The Best Materials for Your Very, Very First Knitting Project

the best materials for your very, very first knitting projectSo you want to learn how to knit. Hooray! That was me just a few short weeks ago.

Yup, I’m still a beginner myself. And I would love for you to learn from my mistakes.

I had a rough start of it. I just could not get the hang of it. I had to pull apart the first three projects I started.

“Knitting is HARD!” I complained to my husband.

Part of the problem was that I didn’t have a live teacher to instruct me — I was just watching a random assortment of Youtube videos without any real instruction on how to best begin. (Things got a little better when I bought The Idiot’s Guide to Knitting — I started at the beginning and am working my way through.)

But an even bigger problem, I soon realized, is that I was using the wrong materials.

I was using skinny aluminum needles and thin, slippery, cotton yarn.

The materials I chose were too fiddly and too small. My yarn kept slipping off my needles, I couldn’t see what I was doing, and my yarn had no give. It was stiff and tight, making it difficult to manipulate.

After watching this video, I realized what I needed to do.  I needed to start with different materials. So I went to my local yarn shop and selected some new needles and yarn.

GAME-CHANGER.

After re-starting with my new materials, I quickly caught on. They were much easier to use. My confidence quickly grew, and soon I was knitting and purling with relative ease.

So if you’re looking to start knitting, I thought I’d pass along the advice no one gave me.

If you’re a brand-new knitter starting her very, very first knitting project, here’s what you need:

some large bamboo needles and some chunky, variegated wool yarn.

Let me explain the benefits of these materials.

Needles: Large, Bamboo

I got some US Size 10 (6mm) bamboo needles (like these). (Standard size is around size 8/5mm).Best tools for your very first knitting project: big bamboo needles and chunky yarn

  • Bigger (thicker) needles makes it easier to see your work and to count your stitches. They’re also easier to manipulate when you’re still new and clumsy.
  • Bamboo is much less slippery than steel or aluminum, so your stitches aren’t always slipping off. Newbies tend to be terrified of their stitches falling off (because it does happen), so they’re more likely to hold their yarn in a death-grip (I know I did!), which makes it hard to knit well. With more grippy needles, you can relax a little and focus your energy on getting the movements right.

Yarn: Chunky, Acrylic/Wool, Variegated

yarn

I purchased Patons Shetland Chunky yarn in Harvest Variegated. Here’s why it’s perfect:

  • Getting an acrylic/wool blend is great because it’s a little more grippy than, say, cotton or silk. Just like with the bamboo needles (above), more grip helps keep your stitches from sliding off. It also has some stretch to it, making it more forgiving when you’re just learning the movements. (Pure wool would probably be great, too, but it might be a little pricey for a first project. And plain acrylic is probably just fine, too, but the texture might not be as pleasant.)
  • A thicker, chunkier/bulkier yarn is easier to see, so you can count your stitches and keep track of your working yarn better.
  • Variegated colour, I learned by accident, helps you to catch your mistakes more easily. If you’re working along and all of a sudden one of your loops is a different colour from the surrounding loops, you know you’ve probably done something wrong. (Perhaps you’ve dropped a stitch or wound your working yarn over your needle when you weren’t supposed to.) This gives you a chance to stop and investigate before it’s too late to fix your mistake.

An example of how variegated colour can help you:

A common mistake among new knitters is getting your last stitch twisted, so that you end up with what looks like two stitches instead of one. You end up working both loops, adding an unwanted stitch to your row. With variegated yarn, it’s much easier to notice this mistake. Take a look:

twisted stitches on knitting needle

Oops! These last two loops shouldn’t be purple. They look out of place for a reason. The stitch must be twisted. There’s an extra loop here – don’t knit!

Adjust your stitches so that they match the surrounding loops. You’ll notice there’s only supposed to be one loop where you previously saw two.

The best materials for your first knitting project

Ahh, that’s better! Disaster averted. I may not have caught that with a single-coloured yarn.

And there you have it! The ideal knitting materials for your first knitting project.

(As my first project, I decided to make a blanket for my daughter’s doll, using this dishtowel pattern [the second one]. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to combine knits/purls/garter/stockinette without getting overly complicated, and not too big a commitment. Just a suggestion. You can see mine here.)

NOTE ON SELECTING YOUR MATERIALS: make sure the size of your needles and yarn are compatible. Your yarn ball band should have a recommended needle size on it. I went back and forth between a few different yarns and needles until I found a good match. In general, bulky-weight yarns work with a size 10-11 needle. Extra-bulky might require a 11 or 13.

yarn ball band(You can see my yarn is bulky-weight or category 5. The suggested needle size is US 10 or 6mm.Sorry about the crummy photo.)

Happy knitting!

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.*

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Comments

  1. Ohhhhh! I started knitting last winter and I never thought about how useful variegated yarn would have been. I twisted stitches so often that my husband’s Christmas scarf turned into a trapezoid.

    Thanks for the tips! :)

    PS: What’s the Lego-looking green and white thing on the end of your needle?

  2. What great advice! I too had my first scarf get wider and wider because of the twisted stitch! Your knitting fever is kind of making me want to knit something!
    Amy Rogers Hays recently posted..Newbery Review # 27 (21 Balloons, Pène du Bois, 1948)My Profile

  3. you’ve only been knitting for how long again? you sound like an old pro, you’re so dang smart!

  4. I’m so glad you’re knitting. And all of your observations are quite sound. I hate knitting on bamboo (I don’t know why, most people love it), but I can see how it would be perfect for the beginner.

  5. yay!!!! another friend with the knitting bug! almost all of my needles are bamboo for that very reason – less slippy! and…knitting on bigger needles with chunky yarn means your project gets finished MUCH faster which i love. in no time you’ll be making cables, picot edges, applied icords, button holes, seed stitch (my personal favorite), knitting in the round, 3 needle bind-offs, ribbing, lace….oh YES YOU WILL!!!

  6. Ooh, ooh–the big question: do you knit English or Continental style?

    • English. I crochet left-handed, so if I knit English style my right hand does the same thing in both crafts. (I WANT to be able to knit continental because it looks so much faster!) You??

      • Elyse B. says:

        I knit English too. It just made way more sense to me. But all of my knitting friends swear by Continental, and I enviously watch their sweaters materializing themselves at warp speed…

        Maybe that’ll be this winter’s project. :)

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