Knitting For Dummies book cover

Knitting For Dummies

By: Pam Allen and Shannon Okey Published: 10-22-2019

An illustrated guide showing how to create beautiful, timeless pieces, whether you're picking up needles for the first time or a seasoned pro looking for advanced patterns 

From scarves and sweaters to bags, pillows, and more, you'll find lots of projects for practicing and perfecting your knitting skills in Knitting For Dummies, which includes an instructional online video showing you the actual knitting techniques being done step-by-step. 

Experienced and novice crafters alike can benefit from the book’s step-by-step instructions that explain knitting in plain English. For anyone new to knitting, this hands-on friendly guide shows you how to  

  • Cast on, knit, purl, and bind off — the four basic skills needed to complete any knitting 

  • Decipher pattern instructions and charts 

  • Combine knit and purl stitches with increases and decreases for different effects 

  • Create different kinds of cables, lace, and more 

  • Read the language and graphics in knitting patterns and charts 

  • Increase and decrease stitches and use these techniques to shape a project and create design 

It also shows you what to do if you drop a stitch or inadvertently add one. If you know the basics of knitting and want to expand your skills to include stitch patterns with more complexity, you’ve come to the right place: 

  • Combine stitch increases and decreases to create lacework 

  • Get familiar with Fair Isle patterns and simple intarsia motifs, which involve working in more than one color in one row 

  • Practice with plenty of projects to perfect your advanced knitting techniques  

  • Learn to add interest with stripes 

  • Have fun with fulling and felting 

  • Make sweaters, from blocking and assembling your pieces to adding finishing touches like neckbands, edging, and buttonholes 

Knitting For Dummies includes ten quick projects to make for gifts and exercises to “unkink” your neck and shoulders should you lose yourself for hours at a time in your craft! Finally, the book ends with a couple appendixes showing you more cool effects and a list of knitting software and helpful online resources. If you’re itching to start stitching, grab this book to start crafting your knitted masterpiece today. 

Articles From Knitting For Dummies

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34 results
34 results
Knitting For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-24-2022

Knitting is a popular craft that can result in functional and decorative art. To get to the point where you're knitting useful garments, you need to know some knitting terms and their abbreviations. You may have to put your math skills to work as well, converting inches to centimeters or vice versa.

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How to Make a Yarn Over between a Purl and a Knit Stitch

Article / Updated 03-23-2017

To make a yarn over (abbreviated yo) that follows a purl stitch and precedes a knit stitch (which you’d encounter in a pattern as p1, yo, k1), follow these steps: Purl the first stitch and leave the yarn in the front of your work. Knit the next stitch. The yarn automatically crosses the RH needle when you knit this next stitch (see the following figure).

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Selecting Knitting Needles

Article / Updated 04-25-2016

Knitting needles come in a stunning assortment of materials and sizes to mesh with your knitting style, the particular project you're working on, your aesthetics, and your budget. Sizing up needles A needle’s size is determined by its diameter. The smaller the size, the narrower the needle and the smaller the stitch it makes. The following figure shows needle sizes and their US and metric equivalents. If you aren’t sure what needle sizes you’ll need in the future, try a circular knitting needle set with interchangeable tips. Even though the needle is designed for circular knitting, you can also use it to knit back and forth. Some sets feature plastic needle tips, some metal. These sets allow you to combine different-sized needle tips with different connector cords to make a very large range of needle sizes on the fly. An interchangeable circular needle is especially handy when you’re unsure which needle size to use for a given yarn. If the current size isn’t giving you the right gauge, simply switch the tip up or down one size instead of starting over on another needle. Accounting for needle makeup and tip type Knitting needles, which were first mass-produced in steel, have been made in ivory, tortoiseshell, silver, whale bone, and more. Today you can find them made in ebony and rosewood, sherbet-colored pearly plastic, Teflon-coated aluminum, and even 14-carat gold-plated (no kidding!). And that’s only the beginning. Whatever your needles are made of, the material does contribute more or less to your knitting comfort, speed, and the quality of your stitches. Here are some recommendations: If you’re new to knitting, you’re working on double-pointed needles, or you’re executing color patterns, good choices include wood (bamboo, walnut, and so on) and plastic. Wood and some plastics have a very slight grip, giving you more control over your work and discouraging dropped stitches. If you’re knitting in stockinette or a straightforward stitch pattern, a slippery needle makes sense. The fastest ones are nickel-plated brass and call themselves Turbo. Use these needles and watch your stitches fly by before your eyes. (Also watch for more-easily dropped stitches.) Although all needles look pretty much alike, you do notice a difference in the feel of various kinds of needles and in their interaction with your knitting style and the yarn you’re using. If you find that some feature of their construction or material is annoying you or interfering with the flow of your project, try a different kind of needle. Switching may make the difference between a knitting experience on cruise control and one that stops and starts and sputters along. Needle tips can be long and tapered or rounder and blunter (see the figure below). If you’re working a project with a lot of stitch manipulation (as in lace or cables), or if you’re a snug knitter (that is, your stitches are tight rather than loose), you’ll have an easier time if you use a needle with a long, tapered tip. If you’re knitting with a loosely spun yarn and/or you’re a relaxed knitter with looser stitches, you may prefer a blunter point. Two kinds of needle tips. Though they don’t fall directly into the category of different needle composition or tip type, square needles can be a great choice if you’re new to knitting. They’re made of metal or wood, and the shape makes them easier for the hands to hold. Stitches don’t fall off these square needles as easily as the standard round ones.

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Glossary of Knitting Techniques

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Knitting is both simple and complicated at the same time — it's all in the technique. Knowing a variety of knitting techniques helps you create professional-looking items. Following is a handy list that explains many common knitting techniques. Practice can make you a master of all of them. Bind off: Remove stitches from the needle to create a finished edge. Knit 2 stitches, * with tip of LH needle bring the stitch on the right (the first one knit) over the second stitch and off the needle. One stitch bound off. Knit 1 stitch. Rep from * to the end of the row. Place marker: Place a round marker (a purchased ring or strand of contrast yarn) on your needle to remind you of the beginning of a round, to indicate a pattern repeat, or for some other purpose your pattern tells you. Cast on: Make a foundation row of stitches. Row 1 is worked from these stitches. Purl into the back of the stitch: Instead of entering the stitch with the RH needle in the usual way to purl, go into the back of the stitch, twisting it. Decrease: Remove stitches using k2tog or ssk or psso. Purl into the stitch below: Insert the RH needle as if to purl into the stitch directly below the first stitch on the LH needle and purl it (wrap yarn and draw a loop through) as you normally would. Increase: Add stitches to a row, often abbreviated as m1 (make 1). Purl 2 together: Insert the needle into 2 stitches instead of 1 and purl them together as 1 stitch. It decreases 1 stitch and slants to the right. Knit into the back of the stitch: Instead of entering the stitch with the RH needle in the usual way to knit, go into the back of the stitch, twisting it. Purlwise: Insert the RH needle into the next stitch as if you're going to purl it. Knit into the stitch below: Insert the RH needle as if to knit into the stitch directly below the first stitch on the LH needle and knit it (wrap yarn and draw a loop through) as you normally would. Slip stitch: With the RH needle, go into the first stitch on the LH needle as if to purl it and transfer it to the RH needle without working it. Knit 2 together: Insert the RH needle through the first 2 stitches and knit them together as 1 stitch. It decreases 1 stitch and slants to the right. Slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over: Slip 1 stitch, knit the next stitch, and then bring the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch and off the needle. It decreases 1 stitch and slants to the left. Knit 3 together: Insert the RH needle into the first 3 stitches and knit them together as 1 stitch. It decreases 2 stitches and slants to the right. Slip 1, knit 2 together, pass the slipped stitch over: Slip 1 stitch, knit the next 2 stitches together as 1 stitch, and then bring the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch and off the needle. It decreases 2 stitches and slants to the left. Knitwise: Insert the RH needle into the next stitch as if you're going to knit it. Slip, slip, knit: Slip 2 stitches one at a time as if to knit, and then knit them together as 1 stitch through the back of the loops. It decreases 1 stitch and slants to the left. No stitch: A chart symbol indicating that there's no stitch on your needle to match the square in the chart. When you get to a no-stitch square, skip it and work the next stitch as indicated in the next square of the chart. Work even: Continue in whatever pattern you're working without increasing or decreasing. Pick up and knit (or purl): With a knitting needle and yarn, draw through a series of new loops to work from along the edge of a knitted piece. It's usually used for neck and cardigan bands. Yarn over: Make a new stitch by wrapping the yarn around the RH needle. The way to do this depends on the kind of stitches (knit or purl) on either side of the yarn over.

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Knitting Abbreviations

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Knitting patterns use a collection of standard abbreviations — most are fairly intuitive, but some can be confusing. Keep this list of knitting abbreviations and their meanings close by, so you can consult it as needed: Abbreviation Meaning Abbreviation Meaning Abbreviation Meaning approx approximately lp(s) loop(s) RS right side(s) beg beginning m meter(s) sc single crochet CC contrasting color m1 make 1 stitch (increase 1 stitch) sl slip, slipped, or slipping ch chain MC main color sl st slip stitch cm centimeter(s) mm millimeter(s) ssk slip, slip, knit the slipped stitches together cn cable needle oz ounce(s) st(s) stitch(es) cont continue or continuing p purl tbl through the back of the loop dec(s) decrease(s), decreased, or decreasing pat(s) pattern(s) tog together dpn(s) double-pointed needle(s) ptbl or p-b purl stitch through the back of the loop WS wrong side(s) foll follows or following pm place marker wyib with yarn in back g gram(s) psso pass slipped stitch over (used for decreasing) wyif with yarn in front inc(s) increase(s), increased, or increasing pwise purlwise (as if to purl) yb yarn back k knit rem(s) remain(s) or remaining yd yard(s) k2tog knit 2 stitches together rep repeat yf yarn forward ktbl or k-b knit stitch through the back of the loop RH right-hand yo yarn over kwise knitwise (as if to knit) rnd(s) round(s) yrn yarn around needle LH left-hand

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Converting Metrics for Knitting

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you're a knitter, you know that sometimes you need to convert inches to centimeters or vice versa. Knitting conversions aren't hard to do, you just need to brush off your math skills. Here are a couple of tips to help you convert both centimeters and inches: To convert centimeters to inches, divide the centimeter figure by 2.5; for example, 10 centimeters divided by 2.5 equals 4 inches. To convert inches to centimeters, multiply the inch figure by 2.5; for example, 4 inches times 2.5 equals 10 centimeters.

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10 Places to Bring Your Knitting

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You hear it all the time as you knit: "Oh, you knit! I just don't have the time to do that." It's not that you somehow have more time than this person to just waste away; you just find ways to spend your time more efficiently. Bringing your knitting with you just about anywhere is possible. Here are ten places you can squeeze knitting into your busy life: Grocery shopping: Picking up your needles rather than skimming the magazine rack is a handy way to knit a few rows or rounds. Have a long repeat that needs to be finished before you put the project away? No problem; choose the longest line at the check-out to guarantee that you'll finish! Commute: Using public transportation makes knitting time a breeze; because somebody else does all the driving, you just have to sit and knit. Be sure to bring something that isn't too complicated. More often than not, a fellow commuter will want to chat your ear off about what you're knitting. You don't want to get distracted. Flying: An air-pressurized capsule thousands of feet in the air is a great place to knit! As of this writing, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doesn't prohibit you from taking knitting needles on airplanes. (Check the TSA's website on prohibited items before your trip for current guidelines.) Use circular needles so you don't risk dropping one and losing it several rows back. Play-dates: Gather up the kids and go to a restaurant that has a play area. Feed the kids lunch, get free drink refills, use public restrooms, and best of all, let somebody else clean it up. As the kids use up energy playing on the jungle gym, you get to sit and knit. It's a win-win. Ball games: Soccer, baseball, or football — no matter what the sport, you always get a time out or a break in the action. These are the perfect moments to knit a few. Movies: Have you been to the movies lately? Theaters show so many previews and commercials that you have at least 30 minutes of knitting time before the movie actually starts. If you bring something with garter stitch so you don't have to look at it for a pattern, you may be able to knit during the movie, too. Game night: Depending on the number of people playing a game, you may encounter a significant lull between turns. The game table is the perfect place for you to pick up your needles and knit. Amaze your friends by starting a small project with big needles and big yarn at the beginning of the game and finishing it by the end. Gym: Some people may not be able to walk and chew gum, but others actually can walk and knit. If you're planning on just walking on the treadmill or around the track, bring your knitting. Sure, some gym rats will snicker and laugh, but hey, you're multi-tasking! Business meetings: Sounds crazy, but knitting can help you stay focused during meetings. Sit in the back of the room and knit quietly as you listen to the message. You won't hear the sneezing, shuffling of papers, squeaking of chairs, or whispering chatter around you because your knitting will help you focus on the real reason you're there. Camping: After a long day of hiking or swimming, all you want to do is sit around the fire. Take your knitting along to work on as you chat with the other campers. Your yarn will smell like campfire smoke, but a good cleaning with fiber wash will take care of that. If you're using acrylic yarn, stay far from the fire, or your yarn will melt.

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How to Knit on the Bias

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Knitting on the bias may sound as if it’s some crazy new knitting technique, but it’s actually just a simple way of shaping a project so that it leans diagonally. Simply put, to knit on the bias is to knit diagonally rather than up and down or side to side. By knitting an increase and a decrease at precise points in a project, you begin to shape the fabric diagonally. Knitting on the bias is fun and relatively easy and renders a fabric that’s pleasing to the eye. The basic instructions to knit on the bias are as follows; your fabric will lean to the left: RS: Work an increase at the beginning of the row and a corresponding decrease on the opposite end of the same row. WS: Work in pattern without shaping. To have the bias lean to the right, just reverse the shape: RS: Work a decrease at the beginning of the row and a corresponding increase at the opposite end of the same row. WS: Work in pattern without shaping. These samples show bias knitting in garter and stockinette stitch, but you can work any pattern stitch on the bias. Just remember that as the stitches get increased at the edge, you’ll have more stitches than needed to complete your pattern repeat at that edge. The opposite is true for the decrease; you’ll have fewer stitches than needed to complete your pattern repeat. So when working in a pattern stitch, you have to decide how you’ll maintain the pattern as the stitches change on each edge. The easiest way to adjust the pattern is to keep the edge stitches in stockinette stitch until there are enough stitches to complete a full pattern repeat. When changing a lace pattern, you have to accommodate the increases and decreases in the lace as well as the bias shaping. The possibilities of bias knitting are many. Have fun with it. Play with pattern stitches, change colors, or switch up yarns for a truly whimsical look.

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Making the Most of Making a Gauge Swatch

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The gauge swatch gets a bad rap because some knitters think knitting one is a waste of time and yarn. But the reverse is actually true; refusing to knit a gauge swatch may result in hours spent knitting something that turns out to be the wrong size or have the wrong tension. The gauge swatch helps safeguard you from making significant sizing blunders. That’s why knitting one at the beginning of every project is very important. But how do you use a gauge swatch to its full advantage? Here are some pointers: Make it big enough. Size matters. You need a square at least 4 inches on all sides (not including the border) to ensure you measure gauge accurately. Wash and block it. Your gauge swatch is a tool to tell you all you need to know about how the fabric is going to act when your garment is finished. For garments that need to fit, you need more than just a pre-block measurement. A garment will be washed at some point, and you need to know how the fabric will behave when that happens. It may get super fuzzy, stretch out of shape, or become completely distorted. Washing and blocking your gauge swatch lets you know that beforehand and prevents you from accidentally knitting any yeti sweaters. Lace stitches tend to really open up when blocked, so you need to plan for the extra space. Meeting a lace gauge pre-block often results in a piece that is two times too big after blocking because the yarn overs open up and cover more surface area. Patterns always give a post block gauge measurement! When blocking lace, really stretch those lace swatches. When the swatch is dry, unpin it and let the fabric rest a bit before measuring for gauge. This process will give you a true finished gauge. Knit another one if necessary. If, after measuring your gauge swatch, you think you need to go up or down a needle size, you need to do another swatch to be sure that the change works. Keep it handy as a pattern guide. When you have all the swatch measurements and the numbers coincide with the pattern (or you’re satisfied with the fabric you’ve created to design your own project), don’t throw out the swatch just yet. Write down the needle size and yarn you used for that swatch and pin the note to it. Hang on to this swatch through the duration of the project; it’ll act as a good example of how the fabric should look. Here’s a swatch worksheet to help you keep track of the swatch information for your project.

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Find the Best Knitting Garment Shape for You

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

All too often, knitters choose a pattern that everybody is making, shell out for yarn, and spend hours knitting only to finish and realize that they don’t like the garment because that shape looks terrible on them. Taking the time to choose the best garment shape for your body type can save you hours spent knitting the wrong sweater. Here are some tips on choosing the right shape for you: Go to the closet. To get a good grip on what shape of clothes you like to wear, look in your closet to see what you buy from the ready-to-wear stores. Your closet is a great place to start because it gives you an idea of what your garment shape tendencies are. Try on some of your clothes. Use a long mirror and really look at the garment on you. Pay attention to what you like about the garment. You may want to have a friend over to describe what he or she likes about the piece on you. Take notes about your favorite pieces. Write down what you like about some of your favorite garments. Draw a rough picture of the shape or take a photo. Note the type of fabric, the feel of the fabric (does it drape or is it stiff?), and the color. Get out the measuring tape. Take measurements of a garment you like — especially the hem, waist, bust, armhole depth, neckline width and depth, and sleeve width and length — and add them to your notes. You can compare these measurements with any knitting pattern schematic to help you choose the right size. Now you have a comprehensive understanding of what you already like in a garment and can choose knitting patterns that you’ll actually wear when the knitting is done.

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