How to Start Your First Knitting Project

Knitting needles with balls of yarn, close-up
Kristin Duvall / Getty Images
Overview
  • Total Time: 60 mins
  • Yield: 1 Knit square
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

If you're a brand-new knitter wondering where to start, you've come to the right place. This simple knit square is the perfect first project. You will learn all the basics of knitting: how to cast on, knit, bind off, and weave in ends. When you're done, you can use the square as a coaster, even if it doesn't look perfect.

A knitter with a lot of experience will have very even stitches and yours may not look like the tutorial, but that will come with time. Don't get discouraged if your sample doesn't look exactly like the examples. The whole point of this is practice and getting you comfortable with knitting on a small project without a lot of investment in time or supplies.

Supplies for your first knitting project, including yarn, needles, and hook
Sarah E. White

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Pair of 10-inch long knitting needles (aluminum or bamboo)
  • 1 Pair of scissors
  • 1 Blunt-end yarn needle or a crochet hook

Materials

  • 1 Ball of medium-weight yarn (acrylic or wool)

Instructions

  1. Cast On

    To start any knitting project, you have to make the loops on the needle that you will then knit to form the fabric. This is known as casting on.

    1:41

    Watch Now: How to Cast On in Knitting

    There are many different methods for casting on, but two of the easiest for new knitters are the wrap cast on and the knit cast on.

    • Performing a knit cast on is handy because you basically learn how to make the knit stitch at the same time.
    • The wrap cast on is also quick and easy, although it's not quite as firm.

    You might want to practice a bit before you make the final cast on for your knitting. As you practice, check that all your loops are relatively even in tension as this will affect the rest of the project.

    • Simply cast on using either (or both) methods, check your work, and slip the stitches off the needles.
    • Do this as many times as you like until you feel comfortable with the technique.
    • You will be using a cast on for every knitting project in the future, so it's good to get a feel for it right away.

    When you're ready to begin the project itself, cast on 20 stitches in the method of your choice.

    20 stitches cast on using the wrap method.
    Sarah E. White
  2. Knit the First Row

    Now that you've cast on your stitches, you're ready to begin forming the knit stitches.

    Put the needle with the stitches in your left hand and the empty needle in your right hand. Hold the needles in the way that feels most comfortable for you.

    1. Place the tip of the right needle into the stitch at the top of the left needle from front to back.
    2. Wrap the yarn coming from the ball around the right needle counterclockwise.
    3. Pull that loop of yarn through in front of the left needle, and slide the original loop off the left needle.

    Continue in this same method until all the stitches from the left needle have been worked and are on the right needle.

    The first row of the project has been knit.
    Sarah E. White
  3. Knit the Second Row

    Knitting the second row and all subsequent rows of your project is exactly the same as the first. Just turn the work over, and put the needle full of stitches back in your left hand. You should be seeing the bumpy side of the stitches you just knit. Knit across the entire row and when you reach the end, turn the work and begin again.

    Knitting the second row of your project.
    Sarah E. White
  4. Finishing the Knitting

    Now that you have the hang of making the knit stitch, just keep going until you want to call your work finished.

    Knit at least until the project becomes a square, which is about 38 rows. This will give you a good amount of practice, but you can make yours as long or short as you like.

    The knitting of the swatch is finished.
    Sarah E. White
  5. Bind off the Work

    So, are you're ready to call your project done? First, you have to get those stitches back off of the needle in a way that will finish up the edge so all your hard work won't unravel.

    This is known as binding off—or sometimes as casting off—and it's really simple to do.

    1. Knit two stitches in the normal way.
    2. Use your left-hand needle tip to pick up the first stitch you knit, and slide it up and over the second stitch you knit and the tip of the right knitting needle. This leaves one stitch on the right needle.
    3. Continue in this manner until you're down to one stitch on the right needle and none on the left.
    4. Cut your yarn that's attached to the ball, leaving six inches or so.
    5. Slide that last loop off the knitting needle, and thread the yarn through it.
    6. Pull tight and you're done (well, almost).
    The project after binding off.
    Sarah E. White
  6. Weave in the Ends

    Since this project is really just for practice (and may, frankly, have turned out pretty scary looking), it's not absolutely necessary to weave in the ends. However, if you want to go through all the motions of a real knitting project, or you want to use this piece as a coaster, you'll want to weave in the ends.

    Weaving in ends is essential for knitting projects because it hides those loose ends of yarn and keeps everything nice and finished so you can use the finished project.

    You can do this either by threading the end on a yarn needle and weaving it into some of the stitches or by doing the same thing with a crochet hook.

    Weaving in the ends to finish your project.
    Sarah E. White

Using Your Knitting Project

If you want to use this knitting project in your daily life, try using it as a coaster. Or knit a bunch and sew them together into a bag, table runner, or scarf. You can also just keep knitting and knitting until you get a long piece and you will have your first scarf.

Once you're comfortable with making the knit stitch, learn how to purl, and explore a few easy knitting patterns for beginners.

The finished knit square.
Sarah E. White

How to Fix a Dropped Stitch

If you're getting holes in your knitting, count the number of loops on your knitting needle to make sure you still have 20 (count every few rows just to make sure). For this project, it doesn't matter if it gets a little wider or a little narrower, but the goal is to keep the same number of stitches you started with as you go through the project.

You might notice a hole and a loop that was not stitched into the fabric. Knitters call this a dropped stitch and it happens to everyone. There are ways to fix it, but it's not necessary for this project as you're just practicing.

The dropped stitch was likely a result of that loop slipping off the end of the needle, and it's simply something to be aware of in the future.