I'm starting from 0, now what?

It occurred to me recently that I want to learn to knit. I don't know where to start. Yes, I know I have to buy a book, but which do you recommend?

Most books have all sorts of girly stuff on them or baby stuff ... and well, there just aren't any girls or babies in my life. At least none that would appreciate a novices knitwear. I did find a book that had very tastefull and modern cushions that I may like to do.

I will probably buy everything online and I need to know:

• What are the first tools I should buy
• What is the first kind of yarn/wool/whatever I should buy
• What books would you recommend that don't ONLY projects for women
• and any other advice you can give.

OKknitguy's picture

best thing to do is check for a local yarn shop and go in and take lessons. Much easier. Sometimes its hard to follow pictures in a book or videos on line. Best to get a few lessons from a master.


KnitOneSipTwo's picture

RK is right, the best thing to do is to find a local yarn store for hands on guidance or find a knitting group that meets in your area. You'll find people who knit are usually very willing to talk about what to do.

There are many good books to teach you to knit. "Teach yourself to knit" will get you through the basics. I know a lot of people use YouTube for (somewhat saccharine) demonstrations on how to cast on, how to knit, purl, and make unique stitches.

There are several very good books geared specifically to men. "Knitting with Balls; A hands-on guide to knitting for the modern man," "The Knitting Man(ual)" and "Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them" are all interesting and very good. Knitting with Balls has pretty basic, easy projects for a beginner and a few good tips.

The basic tools you need are a set of needles. I suggest starting with a set of short aluminum one and see how it goes. I actually prefer using bamboo, but it depends on the yarn you use. Just pick a pair (size 6, 7, or 8 to start) and see how you like them. Avoid spending a lot of money at first. The easiest fibre to learn with is actually acrylic (it's very forgiving). If you have a WalMart or other comparable store in your area, you can get a very cheap skein of Red Heart. However, if you have a local yarn shop, the best thing is to go in and ask someone - the color, feel, and smoothness of the yarn is sometimes enough to keep you motivated to try. Whatever you choose, start with worsted weight or chunky weight - trying to work with anything smaller can be tedious when you're learning. Most people make a scarf with chunky weight yarn (wool, cotton, acrylic, whatever) as a first project. Do it in a garter stitch (knit every row, no purling involved) to practice. Then move on from there.

You'll also find many books at your yarn shop (many have on-line ordering) that are patterns for men. I just picked up a new one called "Knitting for Him," but most of these patterns are a little more advanced. Remember too, once you've mastered the basics, you'll be able to take a pattern meant for a woman and adapt it to yourself - maybe you like the colorwork on a frilly cardigan, you can change it to a raglan sleeve sweater.

Most of all, don't give up!


welcome to MWK.

vogue knitting is a pretty good resource. it has basic history of knitting, info on yarns and tools, instructions for casting on, basic stitches, binding off, and lots of patterns. there is a new edition out right now that probably has more modern patterns in the back. they don't have patterns that are specifically for men, but they have all the information about making a sweater for a man (how to take measurements and make your own patterns). honestly, making your own patterns is much more valuable than buying a pattern. besides, there are free patterns for almost everything online. there is information about designing basic sweater shapes, shaping shoulders, making pockets and hems and collars, etc. its got a lot of information for the price.

another invaluable resource is youtube. there are some very clear instructions for everything you could want to do. stuff that i haven't been able to find in books is usually available on youtube.

to start off:
get some thick yarn (double knit "DK" or worsted weight) probably a bright color.
a set of size 8US needles. i prefer circular needles, but straight aluminum needles are good starters, too.

you could start off without even getting the book. just needles, yarn and youtube are the absolute basics.

1. learn how to do an english cast-on.
2. then learn how to do a knit stitch. i recommend learning to knit continental style. it is just as easy as learning to knit english or american style, but it is much faster once you build the muscle memory. (in addition to figuring out technically how to knit, take a little bit of time to watch some advanced knitting techniques. pay attention to how they hold the yarn and move their hands. eventually you'll be able to keep the stitches very close to the tips of the needles and knit quickly with a minimum of motion.)

now that you know how to cast on and do a knit stitch, a good first project would be a washcloth:

1 cast on 20 stitches
2. switch the needles, so the loops are in your left hand and the empty needle is in the right.
3. knit 20 stitches
4. repeat from line 2 until you have about 20 rows, or until it is the length you want.
5. bind off.

voila! you have a wash cloth in a garter stitch.

from here, you can learn the purl stitch. once you can knit and purl, you can do most of the patterns out there.

good luck!

KnitOneSipTwo's picture

Vogue knitting is actually an invaluable resource!

face-to-face knitting instruction is, by far, the most effective way to learn.
all the ladies at yarn shops are usually more than happy to help a guy get started.
(and try to keep you trapped in the yarn shop while the call their eligible daughters to meet you...)
if you buy yarn at a shop, they usually provide basic technical support to help you knit it into something so you'll buy more yarn there.

Or grand-daughters.... just saying...

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss

Don't wanna add to the info here except to say WELCOME! And...I found that while teaching my self to knit from a book was possible....this site is invaluable for demos for a beginner in my opinion:


JDM511's picture

I agree with all the comments the other guys have made. The one addition I would make is that your first knitting experience is not a "project". Do not try to make a scarf, just knit for the sake of knitting, as you first start you will drop some stitches or create extra stitches by splitting the yarn, towards the end of the skein it will start to look much better. Once you are comfortable you can hide this swatch away, so it can be pulled out to remind you how far you have come since starting your knitting journey or you can just throw away your mistakes and get a fresh start on a new project. Also this is supposed to be enjoyable, don't put too much stress on yourself.


garyhrx's picture

I just started knitting this year and have found this website to be an invaluable resource. THe most comprehensive book I gI have found unfortunately is out of print. You may be able to find a copy in a library. It is called the Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt. There are several mens project books like Men WHo Knit and the Dogs who love them and Knitting with Balls. I find that the Principles of Knitting and a book called Confessions of a Heretic Knitter, approach knitting from a conceptual side as opposed to being dependent on published patterns and designs.
The projects that I started with were a hat and currently a scarf for the MWK scarf exchange. I also do lots of sample swatches to practice gauge and new stitches.

Thor's picture

I agree with the comments thus far and want to add a great online "basics" website... www.KnittingHelp.com has videos (some with audio) that are great reminders of the basics!

Welcome, brother!! KNIT ON!

scenter's picture

Welcome to MWK!

In Ireland? ...hmm...grab a nearby sheep, snatch some sticks up and dive in. ;-)

Seriously though, I agree with what has been said below - 'Knitting with Balls' has some easy and manly projects to make. I originally learned to knit from a CD in 2005 (can't remember the exact title), but it was difficult flying 'solo' (especially purling). I got much better after I visited a Local Yarn Shop (LYS) and started attending their Knit Nights. I walked in knowing how to make a garter stitch rectangle, and my purling frustrations, and 2 hours later I was making a hat that came out good enough for me to say - 'Wow' I did that? Knitters are a rare breed who love to help you out when you stumble, so fear not, no question is too stupid, no mistake is uncorrectable (almost).

I look forward to seeing your progress.

Bruce in Atlanta

legalmoose's picture

Having just started myself, I'd highly recommend Knitting for Dummies. It's a great reference, and you'll find yourself looking in it a lot as you get started. They have several samplers to help you learn things like increases and decreases, cables, etc. When you don't understand the written instructions, the videos on knittinghelp.com are invaluable, as she explains and shows you very simply how to do various and sundry stitches.

Knitting with Balls is a great book to start with for men's patterns.

Good luck! :-D

Britisher's picture

Welcome to Men Who Knit from another European.

One of the best books of patterns aimed at men is Classic Knits for Men: 27 Plus Original Handknit Designs with Rowan Yarns by Wendy Baker and Martin Storey [Link to Classic Knits for Men on Amazon.com].

Although his isn't the one to buy as a teach-yourself-guide, but is great when you've picked up the basics. The designs are a mixture of contemporary classics, with good instructions and great photography and cover a range of techniques, including cables and colour-work. Most of the patterns are for sweaters, which are my favourite projects. Rowan's yarns are widely available in the UK, and I assume the same will be true in the Republic of Ireland. They are some of the most fantastic yarns going and their prices match their quality.

If you want pure wool yarns in DK and aran weights then I'd put a word in for New Lanark in Scotland, reviewed previously in my blog.

Donski's picture

I've only been knitting a couple of months and taught myself purely from the videos on www.knittinghelp.com . I found it easier to watch videos than learn from books. You tube also has tons of llearn to knit videos as well as everything else. I learned to use my drum carder purely from videos on you tube. Just give it a go and be prepared to make mistakes but you will learn from them and get better and better

Welcome aboard

Crafty Andy's picture

Visit Crafty Andy's Blog COngratulations on a new Journey in your personal life. Elizabeth Zimmerman has a very nice attitude toward knitting, and you can learn a lot from her as well. There is no right or wrong way to knit on your own, there are patterns that require you to knit in a certain way, but don't let anyone tell you you are doing anything in the wrong way, because there is not such thing. Personally I prefer to knit on the back loop, it gives the garments a tighter knit and the stitches get a left twist. I use patterns as guides, and remember a mistake can sometimes be a pattern design if you continue to make the same mistake over and over lol!

In my opinion knitting is not masculine nor feminine, it is a creative outlet that allows you to express yourself on cloth! Nothing wrong in making your own clothes specially when the economy is slow lol!

Have fun, and meet with others that share your hobby. Remember it is your personal creative journey and it should be fun!

Pinecone's picture

Welcome to MWK! I agree with the suggestions everyone has made. My personal experience is that I was able to learn lots from the internet. There are numerous websites dedicated to free patterns, instructions, etc., and the videos on YouTube are the next best thing to sitting with someone face-to-face. I finally get a book after a few months of knitting small projects like hats and mittens. It is a bit of a technical reference that might be offputting to some, but I have found it to be a valuable resource you might want to take a look at if your local bookstore carries it: "Reader's Digest Knitter's Handbook; A comprehensive guide to the priciples and techniques of handknitting". It is authored by Montse Stanley. Enjoy your new found hobby and I hope you will share pics of your completed projects with us. John

scubasinger's picture

I also taught myself to knit via books and the internet. Knittinghelp.com is awesome. The books I used were Maran's Illustrated "Knitting and Crocheting" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Knitting and Crocheting". Yes, much is 'girly', but you can still learn the stitches. Once you've got your basic stitches mastered, sign up for ravelry.com. Lots of great patterns there. Then just do some googling for knitting sites. There are TONS of free patterns for practically anything.

But have fun. I still remember the first time that I took some yarn, a couple of straight #8's and began to create fabric. It was the most awesome thing. Just by pulling loops of yarn through loops of yarn, suddenly I had this actual piece of fabric appearing that I made!!! Incredible!


Kilted Knitter's picture

All Are Great Sugestions....

All the guys here have given you great suggestions, I was taught by my mon when I was younger, but after several years of not knitting I was retaught by a close friend who I call my knitting guru. My knitting guru taught me to knit socks first and then wash cloths, maybe sock were a bit over the top for my first projects,especially on double pointed needles, but I stayed with it and learned. Then I took of on my own and learned how to read a pattern, this can trip up people a lot, but you get used to reading the codes and then your on to what ever you imagination can think of. I have also taken somme classes at my local yarn shop (lys).
For me knitting is thearpy. It gets me out of my head. I started out a very tight knitter and have forced myself to knit slower and to relax.
Barry the Kilted Knitter

iTrain's picture

Oh my god! Thank you all for all your information. I have spent so much time to online reading through all this stuff. Now I can't wait. i will go out and get me some tools!