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Are you in to start knitting? Great idea!

When you have a creative passion, you want to share it, and why not inspire others to take up the adventure! In this post I'll be sharing my advice on how to get started with knitting without stress :)

Do you want to start knitting but don't know where to begin? Which needles, which yarns, which pattern... and what is a sample? There's no need to get discouraged, just learn and progress step by step, without pressure. Personally, I learnt to knit when I was a child with my grandmother, so I don't particularly remember the first time I knitted or made my first stockinette stitches. This may frighten beginners, but there's nothing to worry about! I'm going to describe the key steps for getting started here, and I'll be sharing some tutorials soon!

Which yarn to start with?

There is a huge variety of yarns. Knitting is generally associated with sheep's wool, but new types of yarn are now emerging (including yarns made from plant-based or recycled materials). There are three main categories:

-natural animal fibres: sheep's wool, alpaca, mohair, cashmere, angora, etc.

-plant fibres: cotton, hemp, linen, silk and nettle

-synthetic fibres: acrylic, polyester.

I've always preferred fibres from the first category, which are my first choice. To begin with, I don't recommend mohair-type yarns, which are generally a bit hard to handle, unless combined with a second, thicker yarn. You should also be aware that sheep's wool is made up of several sub-categories (the wool can be simply carded, or combed and even treated as 'superwash'). If you'd like to know more about these different categories, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'd be delighted to answer your questions and why not write a dedicated article :)

azun skeins yarns by knitty and woolly

Sometimes, some yarns are a mixture of wool and synthetic fibre (with various ratios). I much prefer 100% wool fibres, because I like to have a material that's warm for winter and cool for the summer months, while still favouring natural fibres. This choice is completely personal, so it's up to you to choose what you prefer; combining it with a synthetic yarn makes it possible to create more original yarns (in terms of colour and/or appearance), which can be very appreciated.

What thickness of yarn should I start with? Without hesitation, I recommend a fairly thick thread! It's really easier to see the stitches and understand what you're doing. A very thin yarn will only complicate things, which is what you want to avoid :)

You will see the different designations:

-lace and fingering: the thinnest, knitted with needles 2 to 3.5 mm in diameter.

-Sport and DK yarns: slightly thicker, knitted with needles 3 to 4 mm in diameter.

-worsted and aran yarns: for needles 4 to 6 mm in diameter.

-Bulky and chunky yarn: really thick, knitted with needles 7 to 10 mm in diameter for bulky yarn and 10 to 15 mm in diameter for chunky yarn. Needles up to 25mm in diameter are also available!

So to start with, choose a yarn that can be knitted with at least 4 or 5 mm diameter needles. If you can test different thicknesses to see which one suits you best, that's even better!

Knitty and Woolly yarns are available in two bases, Azun Sport and Azun Worsted. The Azun Worsted yarn is a good choice for beginners! What's more, the yarn doesn't split (which shows the very high quality of the spinning), and makes knitting easier when you're just starting out.


Have you ever browsed online haberdashery sites, in the knitting needles section? Between straight needles, circular needles, needles with interchangeable cables, mini needles and double point needles... There's plenty to pull out your hair!

To begin with, I recommend choosing straight or circular needles (which are shorter than straight needles and linked together by a cable of variable length). However, getting to grips with them is not at all the same. I started knitting with straight needles, but now I have to admit that I prefer circular needles, as they are easier to handle and more pleasant to work with. What's more, it's perfectly possible to use circular needles to knit in rows back and forth, just as you would with straight needles. Given that most knitting patterns use circular needles, I think this is a good investment. If you have the opportunity to try out both, that's obviously the best thing, as everyone has their own sensations and tastes, but you could quickly be limited by the designs.

Secondly, circular needles with interchangeable cables are really practical: depending on the size of the project, you can adapt the cable, which unscrews from the needle, while keeping the same needle size. This avoids having needles of a certain size for each length of cable (which can vary from 20 cm to 120 cm in intervals of 20 cm... which would be a lot!), but you'll still have to buy cables of different lengths. The option of fixed circular needles is still very interesting, if you don't want to go to the trouble of changing cables and needles, or if your range of knitting projects is rather limited (by which I mean, if you mainly knit caps or chokers, you'll more often use 60 cm and 80/100 cm needles, so you might as well have fixed needles). Personally, I knit with a mixture of these two types of circular needles!

As for the material of the needles, here again there are several possible choices: metal, bamboo, wood or plastic. Apart from personal taste, the choice depends partly on the wool you're using: metal needles will be slippery (more so than wooden or plastic needles), so they're particularly suitable for mohair, for example. I've never tried plastic needles, so I can't give my opinion on them; wooden needles are generally favoured by knitters (I prefer them!).

Finally, you may have heard of the magic-loop technique for knitting small diameters, such as socks, sleeves or the tip of a hat; for this technique you'll need circular needles with a 60 to 80 cm cable, but you can also use mini circular needles 23 or 30 cm long (cable and needles included), or double-point needles (4 needles are required and sold in sets). Personally, I've opted for these tiny needles and I love them! They come with fixed or interchangeable cables. It's worth noting that these are really tiny needles, which can be a bit tricky to hold...

Finally, the diameter of the needles, expressed in millimetres, will depend on the thickness of the thread you choose (see Which thread to choose). When you buy wool, the needle size is normally indicated on the label!

knitting accessories
The different types of needles. From left to right: 8 mm straight needles, 23 cm circular needles, hook, marker rings, 4.5 mm straight needles, circular needles with interchangeable cable and yarn needle.

On my online shop, you'll find all the basic equipment, including beautiful wooden needles from KnitPro and stitch markers made in my workshop!

Which pattern to start with?

The headband

Headband knitted with Azun Worsted yarn | Knitty and Woolly
Headband knitted with Azun Worsted yarn | Knitty and Woolly

This is the project I suggest to beginners who come to my workshops. You can knit a headband with less than 50g of wool, and it's a "useful" knit, an accessory that you can wear proudly afterwards.

The easiest way to knit a headband is to knit a strip in moss stitch in rows going back and forth (so only single stitches), and sew the ends together to make a pretty bow on the front. The advantage is that you can knit it with circular needles, even if it's knitted in rows going back and forth. You'll need a cable at least 60 cm long to give you enough latitude between the two needles. What's more, it's quick to knit and good for morale when you start knitting!

The cowl

This is THE ideal project for getting started with circular knitting! It's knitted in a circular pattern and you only need one pair of circular needles (usually 60 cm). You'll be able to experiment (but without breaking the bank on materials) with right-sided jersey, more original stitches like ribbing, and a variety of colours (stripes, jacquard even for the most daring!). It's a great way to have fun, while learning the basic techniques of circular knitting (setting up stitches, joining in the round, folding over).

The swatch...

But before we get started, let's get back to the sample or swatch thing... I'm sure you've already heard about it, and if you haven't already, you will soon :) On the face of it, you'd be tempted to skip this stage, which seems a bit daunting because you're so keen to get started. But if you want your project to be a success and the final size to correspond to the model's intended size, it's an essential step! But what does it actually involve, and why is it so important?

A sample is a piece of knitted fabric in which you have to count the number of stitches and rows obtained in a 10 cm by 10 cm square, after having 'blocked' it (i.e. washed it in a bath of cold to lukewarm water with a little washing-up liquid and then dried it flat with combs or blocking pins). When you choose a model, it is designed for a particular thread (thickness), combined with needles corresponding to its size.

knitting swatch
Swatch, knitted in double yarn (100% merino and mohair yarn).

For example, you might be told: "sample (10 x 10 cm): 24 stitches x 34 rows with 3.75 mm needles". But everyone has their own "tension" when it comes to knitting: you may tend to knit a little loosely, or too tightly. As a result, the size of the sample may vary from one person to another and the final project may not have the intended dimensions. For example, if you knit too tightly (so you've got more stitches and rows in the 10x10 cm square), you'll need to choose a larger needle size. This way, the final project will be the right size! So even though this step may seem tedious (because you have to block the sample and it takes a bit of time), it's very important. This is also the case if you want to create your own pattern: for a 30 cm wide scarf, for example, you need to know how many stitches to make to get 30 cm and how many rows to make to get the desired length of scarf. You don't need to buy a pattern for a scarf. You can decide to create it yourself from A to Z, taking the time to make a sample to estimate the dimensions.

Thread, needles...and that's it? Well, not quite. It's very useful to have a wool needle for any seams, a pair of scissors, stitch markers for knitting in the round (and marking the start of the round or whatever), and a ruler for measuring your sample. If you have crochet hooks, they are also very useful in knitting, for example to repair a mistake or to lift stitches on a neckline.

And there you have it, now you've got all you need to start knitting without stress! And if you need any help, I'm here to guide you!

Good luck to you :)


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