Beginner Friendly How-To Reference For Knitting & Crochet

Here’s a collection of step-by-step tutorials, videos and illustrated guides available online (for free!) that will teach you how to knit and crochet from start to finish. They’re also a great reference for those with some skills and experience but need a quick refresher.

Knit & Crochet Cover

This page is separated into two sections for easier browsing:

  • Knitting
  • Crochet

As always here on Tipnut, every resource provided is hassle-free with zero cost, no emails to submit or memberships to signup for. If that has changed, please let me know in the comments area below so I can replace it.

How To Knit

To work your way through this sheet, pick up a skein of low-cost, worsted weight acrylic yarn and a pair of regular needles in the size recommended on the label. Good options would be Red Heart Super Saver or Bernat Super Value since one or the other is widely available in most stores both online and locally. They recommend using a 5mm needle (U.S. 8).

The Difference Between a Ball, Skein or Hank of Yarn

Illustration of the Difference Between Yarn Balls, Skeins & Hanks

Types of Knitting Needles

Illustration Of Different Knitting Needles

Get the yarn ready by pulling the end from the center of the skein. Here’s a good instructive video full of tips on doing that: Finding the center pull for your skein. This is from an experienced crocheter and notice there’s no shame when things are messy–it’s just the way it goes sometimes ;).

Step One – Cast On

To begin, you first need to learn how to cast on. This is what is done to get the yarn on one needle so you can start a project.

Example of 8 Methods To Cast On: There are a few different ways to do this, this link will demonstrate the various methods.

I myself prefer the Long Tail method. It looks a little complicated at first, but once you get it–it’s super easy. At first you’ll leave yourself too short a tail a time or two, but you quickly figure it out and avoid doing it in the future ;).

Step Two – Basic Stitches

Next you need to learn the basics (k=knit and p=purl)…

Knit Examples

Learning How To Knit With Straight Needles
  • Continental & English Methods: There are two different ways to try, the Continental method (left hand) or the English method (right hand). See which one you prefer, it isn’t dependent on whether you are right handed or left handed. I myself use the English though some say the Continental is a lot quicker. These will also show you how to hold the yarn.
  • Image Examples: Here is a written tutorial with a few pictures to help you along (English Method).

Purl Examples

  • 4 Methods: Again there are different ways to doing this. If you find you prefer the Continental Method for the Knit stitch, keep consistent in all your work and do the Continental for Purl.
  • Image Examples: (Continental & English) Another excellent resource.

Step Three – Useful Things You Need To Know

You can now do a cast on, plus knit and purl. Next up: you’ll want to figure out increasing and decreasing (it’s very easy!) and changing colors.

Step Four – Finishing

Once you’ve made your piece, it’s time to cast off (or bind off) so it doesn’t unravel. You’ll also want to tidy up the ends (the strand at the beginning and end of the item) so there are no loose bits dangling.

Reading Patterns, Fixing Mistakes & Finding Help

Now that you know the basics, it’s a good idea to practice with easy projects—but first you’ll need to know how to read a pattern. See these useful pages:

Knitting Abbreviation Key

Fixing Mistakes

If you are a crocheter, you know it’s easy enough to rip out and find your way to the place where you made an error. Knitting–it’s not so simple. It takes a bit of experience and some knowledge of what the stitches should look like so you can spot where the error is and “unknit” or pull back to the spot.

I suggest practicing and taking some time to examine the output. Start with things like dishcloths so it’s not a big deal if they’re flawed a bit at first.

You’ll know when something looks wrong or when there’s a bit of a hole, be patient and examine it so you can understand why it happened and maybe figure out a way to fix it.

It also helps to look at mistakes as “opportunities” because you really do get more comfortable with finding and fixing things once you’ve messed up a few times.

When you’ve finished a row, pull out a stitch or two and see if you can figure out ways to work it back on the needle. This will take practice, but over time it won’t be as intimidating.

Here are a couple illustrations (along with instructions) that can assist you:

Showing How To Fix Dropped Stitches Illustration

If you drop a stitch it must be picked up and placed on the needle. Use a crochet hook to do this. Catch the loose one and work it up on the horizontal thread of each successive row until you reach the row on which you are working. Fig. 27 shows how it is done on the smooth surface of Stockinette and Fig. 28 illustrates the procedure on the purl side. For Garter you alternate these two movements.

Putting Stitches On The Needle After Ripping

Illustration Showing How To Put Stitches Back On Needles

Occasionally you will have to unravel back to make a correction, or you may wish to place your dropped stitch back on the needle. It is important that you replace them correctly as in Fig. 29 and 30 or the fabric will look twisted.

Source: The Canadian Spool Cotton Company (1948)

Changing Sizes

This is done very simply by knowing your measurements.

  • Then work a swatch to make sure your tension is same as in directions.
  • Then multiply the number of stitches per inch by the number of inches you wish any part of the garment increased in size and add the required number of stitches.

Watch as you proceed and be sure to decrease or increase to give garment the correct size and shaping for the different parts.

Watch shoulder width, depth of armhole and shape of neckline.

Finding Help

Why not join a forum where experts and newbies alike help each other (like this one). You can also take a project to the local yarn shop, they usually have experienced people on staff that would be happy to help you fix a mistake (if they’re not busy)–it does help if you are a customer of theirs. Ask them too if they know of any groups that meet in your area. You should know at least the basics and be comfortable with the craft before joining one (depending on the group), but they’re a fantastic way to discover new techniques and mentor each other.

The internet is a great source of guidance with new stitches to try, here are a few goodies you might like to experiment with:

Best Beginner Projects

Once you’ve figured out the gist of things and are comfortable with holding yarn, handling needles and reading patterns, you’ll be able to move onto easy-to-make beginner projects like these:

These kinds of items are ideal to start with because they’re very repetitive, giving your hands a chance to limber up and get used to the needles. Your brain also has a chance to build up its knitting “muscle memory”. This is why you can pick up crafts like knitting and crochet after years of not doing it…it takes a minute or two to figure out but muscle memory kicks in quickly and you’re off and running again.

Patterns for nearly everything you want to make can be found online for free. This is a wonderful (and productive) hobby to enjoy, have fun!

How To Crochet

In the intro to the knitting section above, I recommended a couple brands of good yarns to practice with (Red Heart Super Saver or Bernat Super Value). Pick up a 5.00mm crochet hook, size H/8 (as recommended on the labels) and you’ll have all you need to work through the tutorials below.

Afghan Making Supplies, Yarn & Crochet Hook

Note: There is quite a range of options when deciding on what sets of crochet hooks to buy, some focus on a comfortable grip, others the weight and ergonomics (to reduce hand strain). I’d recommend just picking up a single hook in the size required for now, even for the next few pieces you whip up.

As you gain experience with crocheting, you’ll more fully understand and appreciate the benefits some expensive sets provide before deciding on what features to invest in…or…you might find that you’re quite satisfied with a regular hook.

This will also keep startup expenses minimal, which can quickly become overwhelming for beginners if you start tallying the costs for larger projects (such as afghans).

Step One – Getting Started

The first thing you need to learn is how to make a slip knot and attach the yarn to the hook as well as holding the yarn and hook.

Demonstration Of How To Crochet Rounds

You’ll also need to learn chain stitches, these are “chains or loops” that you’ll use to get a garment started. If you’re a knitter, the chains serve a similar purpose to “Casting On”, they’re the foundation of the piece.

Slip Knots & Chains:

Holding The Yarn & Hook

Step Two – Basic Stitches

With the foundation chain made, now you’re ready to practice a few stitches. At this point why not make a chain of 20 and then practice those below by doing a row of each until you’ve got them down pat.

Tip: It’s worthwhile purchasing a book of stitches to keep on hand for easy reference, I’ve found a few at yard sales for just a couple dollars and they’re life-long guides–keep your eyes out for these treasures. If there’s something that you just can’t figure out, do an online search for it…you can also search on sites like YouTube, plenty of videos available demonstrating examples. Another idea is to print off online tutorials as you find them and make your own binder or book to have as a reference.

Step Three – Working With Yarn

Chances are you’ll run out in the middle of a project and need to start a new ball, or you may want to change colors. Here is a tutorial with a good demonstration:

Step Four – Finishing Up

After an item is complete, you’ll have some loose bits to clean up (both from the beginning and end of a project). Clean up is simple, here are a few tutorials:

Working With Patterns

Now that you can start a project and have the basics down pat, it’s time to tackle patterns.

Crochet Abbreviations Key

First you need to figure out how to interpret or read them, here are a few resources:

No matter how advanced a crocheter you are, it’s always nice to keep an abbreviation chart close at hand. These are commonly found throughout instructions.

Click the image at the right to download a pdf I made that can be laminated, it’s a nice bookmark size so it won’t get lost easily.

Next, work simple projects at first until you’re comfortable holding the yarn and working the stitches. This also gives you practice reading simple patterns.

Some suggestions (all loaded with freebies):

I also mentioned baby blankets, scarves and dishcloths in the knitting section above, they’re ideal too (the links in the above section contain both knitting & crochet freebies). Whip up a few dishcloths and you’ll have the various stitches down pat in no time!

Once you’ve conquered simple projects and are comfortable, you can start on more advanced garments such as mittens & fingerless gloves or wee charmers for embellishments like crocheted flowers.

There are a ton of freebies online for you to start with, try choosing those that teach you new designs and techniques as you go. Eventually the advanced stuff will come more naturally and easily.

Have fun!

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    • Aleta

    Just learning To knit

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