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Beginner’s Guide to Knitting + 3 FREE Knitting Patterns

Beginner’s Guide to Knitting + 3 FREE Knitting Patterns
Knitting is an age-old craft that uses two knitting needles and yarn to create textiles such as sweaters, blankets, stuffed toys, scarves and more. People enjoy knitting because of its repetitive, relaxing motion that can improve mood while yielding beautiful work. As with most acquired skills, knitting takes practice and time to learn. You probably won’t get the hang of it on your first — or even your second — try. The important thing is to keep knitting! You’ll be hooked before you know it.

All about yarn

When you begin knitting, picking out yarns and needle sizes is one of the most important things to consider. They relate to each other, as the thicker the yarn, the larger the needle needed. Choosing the right type of knitting yarn is very important for the type of project you’re trying to complete. Yarn can be made of many materials, like acrylic, wool, cashmere or linen. Yarn “weight” refers to a yarn’s thickness (fine to bulky) and different yarn weights/thicknesses are appropriate for specific knitting projects. Thicker yarns are usually easier to use for beginners. To figure out the length of yarn you’ll need, multiply the width of your project by three.
  • Super fine yarn is very light and airy, perfect for light shawls, wraps and other delicate projects. This type of yarn is usually knitted with larger needles to create lacy, openwork patterns.
  • Light yarn is a thinner weight, used mainly for socks, small garments and accessories. It’s one of the most versatile yarn weights available.
  • Medium yarn weight is perfect for baby blankets, cardigans and more. It’s heavier than fine yarn, making it a wonderful choice for projects where you need a slightly heavier and sturdier yarn weight.
  • Bulky and super bulky yarn is the thickest yarn you can get. It’s ideal for heavier items such as cozy blankets, warm sweaters and other large projects. Bulkier yarns are great for quickly finishing accessories such as scarves or throws.

All about knitting needles and sizes

Wood or bamboo needles are best for knitting beginners because the natural surface has a drag that “grips” the yarn better than steel or aluminum needles. Many knitters recommend getting a needle kit containing multiple sizes when starting out, so you’ll have lots of options. What needle size do you need for specific knitting projects? It depends on the yarn you use!
  • Needle Size 1-3: Using this needle size makes it quick and easy to complete smaller tasks and projects that don’t require much yarn, like socks or mittens.
  • Needle Size 3-5: If you’re working with a light-weight project, reach for these needle sizes. They’re the best fit for creating lighter yet larger projects.
  • Needle Size 5-7: Use needle sizes 5 to 7 for knitting garments like sweaters, scarves or gloves.
  • Needle Size 7-9: These are the needle sizes you’ll reach for most often. Paired with medium-sized yarn, these knitting needles are most commonly used when starting a project.
  • Needle Size 9-11: As needle sizes grow larger, you’ll notice the knits work up faster. When managing bulky or chunky yarn, you’ll want to use larger needle sizes so the weight of the yarn will hold for the duration of your whole project.
  • Needle Size 11-17: Larger needle sizes are great to work with when using very heavy yarn. Super bulky yarn weights combined with large knitting needles will make any stitch stand out.

Free Knitting Patterns from Lion Brand®

Pink PomPom Beanie Free Knitting Pattern

Lion Brand® Wool-Ease® Pomfret Hat

Knitting Level: BEGINNER

Materials need: 

  • Lion Brand® Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® (Art. #640): 1 099 Fisherman 1 ball (A) & 103 Blossom 1 ball (B)
  • Lion Brand® stitch markers
  • Lion Brand® Pom-pom Maker
  • Lion Brand® large-eyed blunt needle
Tassel-Trimmed Knit Pillow Free Knitting Pattern

Lion Brand® Mandala® Tassel Trimmed Pillow

Knitting Level: EASY / BEGINNER+

Materials need: 

  • Lion Brand® Mandala® (Art. #525) 209 Gnome 1 ball
  • Lion Brand® knitting needles – size 5 (3.75 mm)
  • Lion Brand® large-eyed blunt needle
Leopard Print FREE Knitting Pattern

Lion Brand® Truboo Leopard Sweater

Knitting Level: INTERMEDIATE Materials need: 
  • LION BRAND® TRUBOO® (Art. #837): #123 Tan 6 balls (A) & #150 Slate 5 balls (B) & #122 Mushroom 2 balls (C)
  • LION BRAND® stitch markers
  • LION BRAND® stitch holders
  • LION BRAND® large-eyed blunt needle
  • Circular knitting needle size 9 (5.5 mm), 40 in. (101.5 cm) long
  • Circular knitting needle size 9 (5.5 mm), 16 in. (40.5 cm) long

Knitting terms to know

You’ll need to know a few terms and abbreviations to understand knitting patterns. Abbreviations are used to make patterns shorter and easier to read. Most knitting patterns will have an abbreviation key but familiarizing yourself with these terms ahead of time will make it easier once you get started.

BO: Used to indicate binding off, which is how you finish the project so you can take it off the needles and keep it from unraveling.

CO: Cast on is the foundation for your project. This is the number of stitches you will need to complete the project.

K: To knit the most basic stitch. Patterns for beginners may be all knit. Also known as garter stitch.

K2tog: Knit two stitches together.

P: Purl, the second-most-common stitch. Many basic patterns employ alternating rows of knitting and purling, also known as the stockinette stitch.

Rep: Repeat.

RS: The “right side” — meaning the front of the project.

Skein: A bundle of yarn.

St: Stockinette stitch.

WS: The “wrong side” — or the back of a project.

Time to knit

Once you have selected your yarn weight and needles, it’s time to knit! All you need is yarn, needles… and patience.

Knitting has three essential skills: the cast on, knit stitch and the cast off.

The first thing that every beginner knitter learns is how to cast on their stitches. Casting on is the first step in knitting, which is putting the stitches onto one needle. Once the yarn is cast onto the needle in the form of stitches, those stitches can be knit.

The knit stitch is a fundamental knitting technique that all knitters need to know. There are many other types of stitching techniques and patterns, including purl stitches, garter stitches, and the stockinette stitch.

A purl stitch creates flat, vertical “V” shapes, while the garter stitch creates horizontal “hills”. When you knit on one side and purl on the other, you create a stockinette stitch. The purl stitch is a technique and a stockinette stitch is a pattern.

How to knit stitch

Step 1: Make a slip knot. Hold the yarn so that the tail of the yarn ball is hanging in front of your hand.

Step 2: Wrap the yarn loosely behind the first two fingers of your left hand. The yarn should loop around your fingers clockwise.

Step 3: Take the part of the yarn that is attached to the ball and slip it back under the loop behind your fingers.

Step 4: Slide this off your fingers, pull to tighten slightly and slip it over the needle.

Step 5: Hold the needle with the stitches on it in your left hand and the empty needle in your right hand.

Step 6: Slip the tip of the right-hand needle into the first loop, from front to back.

Step 7: Once the needle is in place, simply carry the working yarn over the right-hand needle. Go counterclockwise around the needle. Make sure the yarn is between the two needles.

Step 8: Slide the right-hand needle from the back to the front of the other needle. Punch through with the yarn so it makes a loop on the right-hand needle.

Step 9: Slide the right-hand needle down so that the loop gets close to the tip of the needle but doesn’t slide off.

Step 10: Slide the right-hand needle up so that the first loop on the left-hand needle slides off the needle.

Voila! Now you’re one step closer to knitting your dream project. All you need is some yarn and knitting needles….

About The Author

Reema Chauhan

Reema Chauhan is a marketing copywriter and content creator for ecommerce brands with a passion for storytelling. Having worked at Zulily for over 3 years, she's currently pursuing a master’s in advertising at Boston University. Born and raised in Seattle, she’s an avid crafter, horror fiction fan, and word game enthusiast.

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