Learning to Knit

I have taken on a project of teaching a few college girls to knit. (Few?! Seven came to the first meeting!)

I started them off with a very simple cast-on and got them started with the knit stitch, but several of them are having trouble with it.

What tips have you been given (on simple knitting) that got you over that annoying learning period?

What did it for me was a combination of 2 things, repetition and large scale seeing the cast on stitches and knit stitches being formed.

On diynetwork, there was a show (the videos are online) that showed long tail cast on. The instructor used large dark colored wooden needles and a very thick bright pink yarn. The contrasting colors made it VERY easy to see what she was doing. Unfortunately, though she didn’t do as many cast ons as I needed to catch on.

What really drove it home for me were in Amy’s videos where she keeps repeating the stitches over and over and over so I can really get a concept. She’s also got the close ups, and she goes in slow motion instead of knitting at 90mph like I’ve seen some folks do in other videos.

Now, that’s just for me…you would need to consider what kind of learners you have. Do they learn better by having something explained with words (audio) or do they like looking at pictures with captions explaining the pictures (audio/visual) or do they like to watch things being done a few times and then trying it on their own? And then you’ll have the rare person who needs all three (moi).

If I need to learn something completely new, and I don’t know the terminology I need to read about it, have it explained to me a couple of times, shown to me and then I need to try it myself. After that I pretty much have things down pat!

You also might want to sit down right next to them and ask them to try a row or two of whatever stitch is givng them trouble so you can see exactly what part of it they are having trouble with. You might just have a ‘knitters language’ barrier!

Hope this helps you!


I taught a couple of my students at school, 6th graders, to knit last year. They were awful at first, but something that helped them (I think) was me watching them with an eagle eye while they formed their stitches; eventually something “clicked” in the brain and they were off and running with it. I had them learn on some cheap cotten varigated yarn, and the colors seemed to help them realize when they made a mistake (for instance, their row was mostly green with a random yallow stitch in it they knew they messed up). I had started them on gigantic needles, and then we backed off to a more medium size (from 11s to 7s I think) and that seemed to help them too.

foldedbird, great tips! Thanks!

Hildegard_von_Knitti, I thought varigated yarn would be confusing, but you’ve got a great point!

I’m going to give them all some copies of a couple of pictures of knitting and purling next week. Hopefully that will help them when they are working during the week. I may have to make a deal with Amy so they can all have a copy of her great videos!

My mom used to knit as a young girl. I just ‘retaught’ her how (she’s 58 now). Anyway, she insisted at first trying to knit exactly as I do, Continental style, and got extremely frustrated. When it seemed we were both going to throttle each other, I showed her pages of different ways to hold the yarn from various books and told her to try them. She tried different wraps, and then tried English style, and immediately held the yarn and needles correctly and had no problem continuing to knit! It was like she clicked in on the way she used to knit (but had forgotten until that point). Miracle!

It took me a few weeks when I was teaching myself how to knit to click in on a way to hold my yarn and needles so I could knit effortlessly. I think I knit pretty strangely - at least I haven’t met anyone who does it similarly. I hold it Continental and then I tend to move my left index finger to wrap the yarn around my needle vs. moving my needle to wrap the yarn around it. And I’m right-handed. Works for me. Perhaps your students just need to experiment with different holds?

That’s a good idea. I was afraid of confusing them, but maybe if they try a couple of different styles they’ll find one that feels comfortable. I’ll try that!