For the first of our knitting techniques blogs, we're starting with the very basics, from how to hold the needles and yarn, to how to create a slip knot. If you're new to knitting these illustrated tips from Fiona Goble are a great introduction to learning to knit.
If you are new to knitting, you will need to find out which is the most comfortable way for you to hold your knitting needles. This applies to both a pair of knitting needles or a circular needle.
LIKE A KNIFE
Pick up one needle in each hand as if you were holding a knife and fork—with your hands over the top of each needle. As you knit, you will tuck the blunt end of the right-hand needle under your arm and let go with your hand to manipulate the yarn, returning your hand to the needle to move the stitches along.
LIKE A PEN
Hold the left-hand needle like a knife, but the right-hand needle like a pen, with your thumb and forefinger holding the needle close to the point and the shaft resting in the crook of your thumb. As you knit, do not let go of the needle but simply slide your right hand forward to manipulate the yarn.
The yarn you are working with needs to be tensioned and manipulated to produce an evenly knitted fabric. You can use either your right or left hand to hold and tension the yarn, depending on the way in which you are going to make the stitches. Depending on your natural gauge (tension), you will need to wind the yarn more or less tightly around your fingers. Try the methods shown here to find out which suits you best.
YARN IN RIGHT HAND
To knit and purl in the US/UK style, hold the yarn in your right hand. To hold the yarn tightly (top), wind it right around your little finger, under your ring and middle fingers, then pass it over your index finger; this finger will manipulate the yarn. For a looser hold (bottom), catch the yarn between your little and ring fingers, pass it under your middle finger, then over your index finger.
YARN IN LEFT HAND
To knit and purl in the continental style, hold the yarn in your left hand. To hold the yarn tightly (top), wind it right around your little finger, under your ring and middle fingers, then pass it over your index finger; this finger will manipulate the yarn. For a looser hold (bottom), fold your little, ring, and middle fingers over the yarn, and wind it twice around your index finger.
Making a slip knot
You will need to make a slip knot to start knitting; this knot counts as the first cast-on stitch.
With the ball of yarn to the right, lay the end of the yarn on the pam of your left hand. With your right hand, wind the yarn twice round your index and middle fingers to make a loop. Make a second loop behind the first one. Slip a knitting needle in front of the first loop to pick up the second loop, as shown.
Slip the yarn off your fingers leaving the loop on the needle. Gently pull on both yarn ends to tighten the knot a little, then pull on the yarn leading to the ball of yarn to fully tighten the knot on the needle.
For more basic knitting techniques, check out our video tutorials with Fiona Goble.
Now you've mastered the basics, why not check out Learn to Knit by Fiona Goble for beginner's knitting projects.