When you first get started as a knitter, it can be tempting to go wild at the knitting store. There are just so many fun, fancy yarns and beautiful needles that are just waiting for you to buy.
It makes sense, however, to buy only a few supplies when you're new to knitting.
The good news is, you don't need a lot of expensive supplies or fancy yarns to make your first knitting projects. In fact, you could probably buy everything you need at a discount store and not even visit a craft store or yarn shop (though you will find higher-quality items at either of these).
So, what do you need to get started?
- A pair of scissors
- A sewing needle
- A crochet hook
Let's take a quick look at each of these items.
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The main reason people get interested in knitting is that they like all the yarns that are available to play with.
If you're new to knitting, you might not be having a love affair with fiber yet, and that's okay. In fact, it's probably better. You don't want to be spending $20 a skein on yarn for your first project.
Cheaper isn't necessarily better when it comes to yarn for your first project, either. This is because cheap yarns are often scratchy and uncomfortable to work with and to wear.
Choosing yarn for your first project will depend on the project. So the first step should be picking a project and you can begin by answering the following questions:
- What weight of yarn do you need?
- How much yarn do you need?
- Do you need a basic yarn or a novelty yarn?
- Is there a particular fiber you want to use? You don't have to pick what was used in the pattern, but as a beginner, that is often helpful because you can easily compare your finished project to the picture in the pattern.
Choosing Your Yarn
Armed with an idea of what you need for your project, visit your local craft shop or yarn store and let your fingers do the walking.
Touch the different yarns that fit your needs. Pick something that looks good and feels good, something that will make you smile when you work with it and wear it.
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Don't buy bargain-basement yarn for your first project, but it is okay to save some money on your first set of needles. There are many, many different kinds of needles available, in a dizzying array of materials, from aluminum to rosewood, casein to bamboo.
They are beautiful needles and wonderful to have when you know you're going to stick with knitting. Before you get to that point, it's fine to buy either aluminum or plastic needles, whatever the store has in the size you need. (Check your pattern instructions for suggested needle size.)
When you're just starting out knitting, you will probably find yourself buying new needles for every project. It's the reality of this craft because you need needles in different sizes for different projects and it will take a few years to build up a great array of needles. That's okay because it's an excuse to shop for yarn, too!
A fun thing to do is try different types of needles for each project and see how you like them. You might pick up a pair of bamboo in US size 11 for a chunky scarf and a metal pair in US size 7 for a simple washcloth. You get to try out two materials and figure out if you prefer one needle over the other.
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A Knitting Journal
Most knitters will tell you that record-keeping is essential and that they don't do it. Do as we say, not as we do, and start a knitting journal with your first project.
It doesn't have to be fancy; just a spiral notebook will do. Write down the basic information about each project you work on:
- What the project was
- Where you got the pattern
- What needles you used (size, material, brand, where you bought them)
- What yarn you used (brand, type, color, material, where you bought it)
- Any problems you had with the pattern
- Anything you learned from the project
- A picture of the finished project and a sample of the yarn, if available
- Notes on how you liked the yarn, needles, and pattern
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Other Necessary Tools
Yarn and knitting needles are by far the most important tools for any knitter, but you do need a couple more things if your knitting project is going to be successful.
In order to cut the excess yarn from your project, you need a pair of scissors. You can buy a special pair of crafting scissors if you want or a simple pair of school scissors. There's no fancy cutting required in knitting, so if it can snip a piece of yarn, it will work.
Sewing needles are helpful for weaving in the ends of your knitting project and for sewing together pieces of a garment, such as putting the arms on a sweater.
You can find needles suitable for working with yarn in plastic and metal. Either is fine, though plastic is preferred if you're knitting with children or the accident-prone.
Make sure you buy needles with large eyes so the yarn can easily pass through them. You will typically find 'yarn needles' or 'tapestry needles' right next to the knitting needles.
Tip: Yarn needles are larger than sewing needles so they don't get lost as easily. However, you will lose them and it's likely to be when you need to finish a project. If you have the option, pick up a two- or three-pack and stash the extras away where you will remember them.
Why do knitters need crochet hooks? Sometimes a crocheted border on a knitted garment is a very nice touch, but crochet hooks can come in handy even for those who don't know a single crochet from a French knot.
If the ends of your yarn are too short to be woven in with a sewing needle, a crochet hook is an invaluable tool. A size G or H is good for most weights of yarn and easy to use for someone who couldn't crochet if their life depended on it.
Your hook will also come in handy if you ever snag a piece of knitwear, even a store-bought sweater. Simply stick the hook through the back of the garment, grab the snagged yarn, and pull it through to the back. It's like the accident never happened!
Armed with these simple tools you can easily complete your first knitted project. Of course, there are more tools for knitters available, but these basics will get you through simple projects with ease and you can always add to your toolkit later.