In 2010, I decided it was time to try and learn how to knit. Without really know anything about yarn, needle sizes or even knowing stitches, I headed to the bookstore and took to Youtube for tutorials. I’ll be honest, I didn’t do well. I researched the correct tools and materials, purchased what I needed and part of me expected to pick up the craft easily which definitely was not the case. Stitches that were too tight…then too lose…lopsided edges…dropped stitches…it was a mess, however, not unexpected for someone who was learning a new skill. It got to a point where I really didn’t enjoy it and put the needles in a box, shoving them into my closet. Fast forward to 2012 when I was expecting my first baby and I desperately wanted to make something handmade for my newborn. I heard about crocheting but didn’t know much about it. Once again, I found myself at the craft store adding hooks and yarn to my basket and goodness, look where that went!
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Crochet was easier for me to understand and the stitches came more naturally to me. I quickly became obsessed and absolutely LOVED it. I still felt a pull towards knitting and tried again off and on but without much success. Finally in December 2022 I told myself this was it and I was going to learn the basics of knitting.
I don’t know what changed but it finally clicked and two weeks later, I had a simple knit hat my hands. I was over the moon, felt such a sense of accomplishment and had a strong pull to keep going. Unlike previous attempts, I didn’t want to put my needles down! It was refreshing and so exciting to have picked up a new skill and hobby.
I’m still a beginner. I haven’t strayed much from the trusty knit and purl stitches but I’m okay with that. There’s a lot you can do with those basic beginner stitches and the repetition of using them is so relaxing and enjoyable for me now.
I’ve seen a few posts float around various knit and crochet Facebook groups with people asking “I’m a crocheter but I want to learn how to knit. Any tips or advice?” and it got me thinking that my experience might make a helpful blog post.
As a crocheter learning to knit, here are some tips and tools that I have found helpful on my journey. Please keep in mind that this is my own experience and I’m still very much a beginner and learning.
You’ll notice that many of my affiliate links point to Knit Picks. I was not asked to purchase these items or write this article mentioning them. I love using their products and find them reliable, well made and fairly priced.
I’ve been crocheting for 11 years now and am quite comfortable and confident in yarn and the various fibres and weight available. Knowing what to use for different projects, yardage details….all that stuff. That knowledge is absolutely transferable to knitting. Want to knit a thick and cozy hat for winter? Just like in crochet, you’ll most likely use a super bulky weight yarn. Want to make a scarf? Pick out a soft worsted. Typically the same type of knit and crochet projects use the same if not similar yarn weights.
Just like crochet, you might find yourself with a preference to a particular yarn brand or weight depending on what you’re knitting. You might also find that some yarn works up better with certain stitches and projects. For example, in both crochet and knit, a beautiful texture will show off better with a solid yarn shade rather than a busy variegated mix. Sometimes you want the stitches to take centre stage and sometimes you want to display an amazing colourway. Those considerations happen in knitting too!
Types of Knitting Needles
Just like crochet hooks, there is a whole world of knitting needles. Also just like crochet hooks, you’ll find that you have preferences!
You’re probably most familiar with single pointed straight needles. Those are the ones you usually see in movies and tv when people are knitting something. Typical needles have a point on one end and a built in stopper on the end which often displays the needle size/brand or offers a decorative accent. Lengthwise, they come in a few sizes but most popular is usually 10 inches or 14 inches. Different sizes are needed depending on your project.
Circular needles are two needles smaller in length that joined together. The top tip on each needle has a point and the bottom tips are joined by a cord that is flexible making it easy to move stitches along and squish together. Circular needles can be used to knit flat projects (although I haven’t tried that yet), but they are most popular for knitting in the round. You have to make sure your circulars will work for your project in two ways: the width of the needle but also the length of the cord. Smaller cord lengths are good for smaller projects while longer cord lengths make them good for larger projects. Some circular needles come in a handy set and contain popular needle sizes but also various cable lengths that can interchanged. Funny story: when I originally tried knitting in 2010, I started with single point straight needles. When I picked up knitting again in 2022, I started with circulars and was immediately hooked. I had a lot more success and really, really loved using them. I still have yet to pick up my single pointed straight needles from years ago. Circulars for life! I absolutely love them.
Next you have double pointed needles (also called DPN’s) which have a point on both ends and usually come in a set of 4 or 5 (all the same size). These are used to knit in the round and are shorter than single pointed straight needles (usually 6, 7 or 8 inches). You generally use all the included DPN’s at the same time for decreasing or knitting items like socks and hats. The stitches are divided onto each needle with the unused needle left to work your stitches. It can get really crazy and the first time I used DPN’s, it was definitely confusing. BUT, it sounds more complicated than it is and once you do it a few times, you’ll see the mechanics of it. There are some really helpful YouTube videos that focus on using DPN’s.
Knitting needles also come in various sizes just like crochet hooks do. You’ll need to make sure that you’re using the correct needle for the yarn or whatever needle size is needed for your specific project.
The needles seen below are from Knit Pick. View the 8 inch (8mm) double pointed needles I purchased here and the 16 inch (8mm) circular needles here.
Knitting Needle Hold:
I’m a firm believer that there is no right or wrong way to hold a crochet hook or set of knitting needles. If you have a way that works and is comfortable for you, do your thing! Crochet has “knife” and “grip” holds. Neither is better than the other. Knitting has two specific styles, continental and english which simply refers to the way you hold your working yarn as your make your stitches. Continental uses your left, english uses your right. In my process of learning to knit, I seem to have settled on a messy version of continental with some habits pulled from the way I hold my yarn while crocheting. It doesn’t seem to affect my stitches or my work so I’m just going with it because it works for me. I did try learning the “proper” methods of continental and english but it didn’t feel natural to me and I went back to my own style.
Knitting Needle Materials:
Again…just like crochet hooks (see a trend?), knitting needles are made out of different materials. Aluminum, steel, bamboo, wood, acrylic….they all feel very different and have various price points. Depending on your budget and your preference, you might gravitate to a particular brand or style. Some needles have a more defined point which helped me to poke through the stitches more easily (I tend to like those the best). Knitting needles can also be enjoyed simply for their appearance which makes them especially fun to use. You might end up with a very neat and tidy collection of one brand/style or you might end up on the path that I seem to be on where you’re interested in trying different needles and end up with a mish-mash! Buy what you love using and what you find the most comfortable. Personally, I gravitate to the wood and bamboo needles because I like how they glide through the stitches and feel in my hands.
Tools and Notions:
There isn’t a huge difference in tools needed between crochet and knit crafts. Here is a list of items (aside from the usual needles, scissors, measuring tape and project bag) that you might find helpful (based on my own experience). Check your crochet stash! You might be using some of these already!
- Stitch markers: Crochet often uses locking stitch markers which you can definitely use in knitting! They slide off and onto your needles as you change rounds so locking stitch markers don’t typically need to be opened and closed. You might see simple, circular stitch markers or split ring stitch markers that are used for this purpose. Double check that they will fit around the needle you are using because they do come in different sizes. Stitch markers are especially helpful in working in the round and knowing when one rounds ends and the next begins or marking a specific spot between stitches. If you want to mark a particular stitch or spot for later stick with locking stitch markers so it can be easily removed at a later point. Check out these locking stitch markers and circular markers.
- Point Protectors: These are useful and can save you from a headache when you need to put your project down. Usually made of a flexible rubber material, point protectors slip over or cover the pointed tip of your needles and help keep the stitches from sliding off. They come in different size to fit the various needle sizes. These are super handy to have in your project bag when you need to stash your project away. Check out these point protectors.
- Yarn Swift: This isn’t a necessity but it certainly makes things easier. Some yarn, especially those found in lovely local yarn shops can come twisted in the form of a hank. A yarn swift is a wonderful way to keep that beautiful yarn from twisting and knotting as you wind it up. Handy for crochet and knitting! This birch one is beautiful.
- Yarn Winder: Probably less of a need than a yarn swift but equally helpful as it winds your yarn into sweet little cakes that are perfect for stacking, storing and having your yarn ready to go! This is the one I use.
- Traveling Glossary Card: I added this item on to my order at the last second and I’m so glad I did. A perfectly sized note card that contains abbreviations for popular knitting stitches and instructions. If you’re a beginner like me, it’s very helpful to have on hand. I keep this one in my project bag.
If you are someone who learns best by one-on-one instruction, consider asking a friend or family member who knits if they would be able to help teach you some basics. I’m sure most people would be thrilled to share and pass on their knowledge of a beloved craft. If you are in a situation where that isn’t an option, you could look to your local library or community centre for any groups that might gather to knit and crochet. Facebook is also helpful with their many options of knitting groups that offer opportunities to post questions and seek advice.
Youtube has some incredible video tutorials for learning the basics. Check out these channels (they have been so helpful in teaching me):
- B.Hooked Knitting – Brittany has an extensive collection of well made and beautifully presented tutorials and beginner friendly patterns.
- The Knitting Crowd – If you are familiar with Mikey from The Crochet Crowd, you know how helpful and detailed their tutorials are. The Knitting Crowd was launched by Mikey and contains some really fantastic videos for beginners.
- Edie Eckman – Edie is absolutely wonderful and has a mix of crochet and knit tutorials and tips. Look up how to cast on your knitting project using a crochet hook!
- RJ Knits – Tons of beginner friendly video tutorials and patterns.
Books are a great option too!
The first (and only) book I’ve purchased to teach me how to knit was Stitch n’ Bitch: The Knitters Handbook by Debbie Stoller. This book is bursting with photos, diagrams, helpful details about yarn and needles….anything you can imagine about learning to knit is in this book. I did discover that while very detailed, I learned knitting best through YouTube videos. I do return to this book though from time to time though and it is definitely a good one to have on your shelf.
Patterns I Used:
Once I learned how to cast on, knit and purl, I was very eager to actually make a project. When I tried to learn years ago, I practiced making squares with straight needles. When I returned to knitting in 2022 to try again, I used circulars to make simple hats which worked so much better for me. Here are some links to the patterns I found most helpful and were easy to follow as a beginner. They’re all hats but I found those were the most successful beginner projects for me.
- The Cranmore Hat designed by CarrotTops by Lulu. This is a paid pattern on Etsy and really beautiful to knit. If you can knit and purl, you can make this hat!
- Everyday Knit Hat for Medium & Light Weight Yarn designed by B.Hooked. I really love this pattern and have made quite a few hats with it.
- Super Bulky Knit Hats designed by Sewrella. I love, love, love knitting with bulky yarn. This hat is a great one and works up quickly.
- Super Simple, Super Bulky Knit Hat designed by The Knit McKinley. A classic knit hat with a really fantastic fit.
Things I Want to Learn:
Eventually, I’d like to move beyond the simple knit and purl stitches so I can add more visual appeal and texture to my projects. I would love to learn how to knit cables and perhaps even a sweater one day! All these things will take practice and patience.
- Take your time. You can’t jump ahead to advanced stuff without knowing the basics.
- If you need to take step back and take a break, that’s okay!
- You don’t need to invest a ton of money to start knitting. You can find reasonably priced needles at Walmart, Michaels, Knit Picks, etc. As a crocheter, you probably have everything else that you need like yarn, scissors, stitch markers, etc.
- It’s okay to have your own methods. Don’t stress too much about holding your yarn and needles in traditional ways. Knitting should be enjoyable and comfortable. Do it in a way that works for you.
- Beginner projects look different for everyone. I started with the traditional squares and swatches but had much more success in understanding the stitches and tension in a practical item like a hat. YouTube was a great resource for visual tutorials and patterns. Learning and practicing doesn’t always mean “start with a square”. If what you’re working on isn’t making sense, try learning with a different pattern or tutorial.
- There are so many different videos, websites and books that offer knitting tutorials and pattern. They’re also all presented in different ways and you might find yourself being drawn to a particular one based on how you connect with the way it’s explained.
And this is my journey as a crocheter learning how to knit. I’m still crocheting very regularly and as it’s the focus of my business, it’s an important thing for me to do! I also really, really love it. Knitting does provide a fun new way for me to explore and work with yarn and it can be a nice break when I need to switch gears for a bit if I’m experiencing a pattern block while designing a crochet pattern. If you’re a crocheter looking to expand into the world of knitting, I’d say to give it a go! Be careful though….once you get going, your “patterns to make” list might get a bit longer!