Hey! I’m so glad that you are here and since you are, that means you are interested in learning to knit, right? Knitting is an absolute joy and wonderful hobby that I learned when I was only 13. I was wanting to knit my soon to be born baby brother a baby blanket….it was over 6 feet wide when I took it off my needles (I was aiming for a small baby blanket.) When you have no idea what your doing, like me when I first tried to learn to knit, things wind up crazy (But, that’s a whole story in itself, LOL.). So, enough chitchat, let me tell you exactly what you will be learning in this post.
If you have never knitted before and have absolutely no clue where to begin, you are in the right place! I will start off by going over different types of knitting needles and yarns and show what exactly you need to get started.
Or, if you already have your yarn and needles and are ready to actually get started knitting, then you can skip ahead to part 2 of this series to learn how to cast on. Find that post HERE.
Don’t Know Where to Start?
I know that going to the craft store can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you have no idea what you need to get started with. Do I buy big or little needles? Long or short? Straight or circular? Why are theses needles hooked to a cord? What do you use a DPN for???? If you have any of these questions, don’t worry! By the end of this blog post, you should have a good understanding of the basic tools that you’ll need to start your knitting journey.
Did you know that you basically only need 2 things to start knitting? Yarn and knitting needles. That’s it! You don’t have to have all the fancy extras, all that stuff will come in time. That is what this post mainly talks about, just to give you an overview of the different kinds of needles and yarns that are available.
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If you would rather watch a short video on the subject, here’s the Youtube video that I created to go along with this blog post
Different Types of Knitting Needles –
We’ll start off by going over the different types of knitting needles that are available and which ones that I would recommend starting off with.
There are also different materials that knitting needles can be made out of. I’ll be going over that too.
I’ll start with the 3 most common types of knitting needles –
- Double Pointed (DPN)
Some needles are exchangeable and you could use either / or in a pattern. Like if a scarf pattern calls for straight needles, you can substitute circular needles and it won’t make a difference as long as they are the same size. It basically comes down to preference and what you like best. There are certain circumstances where it does matter and with time you’ll learn when you can change out a type of needle for another and when you can’t.
Straight Needles –
This is probably the most common type of knitting needles and the one that comes to everyones mind when someone mentions the word ‘Knitting.’
As you can see, they are pointed on one end and have little stoppers on the other that keep your stitches from falling off.
This is probably the type of needles that most people start with when they are first learning to knit. They come in a variety of lengths, most common is 9” – 14” long. But, you can definitely find them in longer or shorter lengths.
Typically, if you purchase a learn to knit kit, it will come with a plastic set of straight needles. So, a lot of people start with these.
What can you knit with straight needles? The best things are probably smaller flat pieces like
- Small sweaters that are knit in sections
- Afghan Squares
- Certain types Baby Booties (some are made flat and then stitched together)
Double Pointed Needles –
Double pointed knitting needles, also referred to as DPNs, and like their name they have a pointed end on both ends.
This type of needle is typically used when working pieces in the round, especially smaller round sections like finishing the top closing section of hats, sleeves of a sweater and socks. You can also use DPN’s to hold a few stitches while you work in other stitches when you cable knit.
They typically come in sets of either 4, 5 or 6 needles to a package.
These are a very important type of needle and can come in very handy in certain circumstances because you can slide the stitches off and work from either direction of the needle with there being a point at each end.
These aren’t needles that you would learn to knit on or start with because stitches would fall off too easily, but if you find that you really enjoy knitting and want to broaden your making skills, I’d suggest having a few sets on hand in a couple different sizes. They do take practice to get used to them, but it’s totally worth the learning curve!
What do you typically knit with DPN’s? Usually small things in the round like
- Tops of closing Hats (even though you can knit the whole hat with dpns, most people just prefer to to the closing section with dpns and use circular needles for the body of the hat)
- Sweater Sleeves
- Gloves & Mittens
- Basically anything small and knit in the round
Circular Needles –
Circular needles are basically 2 knitting needles that are joined in the middle by a flexible cord. These are hands down my favorite type of knitting needles. I learned how to knit on them and still grab them 1st for most of my projects.
These needles can be used for your bigger projects like blankets, sweaters, hats, cowls and even scarves. You can even buy smaller ones that you can use to make socks and baby hats. The top tiny pair in the above pic are 9” ones that I make some of my baby hats out of.
You can knit both, pieces in the round like hats & socks and even larger flat pieces like blankets & shawls that won’t fit on straight needles.
They come in a variety of lengths, most commonly varying from 16” – 48” in length, but can be found in most any size and length.
You can find my favorite kind of inexpensive circular needles HERE. These are the exact ones that I learned to knit with, but mine were purple/pink colored.
Some circular needles even have interchangeable needles, meaning that you can change the size of needles and put them on different length of cords. These are really nice. Let’s say you started a project on a certain size of needles and want to start a new project but the size of needles you want are already being used? If you have an interchangeable set of needles you can just change the ends and save your project on the cord it’s on for later and put you needles on a new cord and start your new project easily.
I actually just recently bought my 1st ever set of interchangeable needles and I love them! I bought the Mosaic Options set from Knit Picks and they are wonderful. If you want, you can find them HERE.
What can you knit with circular needles? Some of the best things include
Materials that Knitting Needles are Made From –
There are various different types of materials that knitting needles are made from. Some of the most common are –
Which ones are the best? Basically it just comes down to personal preference. It’s jut whatever feels better and glides the stitches best for you.
Personally, my favorite ones are metal and wood would be my 2nd choice.
And, these are just a few of the materials. There are lots more, but these are the most common.
So, on to the 2nd most important thing that you will need to start knitting….Yarn!
Just like Knitting Needles, it comes in a variety of colors, brands and weights (thicknesses). This topic could get really deep, really quickly so I will just try and stick to the basics.
Yarn comes in various weights. This just means that there are different thicknesses of yarn, from super thin to Jumbo (super thick).
Here’s a chart that easily explains the different wieghts
For a beginner I’d recommend starting with a #4 or #5 yarn. These won’t be too thin or too thick and it’ll make knitting the stitches a little bit easier.
I personally started with a #4 Worsted weight yarn.
Yarn also comes in various Fibers. This is just the material that the yarn is made out of. It can basically be made out of anything from silk to ‘Plarn’ that is made out of plastic bags. I’ll list the most common types of yarn
Of course, fibers like cashmere and silk will be quite a bit pricier. I’d recommend starting with the most common and most inexpensive one, Acrylic.
You can find acrylic yarn at any craft store and even Walmart carries it. If you are ordering it offline, Knit Picks is a good place to start with. They have really good yarn for a great price. I’d start with their Brava Worsted yarn. Find it HERE
If you are wondering how do you know what yarn is what, all you have to do is check the label out. Now, that may be easier said than done because sometimes the labels themselves can look overwhelming. I actually have a post about ‘How to Read a Yarn Label’ that will break down each symbol on the label and help you to decipher it. Find it HERE
To sum it all up, I’ll make a short list of what I’d start with if I was an absolute beginner
- Needles = straight or circular size US 10.5 / 6.5mm. THESE would be my personal choice.
- Yarn = I’d recommend starting with a more inexpensive acrylic yarn. THIS is a great one to start with.
- You might also want to get a Yarn Needle to use to weave in the ends of yarn once your project is completed. THESE are a good choice.
- A good pair of scissors
That’s basically all that you will need to get started knitting. Of course, if I wanted to I could really make a long list, but I don’t want to over complicate things. If you make a couple things, you can expand you horizon so to speak and dig deeper into the subject. I just wanted to make things as simple as possible, while giving you an overview of a few things.
So, go get your yarn and knitting needles and head on over to PART 2 of this series to Learn How to Cast On.
I hope that you have found this tutorial helpful! I love to see what everyone makes using inspiration from my blog! Be sure to tag me @okiegirlblingnthings on Instagram so I can see!