New Knitting Guy needs help

So I am new to knitting, very new…I am going out to get my first set of needles and yarn this weekend. I have been watching my wife crochet for a few years now and I miss the sweaters that my grandmother used to make for me. Because of this I have decided to learn to knit, I also figure it will help with dexterity and zenning out.

What are your suggestions for the size of needles that I need, the size of yarn and a good project for learning?

I have spent the past hour or so looking at knitting and craft websites and this seems to be a good place to start, so a pattern here would be great.


Welcome to KH and to knitting. I think you’re gonna love it!

I suggest worsted weight yarn in a light solid color and US size 9 or 10 knitting needles to start. With a light color yarn it’s easy to see your stitches and the worsted weight yarn is easier to work with than skinnier stuff. You’ll want a yarn that’s smoother rather than a fuzzy or bumpy yarn. I’d suggest cheap acrylic for practicing, such as Red Hear Super Saver. It will stand up to repeated ripping out and when it gets frayed you can cut it off and toss it away.

Hi Dave, Welcome!

Yes a smooth, light colored medium weight yarn and about size 10 needles are good. I think the circular needles are easier to lean on than straight ones as you don’t have to balance the ends as you learn and remember how to make stitches and wrap the yarn. The circs are more versatile as you can use them for both flat knitting as well as in the round.

Good point about the circs, suzeeq. Plus, it’s much easier to retrieve a dropped needle when it’s on a leash!

So does that mean because I am a guy that I am going to be all thumbs as I start out? I’m not even forty yet, and a Soldier… I think I will pick up the circular ones.

If you’re good at texting, being all thumbes might be an advantage!
Lots of guy knitters here, too.
I like circulars and I thnk it’s a great idea to start out on them.

I am a female and a long-time crocheter, an editor who types a lot, and a former piano player, but when I first started trying to knit, I was [U]still[/U] very much all thumbs! So I don’t think it has anything to do with gender or even hand dexterity; however, I have noticed that those who excel at mastering repetitive hand motions (without getting carpal tunnel, let us hope) tend to pick up knitting/crocheting faster.

In short, though, we were all “all thumbs” when we first started. It just comes with the territory. And if you accept this fact, then you’re much less likely to get frustrated with yourself as you learn.

Welcome to the forum and to the wonderful wacky world of knitting. With help from this site, you can do [B]anything[/B] knit-wise and crochet-wise!

:zombie: Nope, it’s gender-nonspecific. If you’d seen me recently with dpns you’d have sworn off knitting before you started. :roflhard: I’m always dropping a needle for one reason (or none) or another. When I do, my chair [I]eats[/I] it. When I put my knitting down and come back to pick it up, one needle almost invariably will get dropped…I do prefer my wild needles tamed with a leash. :wink:

You’re a soldier. Thank you.

All I can say is “go for it” - I’m an obsessed knitter. Drives my partner spare! haha

Love it big time. If you can pick up a “teach your self to knit” book. Patons sell an excellent one here (I’m sure you can get something similar).

My adivice? Start knitting a scarf, it’ll sort out your tension and get you comfortable with the feel of yarn - wrangling …

As a guy (and former soldier) who didn’t learn until after 50 (and is missing 3 fingers on my left hand) my reflexive answer is “Yes!” But I don’t think it’s necessarily gender or occupation related. EVERYBODY starts out that way. It’s like learning anything else. And dexterity is dexterity whatever you’re doing.

Guys tend to have larger hands, so when you’re starting out I’d avoid doing hats in the round as a first project. You’ll eventually wind up using a 16" circular, which typically have very short tips which – for ME at least – were a little hard to manage at first. I’d say don’t do what I did and jump in the deep end all at once. start with the most basic thing you can find. A scarf, a potholder, or even just a swatch. Something flat and rectangular anyway, that doesn’t require any shaping. And as boring as it will seem to you later, just start with a simple garter stitch (where you knit every row), then advance to stockinette (and beyond) after you’ve gotten the hang of that.

For yarn, I would recommend finding something that doesn’t split easily. If you’re not sure, roll a strand of it between your fingers and see if it starts coming unplied (untwisted). If it starts unraveling right off the bat, it’s probably best to avoid it until you’ve done a couple of things. Almost EVERY yarn will do this to some degree, but what you’re trying to avoid is the stuff that starts falling apart as soon as you touch it. You’ll also want to avoid the “furry, fuzzy” yarns or any of the fancy art yarns that change thickness. stick with the most string-like stuff you can find for the first project. You’ll be a lot less frustrated.

Looks like you’ve already gotten lots of recommendations on needles, but I’d second any motion that says start with a US 8 or 9 – or even larger. The bigger the needles are, the easier it is to see the structure of the stitches in the fabric you’re making, and THIS will help you more than anything else in the learning process.

And (this is important) knitting is NOT machining, nor is it rocket science. You can’t hold tolerances down to 0.005" with yarn, it just doesn’t behave that way. I had to figure this out after many, many hours of wrapping the yarn tight around the needle in a vain attempt to make all the stitches the same size. It worked as far as THAT went, but the stitches were so tight that knitting them – especially if there were any increases or decreases – sometimes involved industrial lubricants and a ball peen hammer. This is NOT recommended.

Also, be prepared to do stuff wrong. And when you do, take notice that the world is still on its axis and the International Space Station is still in orbit. The absolute WORST thing that can happen is you’ll find yourself pulling out a bunch of stitches and starting over.

Welcome to the dark side!

But you can use a longer circular for hats. I do mine on 24 and 29/30" ones, using single loop. Sometimes after a few inches, the sts fit on the 24s without looping, until the decreases. So hats are totally doable.

My philosophy for circs is to err on the too long side. I can make a loop to knit fewer stitches but I’ve yet to manage stretching the darned thing. That’s why I got my Options set. LOL I can change the cable length whenever I want.

I knew when I saw your name you are a soldier. My husband was Active but now National Guard. So first off Thank you for your service. :slight_smile: Secondly, I used larger needles and worsted yarn to start out (been knitting for about two months now). I am an avid crocheter and have had a very hard time learning to knit. To me one hook is better than two needles at least that’s what I thought. I’m now hooked on knitting. I also have problems with fine motor skills so knitting is even harder because of that and I’m doing fine. :slight_smile: If you have a hobby lobby near you I would suggest their in house brand (softer than red heart). Also, don’t let the guys rib you. You will…are in charge so make them learn to. LOL Call it punishment. HAHA. Laughing at the image in my head. A bunch of soldiers in uniform in a knitting circle. :slight_smile:

First and foremost, Thank You all for your advice and good natured replies. I am looking forward to getting started.

Right now I live in Germany and went out this weekend to pick up some simple supplies with no luck. All the stores in this area are of course in metric and geared much more for the more advanced knitter. I could have picked up some needles and yarn but I decided to go online and do an order. I am now, rather impatiently awaiting my circular needles and a couple of teach your self to knit type books. I have also bookmarked a few video’s here and on You Tube to use as instructions.

My biggest hope is that in a few weeks I will be good enough to be able to knit while on the train to where ever we decide to go that weekend. Also if I get good enough in the next couple of years I can use it as an excuse to shoot over to Ireland to shop for true Aran yarn.:woohoo:

Sounds like a great plan. Enjoy your time in Germany which is a wonderful place for knitters. Hope your yarn and needles order arrives soon!

If you look at Ebay they usually sell needles in lots. It’s actually cheaper than buying individually. i hear Germany is very pretty. :slight_smile:

Ahhh, if you had mentioned your location we could have given you ‘metric’ advice as well. For needles a 6mm is the same as size 10, and they don’t have yarns listed as worsted or bulky, but go by the label gauges, so one that says something like 20m by 28r on 5 needles would be close to it.

Sure! Hats are one of the easier things to make (which accounts for why I make so many!) I just wouldn’t recommend it as a [I]first[/I] project. Sooner or later you have to make peace with a circular with short tips, but I found them hard to manage until I got a little more comfortable. That said, my first experiences were on straight needles, so getting used to the (relatively) shorter tips on circulars – even the longer ones – took a bit of adjustment in general.

When I’m teaching a new knitter to knit their first sweater, here is the criteria I look for with regards to the pattern itself:

  1. dropped shoulder… sometimes called ‘dropped sleeve’ (eliminates armhole shaping)
  2. worked flat (as opposed to ‘in-the-round’)
  3. bottom-up construction, 4 separate pieces for pullover
  4. simple pattern stitch (no cables, no lace)
  5. pullover (no futzy button bands and buttonholes)

Succeed with this criteria, you’ll feel confident to branch out, spread your wings.
Take on a pattern beyond your skills, you may fail miserably, and tank knitting altogether.


It is a free pattern! Click link below:

I personally love this ‘style’ of pullover. It’s also okay for women, too.