A question I often answer and am sometimes asked is:
I want to learn to knit; what basic supplies do I need?
I’m going to answer this with what I think are the basics, with some specific recommendations on products. Note, this is my biased view; other people will give you different advice, but this is definitely my opinion on the best and most versatile products to get started with.
- I’m going to assume you don’t want to spend a fortune, but do want some borderline decent supplies to get started.
- I’m also going to assume you just want to pick up some needles and yarn and start knitting. You don’t want to knit a thing (at first), you just want to practise the stitches.
A note: while understanding that you don’t want to spend a lot of money initially, knitting is an expensive hobby. You can, of course, buy a pair of needles and some acrylic yarn from the $2 store and knit with them, but I promise you that you’ll hate knitting if you do that.
I think for beginners, the best way to get started is to buy a 24″/60cm circular needle, size 4mm or 4.5mm (US size 6 or 7), and made of wood. (A lot of beginners start with bamboo, but I think that’s way too sticky. While having a bit of grip is good so your stitches won’t fall off the needle, if you’re constantly dragging the stitches along it will be irritating and you won’t enjoy knitting.)
With a circular needle you’ll be able to practise basic flat knitting, as well as circular knitting and magic loop knitting.
I am going to recommend KnitPro Symphonie fixed circular needle size 4mm. It’s AU$10.38 from LoveCrafts – or check your local yarn store.
There are loads of yarns available and it can be very confusing when you’re starting out. Most beginners start with acrylic yarn because it’s cheap and available everywhere – DON’T DO IT. The quality of cheap acrylic yarn can be so bad that it is genuinely unpleasant to knit with, and you’ll end up thinking you hate knitting when you just hate the yarn.
I recommend starting with wool yarn, in weight 4/medium/worsted/10-ply (it’s all the same thing, just different names depending on your location). Buy two 50g balls in two different light colors.
This weight of yarn is probably the easiest to work with, and your stitches will be big enough for you to see. It’s also a good weight for your needles. Wool generally feels nice to work with and is really forgiving. It’ll have a bit more grip on your needles too. It’s really important to get light colors so you’ll be able to see your stitches easily.
If you’re in Australia I recommend Morris & Sons Estate 10-ply available from their website for AU$6.45.
Aside from needles and yarn, there are a couple of other things I recommend you get. Not essential, but they’ll make life easier.
- A crochet hook. I recommend an aluminium one with a soft grip handle, in the same size or a size smaller than your knitting needles. They are useful for practising picking up dropped stitches, as well as provisional cast-ons (I don’t expect you to know what that means!). KnitPro has one that’s good value: AU$4.37 from Love Crafts.
- A yarn needle/tapestry needle. You’ll almost certainly want to practise weaving in ends or seaming, and these are essential for those things. They’re available everywhere (even supermarkets) for a couple of bucks, and the cheapest ones are fine.
- Stitch markers are very useful for when you are practising increases or decreases. You can buy them, but for beginners you can make them by just cutting up a plastic drinking straw (one of the thick ones for milkshakes) into thin hoops.
Things you probably already have
- A ruler. A 6″/15cm one is fine, as is a 12″/30cm one. A metre stick/yardstick is probably a bit too big.
- A tape measure. The flexible 60″ ones that are everywhere are perfect. No need for a fancy retractable one.
- Scissors, any size – even nail scissors will do, but massive kitchen ones might be a bit unwieldy.
I think going to a beginners’ class at your local yarn store is the best way to get started, but that might well be impractical or unaffordable. There are lots of YouTube channels, some of them are good, and some of them are not. I recommend VeryPink Knits – Staci Perry of VeryPink is an excellent knitting teacher, and her videos are very well produced.
Please feel free to get in touch if you want more advice or if you dispute any of this! I’d love to chat knitting with you!