Knitting 101: The Basics for Beginners | Melissa Warren | Skillshare

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Knitting 101: The Basics for Beginners

teacher avatar Melissa Warren, Graphic Designer + Knitting Fanatic

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      All About Yarn


    • 3.

      Knitting Tools


    • 4.

      Casting On


    • 5.

      Knitting + The Garter Stitch


    • 6.

      Purling + The Stockinette Stitch


    • 7.

      Casting Off


    • 8.

      Weaving In: Garter Stitch


    • 9.

      Weaving In: Stockinette Stitch


    • 10.

      Gauge Swatches


    • 11.

      Adding Colors


    • 12.

      Project Intro


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About This Class

Knitting 101: The Basics will teach you the skills every beginning knitter should learn. You will learn how to cast your yarn on and off your needles, the knit stitch, the purl stitch + how to weave in your ends once your project is finished. Additionally, you’ll get a brief run down of the different types of yarn available to you, learn how to use a gauge swatch to customize your project and learn how to switch colors or add more yarn as you move through your project. Step-by-step videos will show you how to execute each skill. By the end of this class you will have knit up a cozy scarf, perfect for those fall + winter days. You will also have the basic knitting knowledge needed to tackle any project you decide to take next! 

Meet Your Teacher

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Melissa Warren

Graphic Designer + Knitting Fanatic


Hi! I’m Melissa Warren. Graphic designer by day, knitter by night. Creativity runs through my veins. My grandma was a seamstress/knitter/crocheter and my mom is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to crafting. And, since I was a kid, I’ve been crafting something too.

I don't remember when, I stumbled upon knitting. It definitely wasn’t my first attempt at trying, but somewhere in during the Fall of 2013 I found it again and I’ve been knitting ever since! I’ve taught myself everything I know with the help of books, blog posts and video tutorials found online. It’s a great way to de-stress after a long day and another outlet express my creativity.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: Hi everyone, welcome to my skillshare class, knitting 101. My name is Melissa and I'm here to teach you the basics of knitting. Once you have these skills lack down, you'll be able to tackle any knitting project that comes your way. A couple of things that I love about knitting is let us a great way to de-stress after a long day of work. You can do it literally anywhere and is a great way to express your creativity. In this class, you'll learn how to knit pearl casts on and off your needles and how to weave in your ends at the end of your project. The project for this class as a simple scarf that's quicken it up and super snugly for those winter days are a hyper air conditioned office. If you're ready to start your knitting journey, join me in the next video. 2. All About Yarn: There's so much yarn to choose from that picking the perfect yarn for your project can be a little overwhelming. Let's quickly go over the two main characteristics of yarn, as well as how to read the yarn label to help you narrow down the search. First, yarn fibers, there are three main types of yarn. The first one, animal fibers. Wool is the most common under this category, but it also includes fibers such as cashmere and silk. They're natural fibers. They're super warm and cuddly, which makes them a great for fall or winter wear. The next category is plant fibers and that includes cotton, linen, and bamboo. They're lightweight and breathable, which makes them great for warm weather. The last category are artificial fibers, which are man-made fibers including acrylic, nylon, and rayon. They mimic natural fibers and are super durable. If that isn't enough, there are also blends of every type of yarn. Wool and acrylic? Yes. Cashmere, wool, and nylon? For sure. When you're just starting out knitting though, I would recommend using either wool or acrylic because they're going to be on the cheaper side and more widely available. Another main characteristic of yarn is yarn weight. There are eight different yarn weights starting from zero. They are lace-weight, fingering or sock weight, sport, DK, worsted or aran, bulky, super bulky, and jumbo. When you're first beginning knitting, I would recommend that using anywhere between worsted and super bulky because they're on the thicker side, which means it'll be easier to hold on to you when you're learning the stitches, and you'll also be able to knit up your final product quicker. All of this information, it comes together on the yarn label along with a few more bits of information which can be a little confusing when you first get started. Let's go over what you will see on yarn labels. The first thing that you'll probably see is the yarn weight symbol. It's not always there and that is totally okay. Yarn name. Every dyer will have a yarn name for their different weights and blends, and that will be listed on the label so you can identify what you're buying. Fiber type and content. This is going to list the type of fiber the yarn is made of and the percentage of different fibers, if there's more than one. Weight and length. It's okay if the yarn weight symbol isn't shown because it will most likely be listed somewhere else. It will also list the amount of yarn included so that you could easily calculate how much yarn you're going to need for a project. Knitting gauge. Useful if you have a pattern already picked out that states what the gauge should be. I'm not actually sure where we use this information, but you can use this information as an estimate to see where you might land if you're going to be knitting a gauge swatch. Needle size. On every yarn label it lists recommended needle size. This information is listed in both US needle sizes as well as millimeters. Care instructions. This is how you should wash and dry your finished product. Yarn color. Every color will have its own name. If there are similar colors, you can match names to make sure you're buying the color that you want. Dye lot number. This isn't on every label but for yarn where there are lot numbers, it means of the yarn was dyed in different batches and therefore the colors or the amounts of color might vary between them. If possible, definitely get the same lot number. You're probably wondering, where can I buy all this yarn? You do have a few options when it comes to purchasing yarn. One of the first places to check out is your Big Box Craft Store such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. They're going to have everything that you need to get started. However, I do find that their yarn colors are a little bit limited. Your second option would be your local yarn shop. Just do a quick Google search to see what pops up around you. They have a ton of options when it comes to yarn and you're sure to find something that will work for you. The third place that you can look is online. There are tons of websites that sell yarn. Yarn shops all over the country have their websites up. But a few of my favorites are, KnitPicks, and Eat.Sleep.Knit because they have a huge selection and can accommodate anybody's budget, so you're sure to find whatever it is that you're looking for. Now that we know the ins and outs of yarn. Join me in the next video where I'll go over the tools that you'll need to knit your project. 3. Knitting Tools: Hi everyone, welcome back. In this video, we're going to go over the tools you need for knitting. Like with any project there are few things you need to get started and finish it up. I'm going to show you what you need to complete your class project, as well as handy items that are good to have for whatever may come up. First, you're going to need some straight knitting needles. They typically come in around ten to 14 inches long. Your pattern or yarn label will list what needle size is recommended. I recommend getting wooden or bamboo needles. The surface of the wood will grip the yarn better and your stitches won't slide off as easily as they would with metal or plastic needles. I bought a complete set of bamboo needles from Etsy for it's super cheap. Yarn. You literally cannot knit without it. A measuring tape. This is the easiest way to measure any project and you'll need this if you want to measure the length of any larger project. Scissors. You'll need these to cut your yarn and the yarn ends at the end of your project. A tapestry needle. Once you finish your project, you'll have at least two ends that you'll need to even. Try to find a needle with a curved end as this will help you grab the stitches easier when you're trying to navigate the stitches. Those five items are everything that you need to complete your project. The rest of the items I'm going to talk about aren't required, but they do come in handy. Blocking pins. If you're going to block a [inaudible] or a final project, these help keep the fabric in place while it's drying. They also help pinpoint the beginning and ends of rows or stitches for counting. Gauge swatch and needle sizer. This is great for two reasons. One, you can lay it over a gauge swatch to easily count your rows and your stitches. You can also use it to figure out what needle size you have, especially if the numbers had been worn off or you're not quite sure what size millimeter translates to. Stitch markers. There are two main types of stitch markers. There are rings that slide onto your needle and there are clasped stitch markers that you can clip onto your knitting as well as slight onto your needle. I use these to mark pattern repeats, the front or back of fabrics if I need to, the beginning of rows or borders or anything else that I can come up with. I also like to use them to count rows. So I don't have to recount every time I need an update. I just clip it on to every tenth row for examples, so I just count the stitch markers to know where I'm at. Point protectors. Totally not necessary, but definitely lifesavers. If you find that you've dropped stitches while storing your project or while you've transported your project to a different location, these just slip on the ends of your needles and keep your stitches in place. I have not put these on my needles before and have definitely regretted it later when I've dropped multiple stitches and have to go back and fix it. If you think you might travel with your project, these are definitely worth investing in. You're probably wondering, where do you get all of these items? You can get everything listed here at the same place that you get your yarn. Once you have your yarn and knitting needles in hand, you ready for our next video where I'll show you how to cast on. 4. Casting On: In this video, I'm going show you how to do the long tail cast on. Which is a pretty versatile cast on that can be used on almost any project. Before you start, a good rule of thumb is to measure your yarn tail to be about one inch per stitch plus six inches, so that you can ensure that you have enough yarn to cast on all of your stitches, and weave it at the end of your project. This is where you're going to start your slipknot. To begin your cast on, you're going to want to make a slipknot. To make a slipknot, you're going take your yarn, make a loop, and pull the yarn through the middle of that loop. You're going to slip your needle through the second loop that you made. You just going to tighten it up. You don't want it to be too tight, you want to still be able to slide on your needle. This is going to be your first stitch. Next you're going to separate your yarn tail and you're working yarn. You're going hold it like this, and you're going have your yarn tail wrapped around your thumb, and the working yarn wrapped around your pointer finger. I'm just holding it at the bottom with the last few fingers. Keeps it together nice and tight. You're going to take your needle, you're going to hold your yarn like this, and you're going to go to the outside of the thumb, and you're going to go under that strand of yarn, and you're going to make a loop. Then you're going to go to the outside of the pointer finger under that yarn, and you're going to pull that yarn through the loop that you made with your thumb. You're going to let go of the loop on your thumb, and just going to tighten it up. Let's do it again. Let it go. Now, I'm showing you how to cast on 12 stitches, but you'll want to cast on the amount of stitches that your project pattern calls for. If you want to make your class project thinner or wider, you would cast on more or less stitches. You also don't want to make these two tie as you're going for a couple of reasons. One is that when you go to knit your next row, it could be so tight that you won't be able to get your needle through, and it'll be a struggle, and you don't want that. The other reason is that if it's too tight when you start knitting or pulling your casts on edge, you might not stretch with those stitches, and the end could be a little bunch together. There you go. That's 12 stitches cast on. One way to make sure that while you're casting on your stitches stay on the looser end, is to leave amount of space in between each stitch, so that another stitch could fit in-between. That way you know it's not super tight, is not super loose as you can see, it's still slides along the needle. This does take a little bit of practice to get the hang of it and to really get the feel for how tight or loose you need to knit. Go ahead and practice your cast on. When you're ready. I'll be waiting for you in the next video. 5. Knitting + The Garter Stitch: Now that you've cast in your stitches, I'm going to show you how to do the knit stitch. This is literally the first stitch that everyone learns. You're going to pick up your cast on needle in your left hand, making sure that you're working yarn is on the right. You're working yarn is the yarn that is attached to your yarn ball. If you look at the stitches in your hand, you're going to notice that there is a front and a back to the loop. You're going to be knitting into the front of the loop. So you're going to pick up your needle and your going to want to make sure you're holding your yarn to the back. You're going to insert your needle from the left to the right through the front loop. Insert your needle, wrap your yarn from the back to the front, pull the yarn through the loop on the needle, and slide it off. Let's do it again. Insert your needle from left to right through the front loop, wrap your yarn back to front, pull it through and slide it off. Let's keep going, insert left to right, wrap your yarn back to front, pull the loop through and slide it off. You're just going to keep doing this until you reach the end of your row. Once you get the hang of knitting, you'll be able to whip through these rows. Once you reach the end of your row, you're going to turn your work and move the needle holding your stitches to your left hand so the working yarn is on the right side again. You're going to begin knitting this row the same way and knit until you reach the end. All right, so we've reached the end of the second row. If you continue to knit every row, you will create what is known as the Garter stitch pattern, which is a pattern with clearly-defined wavy ridges. Practice makes perfect, so give this is your will Once you're ready, join me in the next video where I'll teach you how to pearl. 6. Purling + The Stockinette Stitch: The second stitch that you need to know to tackle any knitting project is the purl stitch. Purling is the simply the opposite of knitting. Most people find this to be the harder stitch, but once you get the hang of it, I promise you is really easy. As you can see, I've already made some stitches on the needle to get us started. To purl, you're going to basically do the opposite of a knit stitch. You're going to hold your yarn in the front and you're going to go through the loop the opposite way. Instead of going left to right through the loop, you're going to go right to left straight through the front. You're going to wrap your yarn back to front and you're going to pull it through the backwards through the loop and you're going to slide it off. Let's do that again. You're going to go straight through the loop, wrap your yarn back to front, pull it backwards through the loop on the needle and slide it off. Through back to front, slide it off. If you keep purling every row, you'll get garden stitch just like knitting every row, because purling is the opposite of knitting. It will create the same stitch in the opposite way. There we go. That is your first row of purling. Now as you can see, this doesn't resemble garden stitch at all. That's because I'm alternating rows of knits and purls to create what is known as stuxnet stitch. This is the second stitch pattern most knitters learned and it creates a smooth and flat surface texture. I just showed you how to do one row in purl. We're going to speed through a row of knitting so that we can do one more row purl stitch. This is your second row of purling. You're going to go right to left through the loop, wrap it around the back of the needle, pull it through and slide it off. While you're knitting this pattern if you're ever unsure if you're on a knit row or purl row, just remember that on a purl row, the bumpy side will be facing you and the flat side will be facing away from you. There you go. If you were to continue this pattern, the next row would be knitting. This pattern is actually reversible and the opposite side is known as reverse stock in it stitch. As you can see, it's bumpy. Usually this would be the wrong side of a fabric, but it can be the front. I have it on the front of a few of my sweaters that I've made. Go ahead and practice your purls, either purling every row to get a garden stitch pattern or combining them with knit row to do a stuck in it stitch pattern. Once you are ready, we can move on to the next lesson where I will show you how to cast off. 7. Casting Off: Your project can't live on your needles forever. So once you're at the end and you're ready to take your project off of the needles, here's how. You're going to want to follow the stitch pattern that you already have laid out, so if you are on a pearl row, you're going to want to perl those stitches,and if you're on a knit row like we are right now, you're going to knit all of those stitches. What you're going to do, is you're going to knit or perl,the first two stitches in your project. Much like casting on, you're going to want to keep these loose. Once you have your first two stitches that you're going to slide the first stitch over the second stitch. You're always going to have two needle or two stitches on your needles. So you're going to knit the next stitch. Now you have two, so you need to get one off. You're going to slide the first stitch over, maybe the second stitch, and you're going to repeat this. So you have one stitch and you need to get this one off. Do it again.You will keep getting two stitches and sliding the first stitch off your needle over the second until there's nothing left to knit and you only have one stitch left on your right needle. Now you have only one such left, there's nothing else for you to nip. You are going to cut this yarn. You're going to leave a six inch tail so that you're able to leave it in, and you're going to slide your needle out of this loop and you're going to take the yarn and pull it through. I'm actually not going to cut the yarn through this tutorial and I'm just going to put the whole ball of yarn through the loop. Consider this a bonus lesson, I've had a cast off, if you forgot your scissors while traveling. Once you pull your yarn and tight, you'll have a fully secured cast-off edge and are ready for our next video on how to leave in your yarn ends. 8. Weaving In: Garter Stitch: In this video, we're going to go over weaving in any extra yarn tails you might have at the end of your project. At the end of every project you're going to have at least two yarn ends that need to be woven in; your cast on and your cast off. You will want to weave your ends into the wrong side of your project, which is the side that no one will see. Technically, this isn't true for a scarf or blanket because you can see both sides but for projects such as a hat or a sweater or socks, there is a wrong side. Because garter stitch is reversible, you can pick the side that you want to be the wrong side for your scarf. Your goal is to have your woven in ends mimic the stitch pattern. I'm going to show you how to follow the path of the garter stitch using very contrasted yarn so that you can see where the yarn is going. I'm going to insert my yarn. I'm inserting my yarn into the edge, but your yarn will already be attached to your work and you will weave it in from that point. I'm just going to follow the wave. I'm going to go through this bump and I'm going to go down, and then I'm going to go follow it up through the next ridge bump, and then I'm going to follow this one down. Keep in mind, you will be weaving in with the same color of yarn but I am using a bright color so that you are able to see exactly what's happening and where the yarn is going. This will be essentially invisible in the same color. Down, give it a little tug, and that is the pattern for weaving in garter stitch. You're going to want to make sure you go at least an inch so it has enough to be secure, it's not going to come out. You can weave in more than one inch if you want to and you have a long enough yarn tail to do so, you want to cut the remaining yarn close to your work. Just make sure not to accidentally cut into your fabric. You don't want to ruin all of your hard work. This is the final woven in end for garter stitch and as you can see, there is a lot of bright pink on this side. Remember, this would normally be white and if you flip this over, you can't see that much of the pink. If we had woven in the white yarn end, you wouldn't be able to see it at all. In the next video, I'll show you how to weave in to stuck in that stitch. 9. Weaving In: Stockinette Stitch: Now I'm going to show you how to weave into stockinette stitch. As you know stockinette stitch is reversible and there are two textures on each side. On this side you can see the vs and on this side it's very bumpy. 95 percent of the time, this is going to be the wrong side of your fabric. I'm going to show you how to weave in, to this side of the fabric. Again, you're going to want to just follow the pattern. As you can see if you stretch it out, this loop is following this path. Let me show you again on this side this path. That's the path that we're going to follow. Let me just put the yarn through here. All right. We're going to start here and we going to go through here. Now we're going to follow this loop, this loop goes through here, through this stitch and then this stitch. You're going to go diagonal and you're going to pull that through. Now, you're going to follow this loop, so you're going to go through here and back through this loop, diagonal that way. Now we're going to go back and follow the next loop. You'll go through the top and the bottom loops twice. You just with do through this one twice and we're going to follow it this way, go through this one, the top loop it's the second time through. Then you're going to go back this way and then we're going to go through here, through there and that's how you follow that pattern. When you're done, you're going to want to cut your yarn as close to your fabric as you can. This is the side that you will weave to and this is the right side. As you can see, you really can't see the pink from that side, so you'll definitely not be able to see it when you're weaving in the same color. 10. Gauge Swatches: In this video, I'm going to show you how to count the stitches for both garter and stockinette stitch, and show you how to use that information to alter your pattern width or length. All patterns will give you a gauge that you should aim to hit when knitting your projects. These numbers are what the final pattern size is based off of. Basically, if you hit the correct gauge, you should end up with the same size. Getting the correct size is crucial when you're knitting something like a sweater or a hat, because you want it to fit. But it's less important when you're knitting something flat like a scarf or a blanket because you'll still be able to use that item even if it's a little shorter or it's a little wider. Let's quickly touch on how to count the stitches in both patterns learned earlier in this class. Stockinette is the easiest gauge to account, so let's start there. In stockinette stitch, every v that you see is one stitch, left to right. Here, you can see I've highlighted four stitches. Every v is also one row up or down, and so here I've also highlighted four rows. Stockinette stitch is as simple as that. Garter stitch however is a little trickier so don't let it fool you. Every bump on the top of a ridge is a stitch, but every bump on the bottom of a ridge is also a stitch. You are only going to want to count the top or the bottom, don't count both because you'll end up with double the stitch count. Because every ridge is made up of two rows; row 1, row 2. When you're reading through your pattern, this is what you'll typically see when you get to the part about gauge. It's always something very similar to this. Your pattern gauge will state how many stitches across you should have and how many rows down you should have. Gauge swatches are usually based off of a four-by-four square area or two-by-two area, with the idea being that you're stitch in row counts will fit within that space. Your pattern will likely state the stitch pattern being used for the gauge and that pattern is the pattern you will want to knit for your swatch. Let's say you're using the same yarn way and the same needle size that your pattern calls for, you just want your project to be wider in general. You will want to knit and gauge swatch, and use a little bit of math to figure out how many stitches to cast on to get your desired width. Before you can count your gauge swatch, you're going to have to knit went up. You're going to want to knit up a four-by-four gauge swatch in the correct pattern with the yarn way and the needles called for, bind it off when you're done. Once you have your swatch, you are ready to count your stitches, and this is where blocking pins can come in handy. You're going to get out your measuring tape and measure two or four inches over from the beginning of one stitch. Place a pin at the beginning and end of that measurement. Count your stitches between the pins. Now that you have your stitches counted, you're going to want to divide that number to get the amount of stitches and an inch, I need to divide my stitches by the inches measured to get one inch measurement. Now, if you want your scarf to be 10 inches wide, you would want to multiply the stitches you have in one inch by your desired width. I need four stitches for every inch, which means I need to cast on 40 stitches if I want my scarf to be 10 inches wide. Once you have that figured out, you're ready to cast on. If you want to add length or know how long something might be after a certain amount of rows, you would follow the exact same steps, except you would measure down instead of across your swatch. What if you want to knit your project exactly the way the pattern calls for and you just want to see if your going to hit gauge. You're going to knit up a gauge swatch using the yarn and needle listed, and then you're going to follow all the same steps but you're not going to do the math. If you got gauge, meaning you got the exact stitch count and row count listed, you can cast on. If you didn't get that, you're just going to need to adjust your needle size up or down until you find your sweet spot. It might take you one or two tries to get it, but you'll get there. What if you want to use a different yarn weight and different needle sizes, you found the perfect yarn, but instead of it being super bulky, it's [inaudible] , if you were to follow the pattern and cast on nine stitches, it would probably only be 1-2 inches wide because your stitches are going to be too small. If you want it to be the same five inch width, you're going to need to follow the same steps we went over before, including the math. You're going to want to knit your swatch using the yarn and the needle size you have picked out, you're going to measure the area the same way, and you're going to count the stitches between your pins and use the math to figure out how many stitches you need to cast on to get your width. When you're ready, join me in the next video and we'll talk about the class project. 11. Adding Colors: At some point, you'll run out of yarn or you'll want to change colors. I'm going to show you how to add a new color but the process is the same for both adding new yarn and new colors. Once you're ready to add a new color, you're going to drop the yarn that you're currently working with and you're going to insert your needle into the first stitch. You're going to take the yarn that you want to add, and you're just going to make a loop, and you're going to put the loop over the needle, and you're going to pull it through your last stitch. It's going to be a little loose to begin with but you're just going to want to continue knitting or purling along your row until you reach the end. You're going to flip your work around and you're going to knit back or purl to where you just added your new color. Once you get to the last stitch where you added your new color, you're going to notice it's a little loose. Knit or purl it anyway, slide your needle out and you're just going to pull each strand a little bit just to tighten it up. The stitches where you added the new color will be a little loose at first but they'll become more stable as you work through the next few rows. You want to cut your yarn of the previous color so that you have a six inch tail to weave in later and you're going to want to keep knitting with the color you just added. Keep knitting with your new color and when you're ready to add a new one, make sure that you're adding it to the same side that you just added your new color to. This way you can make sure that all of the ends that you need to weave in are on the same edge. If you're running out of yarn and need to add more, you don't have to wait until the end of a row to add it. You can add it whenever you are about to run out because you're not going to see the color jog because it's going to be the same color. Just remember to switch while you still have enough yarn to weave in at the end. 12. Project Intro: Hi everyone. Welcome back. If you've made it this far, you're ready to start your class project. Your mission should you choose to accept it is knit is super snugly scarf that's going to utilize all the skills we went over in this class. There's a PDF pattern in the class projects section, and the great thing is that you can customize it to your own style. Choose wonderful colors and decide if you want to knit in garter or stock index ditch. From there, you can customize it by making it wider, thinner, longer, shorter, it's up to you. If you want to see the pattern exactly that it's totally okay to. Your scarf, doesn't have to be as crazy as mine. I knit this up to show you what the possibilities are when it comes to knitting and if you would like more information on my class project or the project in general, check out the project section of this class. I'm excited to see what you guys come up with.