Saturday, September 25, 2010

Learn to Knit: Supplies

Hopefully the Free Cowl Knitting Pattern has inspired many of you to learn (or relearn) to knit this fall.  When you're just starting out, the volume and variety of knitting supplies available can be overwhelming, not to mention, expensive. Some of you have been asking where to start.  Here's a list of basic knitting supplies for beginners to get you started. 

Most patterns will tell you which size and shape of needle you will need.  Because there are thousands of size-shape combinations available, I recommend selecting a pattern you love first, and then buy the needles required.  If you do this for each project, you will eventually build up a nice collection. 

Materials: Knitting needles come in metal, wood, acrylic, and plastic.  I have always used bamboo needles.  They're relatively affordable, not too slippery, and bamboo is an environmentally friendly material. 
Shape: Needles come in straight, double pointed, and circular.  With straight or single point needles, you work your knitting back and forth.  These range from 9 to 14 inches long.  Double pointed and circular allow you to knit "in the round" as in a hat or sock.  Double pointed needles usually come in sets of five, at lengths ranging from 5 to 8 inches.  Circular needles are a little easier for beginners because they accomplish the same thing with only two needles instead of five.  They come in different lengths ranging from 16 to 48 inches, depending on the size of your project.
Sizes: Knitting needles are sized based on their diameter.  US sizes range from 0 (1.75 mm) to 50 (25 mm) and above.  The size you select is related to the weight of yarn you're using and the relative tightness or looseness of the stitches desired. 

All the rest
Stitch Markers: These help you remember where you are in the pattern without having to count all the stitches.  There are some very cute handmade ones available on Etsy. Check out sellers Reignbow Designs or Lynn Bates Designs, or you can tie a bow with a different colored scrap of yarn.
Tapestry Needles:  These are fat, blunt end needles, with a big eye. You will need this in almost any project to weave in the tails of yarn left at the beginning and end of your work.
Needle Point Protectors: Slide these on the end of your needles when you take a break to stop all your hard work from sliding off the end.