Best Way to Teach an Adult to Knit

Hi guys!

Have any of you taught someone to knit before? My stepmom would like me to show her (we live in different states but are taking a short vacation together in a couple of weeks).

What do you think the best size needles and yarn to start with would be? I think I learned using some larger needles - maybe size 13? And I learned with bamboo straight needles. Does that sound good or should I start her with something used more often like size 7s?

I am left handed and knit Continental; she is right handed. I plan to teach her Continental, although I can knit English, too. I generally just use English if I am doing stranded work. And I am going to try to get through casting on, knit stitch, purl stitch, and casting off.

I am hopeful that if I can get her going with that, I can refer her here to look at videos if she gets confused later. However, I find that people seem really resistant to just hopping on here and getting started without in-person instruction, at least the people I have talked to who expressed an interest in learning to knit.

IMO the larger needles can be harder. So I’d go with a size 8 or 9 US. Bamboo straights are fine to start with. I’d also suggest a soft, light colored solid, smooth yarn. No fuzzy or novelty yarn because you want her to be able to see her stitches easily and have success early on. Can’t wait to hear how she does!

Thanks Jan!

I think I have some Brava and a few sizes of straights in bamboo I can give to her. I hope she enjoys knitting and that I do a good job teaching her. :slight_smile:

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You can order some DVD’s for her to watch. I did this for my DIL to learn by when she wanted to learn. She is left handed and I am right. Got a little confusing but she is doing better with the dvd’s than with me. Just a thought.


I have been teaching a Learn-to-Knit class at my church for the past couple of years!! (not to say that I’m an expert or anything, just so you know my background) Even though I am right-handed and currently use the Continental method, I start my “newbies” out with the English method. If you want, you could demonstrate both for your friend and let her choose. There really isn’t any “right” or “wrong” method OR any knitting police out there. Just let her do what’s most comfortable for her!!!

I also recommend needles in size 9 or 10 and a smooth, light colored yarn for the first lessons. Your student will want/need to be able to see what she’s doing and how to “read” her stitches as she goes along.

Videos can also help, once your vacation is over. There’s this site and tons of others, as well as library books for future reference!!!

hth, knitcindy

I’ve taught new knitters the Continental method before and the only downside is it requires a little bit more fine motor dexterity. I’d say go for it with her. The method you are most comfortable with is the method you are likely to teach the best.

So happy to hear you’ll be passing on your knitting know-how to someone else! Kudos to you!

When I recently taught a friend to knit, I stuck with one method–mainly because I wanted to keep confusion levels down, and I wanted her to remember, first and foremost, the basic stitches. Then at the end of our very short session, I told her that there are many MANY different ways to knit, and at some point she should investigate them and find the one she likes best.

I learned on straight needles, and experienced knitters strongly recommend starting people on straights, too; however, I’m beginning to wonder if this is some kind of weird, difficult initiation rite into the knitting world–like maybe the thinking is that everyone should start off using the [U]most difficult method[/U] out there and then once they get the hang of it, oh, look here’s a much easier way to do what you’ve been agonizing over–use circular needles. To me, that’s pure stupidity! Why not teach people using the easiest method? And then maybe they won’t give up (as I almost did) because of the tools we’re making them use! So I say [B]start her on circs![/B] A simple explanation of how to knit back and forth as opposed to knitting in the round should be sufficient to unconfuse anyone about these attached needles.

I taught an adult how to knit two weeks ago, but don’t know how I did it. Hopefully, you’re better at explaining things than I am. :teehee:
Best of luck!!! :thumbsup:

One thing I ask, is if someone has done crochet before. If so, they may naturally want to hold the yarn in the left hand, which can make Continental a natural starting point. But it does require more dexterity as Jeremy said, so if the person is easily frustrated, or seems to be on the less dexterous side, I start with English, then they can explore Continental from there if they’re interested. (But that’s just what I do, and I change my own rules fairly often. Lest I sound rigid. :teehee: )

I like the idea of being flexible to see which method she takes to. When I was taught (as an adult) the instructor insisted I learn English. My brain just does not compute that! I tried, but continental was a more natural method for me. I still try to knit English on occasion, but it is really awkward for me. I think its great you are getting to pass along this wonderful skill! I hope you enjoy your time together.

I crocheted for years and found continental awkward at first so I learned english. I can knit either way now, but I still gravitate to what I do best and is easiest for me. :teehee:

I had a friend show me how to knit English style and I almost gave up. I realized after that she didn’t show me hand/yarn placement. I actually thought that continental would have been better for me to learn first as there is less movement so I felt that I had better control of the yarn. I have been knitting now since mid March and use several methods to knit and purl

My left hand moves more when I knit continental than it does english.

I teach adults to knit the same way I teach kids to knit.
English method[/B] (cuz that’s what I do)…then…

  1. Cast on
  2. Knit stitch
  3. Bind off
  4. how to pick up a dropped stitch using a crochet hook
  5. how to recognize a twisted stitch, and a dropped stitch

Using worsted, or bulky yarn, and US9-11 needles, preferably wood.

Let the knitter master a garter stitch scarf, or dishcloth…then move on to purls, and other fancy stitches. They need that hand memory mojo rolling before they move on.

IMHO. :wink:

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