Illustrations by . Photo by Maxwell Tielman.
If you haven’t attempted knitting, it can seem pretty terrifying. You might have watched friends or family members do it — their pointy needles swinging at lightning speed through a tangled mass of yarn — and worried deeply for their eyes and internal organs. You might be a crafting commitment-phobe, horrified at the idea of a task taking over a day (or a week! or a month!) to complete. You might also be generally inept when it comes to most craft projects and fear that, if let anywhere near a ball of yarn, you might just end up with a knotted, disfigured mess. I need to tell you — that was me when I first decided, at the age of 15, to knit. I had no idea what I was doing or how to do it, but there was something so charming and quaint about the craft that I was absolutely determined to master it.
While I still haven’t quite mastered the art of knitting in its entirety, I can say with some sense of self-assurance that I can knit. And it’s really not that bad! In fact, it’s a wonderful way to spend a chilly January day, much like the ones we’re experiencing right now. Whenever I’m watching TV or on a long road trip, I pull out my needles and yarn and let my mind wander while my hands move. Much like yoga or meditation, knitting allows me to clear my head and calm my body. I also end up with something to wear that’s both adorable and entirely handmade!
January, with its post-holidays chill, has always seemed the perfect time to start a knitting project. Because of this, we’ve decided to kick off a month of weekly knitting features starting with the bare-bones basics of knitting (aka, “how to knit a scarf”). While the following guide by no means encompasses everything there is to know about knitting (that could fill an entire book!), these simple steps will help you get off the ground. — Max
More on the basics of knitting after the jump . . .
1. To make a slipknot, pull a length of yarn from your ball and twist it so it makes a loop. Then, pull a another loop of yarn from the open end of your strand through your first loop. The result should look like the image above.
2. Insert one of your knitting needles through the loop of your knot and pull the strands of yarn on either side to tighten. Make sure there is about one foot of yarn on the end that isn’t attached to your ball. You’ll use this length of yarn to cast on your stitches.
Casting on is the next step in setting up your knitting project. The amount of stitches you cast on for your project will determine its overall starting width. When making a scarf, for example, I usually cast on about 20 stitches.
5. Pull your left-hand strand to tighten it. That’s it! Repeat the last five steps for each stitch you want to cast on. When you’re done, there will be a little bit of yarn hanging off the end of your needle. That’s fine. You’ll be able to weave it through your design or cut it off at the end of your project.
4. Pull the strand of your working yarn tight to secure the stitch. Repeat until each stitch from your left-hand needle has been brought to your right-hand needle. Continue this process until your fabric has reached your desired length.
4. Pull the second stitch off the needle and tighten your working yarn. You’ve now cast off one of your stitches. Repeat steps 1–4 of this section until all your stitches are cast off. Cut your project from your ball of yarn and knot the remaining strand through your final stitch to secure it. Cut off the excess strands from either side of your project or weave them through a few rows of stitches on your project. Ta-da! That’s it! Knitting 101 completed!