Learning to Knit – Getting Started

You have what you will need, basically your yarn and some needles, a comfortable chair and good lighting. You’re relaxed, and you’re ready to get started knitting.  Learning to knit, like learning anything new, takes time, patience, and also some practice.  It is said that knitting is one of the most relaxing and calming activities you can do, it reduce stress and is good for anxiety. Knitting helps improve memory, stimulates the brain, and helps to keep focus. So prepare to be gentle with yourself as you are learning to knit, and pat yourself on the back as you embark on a journey that can eventually provide much enjoyment. 

Knitting boils down to three essential skills. The three techniques that make up the backbone of knitting are the cast on, the knit stitch, and the cast off.  Master these stitches and you’re officially a knitter. It’s that simple!

Holding Knitting Needles

There are different ways to hold your knitting needles.  Some people hold their hands over the knitting needles like a table knife and some hold them like pencils.  See How to Hold Your Knitting Needles and Yarn for pictures of the different ways.  Try both and see what’s most comfortable.  There is no right or wrong way.  Choose what’s comfortable for you.

Casting On

Casting on is the first step in knitting and is the process of getting stitches on the needle.  This process creates the foundation row of active stitches on your needle. Before casting on, you will need to know how to make a slip knot.  There are a number of different Cast On Methods. The Loop Cast On is an easy one for beginners.  It’s quick and easy, but can be difficult to keep an even tension when knitting, so exploring other methods may be in order down the road. The Knitted Cast On is an easy method and enables you to learn the knit stitch at the same time.  It is fairly stretchy and a good choice for many sorts of projects.  KnitPicks has a good video and tutorial on this method.

Knit Stitch

There is more than one way to learn the Knit Stitch. The two most common ways to knit are the English knitting method and the Continental knitting method.  Try both and see what you like best.  You may feel awkward at first.  Learning to knit takes practice and patience, so does learning to hold your knitting needles and your yarn.  Just begin to knit – you’ll find what works best for you.

Knitting is a 4-step process:

Insert the needle

Wrap the yarn

Pull through the loop

Pull off the new stitch

You will knit all the stitches on your needle and when you have finished, you will have knit your first row.  If counting rows, your first row including the cast-on counts as row one.

When you have finished the row, turn your work. Exchange the needle full of stitches in your right hand for the empty needle in your left hand, and begin again.  Knitting every row creates fabric with a series of ridges, each ridge being created from two rows of knit stitches.  This is called the knit stitch or garter stitch.

Purl Stitch

The Purl Stitch is next, click below to watch the video or see the tutorial.


The process of alternating knit and purl rows creates the stockinette stitch. When you are knitting stockinette, the side that is smooth is considered to be the right side (abbreviated ‘RS’). The purl side with the bumps and ridges is considered to be the wrong side (abbreviated ‘WS’)

Sometimes projects will require multiple skeins of yarn, which will require joining a new skein of yarn.  If possible do this at the end of the row. You might also need to know if there is enough yarn to finish the row.

Casting Off

Congratulate yourself on finishing your first knitting project!   Now you need to get your knitting off the needles.  Some refer to this process as casting off, some call it binding off.  Click below to watch the Binding Off video, or see the tutorial.

Be sure to bind off loosely or the pattern will be “gathered” at that bound edge.  If you find the edge is too tight when binding off, use a larger needle to bind off.  Also, be sure to form the stitch on the straight part of the needle, not the tip.


Next, you will want to weave in the ends and block your scarf.  Blocking is an integral part of finishing a knitted item.  It will even out your stitches and allow your fiber to bloom!  Be sure to read How to Block: Knitting Techniques on the Interweave website.

Other Good Knitting Resources:

Learning to Knit – What You’ll Need

Top 10 Yarn Questions

How to Read a Knitting Pattern

Knitting Stitches You Need to Know

You might also want to check out 10 Easy Scarf Knitting Patterns for Beginners.


If you live in our area, you might be interested in the Learn to Knit Class at Alpaca Meadows.   You’ll definitely want to check out our Alpaca Yarn which makes knitting a true pleasure!  Happy knitting!

Here are some Online Knitting Classes you might enjoy:

Learn to KnitHow to Read Your Knit Stitches & Master the PatternCast-On & Bind-Off Knitting Workshop


I do a small amount of affiliate marketing, and there are several links in this post that lead to products that we don’t sell at Alpaca Meadows, but we do receive a small percentage of the sale should you purchase those items.  Every little bit helps pay the bills, so thank you in advance!