Knitting Basics – The Knit Stitch

Once you learn how to cast on, the next step in learning how to knit is the basic stitch: the fittingly named knit stitch.

Step one
Once you’ve finished casting on your first row, insert the needle you’ll be knitting on to under the last stitch of the row. When you insert it, make sure it’s behind the other needle within the stitch, as pictured below.

Step Two 
There are two ways of doing the second step. You can either wrap the long tail of yarn around the outside of the needle, or just tuck it into the inside side.

When I’m at the end of a row, I prefer to wrap it around, like so:

 I’ve found that wrapping it like this seems to provide a little more flexibility in the final stitch, and makes it easier to bring it through the existing stitch.

When I’m working on the stitches towards the middle of the row, though, I prefer tucking it between the needles, like so:

Since I use my left hand to manipulate the long tail of yarn, this is just faster for me. Some people find handling the yarn still attached to the ball with their right hand easier, so it really just comes down to a matter of preference.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. So long as the stitches stay on the needles, and you can knit comfortably, there’s no wrong way of holding the needles.

Step 3 
Pull the new stitch through. This is where finding the right tension to work with comes in. If you’ve cast on your first set of stitches on too tightly, it may be too hard to pull the new stitch through. If they were cast on too loosely, you risk the stitches falling off the needle.

I personally had trouble with making my stitches too tight, when I first started. With practice, you’ll find the right tension for you.

Step 4
All that’s left is to let the old stitch drop from the needle. Congrats on your first knit stitch!

This type of stitch is used in almost all knitting patterns. It’s abbreviation is the letter K, and almost always followed by a number. That number signifies how many knit stitches are needed in that row.

I’ve noticed that there are two different ways of knitting multiple rows.

One common technique is to turn your work every time you finish a row, which means you’re only knitting in one direction. When you use just the knit stitch in this way, you’ll be left with what’s called the garter stitch. (I’ve written more about that here.)

This is a very warm type of fabric, and rather stretchy. That’s what the blanket I’m currently working on is bordered with.

I personally prefer to keep the right side of my work facing me as I knit. I get confused when I turn the project I’m working on, especially if I’m working on a pattern. This may take a little bit more ambidexterity, but I find it easier to keep my place when I do it.

When you use only the knit stitch, you’ll be left with something called the stockinette stitch.

This stitch is flatter, and as you can sort of tell in the picture, more likely to curl up than the garter stitch. This one is commonly used in things like sweaters and socks. It does stretch, but it’s not quite as stretchy as the garter stitch.

To get the smooth edges with this technique, I slide the last stitch of each row onto the other needle without knitting into it. I’ve found that if you knit that one, you’ll be left with a lumpy edge.

This is what it looks like when you skip the last stitch and knit it on the next row.

With a little practice, this basic stitch will eventually become second nature. Fortunately, you can make anything from simple scarves to pot holders.

For more how to knit articles, feel free to check out my master page on knitting basics.

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