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If you love crafts, need a screen-less activity to accompany your “Love Is Blind” marathons, and want to make something functional that you can wear, try your hand at knitting.
Besides requiring minimal materials to get started — yarn and knitting needles — it’s a hobby that is fairly easy to get into and doesn’t require a ton of concentration.
“Knitting gives me time to think,” says Julie Robinson, knitter, instructor, and designer for knitting magazines. “It’s an active meditation.”
Additionally, knitting is “so portable, I can bring it anywhere since there aren’t many tools required, meaning I will always have something to do when I have some unexpected time on my hands,” says Marissa Likar, knitter, and blogger.
Below, Robinson and Likar share their best tips for getting started as a knitting beginner:
1. Get the right knitting needles and yarn.
Even if you already have knitting needles lying around at home, you’ll want to consider circular needles if you don’t have them.
“Circular needles are more versatile than straight [ones] because you can use them to knit flat or in the round,” says Robinson. Likar agrees on starting with circular needles for any knitting project. “Their design makes them easier on the hands and wrists when knitting heavy projects,” she adds.
As far as materials go, there are so many options to choose from — metal, plastic, wood, and bamboo, but Likar recommends bamboo or wood needles for beginners because “the yarn grips better than other materials and stitches stay in place on the needle .” And while plastic may be a cheaper option, Robinson explains that “it makes it harder to work the stitches.”
When it comes to selecting yarn, which can be an overwhelming endeavor if you walk into a craft store, you can narrow your selection by opting for a medium-weight yarn (also known as worsted weight). “It is a good thickness to easily handle and see,” says Likar, who also recommends acrylic yarn because it “is very forgiving, inexpensive, comes in really bright colors, and is readily available.”
Once you start to get more comfortable with your knitting, you’ll probably want to invest in slightly more expensive yarn. “I would suggest getting natural fibers whenever you can afford it, like wool, cotton, silk, or linen,” says Robinson.
If you want to avoid having unnecessary issues when you’re starting out and haven’t quite mastered the basics, “Do not under any circumstances buy yarn to start knitting with if it has any kind of fuzz, sparkly fibers, or novelty,” Likar advises.
2. Buy some additional helpful beginner items.
When it’s time to end a project, you’ll need to tuck in the ends with the help of a tapestry needle so there isn’t any fraying or unraveling. “You’ve got to weave those ends in,” says Robinson. “You will use this on every single project you ever make.”
Stitch markers help hold your place in your knitting project. “Get ones that do not have anything that the yarn can snag on and it helps if you can take them on and off the needle easily,” says Likar.
A crochet hook is also a handy tool for your knitting projects. “A crochet hook for a knitter doesn’t sound right, but it is a very helpful tool for mistakes, adding details, and finishing a project,” says Likar.
3. Pick knitting books and guides designed for true beginners.
“So many ‘beginner’ books start somewhere after the beginning, assuming you have some prior knowledge of yarns and knitting or crafting in general,” says Likar. She prefers reference books like Reader’s Digest’s “Knitting Handbook” because “if you come up against a problem, then you can look up the proper way to do the technique.”
If you’re looking for a great beginner knitting project, Robinson recommends starting with a hat. According to her, “Knit a Hat” “shows you how to knit a basic hat, learn a bunch of basic skills, and gain confidence in choosing your materials,” says Robinson, who “really [likes the author’s] craft philosophy [because] it emphasizes enjoying the journey of creating and she encourages people to be adventurous in their knitting practice from the very beginning.”