Learn to knit – how to do the knit stitch

Welcome to part two of the learn to knit course. In this blog post I’m going to write about the knit stitch. 

In part one, I wrote about the slipknot and how to cast on, but this time it’s all about the knit stitch. I was thinking about how to do this because I want to mention about fixing mistakes as well, so perhaps the best thing is just to share with you how to do the knit stitch, and then how to fix mistakes. 

However mistakes are personal because what I’ve found when I go on the big old world wide web is that there are mistakes out there that never even crossed my mind – and not just in knitting, I mean in life! So it gets me thinking, I’ve never done that, and I mean in day-to-day life, not in knitting, and then you start thinking about it, and think, ooh that happens to other people and you can’t stop thinking about it, even though you have never made that mistake. At least that is what I do! 

So what I thought I’d do is I’ll write about the knit stitch here, and then I’ll cover mistakes in another blog post, because if you aren’t making any mistakes then there is no reason for you to read that blog post. But please remember – don’t be afraid to make mistakes! The great thing about knitting is that it doesn’t matter. Just relax, take your time, if you make a mistake, take it back. Simple.

So this blog post is all about the knit stitch, but I don’t want you to be afraid to make a mistake, I want to free you from that fear – sometimes you have to make the mistakes to then do it right. 

I’ve taught workshops and taught people to knit for over 20 years and I very much tailor what I’m going to say to someone by what they say back to me. And no question is ever stupid. In fact I love ‘stupid questions’! I encourage questions however I can’t do that here. Therefore it might become tricky sometimes. 

But it does means you can just close this and stop reading or skip over bits. 

If you don’t want to read on and just want to knit then I have done a close up video of how to do the knit stitch but hopefully it will help you to read this as well as watch that.

Now the other thing about learning to knit today is that when I learned to knit (years and years ago!), I just learnt the way that person showing me did it. The thing with the internet is that we have loads of ways to learn to knit which I didn’t know about when I started. I’ve said this in other blog posts. This choice can be great if the way that you’ve been taught isn’t quite gelling with you and then you find another way and it does gel. However, for some beginners, it can be really overwhelming to see that there are so many different ways to learn to knit.

This is the way I knit, and I recommend learning this way to begin with, don’t worry about what else is out there. It might feel strange to begin with but keep going and hopefully it will click. If it doesn’t then there will be other ways to try and if one of them works for you, I recommend the same thing – stick with that one way until it is comfortable.

What type of needles do I use?

I’m using a circular needle but you can equally do this on straight needles because I’m going backwards and forwards so I’m not treating the circular as a circular knitting needle. Some people hold the needle under their arm, if it’s a straight needle. I don’t, I hold it in front of me. There are different ways to hold the needle – some people hold it like a pen and there are lots of other ways. Usually when I teach people in real life, I look to see how they are holding their needles and then discuss if it is working for them. I hold my needles ‘over the top’ which you can see in the video.

A thrower, what’s that?

The other thing that I do is that I pick up and take the knitting around the needle. Now I didn’t know there were other ways of putting the yarn around the needle when I first learnt – apparently that’s called a ‘throw’, I ‘throw’ the yarn and I didn’t know that until the internet told me.
Sometimes I think we put a lot of words on what we do whereas in knitting throughout the ages you probably just saw what someone else was doing and did it, and you didn’t think to give it a name. Maybe we need to name things nowadays because we’re searching on Google rather than asking someone, ‘Can you just show me how to do that thing again? You know…with the thingamabob and sticks?’! 

The knit stitch…

So, the knit stitch is similar to the cast on but instead of going between the two stitches, you go into the stitch. We want to create a stitch on a stitch.

The first tip for the beginning of the row is to make sure that your yarn is down and back and not up and over. Tricky to explain why in words, but if you yarn is up and other it can create what look like two stitches instead of one and this then means you will knit both those strands and start to increase stitches. 

Now, take your right hand knitting needle and you go into the stitch on the left hand needle, you’re going into the front of that stitch. We then take the yarn, and I put this around my little finger, because that’s controlling the tension. I do this by holding my hand palm side up under the yarn and then take the yarn back behind the little finger and to the palm and under the little, ring and middle fingers – these fingers close down on the yarn – that’s controlling the yarn. 

Then I put my index finger underneath the yarn to guide it behind the right hand needle and over the top of it  and then hold the right hand needle under the stitches. By holding on to the needle and by holding the yarn like that, it means that it’s already there on the needle so you can just guide it through. I just rock it over. 

I give the stitch on the right hand needle a little pull to make the stitch bigger on the needle and the stitch on the left hand needle, that we have just made a stitch out of, is then dropped off the left hand needle. So basically I’m transferring the stitch from the needle in my left hand onto the needle in the right hand. We do this stitch by stitch. 

In the past I didn’t make people hold the yarn around their fingers. Mainly because I have seen so many people knit in so many different ways but recently I did start to do this and it really does make a difference. So again, if you are knitting differently and it’s comfortable then keep going but if you are finding the knitting uncomfortable then I really recommend trying this technique.

Because where it can sometimes get a bit tricky is how the yarn is guided around the needle and, if it’s not taut, it’s difficult sometimes to catch the yarn and guide it through the stitch and we don’t want to be wrestling with the needles and yarn, we just want to rock it over, so it’s just like a nice rocking motion over the top of your needles. Just take it nice and slowly. 

Again, the yarn goes round the back of the right hand needle, over the front of it and then you’re guiding it and gently pulling it through the loop, making another loop on the right hand needle and the loop on the left hand needle that it came from is taken off the left hand needle. One stitch made from one stitch.

Then you just take the right hand needle into the next stitch on the left hand needle and repeat. And you do this for all the stitches on the left hand needle. So you’re taking it through, you’re making a stitch onto your right hand needle and then the stitch that’s on your left needle comes off. You are making stitches from the stitches on the left needle and these new stitches stay on the right hand needle until all the stitches on the left hand needle have been knitted and taken off the needle and all the new stitches are on the right hand needle.

Don’t worry about what it looks like at the side, don’t worry about what it looks like at all, just keep practising the techniques!
And remember there is a video to watch to help these words make sense or vice versa!

Article by Jane