Knitting is a hobby once reserved for spinsters and grandmothers. It gained tremendous popularity in early 2002 as young, trendy celebrities were seen with their knitting in hand. In 2006, CBS News reported on a new group that had taken up the trend—adult men. While it takes patience, practice and a little bit of education to knit something complicated like a sweater, even a novice knitter can turn out a nice scarf in short order.
Some basic techniques must be learned before taking on any knitting project. “Casting on” is the term used to describe readying the yarn on the needles. The terms “casting off” or “binding off” mean taking the finished piece off the needles while simultaneously binding the edge.
The two basic knitting stitches are called “knit” and “purl.” These two stitches are the basis for all other knitting stitches that will be needed for more advanced patterns.
“Gauge” indicates how many stitches it takes to make a one-inch square. The gauge of a knitted piece depends on the type of yarn used, size of the needles and tension that the knitter uses while knitting the square.
All of these techniques can be learned through a basic knitting guide, or by taking a beginning knitting class at a local yarn store. Since these techniques and terms are the basis for all knitted patterns, practice them over and over until they are second nature before taking on any advanced patterns.
Any knitting project will require yarn and a set of two appropriate knitting needles at minimum. Beginners should start with a medium-weight synthetic yarn which is the most forgiving. When selecting the needles, thicker yarns require thicker needles. Needles range in size from 0 to 50, with 0 being the slimmest needles. The needles have a dull point on one end and a stopper on the other end to prevent the stitches from falling off.
When knitting socks, mittens, hats and other projects, the directions may call for circular or double-point needles. Projects calling for these needles should not be attempted until all of the basics have been mastered.
Optional materials include a stitch holder which is a metal clip shaped like a safety pin that is used to hold stitches off the needle while knitting certain patterns. When knitting more complicated patterns or anything that comes in a pair, such as mittens, a row counter can come in handy to ensure that the same number of rows are knitted in each item.
The KnittingGuru.com claims that the most important thing to learn for successful knitting projects is to use even tension. If the yarn is pulled tighter at some points than others while knitting, the finished piece will be uneven. Practice by knitting scarves. These are simple pieces to knit as they are one long strip of knitting. Practice using all knit stitches, all purl stitches or alternate a knit row with a purl row to create a simple stockinette stitch.