All beginning knitters should know 4 basic skills: How to knit and purl, recognize knit and purl stitches, read beginner knitting patterns, and fix beginner mistakes. Here are the videos and patterns you need to get started.
If you've been following along with my most recent blog posts, you'll know we've been talking about how to choose the path that's right for you so you can improve your knitting on your own.
One of the tools I gave you for that was my 3-Challenges Model, which is a way of making sure that you don't pick something that challenges all areas of your abilities at once.
A Roadmap For Knitting Success
To map out your options in a visual way, I created the Tree of Techniques - a unique visual aid (click for a bigger view or to download).
I put together this tree of techniques when I realized that not everyone knows the full roadmap that is open to them when they begin to knit -- but they should.
Take a look at the graphic (leave it small or click the image for a full-size view).
Starting from the bottom of the trunk you can see that the projects go in a certain order without a whole lot of branching out– that's because you must master the basic foundations of knitting before you can move on.
The projects on the trunk of the tree comprise the foundations of knitting. That's the area I'm going to guide you through today.
If you're a beginning knitter, pay attention. If not, please share this post with someone who is!
Stage 1: Knitting For Beginners
Skill 1: Knit and Purl
Next, you'll learn the purl stitch.
With it you can do scarves that have a combination of knits and purls.
These are both ways of making lovely, reversible scarves with a simple combination of knit and purl stitches.
Now is also a great time to learn about casting on and binding off with good tension.
Skill 2: Reading Patterns and Fixing Mistakes
It's important at this point that you begin to learn to read the patterns that go with these projects. It's also important that, starting with your very first project, you learn how to fix the mistakes that are typical for that project. That way, you won't get ahead of yourself and find yourself in a project you can't fix.
Skill 3: Increases and Decreases
Make sure that you are learning the abbreviations that go along with these new techniques as you go.
You can also work on more complicated stitch patterns, still with knitting and purling, but incorporating slipped stitches.
Slipping stitches may sound scary, but it's not. It's just a trick for making the edges of your scarves nice and even. You can also use it to make designs like the scarf below and this Easy Slip-Stitch Throw Pillow.
Skill 4: Stitch Patterns
By this point you should be also able to recognize what is a knit stitch and what is a purl stitch just by looking at your work.
You can practice this on other stitch combinations like seed stitch, moss stitch, or double moss stitch, which are all just ways of stacking up knit and purl stitches to make different texture patterns.
Skill 5: Stripes
A striped scarf is always a good project to increase your ability level because you will learn how to alternate between two balls of yarn (which also comes in handy when you need to switch to a new ball of yarn).
It's important to experiment with changing yarns and colors before you accidentally get intimidated by the idea. It will also allow you to do projects like...
Skill 6: Slipped-Stitch Color Patterns
Once you can make stripes and slip stitches, you can do projects like this mosaic pillow.
Mosaic knitting is a way to knit with two colors that is ideal knitting for beginners. As you can see, it looks really cool– you can't tell that it's a beginner project.
Optional Skill 1: Easy Charts
Now would also be a good time to experiment with reading easy charts. Try your first beginner chart with this Beginner Textured Headband pattern.
Charts are a great way to represent your stitches visually, and the sooner you learn to read them, the better off you'll be later.
Optional Skill 2: Easy Lace
You can also experiment with doing some beginner lace patterns - all made up of stitches that you have already learned.
Review: The 4 Skills Every Beginning Knitter Should Know
- Knitting and purling correctly
- Recognizing knit and purl stitches
- Reading beginner knitting patterns
- Fixing beginner mistakes
-- these are the four skills you need to develop in order to "move up the tree."
Plus, if you've been adventurous, hopefully you'll have experimented with using more than one color, slipping stitches, and easy charts and lace.
If you want help mastering these techniques and projects, check out my video knitting course Fearless Knitter - it's the video course I made just for adventurous beginners.
In it I walk you through every technique and concept you need to know as a beginning knitter (but that 80% of beginning knitters don't know and many knitters never learn).
You'll love this class because you won't have to run here and there learning skills at random, trying to play catch up when you find yourself in the middle of a project that's too hard. Instead, I take you through a series of exercises and projects guaranteed to set you up for success.
Why Do Knitters Get Stuck At The Bottom Of The Tree?
Even though these are just the foundations of knitting, sadly, most knitters stop here.
They never break out of "flat land" - the land of scarves, potholders, and dishcloths - to make it to the enticing projects at the top of the tree.
When I was teaching classes at my local yarn store I saw that many knitters wanted to get there but thought that the techniques were too advanced, or they just didn't know where to start.
My Tree of Techniques shows you that there's a way to get to any knitting project you want - you just have to follow the branches!
When I created this website I specifically had the the goal to help knitters get over this hump and to learn the crucial skills that will allow them to ascend the "tree" with ease.
To that end, in my next post I'll discuss and link to projects that are ideal for an intermediate knitter. Let's keep climbing!
Leave a Comment
If you've already made it up the trunk of the tree, what was the most helpful thing that enabled you to keep moving? If you haven’t, where are you now? Has this post given you the courage to try the next step? Leave a comment and let me know!
Related Blog Posts by Category
Tree of Techniques
Free Knitting Patterns Mentioned in this Post:
Related Course: Fearless KnitterIt's Time to Break Out of Beginner Knitting
Knit-and-purl is fine, but greater things await you! Luckily, it is well within your abilities to improve rapidly and start knitting complicated projects.
Learn to cast on, purl, rib, choose yarn, fix mistakes, read your work, read patterns, increase, decrease, slip stitches, and more in this fundamental course for beginning knitters.