Learn How to Knit Stitches: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Learn How to Knit Stitches: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Knitting is a versatile and enjoyable craft that allows you to create a wide range of beautiful and functional items. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced knitter, understanding different knitting stitches is essential for expanding your repertoire and creating unique designs.

One of the first stitches you’ll learn as a knitter is the knit stitch. This stitch forms the foundation of many knitting patterns and creates a smooth and uniform fabric. To knit, simply insert your needle into the front of the stitch on the left-hand needle, wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle, and pull the new loop through the stitch.

Another important stitch to master is the purl stitch. This stitch creates a bumpy texture and is often used in combination with the knit stitch to create ribbing or other textured patterns. To purl, insert your needle into the front of the stitch on the left-hand needle, wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle in the opposite direction as the knit stitch, and pull the new loop through the stitch.

Once you’ve mastered the knit and purl stitches, you can start exploring more advanced stitches, such as the cable stitch and the lace stitch. These stitches add depth and texture to your knitting, creating intricate patterns that will impress others. The cable stitch involves crossing stitches over each other to create a twisting effect, while the lace stitch creates openwork patterns by strategically increasing and decreasing stitches.

Getting Started with Knitting

Knitting is a versatile and creative craft that allows you to create beautiful and functional items using yarn and needles. If you’re new to knitting, getting started can feel overwhelming, but with a little practice and patience, you’ll be well on your way to creating your own cozy scarves, blankets, and more!

1. Gather Your Materials

  • Knitting needles: There are many types and sizes of knitting needles available, but for beginners, it’s best to start with a pair of medium-sized straight needles.
  • Yarn: Choose a soft and smooth yarn in a color and weight that you like. Worsted weight yarn is a good choice for beginners.
  • Tapestry needle: This type of needle will be used to weave in loose ends and sew pieces together.
  • Scissors: A pair of small scissors will come in handy for cutting yarn.
  • Optional: Stitch markers, row counter, and knitting gauge

2. Learn the Basics

Before you start knitting, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basic knitting stitches:

  • Cast on: This is the foundation row of stitches. There are many different methods to cast on, such as the long-tail cast on and the knitted cast on.
  • Knit stitch: The knit stitch is the most basic stitch in knitting. It creates a smooth and flat fabric.
  • Purl stitch: The purl stitch is the opposite of the knit stitch. It creates a textured fabric with raised bumps.
  • Bind off: This is the final row of stitches that secure the edges of your knitted piece.

3. Start Practicing

Once you’ve learned the basic stitches, it’s time to start practicing! Start with a simple project like a scarf or dishcloth to build your skills and confidence. Take it one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes – they’re part of the learning process.

4. Find Resources and Support

There are many resources available to help you learn and improve your knitting skills. Look for knitting books, online tutorials, or join a knitting group in your community. Connecting with other knitters can provide valuable advice and support.

5. Have Fun!

Remember that knitting is a creative and enjoyable hobby. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different stitches, patterns, and colors. Embrace the process and enjoy seeing your projects come to life!

Choosing the Right Yarn and Needles

When beginning your knitting journey, it’s important to choose the right yarn and needles for your project. The type of yarn and needles you select can greatly affect the outcome of your knitting project, so it’s important to consider a few factors before making your decision.

Yarn Weight: Yarn comes in different weights, ranging from lace (super fine) to jumbo (super bulky). The weight of the yarn you choose should depend on the desired finished product. For delicate lacework, a fine yarn would be appropriate, while a bulky yarn would be more suitable for something like a cozy, warm scarf.

Fiber Content: Yarn is made from different fibers, such as wool, cotton, acrylic, and silk. Each fiber has its own characteristics and is suitable for different projects. Wool is warm and insulating, making it great for winter garments, while cotton is breathable and ideal for lightweight summer pieces. Acrylic yarn is easy to care for and typically less expensive, making it a popular choice for beginners.

Needle Size: The size of the needles you choose should correspond to the thickness of your yarn. Thicker yarns require larger needles, while thinner yarns should be paired with smaller needles. The package of your yarn will usually suggest an appropriate needle size, but ultimately, the size of the needles will also depend on your personal knitting tension and the desired stitch density.

Project Complexity: Consider the complexity of your project when choosing yarn and needles. For intricate stitch patterns or detailed designs, a yarn with good stitch definition, such as a smooth and tightly spun yarn, may be more suitable. Similarly, a smaller needle size can help create finer details.

It’s also worth mentioning that your personal preferences and budget should play a role in your decision. Some knitters enjoy working with natural fibers, while others prefer the ease of synthetic yarns. Additionally, the cost of the yarn and needles can vary greatly, so it’s important to consider your budget when making your selection.

Yarn Weight Typical Needle Size
Lace 1.5 – 2.25 mm
Fingering 2.25 – 3.25 mm
Sport 3.5 – 4.5 mm
Worsted 4.5 – 5.5 mm
Bulky 5.5 – 8 mm
Super bulky 8 mm and larger

By considering these factors and taking the time to select the right yarn and needles for your project, you’ll set yourself up for knitting success. Experimenting with different yarns and needle sizes can also be a fun way to explore and learn more about the art of knitting!

Basic Knitting Stitches: Knit and Purl

When learning to knit, it’s important to start with the basic knitting stitches. The two most essential stitches that every knitter should know are the knit stitch and the purl stitch. These two stitches form the foundation of most knitting patterns and can be combined in various ways to create different textures and patterns.

Knit Stitch

The knit stitch, also known as the stockinette stitch, is the foundation of knitting. It creates a smooth, V-shaped fabric and is often used for the right side of a knitted piece.

To knit, follow these steps:

  1. Hold the knitting needle with the cast-on stitches in your left hand.
  2. Insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle from left to right.
  3. Bring the yarn over and around the right needle from back to front.
  4. Gently pull the right needle with the yarn through the stitch, slipping the stitch off the left needle.
  5. You’ve completed one knit stitch!

Repeat these steps for each stitch until you’ve finished the row or completed the desired number of knit stitches.

Purl Stitch

The purl stitch is the reverse of the knit stitch and creates a bumpy texture on the right side of the fabric. It’s often used for ribbing, borders, and creating textured patterns.

To purl, follow these steps:

  1. Hold the knitting needle with the cast-on stitches in your left hand.
  2. Insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle from right to left.
  3. Bring the yarn over and around the right needle from front to back.
  4. Draw the right needle with the yarn back through the stitch, slipping the stitch off the left needle.
  5. You’ve completed one purl stitch!

Repeat these steps for each stitch until you’ve finished the row or completed the desired number of purl stitches.

Combining Knit and Purl Stitches

Once you’ve mastered the knit and purl stitches, you can combine them to create a wide variety of patterns. For example:

  • By alternating one row of knit stitches followed by one row of purl stitches, you create the classic stockinette stitch.
  • By knitting one stitch and purling the next stitch in the same row, you create a ribbed pattern.
  • By using different combinations of knits and purls, you can create textured patterns such as cables, seed stitch, or basketweave.

Experiment with different combinations to create your own unique designs!

Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep practicing these basic knitting stitches until you feel comfortable with them. Once you have a solid foundation in these stitches, you’ll be able to tackle more complex knitting projects and patterns.

Advanced Knitting Stitches: Cable and Rib

Once you have mastered the basic knitting stitches, you may be ready to take your knitting to the next level with some more advanced techniques. Two popular knitting stitches that are often used for creating more intricate and textured designs are cable and rib stitches.

Cable Stitch

The cable stitch creates a twisted appearance and is often used to add interest and dimension to knitted garments and accessories. To work the cable stitch:

  1. Begin by knitting several stitches in the normal fashion.
  2. Next, slip a specified number of stitches onto a cable needle or double-pointed needle and hold it in the front or back of your work.
  3. Knit the next set of stitches.
  4. Then, knit the stitches from the cable needle or double-pointed needle.
  5. Continue following your pattern instructions to create various cable designs.

The cable stitch can be used to create simple cables or more intricate cable patterns. It’s important to pay attention to the cable symbol or instructions in your pattern to determine the placement and direction of each cable.

Rib Stitch

The rib stitch is a textured stitch pattern that is often used for creating cuffs, collars, and hems in knitted garments. It is known for its flexibility and elasticity, making it a great choice for projects that require stretch.

To work the rib stitch:

  1. Begin by casting on an even number of stitches.
  2. Knit the first stitch.
  3. Purl the second stitch.
  4. Repeat the knit and purl stitches across the row until you reach the end.
  5. Continue knitting and purling each row in the same pattern to create the rib stitch.

The rib stitch can be varied by changing the number of knit and purl stitches in each row or by alternating different sizes of knit and purl stitches. This creates different rib patterns such as 1×1 rib (knit 1, purl 1), 2×2 rib (knit 2, purl 2), or even more complex variations.

Both the cable and rib stitches can add beautiful texture and detail to your knitting projects. Practice these advanced stitches and experiment with different patterns to create unique and eye-catching designs.

Understanding Knitting Patterns

Knitting patterns are a set of instructions that tell you how to create different stitch patterns and designs using yarn and needles. They are essential for any knitter, as they guide you through the process of creating various knitted projects, such as scarves, hats, sweaters, and more.

Here are some key elements to understand when reading knitting patterns:

  1. Abbreviations: Knitting patterns use abbreviations to represent different stitches and techniques. For example, “k” stands for knit stitch, “p” for purl stitch, and “yo” for yarn over.
  2. Gauge: Gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows in a specific measurement. It ensures that your finished project matches the size indicated in the pattern. Always check your gauge before starting a project to ensure your tension matches the pattern’s gauge.
  3. Instructions: Knitting patterns provide step-by-step instructions on how to create a specific stitch pattern or design. They include detailed information on the type of stitches to use, the number of stitches and rows, and any special techniques required.
  4. Sizing: Most knitting patterns include multiple sizes, especially for garments. They provide measurements and instructions on how to adjust the pattern to fit different sizes. Make sure to follow the instructions for your desired size.

When following a knitting pattern, it’s important to read the instructions carefully and understand each step before proceeding. Take note of any special abbreviations or techniques used in the pattern and refer to a knitting dictionary or guide if needed. Additionally, make sure to keep track of your progress by marking completed rows or sections to avoid confusion.

Remember, knitting patterns are meant to be a guide, and you can always adapt them to suit your preferences. Once you become familiar with the basics, you can experiment with different stitch patterns and designs to create unique and personalized projects.

Adding Color: Stripes and Fair Isle

Knitting with multiple colors can add visual interest and complexity to your projects. There are various techniques you can use to add color to your knitting, such as stripes and Fair Isle.

Stripes: Stripes are one of the simplest ways to incorporate color into your knitting. You can create stripes by switching between two or more colors at different intervals. To create stripes, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the colors you want to use for your stripes.
  2. Start knitting with your main color.
  3. When you want to switch colors for a stripe, simply drop the current color and pick up the new color.
  4. Carry the unused color along the back of your work, twisting the yarns at the beginning of each new row to prevent holes.
  5. Continue knitting each row with the appropriate color for the stripe pattern you desire.

Fair Isle: Fair Isle is a technique that involves knitting with multiple colors in the same row to create intricate patterns. Fair Isle knitting typically incorporates traditional geometric motifs or nature-inspired designs. To knit Fair Isle, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the colors you want to use for your Fair Isle pattern.
  2. Hold one color in each hand, with your dominant hand holding the main color.
  3. With the main color, knit the stitches as usual.
  4. When you encounter a stitch that requires the contrasting color, pick up the yarn from the non-dominant hand and knit that stitch.
  5. Continue alternating between the main color and the contrasting color to create the Fair Isle pattern across the row.
  6. Remember to twist the yarns on the wrong side of the work to prevent long floats.

Both stripes and Fair Isle can be used to add color and dimension to your knitted projects. Experiment with different color combinations and patterns to create unique and eye-catching designs.

Knitting in the Round: Circular Needles and Double-Pointed Needles

Knitting in the round is a technique that allows you to create seamless and tube-like projects, such as hats, socks, and sweaters. There are two main types of needles used for knitting in the round: circular needles and double-pointed needles.

Circular Needles:

Circular needles are a pair of straight knitting needles connected by a flexible cable. They have pointed ends, just like regular knitting needles, and come in various sizes and lengths. Circular needles are commonly used for larger projects or projects with a larger circumference because they can hold a greater number of stitches.

To knit in the round using circular needles, you will cast on the required number of stitches onto one of the needles. Then, instead of turning the work at the end of each row, you will slide the stitches from the left needle onto the right needle, with the cable in between. This creates a continuous loop of stitches.

One advantage of using circular needles is that they distribute the weight of the project more evenly, reducing strain on the hands and wrists. They are also great for projects with a lot of stitches, as the longer cable gives you more room to work.

Double-Pointed Needles:

Double-pointed needles (DPNs) are a set of four or five short, straight needles with points at both ends. They are commonly used for small projects with a smaller circumference, such as sleeves, mittens, or small accessories.

When knitting in the round with DPNs, you divide the stitches evenly onto three or four needles and use the fifth needle to knit. As you work, you will rotate the needles so that the working needle is always on the right, while the other needles hold the stitches.

Double-pointed needles can be a bit more challenging to work with, especially if you’re new to knitting in the round. However, they allow you to easily shape smaller projects and create intricate patterns with more precision.

In conclusion, both circular needles and double-pointed needles are essential tools for knitting in the round. Circular needles are best for larger projects, while double-pointed needles are great for smaller, more intricate projects. Experiment with both to find which method works best for you and your knitting projects!

Finishing Techniques: Binding Off and Blocking

Binding Off:

Once you have finished knitting your project, you will need to bind off to create a neat finished edge. Binding off is also known as casting off, and it is the process of securing the stitches at the end of your work.

To bind off, follow these steps:

  1. Knit the first 2 stitches as usual.
  2. Using your left needle, lift the first stitch over the second stitch and off the right needle. You will have 1 stitch left on your right needle.
  3. Knit the next stitch, and repeat step 2.
  4. Continue in this manner until you have bound off all stitches, leaving only one stitch remaining on your right needle.

Once you have bound off, cut your yarn, leaving a tail of about 6 inches. Thread the tail through the last stitch, tighten it, and weave in the ends to secure.


Blocking is the process of shaping and stretching a finished knitted item to achieve the desired dimensions and smooth out any irregularities in the stitches. It can help improve the drape and overall appearance of your project.

Here is how to block your knitting:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a few drops of a gentle wool wash or mild soap.
  2. Submerge your knitted item in the water, gently pressing it down to ensure it is fully saturated.
  3. Let the item soak for about 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the water and gently squeeze out the excess moisture, taking care not to wring or twist the fabric.
  5. Lay a clean bath towel on a flat surface and place your knitted item on top.
  6. Gently shape and stretch the item to its desired dimensions, smoothing out any wrinkles or uneven stitches.
  7. Pin the edges of the item to the towel using rustproof T-pins to hold it in place.
  8. Let the item dry completely, which may take a day or two depending on its size and thickness.
  9. Once dry, unpin the item and admire your beautifully blocked knitting!

Blocking can be especially beneficial for lace and cable patterns, as it helps to open up the stitch patterns and showcase their intricate details.

Remember to always check the care instructions for your specific yarn and project before blocking, as some fibers may require special handling.


What are the basic knitting stitches?

The basic knitting stitches include the knit stitch and the purl stitch.

What is the difference between the knit stitch and the purl stitch?

The main difference between the knit stitch and the purl stitch is the way the yarn is held. In the knit stitch, the yarn is held in the back of the work, while in the purl stitch, the yarn is held in the front.

Can you explain how to do the knit stitch?

Yes, to do the knit stitch, insert the right-hand needle from left to right through the front of the first stitch on the left-hand needle. Wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle counterclockwise and then pull the right-hand needle and the wrapped yarn through the stitch, slipping the stitch off the left-hand needle. This completes one knit stitch.

How do you do the purl stitch?

The purl stitch is done by inserting the right-hand needle from right to left through the front of the first stitch on the left-hand needle. Wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle clockwise and then pull the right-hand needle and the wrapped yarn through the stitch, slipping the stitch off the left-hand needle. This completes one purl stitch.

What can you make with knit and purl stitches?

You can make a variety of items with knit and purl stitches. These stitches can be used to create scarves, sweaters, hats, blankets, and many other knitwear items.

Are there any other knitting stitches apart from knit and purl?

Yes, apart from knit and purl stitches, there are many other knitting stitches that can be used to create different textures and patterns. Some examples include the cable stitch, the seed stitch, and the rib stitch.


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