If you’re anything like me, your Amazon shopping basket will now be bulging with all sorts of exciting knitted related tools and supplies.
One of the great things about taking up knitting as a hobby is that you don’t need to go out and buy loads of expensive equipment. There are some great products out there that can do amazing things, but essentially all you actually need to get going are knitting needles and some yarn.
Even that though can be confusing enough; there is so much out there. So here is the Knit Republic (Very) Basic Guide, and suggestions of what to buy.
An essential requirement (unless you’re arm knitting).Needles come in a range of materials including steel, wood, bamboo and plastic. I predominantly tend to use my bamboo set, and I would suggest either plastic or bamboo initially because they are lightweight and your knitting is less likely to slip off, but it comes down to personal preference. More on that in a later post.
Needles come in sizes and the important measurement is the diameter. They start at 2.00mm and go up from there. To make it unnecessarily confusing, English and US sizes are numbered differently, and neither are the actual measurement.
But don’t panic, click here for my handy downloadable conversion chart.
It is a good idea to begin with large needles (10mm) which you will need for my beginners’ patterns and tutorials (coming soon); it is easier to start recognising stitches and rows, and with chunky yarn and big needles, your work comes along really quickly which helps with motivation. One of the things that put me off as a child was toiling away over something that wasn’t growing with anything like an encouraging speed and I lost interest.
Plus chunky knits look great and everyone knows it.
When you think of knitting needles you probably picture a pair of straight steel needles. However, you can also knit with circular needles which look like this…
They come in the same diameters as straight needles, but also have cords of varying length ranging from 40cm – 100cm. I pretty much only use circular needles, but I will explain more about them in another post.
The reason I am calling it yarn rather than wool, is because it might not actually be wool that you are knitting with (it could be cotton, acrylic, bamboo etc.) and as some knitting abbreviations such as YO (yarn over) use the word yarn instead of wool, I think it makes it easier to stick with that. Yarn comes in different weights; I could do an entire post on the various fibre options out there, but for now, I would suggest a chunky weight. You will need to check the label around the ball for the size of needles recommended; look for something that recommends 10mm needles.
I would strongly recommend buying from your local wool shop rather than the internet and here’s why;
- You can’t feel a ball of wool through your computer screen. Sometimes something looks soft and fluffy but feels prickly and itchy. It will be fine for some projects but not others and I don’t want to find that out once I have already bought it.
- The people in the shop will be able to help you with yarn and pattern choices and substitutions and if you’re lucky, give lots of invaluable advice. My local wool shop Bodkins is a treasure trove of yarn, patterns, buttons and all sorts of interesting bits and bobs .
- You will be supporting independent business in your community
Over the next few posts, we will be casting on, learning the knit and purl stitches and then completing a free Knit Republic pattern for a stylish moss stitch cowl. You are going to need some supplies, so take the list below and get shopping!
- 10mm needles – my free pattern and tutorial will use 10mm circular needles with a 60cm cord such as these
- 100g chunky yarn in your choice of colour plus some spare for learning to cast on and knit the practice swatch.
For the free pattern, you will also need
- A wool or tapestry needle to weave in the ends of yarn once you have finished
- A stitch marker – you can make one from a small piece of yarn in a contrasting colour to your knitting, or you can buy them. They look like this…
That’s it! Go grab what you need and I will see you back here to get going.