Learn to knit the knit stitch! This basic stitch is the foundation of knitting. See two different styles, called English (throwing) and continental (picking), for both left-handed and right-handed knitting.
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Before you can knit, you need to get some stitches onto your needle. Creating this starting row is called casting on. When you’re first learning, I recommend using either the long tail cast on or knitted cast on method.
Knitted cast on
When I’m teaching in person, this is the cast on method I usually use. It uses a slight variation of the knit stitch to add more stitches to your needle. Since it’s so similar, it’s a great introduction to the knit stitch itself. But some students find it confusing to switch from the cast on to the regular knit stitch without mixing up the steps.
Learn the knit cast on in this tutorial.
Long tail cast on
This is the cast on I tend to use myself for most projects. It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, it’s super fast. The difficult part for new knitters is learning how to hold and manage the yarn. But once you have that in place, it’s fairly easy.
Learn the long tail cast-on in the demo portion of this Lunchtime Live video. The demo begins at 5:22 on the video.
Scroll Down for Video
All the pictures here show right-handed knitting. The video includes both English and continental style for both right and left-handed knitting. Please see the video to see each variation separately.
Tensioning the yarn
In order to knit, you need to hold and control your working yarn with some tension on it, and at the same time hold your two needles. There are lots of different ways to do this.
With whichever hand I’m using, I like to place my yarn over my index finger, under the next 2 fingers, and then over my pinky.
When I close my hand, I can stick my index finger out to create a tensioned workspace. The rest of my fingers are free to hold one of the needles. Sometimes, I wrap the yarn around my index finger a 2nd time for more control.
The key is to find a grip that gives you control, while also being comfortable over long periods of time. If you start to feel any strain in your hand at all, you may want to adjust your grip to avoid repetitive strain injuries.
English vs. continental knitting
There are many styles and variations of knitting but these two are by far the most common. English style is sometimes referred to as throwing, and continental style is referred to as picking. The difference lies largely in which hand is holding the yarn.
Your working needle is the needle that starts off empty. This is the one you will be using to create new stitches, and the new stitches will go onto this needle. For both English and continental styles, your working needle goes in your dominant hand. The other needle goes in your other hand.
Holding the yarn
For English style knitting, tension your yarn with your dominant hand. This is the same hand that is holding your working needle, as in the picture above.
For continental style knitting, tension your yarn with your other hand. This is the same hand that is holding your other needle.
Insert needle and yarn over
To start the knit stitch, insert your working needle from front to back into the first stitch. The working needle goes under the other needle, and your needles should touch as they cross. There should not be any yarn between the two.
Then, wrap the yarn around the needle to create a new stitch. Regardless of which method or hand you use, the yarn comes up between the two needles, then over the working needle, and down to the other side.
For right-handed knitting, this means up from the left, over the top, and down to the right. For left-handed knitting, it’s up from the right, over the top, and down to the left. In continental knitting, this step can be combined with the next step in one smooth motion.
Scoop the new stitch through
Use the tip of your needle to pull the new stitch you just created through the old one.
For continental knitting, you can wrap the yarn around the needle and scoop it through all in one scooping motion. Basically, create the new stitch by moving the needle instead of by moving the yarn.
Remove the old stitch
Finally, carefully drop the old stitch from your other needle.
Now you have a new knit stitch on your working needle and are ready to knit the next stitch.
Try it out!
Now that you know the knit stitch, you can make all sorts of easy knitting projects! Try out your new skills on this beginner Garter Stitch Headband pattern.
Knit Stitch video tutorial
Includes English and Continental styles for both left-handed and right-handed knitting.
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