Knitting 101… or something like that

Let me start by saying I am by no means a knitting wizard. I haven’t mastered the craft but I’ve learnt a little bit. A couple friends have asked for some lessons/help with knitting so I figured, why not put together a post.

When I was around 12 my mom taught me how to do a basic knit, but I only recently taught myself how to purl and read patterns. I had a couple of books that I tried to use to help me out but I’m more visual but thank you internet! Thanks to you YouTube.

There are some basic things you need to know to start off. You will need a set of needles and some yarn. There are two stitches: knit and purl. I would suggest trying to master one before learning the other. Start off with a knit stitch.

BUT before you can do that though you have to cast on, that means you have to get some stitches on your needle to start before you can begin knitting.

Hop on to youtube and type in something like how to cast on for beginners. I didn’t find any that do it the way I do, so look at a few to get a handle of it. People have different techniques so find one that works for you.

Once you’ve got a handle on that, learn how to do a knit stitch. I recommend this video as it shows how to knit with the yarn held in the left hand (I find I knit much faster with this way)

If you already know how to do that, or feel comfortable with that stitch. Here’s the purl.

It’s pretty easy to get under control (after some practice).

Now once you know how to do the two stitches you can do anything!

Reading patterns may look like a challenge but once you know the lingo its super easy. has this great knitting abbreviation chart to refer to – here. Bookmark that!

The great thing about the internet is that if you don’t know how to do something listed you can google it or look it up on YouTube.


Lets look at a pattern for the raspberry stitch. (click the link for a video that demonstrates the how to)

Cast on a multiple of 4 + 2 stitches
1st and 3rd rows: Purl
2nd row: K1, *(K1, P1, K1) into the next st, P3tog, repeat from * to last st, K1
4th row: K1, *P3tog, (K1, P1, K1) into the next st, repeat from * to last stitch, K1
Rows 1 – 4 form pattern. Repeat for desired length.

Here is a legend to help you figure those codes out.
K1 = Knit 1
*   = repeat pattern following asterisk as directed
( ) = you are going to repeat the items in these brackets
P1 = Purl 1
P3tog = Purl 3 together (take three stitches, purl them together as if purling one)
st = stitch

So, for this pattern once you cast on (multiple of 4 stitches plus 2 extra) your first row is purl.
2nd row: knit 1, then repeat the pattern of knit 1, purl 1, knit 1 then purl 3 together, back to the brackets of knit 1, purl 1, knit 1 then purl 3 together. Repeat that until you have 1 stitch left which you will knit.
3rd row: purl entire row.
4th row: knit 1, then repeat pattern of purl 3 together, knit 1, purl 1, knit 1 then purl 3 together repeat until last stitch which you will knit.

Keep going with the pattern until you have the length you are looking for and then cast off. In the end it should look something like this…

When you are starting to read patterns you are bound to make mistakes and that’s ok! Practice makes perfect right? A great place to find free patterns is Ravelry.

Right now I’m working on my very own lopapeysa – Icelandic sweater. I’ve finished the body and one sleeve, so I have another sleeve to go before I start the ‘yoke’ which I’ve never done before. Bring it on. In the end I think I’ll be able to consider it authentic. I’m using an Icelandic pattern and Icelandic wool that I brought home with me… Plus I’m part Icelandic so… yeah it’ll count. I’ll post photos when I’m finished!

Update: I finished the lopapeysa! Check it out here!


  1. November 6, 2012 / 4:36 pm

    As a self-taught knitter, I’d love to be able to make a lopapeysa! I’ve found that I do better with shorter and simpler things sadly.

    • November 6, 2012 / 6:21 pm

      I’m really hoping it turns out. I’ve gotten most of the easy stuff out of the way, really hoping I don’t mess it up when I try to attach the arms. I’ll let you know how it goes, maybe you’ll get the inspiration to make your own! 🙂

      • November 6, 2012 / 6:33 pm

        I definitely have the inspiration – would just need mega-help and someone sitting over my shoulder the whole time! 🙂

  2. November 7, 2012 / 1:12 pm

    Ravelry is great, but for the hands-on help you could see if there’s a knitting group near you (they’re springing up all over the place- I started one in my local library, for example). most knitters are delighted to lend a hand- just reach out!

      • November 7, 2012 / 1:56 pm

        Let me know how you get on. Good luck!

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