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The ABCs: cast on, knit & purl, and cast off

You have already acquired some yarn & gotten appropriate needles? Then I would say you’re ready to start knitting! In this tutorial I will show you the first skills you need to master. Once you’ve learned these techniques, you will be able to make your first simple garments!


In order to start producing something, you first need to cast a few stitches on your needle. On the picture above, you can see one stitch on the needle that I’m holding between my hands. Each stitch will be each of the loops of yarn you have on your needle. Of course, the number of stitches you need depends on what you intend to knit, and on the thickness of the yarn you purchased. If you just want to practice a few techniques, you’re good with casting some 15 – 20 stitches on a not-too-thin needle (say, +5mm diameter). If you ask me, the first five times or so that you cast on stitches will be confusing but at some point, you will remember how it’s done, and it will be fast and natural. I promise!

There are several techniques to cast on. Some knitters use both needles (one needle is where your first stitches will go, and the other needle is “doing the job”) and some knitters use only one needle. I am going to show you two techniques that are easy for beginners and can be used on one needle. These are a) long-tail casting, and b) thumb casting. The thumb method is a bit easier, and results on a smoother edge. Because of these smooth edges, this technique is useful when you are knitting something that will need to be attached to something else (e.g., a sweater sleeve) because you want to have less-visible seams. However, as a beginner I found it hard to use this technique, as I made many “tension” mistakes while knitting the first row. This means that I didn’t always pull from my yarn with the same strength and, as a result, I had, for instance, two stitches that were very close to one another, and then a weird gap between a stitch and the next one. This is why I recommend getting started with the long-tail method. This is also the way my aunts taught me when I was a kid. 

In the videos below I show you how to cast on, and get started with knitting! Mind that these are my very first video tutorials, so a lot will have to improve -for instance, the sound! But I’m quite proud of the result.




Once you’ve cast on a few stitches, take the needle with the stitches in your left hand (that is, if you are right-handed) and the empty needle in your right hand. Then you can start with your first stitches (see below). There are at least two ways of yarning over when you knit or purl (that is, of how to circle the needle with your yarn so as to create a new stitch). One, which is the one I’ll be showing you, is called the English method (by most), and is easier for beginners. In this case, you will be yarning over with your right hand (assuming you are right-handed). As soon as you see the videos you will understand what I mean. The other way, called the Continental method, is a bit more complicated at the beginning, but once you’ve mastered it you will be able to knit faster (speedknitting). I’ll be showing you this technique in the future. For now, here is my tutorial to get started with knit and purl:


You are done with your first practice round!! But, how do you get the work out of the needles, without undoing it? Binding off your stitches is very easy, and here I show you one easy method for beginners, step by step: 

And now: PRACTICE!

On my next tutorial I will be showing you different patterns you can make only combining the techniques that you learned in this tutorial! So, stay tuned!


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