Illustrated steps show how to start knitting, do knit and purl stitches, garter stitch stocking stitch, rib stitch, edge stitch and cast off stitches.
How to start knitting: Cast on stitches
How to start knitting: Knit stitches
How to start knitting: purl stitches
How to start knitting: garter stitch
How to start knitting: stocking stitch
How to start knitting: rib stitch
How to start knitting: edge stitches
How to start knitting: Cast off stitches
Knit a sample to determine the number of stitches
You can knit so many useful everyday items yourself, if you only know how! Knitting is not that difficult. And the material is also easily available everywhere. Anyone who crochets may already have leftover wool at home, which is ideal for the first attempts at knitting. How to cast on stitches, knit right and purl stitches and cast off, what “stocking stitch” means and much more you will find out in this article.
Cast on stitches
There are many different ways to cast on stitches. Here I’ll show you one that creates a very stable, yet elastic lower edge.
For the so-called cross stitch, the thread is first taken twice. The end of the thread that leads to the ball of wool is called the working thread, the other is called the end thread .
The following rule of thumb applies to the length of the thread: “Three centimeters of end thread for one centimeter of knitted fabric.” For example, for a 15 centimeter wide piece of knitting, you would need 45 centimeters of end thread.
Too much is better than too little: if necessary, you can simply cut off the unnecessary end thread. The cross stitch is worked as follows (text descriptions always follow the graphic):
- Measure the end thread and make a loop at this point (for example at 45 centimeters).
- Push a knitting needle through the loop and tighten the loop lightly.
- Take the needle in your right hand. Split the two threads with the index finger and thumb of the left hand; the working thread lies at the back over the index finger and the end thread at the front over the thumb. The knitting needle with the loop is between the two fingers.
- Hold the two threads with the little finger and the ring finger and pull the needle with the loop forward.
- Pass the needle under the left thread of the thumb …
- … and then over the left thread of the index finger …
- … and now pull the left thread of the index finger with the needle through the loop made on the thumb.
- Drop the loop around the thumb.
- Tighten the thread with your thumb. Your first stitch is knit!
- Pull the needle forward.
For all subsequent stitches, repeat steps four to ten until there are enough stitches on the needle. You will quickly find that these six steps become two to three smoothly merging movements. Casting on stitches is very quick, even if it doesn’t sound like it at first.
Knit right stitches
The only difference between right and purl stitches is that with right stitches the working thread is pulled through the stitch from the back to the front, while with purl stitches it is pulled through the stitch from front to back. To knit right stitches, do the following:
- Place the thread behind the left needle.
- Insert the right needle into the stitch from the left.
- Guide the working thread around the needle from below.
- Pull the working thread through the stitch.
- Drop the knitted stitch.
The newly knitted stitch remains on the right needle. Now the right stitch has been knitted. It is best to practice the steps right away by knitting the rest of the row as well.
Knit purl stitches
This is how purl stitches are knitted:
- Place the thread in front of the left needle.
- Insert the right needle into the stitch from the right.
- Guide the working thread around the needle from above.
- Pull the working thread through the stitch.
- Drop the knitted stitch; the newly knitted stitch remains on the right needle.
The left stitch is now knitted. Here, as with the right stitches, the same applies as for the cast on: What is explained as individual steps merges into a few movements with increasing practice.
Knit in garter stitch
Garter stitch is when a piece of knitting is knitted exclusively and in all rows of knit stitches. With garter stitch you can have a soap bag or a reusable dish cloth from cotton knit.
Knit in stocking stitch
Stocking stitch means that a row of right and a row of purl stitches are knitted alternately. Many sweaters are knitted in stocking stitch, which is called this because the knitting picture on the right (that is, front, is what later visible) appears smooth, and because the stitch loops are not visible.
A knitted baby blanket in a patchwork pattern is also suitable for larger quantities of wool scraps.
Knit a rib
Almost all knitting patterns are based on right and left stitches, with which the most exciting patterns can be achieved. A simple pattern is the rib pattern, which is very popular for scarves. The hems of sweaters are also often knitted in a rib pattern, because the lower hems and the cuffs are less worn out and do not roll upwards.
The rib pattern consists of right and purl stitches that are knitted alternately. You knit the right stitches from the right side in the wrong side and vice versa.
This is how the rib is worked:
- On the right side, knit three stitches and purl three stitches alternately.
- On the wrong side, purl the right stitches and knit the left stitches.
- Repeat back and forth rows until the desired height of the piece is reached.
Very soon you can see how the vertical ribs develop. You can vary the number of right and purl stitches, depending on how wide the ribs should be and how thick the yarn is. A scarf made of thin wool looks very good with ribs made of alternating five right and five purl stitches.
For the cuff of a sweater made of thick wool, two or three stitches on the right or left are probably enough.
A modification of the rib pattern is the checkerboard pattern, which is wonderfully suitable for knitted pot holders .
Knit edge stitches
There are also many design options for the edge stitches (i.e. for the first and last stitch on the needle). In the following you will learn about a variation with which you get a decorative border. The so-called chain edge is often used for scarves, pot holders and other knitted items where the edges can be seen open. But this variant is also advantageous for edges that are sewn together.
This is how the edge stitches are knitted:
- First stitch on the needle: the thread is in front of the needle.
- Insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle from the right and simply lift the stitch onto the right needle without pulling the working thread through the stitch.
- Last stitch on the needle: Always knit the last stitch.
- This creates a pretty border that is reminiscent of chain links, which give this border variation its name.
Tip: If you are knitting a set of patterns (for example four stitches on the right, four stitches on the left alternately), plan two additional stitches for the edge stitches when casting on.
Cast off stitches
When the desired height of the piece is reached, the stitches must be cast off. You can follow these steps:
- Lift off the edge stitch (see chapter Edge mesh) Work the second stitch as it comes (knit right, purl). There are now two stitches on the right needle.
- Pull the edge stitch over the second stitch: To do this, insert the left needle into the edge stitch from the left …
- … and pull the stitch over the second stitch.
- There is now another stitch on the right needle.
Knit the next stitch. There are again two stitches on the right needle. Pull the first stitch back over the second stitch that has just been knitted. There is another stitch left on the right needle. Continue like this until there is only one stitch left on the right needle. Do not cut the thread too short (it still has to be sewn) and pull the end through the last stitch. Your piece is now finished and you can sew the beginning and end threads with a thick darning needle.
Knit a sample to determine the number of stitches
At the beginning of a first knitting project, it makes sense to determine how many stitches you have to cast on – otherwise the planned sweater will be too big or too small, and that would be a shame for so much time. As a general guideline you can look at the banderole of the wool. It usually indicates the number of stitches and rows that you need for a ten by ten centimeter square. Nevertheless, it is advisable to make a stitch sample yourself, because everyone knits differently, loosely or tightly.
How to knit the sample:
- Cast on a row of stitches (30 stitches are sufficient for thicker or double yarns; cast on 60 stitches as a precaution with thinner yarns) and knit three or four rows.
- Place a ruler or tape measure underneath the knitted piece and count at the bottom how many stitches are ten centimeters wide.
- Divide the number of stitches by ten to find how many stitches are needed per centimeter. Multiply the number of stitches by the desired edge width.
Example: My piece of knitting should be 15 centimeters wide. With my double thread, which I knit with a size five needle, I need 18 stitches for ten centimeters. Accordingly, the calculation for an edge width of 15 centimeters is: 18 stitches: 10 cm x 15 cm = 27 stitches
Genevieve Dumas is a design, fashion, food and style writer who has worked on major magazines and mastheads in the United States and Europe.