Knitting for beginners: everything you need to know

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We used to think of knitting as something our grandparents did to pass the time in between Bargain Hunt and Countdown, but times are changing...

Since social distancing laws were put in place by the government in a bid to flatten the curve of the coronavirus outbreak, more and more of us have been turning to the crafty hobby to pass the time.

Hands-on, creative hobbies are well-known to help ease anxiety and stress, and so not only is knitting a good way of passing time, it’s also a brilliant option for anyone struggling with low-moods or increased angst at the moment.

John Lewis & Partners have already seen a surge in knitting sales, saying: "Haberdashery is on the rise with more customers spending time making, mending and creating at home. In particular, sales of sewing machines, crafting kits and knitting accessories are increasing.”

The thing is though, to an outsider, knitting looks pretty fiddly, so how do you go for knitting-numpty to cross-stitch extraordinaire?

To get the real 411 of how to start knitting when you’re a total beginner, we asked crafts and knitting expert Paige Joanna for her top tips and the best advice to get started.

From how thick your needles should be to what ‘cast-off’ really means, she revealed insider knowledge that will help you navigate your new hobby.

You’ll be a pro before you know it.

How to easily learn to knit

Don’t know where to begin when it comes to knitting? If you’re looking for a tutorial to guide you through, Paige suggests the easiest way to learn is through YouTube.

The website has a ton of free and easy-step videos for multiple knitting practises, from how to cast on and off, to how to do a basic knit in a straight line.

What’s the simplest garment to make

Wondering what to make first? “The easiest make is definitely a scarf” says Paige.

For a scarf you only need to knit in a straight line, which is great for those looking to get some practise in. You can also cast on as many stitches as you like, so don’t need to panic if you make a mistake.

What do you need to buy

For starters, “the thicker your knitting needles the easier and faster knitting is” says Paige, so get yourself a good chunky pair of needles.

The craft influencer suggests purchasing one’s made out of metal or plastic, as they are the most comfortable to use.

You can also buy everything at once by purchasing knitting kits that come with full instructions on how to knit and the materials to do so.

Wool and the Gang has some lovely kits” Paige recommends.

Your knitting starter kit: The best kits and brands to shop

Because there are so many different brands and tools out there, we asked Paige for her top tips on what to buy and where from so we can make our money go further (as well as our wool).

Wool and the Gang | Shop here

Our Top Pick: Foxy Roxy Scarf Knitting Kit | £78

Wool and the Gang has managed to make wool, and all things knitting, fashionable. Their mission is to inspire the next generation of makers through the reinvention of the craft experience, and they certainly have done so.

Their wide collection of wool and yarn includes bright neon colours as well as on-trend patterns, and their knitting cards include everything you need to get going.

Plus, if you ever wanted your knitting creations to look like something you’d buy in a high-end boutique, this is the place to go.

Etsy | Shop here

Our Top Pick: Lulu Blanket Knitting Kit, with giant 40mm Knitting Needles | £60 

“I always look on Etsy to find independent retailers” says Paige.

The wonderful world of Etsy is, of course, full of all sorts of wool, yarn, patterns and kits to cater to any taste, style and budget.

Hobby Craft | Shop here

Our Top Pick: Pony Flair Circular Knitting Needles 40cm 7mm | £15.20

“I personally love using wool from Hobby Craft as they are always lovely quality,” Paige tells us.

The crafts and hobbies site sells a wide range of wool types, from top brands such as SirdarThe WI and Rowan in a variety of fibres and blends including acrylic, merino wool, polyester, cashmere and silk. 

Home delivery is still available, though all Hobby Craft stores are closed until further notice.

Hobbii | Shop here

Our Top Pick: Rainbow Cotton 8/4 Color Bag 10 | £13 

With over 230 different varieties of yarn, Hobbii is a brilliant place to shop if you want to try out a range of different types before you decide what your preference is.

They offer home delivery between eight - 10 days, with free delivery available for any orders over £59.

Stitch and Story | Shop here

Our Top Pick: Snood Kitting Kit | £42 

Stitch & Story knitting and crochet kits are made for beginners and contain everything you need to get started and learn the basic techniques.

You’ll be following super-easy patterns and have online tutorials to help you every step of the way, plus they are currently over 40% off Lil' Merino Yarns.

Delivery is still available via Royal Mail though a note on their website explains, “We will no longer guarantee deliveries by 1pm the next working day for items posted from Thursday 19 March 2020 onwards.”