my recommendations for the beginner knitter
Learning how to knit is such a great thing to do! I find so much satisfaction in working with my hands and watching a pattern unfold in front of me as I knit. If you’re interested in learning how to knit but aren’t sure which materials to purchase, you are at the right place. I’ve compiled all of my recommendations for the things you need to learn how to knit. (I also have a post explaining How to Knit!) Take these as suggestions for your new knitting journey, and remember that you are capable of anything you put your mind to!
I have lengthy explanations for my suggestions for yarn, needles, and notions, however if you’re interested in a straightforward list of what to use, scroll to the bottom where I have specific items listed in a more brief description.
When choosing yarn for learning to knit, it is important to remember that you are using this to learn. Once you master the knitting techniques with some learning yarn, you can go crazy and knit with any yarn you want! But it is important to first spend some time learning to knit with a yarn that lends its qualities nicely to beginners.
I recommend finding a yarn that fits these specifications:
- Accessible for you
- Acrylic, Wool, or an Acrylic-Wool Blend
- Yarn weight 3 (Light) or 4 (Medium)
- Works with sizes 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 needles
- A color that you love and can see easily
Using yarn that is cheap and accessible helps make it so that there are little barriers between you and your knitting career. Though most cheap and accessible yarn isn’t the softest or intriguing, remember this is what you are using to learn, and thus likely not what you are using to create sweaters, hats, home decor, etc. When you are shopping for beginner yarn, make note of the other yarn you would like to try, so that you will remember it for after you’ve learned how to knit!
Acrylic and wool are two of the most “sticky” fiber contents out there. Working with a “sticky” yarn is perfect for beginners because they have a tendency of gripping the needles and neighboring yarn much better, making it harder to accidentally drop a stitch. Wool, specifically the Cascade 220 100% wool I recommended, has fantastic stitch definition, which allows for beginners to see their work more easily as they knit. Most yarn at Michael’s, JoAnns, and Hobby Lobby will have acrylic fiber content or a blend of different fibers.
Yarn weight is something I plan to make a dedicated post about one day, but for now, here is a crash course. Yarn is categorized by its thickness in a number scale called “weight” and determines which size needle (and crochet hook) works best with that weight and how many stitches per inch that yarn weight will create. There are other factors that yarn weight dictates, however for beginners, all you need to focus on is what size needle works best with which yarn weight. Most yarn labels will say what size needle is recommended for that yarn. Remember, that is a recommendation and not a rule. It is more than okay to use a different needle size than suggested for your desired yarn. However, to make things simpler for beginners, I highly recommend following the needle size recommendation on the label, at least at first. (*Yarn labels also include washing instructions and fiber content information!*)
I recommend a yarn weight of 3 (Light) or 4 (Medium) with a corresponding needle size. This is the perfect size for beginners because it is big enough to see, small enough to hold and work multiple stiches, and works up much more quickly than a fine or lace weight. The Loops & Threads Impeccable yarn I have pictured above in a silvery/blue color has a yarn weight of 4, Medium, and works best with size 8 needles.
Finally, I recommend a choosing a color that you love and can see clearly. For me, that means light blues and mid-range greens. I can more clearly see my stitches in these colors than in dark purples, browns and black tones. Find yarn in a color that you love to hold and work with.
So, with those criteria in mind, here are some specific types of yarn that are great for beginners:
- Cascade 220, 100% wool
- Loops & Threads Impeccable, 100% acrylic
- Red Heart Super Saver 100% acrylic
- Lion Brand Heartland, 100% acrylic
Some great online retailers for yarn are lovecrafts.com, Yarn.com, knitpicks.com, and yarnspirations.com. Any brand of yarn will likely have their own website through which you can either purchase yarn directly or find a retailer for that specific yarn. Michael’s, JoAnns, Hobby Lobby, and Amazon sell a great selection of yarn for beginners. Walmart and Target also offer a small yarn collection, too. Find a yarn retailer that is accessible for you and works for your situation.
My first ball of yarn was purchased at a grocery store across the street from my sister’s gymnasium. Now, I purchase most of my yarn at local yarn stores or through Lovecrafts.com. I am a huge believer in supporting local businesses and I encourage you to explore local yarn stores first before looking elsewhere.
Yarn To Avoid
Yarn types I recommend avoiding when choosing a learning yarn are: angel hair, eyelash lace, velvet, bumpy yarn, mohair, incredibly fine/thin, and overly big/chunky yarn. It is important to avoid these types of yarn when initially learning to knit. I advise against these yarn types because they make it hard to see your work, shed easily, come apart if worked and reworked over and over again, and interfere with other stitches (little to no stitch definition). Once you have learned to knit and feel confident in your skills, go for it with these yarns, but until you are confident in your skills, I would avoid these at all costs. Pictured below are some examples of yarn I would not recommend for a learning yarn.
Needles are a personal choice, in my opinion. They come in wood, plastic, metal, bamboo, and so many other materials. Choosing a set of needles for learning is an important decision. Metal needles tend to slip stitches more easily, while bamboo or wood needles tend to grip your yarn better. Plastic is light in the hands and wood needles are generally warmer to hold. It is merely up to preference!
As with yarn, I recommend needles that are cheaper and accessible. Big craft stores carry some great options for beginners. I recommend Takumi single point needles in any size that matches your yarn. They are easy to find, the bamboo grips the yarn better than plastic or metal, and they are on the cheaper end of the spectrum. Any straight, single point, wood or bamboo, size 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, or 10, 10.5 pair of needles will do. I suggest avoiding circular needles and double pointed needles for beginners. These are useful for more complicated projects!
If you are an advanced beginner or are looking for other options, check out the needle sections of your local yarn stores or the online yarn stores I linked above. Knitter’s Pride Dreamz needles have my unwavering love because they warm up in my hands, slide so smoothly between the stitches and look gorgeous, too! I buy them through my local yarn stores and Amazon.com.
Things like scissors, stitch markers, row counters, a measuring tape that is flexible, a crochet hook, and tapestry needles are considered “notions,” which is another way to say accessories. These are great pieces to find at chain craft stores, local yarn stores, craft shows, and etsy. You can really express your personality through these items. (My measuring tape, for example, is a flexible, retractable measuring tape that is from a 120-year-old German manufacturer. The brand is “hoechstmass” and I have no idea how this particular relic fell into my knitting bag but I use it nearly every day.)
For a beginner, any pair of scissors and a basic measuring tape will suffice. Tapestry needles and crochet hooks are very useful for weaving in ends on finished products. A row counter is a nice accessory to have, but a tally on a notepad works just as well. Stitch markers are great for more advanced beginner projects and are not necessary for just starting to knit.
Where To Begin?
Whew! That was a lot of information. Below is a list of my recommendations with links of where to find each item, most of which can be purchased at JoAnns.
Basic beginner knitting kit:
- Knitting needles: Wood or bamboo straight/standard needles in sizes 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, or 10, 10.5.
- Yarn: Loops & Threads Impeccable, Red Heart Super Saver, Lion Brand Heartland
- Notions: Scissors, tape measure
- Advanced Beginner: stitch markers, tapestry needles, crochet hook, circular needles
And there we have it! I hope this post was helpful. I know the world of knitting supplies can be overwhelming, so I’m crossing my fingers that this brought some clarity. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a comment below or on my Instagram (@bilingwool) and I’ll be sure to do what I can to help out!
Talk soon, bilingwools!