How to Knit


Learning the Knit Stitch

Knitting has two basic stitches: the knit stitch and the purl stitch. After mastering these stitches, you'll be able to create many stitch patterns.

Holding the Yarn

Experiment with the way you hold the yarn. Weave the yarn through your fingers as shown below, or try other ways until you find a method that works for you and feels comfortable. The ability to tension the yarn as it flows through your fingers while knitting allows you to maintain your gauge and work neat, even stitches. It's also less tiring on the hands.

Holding the yarn, American-English style
Holding the yarn, using the American-English method

Knit Stitch (k)

Knitting Style

Knitting is enjoyed and practiced all over the world, but not everyone knits in the same style. There is no right or wrong style of knitting. This article presents two of the more common knitting methods used in America: the American-
English method, with the yarn held in the right hand, and the Continental method, with the yarn held in the left hand.

The knit stitch is the most common and versatile stitch of all. It is smooth on one side and bumpy on the other. The smooth side is generally used as the right side of the work -- the side that faces out. The working yarn is always held behind the needle when making the knit stitch. In other words, the knit fabric and the needle will always be between you and the working yarn. When working flat, back and forth knitting, knitting every row creates garter stitch.

Knit Stitch, American-English Method

Step 1: Hold the needle with the cast-on stitches in your left hand. The working yarn is already attached to the stitch closest to the needle tip. Hold the empty needle in your right hand; take hold of the working yarn with your right hand, and hold it behind the right needle. Insert the empty needle from front to back through the first stitch on the left needle (fig. 5a). The right needle is underneath the left needle.

Knit Stitch American-English Method 1
Knit Stitch, American-English Method: Figure 5a

Step 2: Bring your right hand and forefinger toward the tip of the right needle (the yarn is underneath the right needle). Wrap the yarn around the right needle from back to front (fig. 5b). Be careful not to wrap it around the left needle, too.

Knit Stitch American-English Method 2
Knit Stitch, American-English Method: Figure 5b

Step 3: Keeping the yarn firmly tensioned in your right hand, bring the right needle toward you, pulling a new loop through the old stitch (fig. 5c).

Knit Stitch American-English Method 3
Knit Stitch, American-English Method: Figure 5c

Step 4: With the new stitch on the right needle, slip the old stitch off the left needle (fig. 5d). Unlike the cast-on, the new knit stitches are held on the right needle.

Knit Stitch American-English Method 4
Knit Stitch, American-English Method: Figure 5d

You have just knit your first stitch, American-English style. Repeat until all the cast-on stitches have been knit and are on the needle held in the right hand. Jump ahead to Knitting the Next Row, or cast on another 20 stitches and try the knit stitch, Continental style.

Knit Stitch, Continental Method

As in the American-English method, the yarn is always held behind the work when making the knit stitch.

Holding yarn, Continental method
Holding the yarn, using the Continental method

Step 1: Hold the working yarn and the needle with the cast-on stitches in your left hand and the empty needle in your right hand. Insert the empty needle into the first stitch on the left needle, from front to back (fig. 6a). The right needle is under the left needle.

Knit Stitch, Continental Method 1
Knit Stitch, Continental Method: Figure 6a

Step 2: Holding the yarn in your left hand, over the left forefinger and behind both needles, bring the yarn over the right needle from left to right as shown (fig. 6b). Be careful not to wrap it around the left needle.

Knit Stitch, Continental Method 2
Knit Stitch, Continental Method: Figure 6b

Step 3: Keeping the yarn firmly in your hand, pull the right needle and the yarn loop toward you, through the cast-on stitch (fig. 6c).

Knit Stitch, Continental Method 3
Knit Stitch, Continental Method: Figure 6c

Step 4: With the new stitch on the right needle, slip the old stitch off the left needle (fig. 6d). Unlike the cast-on stitches, the new knit stitches are held on the right needle.

Knit Stitch, Continental Method 4
Knit Stitch, Continental Method: Figure 6d

You have just knit your first stitch, Continental style. Repeat until all the cast-on stitches have been knit.

Knitting the Next Row, Either Style

The second and all subsequent knit rows are worked the same as the first: Knit each stitch on the needle in the left hand.

Step 1: When you have knit all the stitches from the left needle, turn the work, switching the needle with all the stitches on it from your right hand to your left.

Step 2: The working yarn is attached to the stitch closest to the needle tip. Insert the right needle into the first stitch and repeat the knitting steps across the first row, working into each of the stitches of the previous row instead of into the cast-on stitches.

Note: When beginning each new row, make sure the working yarn is beneath the needle holding the stitches and is not wrapped over the needle. If the working yarn is pulled upward, the first stitch will appear as two stitches, with both stitch loops appearing in front of the needle. If you knit both loops as single stitches, you'll increase the number of stitches on your needle. Remember, the front loop of each stitch should be in front of the needle and the back loop behind the needle (see Knit Loops and Purl Loops).

As soon as you feel comfortable making the knit stitch, you can try the easier projects in our Free Knitting Patterns collection. To finish these projects, you'll also need to practice binding off. For most projects, you'll also need to know the purl stitch, which you can learn about on the next page.

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