Knitting is an incredibly useful skill. Not only can you make garments, accessories, and even home decor, with just a few sticks and some string, but the actual act of knitting is also amazingly meditative. So if you’re ready to pick up this ancient skill, here is some advice on where to start.
For most people, the best way to learn to knit is to sit next to someone and have them teach you the basics. If you have a friend or relative who is a knitter, it’s also a good way to spend quality time together. When I first decided I wanted to learn how to turn yarn into clothing, I got one grandmother to teach me to knit, and the other to teach me to crochet, and now picking up my needles or hooks reminds me of them.
If you’re not lucky enough to know people who can show you how to knit, then it may be time to meet some. Your local yarn shop probably has classes or knitting groups that you can join. A valuable resource for finding local knitting groups is Ravelry, which has a groups section that allows you to search by your city/state or zip code. When I put in my zip code, I discovered that my very crafty area has literally hundreds of knitting groups, from men who knit, to knitters/readers who discuss books while knitting, to people who wine and dine while knitting. You may not have quite as many choices, but at the very least your local yarn shop probably has a regular knitting meet-up that you could attend.
If you are the type who learns better from diagrams and written material (or you shun human contact), the above options might not work for you. As for books, Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘N Bitch is popular for its clear illustrations, and irreverent tone. Knitty Gritty: Knitting for the Absolute Beginner, by Aneeta Patel, is another popular book for learning to knit, and many people swear by Maggie Righetti’s Knitting in Plain English.
You can certainly learn from a book or one of the many online classes and tutorials. This comprehensive free knitting class covers everything you need to know to get started on your first project. Other sites with clear knitting instructions for beginners include Sheep and Stitch and Vogue Knitting.
Once you’ve learned the basic stitches and vocabulary, there’s still tons more to learn about knitting, and the best way I’ve found to learn more is to dive in a bit over your head. You don’t want to pick something too complicated to begin with, but gradually improve your skills by attempting projects that challenge and motivate you to master new techniques and stitches. Ravelry is a goldmine of patterns, curating resources from sites like the online magazine Knitty, Purl Soho, and thousands of other sites, big and small.
And if you get confused or stuck, just ask a fellow knitter! Most are more than happy to help you out.