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Tree of Techniques Beginner: A Step-by-Step Roadmap to Knitting Success

Blog » Tree of Techniques » Tree of Techniques Beginner: A Step-by-Step Roadmap to Knitting Success

Tree of Techniques Beginner: A Step-by-Step Roadmap to Knitting Success

Liat Gat - Founder

November 2, 2014

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

Tree of TechniquesTo 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

Tree of Techniques - Stage 1: Knitting For Beginners
Tree of Techniques Stage 1: Knitting For Beginners – Start from the bottom of the tree and go up

Skill 1: Knit and Purl

Beginner Garter-Stitch Scarf in Misti Alpaca
Garter-Stitch Scarf

Starting at the bottom of the tree, the very first project that you’ll make when you learn to knit is a garter stitch scarf (left), which is simply all knit stitches.

A 1x1-rib scarf
A 1×1-rib scarf

Next, you’ll learn the purl stitch.

With it you can do scarves that have a combination of knits and purls.

This includes a regular 1×1 ribbed scarf (right) or a mistake rib scarf (below).

knitting foundations-03-miskate-rib-scarf
Mistake-Rib Scarf

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

Basic Dishcloth
Basic Dishcloth

After a knit-and-purl combination scarf, you’ll probably do a dishcloth – something where you can learn the very basic increases and decreases, which are ways to make your knitting wider and thinner.

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

Scarf With a Slip-Stitch Pattern
Scarf With a Slip-Stitch Pattern

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

Noro Striped Scarf

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

A Mosaic Throw Pillow
A Mosaic Throw Pillow

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.

Liat at Blazing Needles in 2011When 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!

The Tree of Techniques
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Stop making these common mistakes and knit with confidence

21 thoughts on “Tree of Techniques Beginner: A Step-by-Step Roadmap to Knitting Success”

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  1. When my mom taught us (all her girls) to knit, she started us with very small projects—ten stitch hanger covers, twelve stitch pincushions—that were easily finished and useful, but if tension was a little off, it didn’t matter so much. Then when we had mastered the tension, we moved on to scarves or slippers and then up the tree. A garter stitch dishcloth would work nicely for a beginner project— just a flat square, no embellishment.

    1. Where I am in the tree? I am in the middle. I love to knit, and I am growing in my skills, but knitting isn’t the only thing I do. If someone else was paying for the yarn, I’d probably knit more. As it is, I pretty much do small one or two skein projects.

        1. Yes, I have done socks. I knit my daughter a pair of bed socks quite a few years ago, top down. Last winter I used some yarn that someone had given me to knit toe up socks. That was fun. Someone else just gave me a yarn sampler box with sock yarn in it so I have another pair to make now.

  2. I am somewhere in the upper part of the tree. I surely turn to you for help when I can’t figure out what I am doing. Now I am knitting hats for micro preemies with a circumference of 18-20 cm and about 10 cm tall. I am using 0 needles and sock yarn, but might have to go to lace weight. This has to be done in magic loop. I have not done that in so long, but have remembered the steps to get started sort of. Must look it up. Thank you for this effort you are doing to help us out here to do it right and easily. You are great!

  3. I am a struggling advanced knitter, I say advanced because many of my friends have helped me through learning to do many patterns that I feel have been beyond my skill level, yet I was able to complete and gift the finished product. That said, I have been following your blog since I picked up knitting after many years of procrastinating. I wish I could afford all the beautiful yarns that you use but they are just out of my limited budget. I do try to find yarns that are comparable but I’m sure I would have a better scarf, hat or other items but I do not always feel rewarded for my efforts as I know they could be better.
    I am starting over again using your newsletters and videos to help me relearn the basics of this wonderful craft of ours. I cannot afford the paid classes, but I am learning so much just from what is shared via the newsletters and videos. I guess I am just wanting to jump on the band wagon and say how wonderfully fantastic you are at what you share with us. I don’t have pictures of the things I have made (keep forgetting to do that) so is hard to make my tree but from here forward I am going to do this, I think it is a fantastic idea and with your help (and of course my dear friends and local LYS) I am setting my goals for 2015 to become a truly advanced knitter if not going gently into the intermediate category!!!!
    Thanks again for all that you do for our craft.. I’ll be watching and keeping the needles busy!!

  4. Even after years of knitting and achieving amazing results (I am constantly surprised by what I have achieved) I still struggle with getting the correct size for my garments. I hate knitting a swatch to get the gauge right but for the adult projects I always do this and adjust the size of the needles if necessary – but still everything comes up too large. My latest project is a ladies edge to edge jacket and I carefully checked the gauge and dropped a needle size required to achieve it. I now find the front piece I am knitting is at least 1.5″ to wide and too long. I laid the front out and pinned out a 4″ square and remeasured it and it matches perfectly with the gauge of 20 sts & 26 rows. Can anyone suggest what I might be doing wrong please?

    1. I have a similar problem. I can’t tell if a pattern “size 36” means the actual bust measurement of the wearer (and makes a bigger sweater) or the finished circumference of the sweater (fitting a bust size 34/35).

  5. This is very helpful as I learned from my big sister years ago, things have changed. I would like to get into small mix color 0 projects like slipped stitches, etc so will follow you along. Hope you don’t go too fast as I can’t devote all day to knitting! Thanx for your encouragement to learn more. I am almost 82 but active and very alive!!!!

  6. To my utter surprise, I am an intermediate to master knitter, based on your tree. The first think I ever knit was socks. No one told me socks were difficult. I jumped in with both feet (pun intended) and learned what I needed to learn to succeed. I’m looking forward to the mosaic knitting pattern. That looks intriguing to me. I prefer smaller projects, as I get bored with larger items. I have knit cardigans and pullovers, but they take me forever because I get bored and move to another project. Gloves remain intimidating..something about those tiny fingers! But I have knitted dolls and doll clothes, as well as baby clothes, so what is so different about gloves? Liat, with your inspiration, I know I can do it!

  7. I have returned to knitting having last knitted anything about 40 years ago, with aid to knitting socks. Now knitting two at a time with pattern and toe up, also changing patters which are toe down. Thanks for all the guidance found on yor site.

  8. Hello Liat. Congratulations on your newest project, you are a true professional when it comes to teaching knitting skills. As a teacher I am so impressed by your approach to learning new skills, I would bestow an honorary ‘Batchelor of Visual Arts’ on you if I were in charge of the “University of Worldwide Yarn Studies”.
    You use the most effective teaching skills – scaffolding learning – where there is a clear, visual structure, with built in success that guarantees confidence and increased involvement. For those who consider themselves not naturally ‘arty’ or ‘talented’ you provide them with an opportunity to ‘create’ a work of art and experience all the delight and excitement that comes with expressive creativity.
    Keep up the excellent work List
    From A Devoted Student

  9. I’m not a beginner, but I really like the way you have broken down the stages of knitting and learning more and increasing our skills. Even though I have been knitting a while, I can always learn something new – a technique, an easier way to do something, a more advanced pattern, etc., and expand my repertoire of knitting projects. Looking forward to learning how to make the Mosaic Pillow pattern.

  10. Liat, I am a beginner knitter who purchased the Knitting Superstar and have been knitting away. It was such a revelation when I could actually distinguish knits and purls. I make some mistakes but I’m always learning. I can’t always fix my mistakes and have to rip down or start over but I now can usually see what I did wrong…the next step is being able to fix the mistakes. I find knitting very relaxing and love your teaching techniques. Keep it coming….

  11. The first thing I ever knit was a cardigan. It was a lot to learn all at once, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I learned knit, purl, decreases, increases, cables, reading charts, seaming, picking up stitches, and many more skills all in one project. Sure it took me a few weeks to finish, but for me it was the best way to go. I have a beautiful cardigan that I wear a lot.

  12. Liat you have been one of the guiding forces in my knitting. I am an intermediate knitter, and my goal all along has been to knit socks. Your many videos have given me that opportunity. You are patient, kind, and truly enjoy knitting. Since I am relatively new at sock knitting – i look forward to all the information that’s yet to come my way. Thanks so much for your help and easy access to it!

  13. Liat,

    You ROCK! I’ve been knitting for a long time, and have been teaching some of my elementary school students how to knit. When I look for additional resources to help them out, you are at the top of my list! What a great way to communicate the progression of knitting skills to beginners. Thanks so much for all you do to make knitting more accessible and fun!

  14. I’m an intermediate knitter thanks to you, Liat! I bought your Knitting Superstar course and have made socks and mittens (using magic loop and two at a time!!) and your slouch hat. And I learned continental knitting over the summer. Something I really wanted to do! All of that was in 2014! I’m looking forward to that pretty Mosaic Pillow, to get a handle on knitting with more than one color. I’m also eyeing a simple pullover sweater. I think that will be my goal for 2015! Thank you so much for what you do! I work at Michaels Craft Store and I tell people about all the time!

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