Knitting is a fun and productive way to spend your free time. Learning to knit can be a challenge at the best of times, but if you don’t start out with the right tools you may become overly frustrated and give up before you give yourself a real chance. Make sure you have these supplies and resources available before you pick up your instruction book:
The first thing you need are knitting needles. You can find knitting needles in any craft store or local yarn store, or even Wal-Mart (even though you won’t find a very good selection there). There are many different kinds of knitting needles: Metal, plastic, or wooden; straight, circular or double pointed. For a beginner it is best to get wooden straight needles. Straight needles are the standard type of needles you have always known: pointy sticks with a stopper at one end. It is best to get wooden needles (or bamboo needles) because they are less slippery than metal and your stitches are less likely to fall off the needle while you are knitting. Plastic needles also provide good friction, but are not usually as nice to work with as wooden needles. As you become a more experienced knitter you may want to switch to metal needles, as they allow you to knit faster.
Knitting needles also come in different sizes, which refer to the circumference of the needle. You will probably want to choose a US size 9, 10, or 11 to start knitting. These needles are of a medium size and are easy to handle and are large enough that you can see what you are doing. It is not a good idea to choose needles that are much larger than this, as they will become unwieldy. Choosing a medium needle over a small needle also means your knitting will go fast, a great encouragement to the beginning knitter.
You will also need yarn. There are so many different types of yarn available all with different traits. As you walk through aisles of yarn you will notice that some yarn is very thin and some is very thick, while some is fluffy and furry. You should never learn to knit with fluffy or furry or any other type of wacky yarn, as this will make it difficult to see what you are doing and these yarns are never easy to handle. You should choose yarn that is of average thickness as yarn that is too thin or thick will be difficult to work with. Look at the ball band (or label) on yarn to see its thickness. Yarns labeled “fingering,” “lace weight,” or “sport weight” are too thin. Yarns labeled “extra bulky” or “super bulky” are too thick. You want to choose a yarn labeled “worsted” or “bulky,” worsted being an average thickness and bulky being a step beyond that.
Most of all, choose a yarn that you like. Make sure you like the color and that you like the feel. You may be practicing with this yarn for awhile, so be sure that you love it!
Remember, these recommendations are only meant to make learning to knit easier. You can just as well learn to knit with the size 3 metal needles you found in your grandmother’s attic with a ball of sport weight yarn.
Knitting can be difficult at first, be the more you practice the more knitting will become second nature to you. Before long you’ll be able to knit without even thinking about it!