Easy first project ideas......

Hi everyone and greetings from a very cold and icy Liverpool, UK.

I'm looking to take up knitting as a hobby over the winter months and would like some ideas for easy beginners patterns.

All advice would be much appreciated.


MMario's picture

It's so very cliched - but a scarf. Irish HIking Scarf isn't too difficult and gives you good practice in knit, purl and simple cables.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

scottly's picture

I think this is a great idea! The Irish hiking scarf is fun because cables are fun to do and they make it look like you are a very accomplished knitter but they are really easy to execute. Use some decent wool - it will make it easier. I find acrylic much more difficult to work with.

Good luck and have fun.

Kerry's picture

Welcome Chris. You may find your winter months hobby becomes a much longer interest :)

Tom Hart's picture

Hi, I'm a beginner too and I like the Learn-To-Knit Afghan Book by Barbara Walker. There are 63 squares in it and they all introduce something new. I'm not sure that I'm ever going to make an afghan but I'm enjoying making the squares and adding colors to some of the patterns. For instance, I've taken Square 24 (cottage check) and used six colors instead of two and it's come out looking kind of Fair Isle. And yet it's definitely a beginner level project. Anyway all the best with your new hobby.

teejtc's picture


I'm going to go out on a limb and say start with ANYTHING you'd like to try and make your second project whatever you want to try next.... etc. :-)

While I'd *never* go against the brilliant and all-knowing-knitter-guru Mmario (seriously! he's amazing), I have to sheepishly admit I don't like scarves - generally I get sick of them and end up casting off when they're still "hotpads." The Irish scarf is cool though (http://www.helloyarn.com/irishhikingcarf.htm).

I think hats are a great starter project. In the end though, knitting isn't hard, start with anything that's made out of a single piece and isn't TOO big (you're technique and gauge will change a lot in the beginning so if you start with too big of a project, the end will look too different from the beginning). You might consider something felted (felting covers up a multitude of sins!) - a mitten-style hotpad or maybe one of these (http://www.knittingatknoon.com/coasterspatt.html).

Basic knitting is remarkably easy and a LOT of (most?!) knitting is basic knitting. The skills needed for a hat, a scarf, a bag, a sock, a baby sweater, etc. are all basically the same - cast on, knit, purl, cast off. Why not do something you'd like?

(NOTE: I do know some "knitter-nazi" teachers who don't let anyone actually start a "real" project until they've proven their basic techniques - then when they finally DO allow students to start on their first real project it always turns out beautifully. I work the other way around. I'll never be perfect, figure most of my students won't either; if the first project turns out a bit rough, oh well... who cares? Enjoy the process! If the end product doesn't turn out how you wanted it to just give it away, put it in a drawer to remind you what your first project looked like, or rip it out and do something else with the yarn.) :-)

You might consider buying a book like "The Knitting Man(ual)" (amazon.co.uk link here) I'm a huge fan of it - the projects aren't fancy, but they all seem to turn out well and your not stuck with a whole book on hats or socks (or anything else!)

Have fun!

Grace and Peace,

rebel_rebel's picture

Hi guys, thanks for the advice so far. I will definitely look up some of those patterns / books.

I wanted to veer away from a scarf as my first project, but judging by the temperature here at the moment, it may be the most sensible option.

Am looking forward to getting stuck in. Although I mentioned my interest to my best friend last night and he laughed at me!!!!!


albert's picture

Laughing now, cajoling you to knit things for him later! I think knitting a simple watch cap would be a good starter- you'll learn to knit in the round, do ribbing and decreases. A cap is fairly easy, quick and gratifying.

Joe Moore's picture

I'm a beginner too and started off with a scarf and then moved on to a hat (and another hat), and now I've just completed my first sock (next up is that sock's mate!).

The scarf was a simple 2X2 rib pattern. It was supposed to be 2X4, but I got distracted and well...that went to my sister-in-law. It was a great project to do while watching TV or in a social setting as it didn't require much thought once I got the knit and purl stitch down.

I just looked at the Irish hiking scarf and I like that pattern! I'll add it to my upcoming projects. I think it would be a good initial project, and if the cabling gets you you can always start over and just do a simple scarf.

A hat, as someone mentioned previously, is also pretty easy. I dropped a few stitches while decreasing and had to get help on how to fix it. I also found a book The Knit Fix which I've found invaluable.

My sock experience has turned out well. It's pretty easy to make socks, it's just difficult because there were some new things in it - heel turn (working short rows), picking up stitches, and the kitchener stitch.

Good luck!


Tom Hart's picture

If I were teaching knitting, for the first three or four classes I would give the students work already on the needles and I would teach them to tink (unknit). I would also get them used to pulling out the needles altogether and ripping back a few rows and then putting the needles back in correctly so that the stitches face the right way. Then I would give them work with yarn overs and dropped stitches and slipped stitches and teach them to find the errors. As a beginning knitter it is those skills, i.e., finding and correcting mistakes, that have enabled me to progress. I started knitting in August of this year and for the first few months every time I made a mistake I had to start all over from casting on. It wasn’t until I got comfortable with tinking and ripping back that I was able to make any progress or complete anything.

michaelpthompson's picture

OK, so I took the plunge and did my first big ripout today. Making a scarf with contrasting stripes, which I had basically designed myself in my head, and I discovered that it makes a difference which side you start the contrasting color on. (Who knew?)

It's a garter stitch, knit every row, and I started it quite a while ago, when I knit much more slowly and loosely, so I was measuring when to do the stripe repeat by inches, instead of rows. Started a new color on the "wrong side" though both sides are nearly identical except for the way the stitches show on the back side of where I start the new color. Since I started a new color on that side, the dash stitches showed on the opposite from where they were on the first set.

So I ripped out the contrasting color and the last row of the main color. Took me a bit of work to get the stitches back on the needle and I still don't think I got all of them right. A couple were dropped and had to be fixed on the next row, and one doesn't look right in a way I'm not sure of the reason for, so I couldn't fix, but it wasn't too bad.

You're right, it was a good experience, and enabled me to better understand the way the stitches work. Had to pick up the last few with a crochet hook because by the end of the row they were getting too tight from pulling them up onto the needle, and they pulled out.

It was both cathartic and satisfying, and I owe a lot of it to your encouragement Tom. Thanks.

"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."

Tom Hart's picture

Michael, for getting work back onto the needles after ripping back I like size one needles. They're like a toothpick and slip into the stitches easily and without pulling yarn from the other stitches. Then I'll take a double-pointed needle of the size that I'm doing the project with and slip the stitches from the size one needle onto the dpn and then from the dpns I'll slip the stitches onto the needles I'm using for the project. It may seem like a lot of process but it's a very easy, stress-free way to go. All the best, Tom

Tallguy's picture

Everyone seems to think that a scarf is a good first project for beginners, and I have to disagree most vehemently. They take too long, are definitely boring to do, and are just frustrating to do. A good way to turn off knitters.

I always get my beginners to work on a hat -- in the round -- as the first lesson in knitting. It's only knit stitches, on double points or circs, with a couple of simple decreases. You get a fast and good-looking project without being bored with it.

I then add purl stitches, on a mitten... and then a sock. By then, they have learned enough to work on a scarf!! But I always tell them to have more interesting projects on the go as well. Because really, how long can you face the same thing over and over and over on a scarf?!?

I definitely agree that lessons on fixing mistakes are mandatory. They all come up in the first lessons, so we cover those points as well. I'm a firm believer in them becoming a thinking knitter, and not a blind follower.

mrossnyc's picture

I started with a scarf and then did a hat in matching yarn. It wasn't the most interesting thing, but it gave me a good feel for completing two projects that were fairly simple.

After that, I took on an cabled sampler afghan, then sweaters, socks and more of all of the above.

I agree with teejtc: start with something you're interested in doing. There are no shoulds or shouldn'ts here, just do what is calling you and go for it.

Good luck!

Well... Lets see.. I've been knitting since september and have made scarves, wrist warmers, and a few washclothes thought the washclothes have pictures in the middle like martini glasses, cats, flamingos angd things. They're easy gifts and are making me want to incorporate them into other items. Just try anything that peaks your interest and roll with it mister. :)

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Welcome. I normally start people out with dish/wash cloths. Easy to work and get the feel for knitting with. Then, I have them find a simple project they want to try on their own and help them through it. I didn't teach my friend, Lynn, to knit but guided her through her first project [hat and scarf set] then taught her to make socks. As far as socks go...I use a simple toe and decrease it down to only a few stitches and then end it off like a cap. (Even if the pattern says to do Kitchener.) You still get a nice sock toe and can wait until you are comfortable with the thought of grafting the stitches together before learning it. Have lots of fun and don't be afraid to start over if necessary. After all...it is only yarn and needles. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

KnitMark's picture

I agree with the guys who are recommending dish cloths. Cotton yarn is cheap. There are lots of free patterns available on the internet. They knit up fast - I'm not a fast knitter, but I can easily do one while watching a movie. If you make a mistake, who cares? It's a dish cloth!
I made a lot of them while I was teaching myself to knit. I recommend using a solid color cotton yarn - it's much easier to see the individual stitches than when you use multicolored yarn. Studying both the way correct stitches and mistakes look can be really helpful down the road (when you're almost finished with your first pair of gloves and realize that that stitch in the last row looks REALLY funky).
I also find cotton to be a little more difficult to knit than wool - it's less elastic. When you learn to knit successfully with cotton, moving over to wool (or acrylic) is easy.
Whatever you decide to do - don't stress about it. Your first few projects WILL be less than perfect. Just have fun and keep practicing - skill will come with time.

davidUK's picture

I really liked 'Gloves Hats Scarves - Easy Designer Knits for Family and Friends' by Louisa Harding when I got started. It's a UK book so all of the wool options are easy to get hold of. And it makes you feel like you're knitting interestingstuff.

Welcome and good luck.


JodyLongKnits's picture

Hi Chris, Being a new knitter i would recommend a knitting book by Debbie Bliss (HOW TO KNIT) its very easy reading and has excellent photo's and drawings. If you do decide to knit the scarf use a good pure wool as this yarn tends to be easier and a light shade is always easier to spot mistakes and counting rows and stitches stay away from those fancy fashion yarns as they are harder to knit as yarn splits easier. Good Luck with whatever project you choose.

FREE knitting pattern site: http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/directory.php

rebel_rebel's picture

Hi everyone,

Thanks to everyone for all your suggestions and sorry for not posting any updates!

I've not had a chance to research any of your suggestions properly as have been inundated at work over the past fortnight, but am going to order a couple of books off Amazon and take it from there methinks.

Will keep you all updated of course!


michaelpthompson's picture

I worked on a scarf for months, then got ambitious and started to make my brother a sweater for Christmas. Took three months, which was a month AFTER Christmas, and it certainly wasn't perfect, but I'm happy with how it turned out. It's a Weasley Sweater, from "Charmed Knits" by Alison Hansel. She has a pattern for it on her web site, but I think the one in the book is simpler. It was really satisfying to make a real sweater, so I went on and made a matching hat.

The Irish hiking scarf looks intriguing, but I found another idea that looks even better. The cables are reversible. Check it out at: http://www.cometosilver.com/patterns/palindrome.htm

I don't really care for the girly striping colors they used on it, but I might try it with a good grey wool, or tweed yarn of some sort. Never been much good at cables, maybe I just need practice.

"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."