Learn to Knit
By Making a Cowl
By Amanda Kievet
Your Kit includes
- Yarn (Junction Fiber Mill Making Tracks Yarn DK weight, 210 yards in a “hank”)
- Darning Needle
- Stitch Marker
- Circular Knitting Needles (US #6, 16”)
- Pattern for “Simple Yet Effective” cowl by Tin Can Knits.
Hank of Yarn to Ball of Yarn
We sell all of our yarn in hanks, or a circle of yarn that's been twisted together into a figure-8. If you tried to knit from this, the yarn would end up in a tangled mess quickly. The first step is getting your yarn from a hank to a ball to knit with. Note: you should keep your yarn in its hank form until you're ready to knit since it puts less tension on the yarn which preserves its characteristics better.
Setup: I use either two chairs placed back to back, or a friend's arms.
- Untwist the hank by taking one end out of the other
- Find the circle using the knot as your guide and place it around the chair backs
- Untie the knot and grab one of the ends of yarn
- Just start twisting it into a ball! First I use two fingers so it’s not super tight in the middle, then as the ball grows I just sort of rotate it every once in a while to keep it round
Now that you have a ball of yarn, it’s practice time!
- How to Knit by Sheep & Stitch has good videos about how to Cast On, Knit, and Cast Off. I would first practice these techniques before diving into the pattern. You can always pull the needles out and re-wind your yarn into the ball.
- For the pattern I’m including, you’ll also need the Purl Stitch. Here’s a video from the same person for that one.
Now that you know how to Cast On, Knit (K), Purl (P), and Cast Off, you can make many things — scarves, dish towels, cowls, headbands… These are the core basics of knitting and they’re all I knew to keep me knitting happily for years.
One more skill you’ll need for this pattern is casting on in the round. You can follow the tutorial when you’re ready to start knitting the pattern. If you mess up, you can always start over! When you knit “in the round” you don’t have to flip your work to keep going, you just keep knitting. You place a marker (PM in the pattern) to mark where the row starts so you can keep track. It also makes it so you don’t have to sew pieces together to make them round in the end — they already are!
If you get stuck, a great resource is your local yarn shop. Aside from knitting tech support, local yarn shop is a great places to meet other knitters. There’s a long and thriving tradition of knitting circles. I joined one here and they’re great places to find community and learn from others. Who knows, you might end up picking up hand spinning, owning a few sheep and starting a mill after you do… (I think that might just be me).
I hope this is fun and not too stressful! Take your time and be patient with yourself. After you get the hang of it, it will be a relaxing and somewhat mindless activity (depending on what you’re making) but any new knitting skill takes time to master. I’ll say it once more — don’t be afraid to pull the needles out and just start over.