adventure of a first knitting project is often entertaining, sometimes heartwarming, and occasionally pretty amazing, and we want to help you create your own story. We’re here to help you get off on the right foot, and dive into your very first beginner knitting pattern.

Beginner Knitting Lessons: Best Tips from Real Knitters

1. Find a knitting group that you can be a part of, whether it’s once a week or once a month. The knitters in the group will help you work through the hard times, and they may become some of your best friends, the most talented people you know, and the most caring people in your life. —Adapted from a blog by Claudia Donnelly, Blog Contest Winner

2. Don’t be afraid! Try something out of your regular comfort zone. It is only yarn; it can be unraveled and you can try again. Who knows what you might achieve if you only take that first step. —Adapted from a blog by Julie Hamilton

It’s okay to branch out and try interesting yarn, even for your first project. Ashley was given dog hair yarn from a local alpaca ranch that turned into a soft hat that is cherished to this day. —Adapted from a blog by Ashley Britt, Blog Contest Winner

It doesn’t matter how you hold the yarn and needles, as long as they are comfortable in your hands, the stitches are correctly formed, and you are getting the right tension. —Adapted from a blog by Tish Wilcox

Circular needles are no good if they are bigger than the circle you wish to make, be sure you figure out the right circular length for your project. —Adapted from a blog by Jenna Wingate, Blog Contest Winner

Start slow, perhaps with 30-minute stretches of knitting followed by 30 minutes of rest. This will help your hands to get used to knitting and help prevent strain. —Adapted from a blog by Michelle Mathey

Stick with your first project. If your finished project isn’t what you had envisioned, think of a way to enhance it and make it into something you’ll use. —Adapted from a blog by Donna Herron

If you’d like to add a little encouragement for yourself or a beginner knitter who you are teaching, try placing small treasures in a rolled skein of yarn for them to find as they keep knitting. —Adapted from a blog by Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury

Don’t give up. If you truly want to accomplish this skill, you can do it. It takes time and lots of effort to master anything. And this is included in that category. —Adapted from a blog by Jessica Jones

Sweaters are often one of the knitted beauties that pull knitters in, here are a few knitting tips when it comes to sweaters:

  • Be careful what colors of yarn you choose. Go with solid, heather, or flecked yarns. Avoid anything that stripes or pools as they may end up emphasizing the part of you that you least want to be emphasized!
  • Be patient and keep trying. If you’re struggling, take a break by knitting a small project for a while.
  • Keep trying on your sweater as you go.
  • And most importantly check your sizes. Make a copy of the pattern, and highlight or mark the numbers for the size you’re making throughout. That tip has been repeated often, but it’s one that should be repeated. —Adapted from a blog by Cathryn Kenny

The best way to learn how to knit for beginners is to find a project and get started. When selecting your beginner knitting projects, be sure you pick something you’ll really enjoy. Avoid getting stuck doing scarves because that’s what everyone starts with (though scarves can be wonderfully fun); find something that speaks to you and roll with it.

From left: Overdyed Ragg Scarf, Knuckle Down Mitts, Champlain Cap

Highly recommended beginner knitting patterns to get you inspired:

Overdyed Ragg Scarf

This pattern is a great introduction to lace and color blocking; the easy two-row lace pattern is completely reversible.

Knuckle Down Mitts

Easy and useful, these unisex mitts make a perfect knitted gift and are great for using up small amounts of yarn.

Champlain Cap

This easy knit hat will introduce you to knitting in the round, a valuable skill. Great for a rewarding, fun first knitting project.

Big Thompson Scarf

This is one of our favorite beginner knitting projects because it includes eyelets, which make the pattern interesting without being difficult.

Big Thompson Scarf

Recommended beginner knitting resources:

Knitting Daily Workshop: Getting Started Knitting – Basics and Beyond with Eunny Jang Video Download

Knitter extraordinaire Eunny Jang shares her expertise for knitting with an abundance of simple to advanced how-to knitting lessons geared toward the beginning knitter.

Interweave Knits Presents: Fixing Knitting Mistakes with Kate Atherley

Check out Fixing Knitting Mistakes, for 50+ tips that will help you learn how, and when, to fix your knitting.

Originally posted on November 21, 2016; updated on October 14, 2020.

Looking for more? Check out these other easy knitting ideas from Interweave.