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How to Get Started Knitting

Knitting is the rage of the decade, and it’s easier than it seems

spinner image a woman knitting with yarn

Julia Roberts does it on set. David Arquette learned from his grandmother. Kate Middleton gave it a go while pregnant.

Need a hint? It’s knitting.

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“To get started, all you need is yarn and a pair of knitting needles,” says Libby Butler-Gluck a public relations and marketing consultant in the craft industry. “It is that easy.”

And it’s popular again, too. “There has been another boost in knitting in the last couple years, with the ability to share and document work on social media platforms, particularly Instagram,” says Jenny Bessonette, executive director of the Craft Yarn Council. “The rise of the ‘maker movement’ on social media has also led to an increased interest in knitting and crocheting and yarn crafts in general.”

Getting started

The Craft Yarn Council website is a great resource, with learn-to-knit videos, instructions about basic knitting and crocheting stitches, tutorials on how to “increase” and “decrease” stitches, and more.

“Our research shows that the most common reasons for not participating in the craft are lack of knowledge on how to get started [32 percent] and the perception that knitting or crocheting is difficult to learn [28 percent],” Bessonette says.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The first step is to get a lesson. Find a local yarn store (almost every town has at least one) and ask about beginner classes. Like any skill, all it takes is practice.

“Everyone learns differently and at a different pace,” says Debbie Siegel, an independent yarn dyer based in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. “Some can learn from reading a book, watching a video, [while others] need to be sitting quietly next to someone so they can be shown the movements. Until a person starts to learn, they will not know which method is best.”

Beginner … all over again

Say you’ve been a knitter before, but not for years and years. How do you get back on the horse? “There are a lot of exciting new yarns, like the new finger ‘loop’ yarns, which takes finger knitting [without needles] to an entirely new level,” Bessonette says. “There have also been a lot of other new yarns coming out in the past couple years that feature fun colors and self-striping, like ‘cake’ yarn, which comes in fun shapes and vibrant color combinations.

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The maker movement has also shifted focus to the process rather than just the final product. “People love doing what it takes to make something beautiful and share their experience,” Bessonette says. “They also love the slow-down benefit that comes with an involved craft like knitting. People are really interested in the stories behind yarn artists and the process behind their work.”

There's no wrong way to knit. “And there's no right or wrong type of person to be a knitter — any age, any income level, any race, man or woman,” says Ariel Johnson of the San Francisco Knitting Bridge. “You can create things as simple as that garter-stitch scarf that is so often a first project, or as complicated as the most intricate garment. You can create them for yourself or for other people. You can use expensive materials or inexpensive.” 

A side benefit is the social aspect. Research from the Craft Yarn Council in 2017 shows that 41 percent of people are inspired by friends and family to learn the craft. “Yarn crafts provide a simple yet effective way for people to relate to others and engage with their peers,” Bessonette says.

There is also an intergenerational hook, so to speak. “The CYC has heard of many stories of current knitters and crocheters learning the craft from their grandmother and the special bond it has created between them,” Bessonette adds. “More men are starting to share their crafts with the world as well. Hashtags like #realmenknit and #menwhoknit have blown up on social media."

Yarn crafts are also good for the soul and can be a rewarding part of self-care. Craft Yarn Council research found that:

  • 94 percent said the skills help them relax.
  • 80 percent said the skills help reduce stress.
  • 70 percent said it improves their mood.
  • 60 percent said it helps decrease anxiety.
  • 47 percent said it improves their concentration

Indeed, the benefits go beyond just the end results. “I have seen so many new knitters get discouraged and give up too early,” Butler-Gluck says. “Knitting is not about being perfect. It is about embracing the mistakes.”

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