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Learn to knit

If you've never knit before, practice these techniques from cast on to bind off to learn the basic knitting skills you need for projects you'll find on this site.

Also check out our knitting learn how book "Knitting Made Easy" and our knitting made easy kit "Learn Knitting".

Choose a technique:

  • Introduction to Intarsia

    by Laura Bain

    Intarsia knitting is not all that different than Fair Isle, except that multiple colors can be used on one row (Fair Isle only uses 2 at a time). Also, separate balls of yarn are added into the row for each color block, rather than carrying all colors across the row. 

    More intarsia patterns are at the end of the page, under the instructions.

    Union Jack Pillow
    Knit in Soft unionJack
    Sweet Argyle Dress
    Knit in Anne Geddes Baby argyle
    Gifts Around The Tree Skirt
    Knit in Super Saver treeSkirt

    Reading a Chart

    ArgyleChartMost Intarsia knitting patterns are accompanied by a chart.  The chart is a visual representation of a written pattern. On the chart, each square is one knit stitch. Each knit stitch will be color coded to show which color you should work with. You may find it helpful to write in the numbers for any rows that are not labeled (and the columns in the repeat, for that matter).

    As mentioned above, in comparison to Fair Isle, which is usually worked in the round, intarsia is usually worked flat, so you would read the chart as if it shows the right side of the work facing you. Therefore on the first row you would read as you knit, from right to left. When working flat, the second row would be worked in purl from left to right.

    Hint: You may find it helpful to use a sticky note to cover up the rows you’ve already worked.

    Changing Color

    To change color in the middle of a row, or at any point when knitting, you simply drop the old color and pick up the new. You can use this technique to create stripes (the most simple of intarsia patterns), or to create an integrated border on a blanket or sweater. There is one caveat to that simplicity, because you may be changing color at the same vertical point repeatedly you will need to make sure you grab the new yarn by going under the old yarn (so as not to create a hole).

    Because you will knit each color block with a separate strand of yarn (instead of carrying any one color across) you will want to wind multiple intarsia bobbins with the colors you will use.

    bobbin

    Begin by casting on the number of stitches called for in with any weight yarn and a comfortable size needle for that yarn. In my example I’ve chosen Red Heart Soft Baby Steps in Aqua and Lavender and size 8 needles. For my example, I have cast on 40 stitches and will work 2 of the pattern repeats from the chart above.

    When you come to the point in your knitting that you need to change colors simply drop the first color and pick up the second. Continue working like this across the row:

    adding_color_sm

    As you build the project, row by row, the design will appear:

    INT_front_sm

    The back of the work should not show any carried yarn:

    INT_back_sm

    Now that you know the basics for intarsia knitting, here are a few more patterns which use this wonderful technique:

    LW4266

    Child's Foxy Tunic

    BearHoodie

    Baby Bear Hoodie

  • How to Knit Cables

    Whether simple or complex, cable patterns add depth and texture to your knitting, and they are easy to learn. Use a cable needle to cross one group of stitches over another, or move them across the background fabric. Your pattern instructions will give you details on how to place and cross the cables.

    • Most cables are worked in Stockinette stitch on a reverse Stockinette stitch background so they stand out.
    • Many cables involve crossing the 2 stitches over 2 stitches, or 4 stitches over 4 stitches, etc. Some cables involve unequal numbers, such as crossing 3 stitches over 4 stitches. Your pattern will have information on the types of cables used in the pattern and the abbreviations used for those cables.
    • Cable needles may be in a U shape or may be mostly straight with an offset section in the middle. Both designs work the same way, and which one is used depends on the individual knitter. When using a cable needle, make sure you remove the stitches in the same order you put them on.
    • Holding the stitches in front of the work forms a cable that leans left. Holding the stitches in back of the work forms a cable that leans right.

    Cable 4 Back (CAB)

    These instructions are one common type of cable. They involve crossing two stitches over another two stitches. All four stitches are in Stockinette stitch against a reverse Stockinette background.

    1. On a right side row, work to the position of the cable panel and slip the next two stitches to the cable needle.

    2. Hold the stitches on the cable needle at the back of the work. Knit the next two stitches from the left needle.

    3. Now knit the two stitches from the cable needle to form a cable that twists to the right.

    Cable 4 Front (CAF)

    1. On a right side row, work to the position of the cable panel and slip the next two stitches to the cable needle.

    2. Hold the stitches on the cable needle at the front of the work. Knit the next two stitches from the left needle.

    3. Now knit the two stitches from the cable needle to form a cable that twists to the left.

    Below: LW5043 Lattice Look Beanie Knitting Pattern

  • How to Decrease in Knitting

    Decreasing stitches makes your knitted piece narrower. Decreases are used for sleeve caps, neckline shaping, shaping the crown of a hat, etc., and are paired with yarn over increases in lace knitting.

    Two of the most common decreases are knit 2 together (k2tog) and slip, slip, knit (ssk). K2tog leans to the right and ssk leans to the left. They both combine two stitches into one stitch.

    There are other decreases that decrease by more than one stitch, and decreases that do not lean left or right. They are slightly more advanced and are in the Special Stitches section of our patterns.

    Below: LW4194 Carousel Hat Knitting Pattern

  • How to Increase in Knitting

    There are several ways to increase, and each method adds extra stitches to the row unless they are paired with compensating decreases. Increasing is used whenever a knitted piece needs to be wider, such as sleeve shaping.

    One of the easiest and most common increases is to knit into the front and back of a stitch (kfb). If a pattern does not give instructions for the type of increase to use, this is a good choice. Another common, although more difficult, increase is the Make 1 (M1). The M1 increase creates a new stitch by itself, without going into the previous stitch.

    The yarn over is third type of increase. Often used in lace knitting, it creates small holes (eyelets) in the fabric.

    Below: LW3136 Saddle Shoulder Pullover Free Knitting Pattern

  • How to Knit into Front and Back

    Knitting into the front and back of a stitch is one of the easiest and most common knit increases.

    On a knit row, work into the front and back of the next stitch: knit into the stitch and before slipping it off the left needle, twist the right needle behind the left and knit the same stitch again through the back loop. Slide the original stitch off the left needle -- there are now 2 stitches on the right needle made from the original one.

    On a purl row, the method of increasing is similar. Purl into the front of the next stitch, then purl into the back of it before sliding it off the left needle.

    Below: LW3949 Teen Endless Circle Vest Knitting Pattern

  • Knit iCord: The Essentials

    by Laura Bain

    Making an iCord is a quick and easy way to create a beautiful knit cord which can be incorporated into many projects. A few of my favorite uses for iCord are as the ties for ear flap hats (as in my toddler hat) or as a cord to gather the waistband of a skirt, pants or a sweater.

    More iCord patterns are at the end of the page, under the instructions.

    Teddy Love Hat
    Knit in Boutique Infinity Teddy Love Hat Free Knitting Pattern LW4760
    Lace in the Cables Vest
    Knit in Soft Lace in the Cables Vest Free Knitting Pattern LW3234
    Squared Shades Throw
    Knit in Boutique Unforgettable Squared Shades Throw Free Knitting Pattern LW3571

    The iCord technique has been documented in a printed pattern as early as 1856. A book entitled The Finchley Manuals of Industry No IV. Plain Needle-Work calls this technique a "stay-lace" and offers a quick explanation of how to create this type of cording. In 1974, Elizabeth Zimmerman “rediscovered” this quick and easy way to create a lovely knit cord, which she dubbed the iCord (because, she believed it to be so simple an "idiot" could do it). It being a rather simple technique, once you get the knack for it, making iCord can be relatively mindless (always a bonus for those of us who sneak our knitting time into a few of the calm moments of a fully packed day).

    iCord on DPNs

    Knitting an iCord on double-pointed needles (dpns) is simple. To knit iCord lacing you will cast on a small number of stitches (usually between 3 – 6 stitches) and, instead of turning your work at the end of the row, you slide it to the other end of the needle and carry on knitting. This results in “knitting in the round,” but with a very few number of stitches.

    Begin by casting on the desired number of stitches with any weight yarn and a comfortable size needle for that yarn. In my example I’ve chosen Red Heart Soft Baby Steps in Elephant and size 8 needles.

    In this example will create an iCord using 3 stitches.

    Cast on (CO) 3 stitches:

    Now slide those CO stitches to the right side of the needle:

    Bringing the working yarn around the back of the knit stitches, simply knit the stitches (on what has become the left-hand needle):

    This is what your work will look like when you complete the first row:

    Again, slide the stitches from the left side of the needle to the right side:

    Knit theses stitches:

    This is how your work will look when you’ve completed the second row (and tugged on the tail):

    Repeat these steps until the iCord reaches your desired length:

    To finish, cut yarn and thread through the stitches on your needle. Pull tight. You can use a yarn needle to thread the ends up through the iCord.

    iCord Cast On

    If you are looking to add a decorative element as you cast on, the iCord cast on creates a lovely finished look for the bottom of sweaters knit from the bottom to the top.

    NOTE: Slip stitches knit-wise.

    First you will cast on 3 stitches (on your right needle):

    Slip those stitches onto the left needle:

    Knit into the front and back of the first stitch (KFB), this is an increase:

    You will have 4 stitches on your right needle when you finish this row:

    Slip 3 of the 4 stitches to the left needle:

    Kfb into first stitch and knit the 2 remaining stitches, you will have 5 stitches on the right needle:

    Continue to slip 3 stitches from the right needle to the left, KFB of first stitches and knit the last 2 until you have the desired number of stitches PLUS 2 on your right hand needle:

    To finish, slip 3 stitches onto the left needle:

    Knit the first 2 stitches together (k2tog), then knit the last stitch:

    Slip 2 stitches from the right needle to the left:

    Knit those 2 stitches together:

    At this point, the front of your work will be facing you, so if you want to work stockinette stitch, you will want to purl your second row (and knit the 3rd row, etc):

    iCord Bind Off

    Another way to dress up your work is to use the iCord Bind Off. Using this method of binding off works very well for bowls and purses (especially fulled/felted pieces), as it adds a lovely finished edge to your piece. Marly Bird also used this method in her Garter Stitch Shawl.  In this example I've used Red Heart Soft in Turquoise.

    When you are ready to bind off your work, you will first need to cast on 3 additional stitches (the backwards loop method will work well for this application):

    Knit the first 2 stitches:

    K2tog (through the back loop):

    Slip all the stitches back onto the left needle:

    Repeat these steps - Knit the first 2 stitches:

    K2tog (through the back loop):

    Slip all of the stitches back onto the left needle:

    After a few more repeats, the iCord will begin to become more pronounced:

    Finishing:

    When there are 3 stitches left on the right needle, slip them to the left needle:

    K2tog and knit 1:

    Slip 2 remaining stitches back onto the left needle:

    K2tog:

    Cut yarn and thread tail through the last loop:

    Weave in the end.

    Now that you know how to tackle the 3 most used iCord techniques, here are a few more patterns which use the iCord:

    I Heart U Baby Blanket Free Knitting Pattern LW3082

    LW3082 I Heart U Baby Blanket

    LW4588 Lace Border Shawl

    LW4588 Lace Border Shawl

    LW4305 Cabled Toddler Hat

    LW4305 Cabled Toddler Hat

      Marly's Garter Stitch Shawl Free Knitting Pattern LW5216

    LW5216 Marly's Garter Stitch Shawl

    Holiday Pillow with Stockings Free Knitting Pattern LW3693

    LW3693 Holiday Pillow with Stockings

  • Knitting Cables: An Introduction

    by Laura Bain

    I love to knit with cables! I remember very fondly my first attempt to knit a cable. I'd done a few patterns, from a book I've long ago lost and forgotten the title, and was working up to some of the more complicated projects. When I found this lovely blanket only used knit, purl and cables, I was very excited to give it a try. The beautiful designs that come from cables make them seem difficult, but if you can slip a few stitches to a 3rd needle, you can add cables to your knitting repertoire!

    Here are a few free patterns from redheart.com which use cables.

    Cabled Pillows
    Knit in With Love
    Cabled Pillows Free Knitting Pattern LW3694
    Casual Cables Throw
    Knit in Comfort Chunky
    Casual Cables Throw Free Knitting Pattern LW5459
    Cabled Holiday Balls
    Knit in With Love
    Cabled Holiday Balls Free Knitting Pattern LW3676

    What is a Cable?

    two-color cableCables are the fun fancy twists and braids that you see in all kinds of knitted objects. They're used to add embellishment and visual appeal to your work.

    Cables are worked by sliding a number of stitches (usually between 2-5 stitches) onto a cable needle, while you work a number of stitches from the left hand needle which will cause those stitches to cross in front of or behind the stitches that have been placed on the cable needle. This creates the appearance that the knitted stitches are icords that have been wound or braided around each other. NOTE: In the image at the left, I have added to this twisted cord effect by using color work that follows the slipped stitches. This is an advanced technique, which I have shared here as a nice visual display but would only suggest that knitters who are VERY comfortable with Fair Isle and intarsia techniques attempt to construct a cable with more that one color. I'm not aware of any patterns that use more than one color to create a cable.

    Cables are usually worked in stockinette stitch on a field of reverse stockinette.  In a pattern, cable stitches should be listed at the beginning of the pattern where special stitches are noted.   There the pattern will specify how many stitches are to be slipped and whether one should hold the cable needle in the front of your work or behind your work to create the desired appearance. If you hold the slipped stitches in the front of your work, the cable will appear to twist to the left. If you hold the slipped stitches behind your work, the cable will twist to the right. In the example to the left, the slipped stitches were held in the front of my work, thus the cables twisting to the left.

    Common cable stitches are noted as such:
    CB4 (Cable 4 Back): Place 2 sts on cable needle and hold in back. Knit next 2 sts from the left hand needle.  Knit 2 sts from cable needle.
    CF4 (Cable 4 Front): Place 2 sts on cable needle and hold in front. Knit next 2 sts from the left hand needle. Knit 2 sts from cable needle.
    C6B (Cable 6 Back): Slip next 3 sts to cable needle and hold in back, k3, k3 from cable needle.
    C6F (Cable 6 Front): Slip next 3 sts to cable needle and hold in front, k3, k3 from cable needle.
    2/2 RC (2 by 2 Right Cross): Slip 2 to cable needle, hold to back, k2; k2 from cable needle.
    2/2 LC (2 by 2 Left Cross): Slip 2 to cable needle, hold to front, k2; k2 from cable needle.

    To work a cable you will need a cable needle. For my swatch, I've cast on 27 stitches. In my example I’ve chosen Red Heart Soft in Wheat and size 8 needles and worked the following 2 rows, two (2) times (for a total of 4 rows):

    Row 1: K6, P6, K3, P6, K6
    Row 2: K3, P3, K6, P3, K6, P3, K3

    cable 1

    The next row will be our cable row. In a pattern, this row would be noted as such: K3, P3, C3F, P3, C3B, P3, K3. So before you work the cable you will knit 3 and purl 3 stitches. To work the C3F, slip 3 stitches onto your cable needle.

    cable 2

    Then let your cable needle rest in the front of your work.

    cable 3

    Now work the next 3 stitches from the left hand needle.

    cable 4 cable 5

    Now you will work the 3 stitches from your cable needle.

    cable 6 cable 7

    Now you will continue the instructions for the row by purling the next 3 stitches. Then you will work the C3B just like the first cable, except that you will let the cable needle, with the slipped stitches rest behind your work. Begin by slipping 3 stitches onto the cable needle, as before. Let the cable needle rest at the back of your work.

    cable 8

    Work the next 3 stitches from the left hand needle. Here is what the back of your work will look like:

    cable 9

    Now work the slipped stitches from the cable needle.

    cable 10

    Now, just complete the row with 3 purl and 3 knit stitches.

    cable 11

    You can alter the cable's appearance by changing the number of non-cable rows worked between each cable row. In the next image I have worked the first two rows listed above 2 times for a total of 4 rows and then worked the cable row.

    cable 12

    The following image shows how the cable is elongated when I worked the first 2 rows listed above 4 times, for a total of 8 rows before working the cable row.

    cable 13

    Here is a quick condensed version of the pattern as stitched above.

    Row 1: K6, P6, K3, P6, K6
    Row 2: K3, P3, K6, P3, K6, P3, K3
    Rows 3 & 4: Repeat Rows 1 & 2
    Row 5: Repeat Row 1
    Row 6: K3, P3, C3F, P3, C3B, P3, K3
    Rows 7 - 10: Repeat Rows 1 & 2 two times
    Row 11: Repeat Row 1
    Row 12: K3, P3, C3F, P3, C3B, P3, K3
    Rows 13 - 20: Repeat Rows 1 & 2 four times
    Row 21: Repeat Row 1
    Row 22: K3, P3, C3F, P3, C3B, P3, K3

    You can have a lot of fun creating your very own scarf using this pattern making the cables as long or short as you would like, or simply repeating the panel above until your work is long enough to cast off.

    Finally, here is a nice brief video to help you see knitting cables in action!

    Now that you have mastered knitting cables, here are other patterns that you can use to practice this new skill!

    Cabled Jar Cozies

    Cabled Jar Cozies Free Knitting Pattern LW3671

    Lacy Baby Legwarmers

    Lacy Baby Legwarmers Free Knitting Pattern LW5204

    Knit Cabled Hoodie

    Knit Cabled Hoodie Free Knitting Pattern WR1872

    Hot Water Bottle Cover

    Hot Water Bottle Cover Free Knitting Pattern LW4790

    Cable Edge Scarf

    Cable Edge Scarf Free Knitting Pattern LW3004

  • Changing Colors and Fair Isle Knitting

    by Laura Bain

    Some knitters seem to be intimidated about changing colors in the middle of a row or round, but the development of this simple skill will allow you to really experiment with different designs for your work, everything from knitting a blanket with an integrated border to a really fantastic Fair Isle sweater.

    More Fair Isle patterns are at the end of the page, under the instructions.

    Fair Isle Poncho & Arm Warmers
    Knit in With Love Poncho
    Fair Isle Knit Cowl
    Knit in Super Saver Fair Isle Knit Cowl Free Knitting Pattern LW4808
    Fair Isle Scarf
    Knit in Super Saver Fair Isle Scarf Free Knitting Pattern LW4084

    Knitting with 2 colors on the same row or round dates to at least the 1500's. The Museum of London collection boasts a lovely child's mitten that dates to the Tudor era. This simple mitten has but 3 rounds of decoration around the cuff, one of which alternates a lighter and darker brown every stitch. The name for the Fair Isle technique of stranded knitting comes from a tiny island in the North of Scotland where the technique was popularized (and some would say perfected).

    Changing Color

    To change color in the middle of a row or at any point when knitting in the round you will simply drop the old color and pick up the new. This may sound like an over simplification, but I assure you it really is that simple. You can use this technique to create stripes when working in the round, or to create an integrated border on a blanket or sweater. There is one caveat to that simplicity, if you are changing color at the same vertical point repeatedly you will need to make sure you grab the new yarn by going under the old yarn (so as not to create a hole).

    Begin by casting on the number of stitches caller for in with any weight yarn and a comfortable size needle for that yarn. In my example I’ve chosen Red Heart Soft in Turquoise and Light Grey and size 8 needles.

    When you come to the point in your knitting that you need to change colors simply drop the first color and pick up the second.

    colorSwitch

    When you are ready to change back to your main color, grab it from below and continue knitting:

    backtoMC

    Fair Isle Knitting

    Fair Isle knitting is as simple as using 2 colors repeatedly within the same row or round. Both of the colors will be used across the round or row and therefore you will carry both colors across your work. Due to the nature of Fair Isle knitting, it is easier to work in the round, which allows one to knit all rounds to achieve stockinette stitch (rather than needing to knit one row and purl the next, as when working stockinette stitch flat).

    NOTE: It is good practice, when changing colors, to grab your "new" color from below. This will ensure that there are no holes in your work.

    Work as directed above, picking up your color from below, but carrying both strands of yarn across/around work:

    FairIsle_01

    Carrying yarn across the back of your work will result in "floats". Try not to pull your stitches too tight or you will bunch up the knitting. This is how the floats will appear on the inside(back/wrong side) of your work:

    >FairIsleFloats

    As you build the project, round by round, the design will appear:

    FairIsle_02

    NOTE: When the colors change frequently, the floats will naturally be short but long floats can get caught on things, which can disrupt the fabric of your finished object.

    If your float is longer that 3-5 stitches, it is good practice to loop your floating yarn around your working yarn by dropping the  working yarn and picking up the floating color from underneath. Now you will drop the floating color, and pick up the working yarn and continue knitting the pattern. Twisting the yarns around each other shortens the float.

    Reading a Chart

    Most Fair Isle knitting patterns are accompanied by a chart (see below for examples of simple two-color charts). The chart is a visual representation of a written pattern. Some patterns do not include the written out instructions for Fair Isle designs.

    Chart02

    On the chart, each square is one knit stitch. Each knit stitch will be color coded to show which color you should work with. You may find it helpful to write in the numbers for any rows that are not labeled (and the columns in the repeat, for that matter).

    As mentioned above, Fair Isle is usually worked in the round, so you would read the chart from right to left and bottom to top, just like you knit.

    NOTE: If you have found a Fair Isle pattern that is worked, flat you will read the chart as if it shows the right side of the work facing you, therefore on the first row you would read as you knit, from right to left. When working flat, the second row would be worked in purl from left to right.

    Hint: You may find it helpful to use a sticky note to cover up the rows you’ve already worked.

    Chart01

    Now that you know the basics for changing colors, here are a few more patterns which use color changes to create stripes and use the Fair Isle knitting technique:

    StarsBalls
    LW4401 Holiday Stars and Balls Ornaments

     sweater
    Northern Lights Easy Fair Isle Pullover

  • Beginner's Guide to Knit Lace

    by Laura Bain

    It seems that many novice knitters balk at knitting lace, but I'm here to tell you that knitting lace does not have to be complicated or cumbersome! Don't get me wrong, some lace patterns are very complex, but new knitters can build their confidence and experience by starting with a few simple lace stitches and then move on to more complicated patterns.

    Lace knitting stitches are just a series of increase and decrease stitches that form lovely patterns from the very basic to the most delicate and detailed. Lace patterns can be worked in any weight of yarn, although it is easiest to work them in weights of 5-bulky and smaller.

    Here are a few free lace patterns from redheart.com.

    Textured Triangle Shawl
    Knit in Soft Essentials
    Textured Triangle Shawl Free Knitting Pattern LW5408
    Lacy Border Sweater
    Knit in Soft
    Lacy Border Sweater Free Knitting Pattern LW3117
    Lace Border Shawl
    Knit in Unforgettable
    Lace Border Shawl Free Knitting Pattern LW4588

    Knitting Lace: Start with the Basics.

    The most basic type of lace that can be created requires the knowledge of only 4 basic knitting stitches: knit, purl, yarn over (yo), and knit two together (k2tog). This pattern requires only 4 rows and, as they are very simple, they are easy to commit to memory (or visually determine which row comes next).

    In the pictured swatch, I have used Red Heart With Love in Jadeite and size 9 needles. I have cast on 26 stitches for the demonstration swatch, but if you want to create a larger or smaller swatch, you can cast on any multiple of three plus two stitches. My swatch is 8 x 3 + 2 = 26.

    Eyelet Stitch
    Row 1: Knit
    Row 2: Purl
    Row 3: K2, *yo, k2tog, k1, repeat from * to end of row
    Row 4: Purl

    Continue working rows 1-4 as many times as you wish.

    See! That was easy, right?!?

    The second swatch to try is going to use just two additional techniques: slipping a stitch and passing the slipped stitch over (psso). Slipping a stitch is as easy as it sounds, you move the stitch on the left hand needle over to the right hand needle. For this pattern you will slip as if you were going to purl (put right hand needle into the loop from the top of the stitch). I always default to slipping as if to purl unless otherwise noted.

    The second technique, passing the slipped stitch over, sounds like much more work than it is. Simply pull the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch and off the right hand needle (this is a way to decrease the number of stitches). It is the same motion you use when you are binding off.

    In this pictured swatch, I have again used Red Heart With Love in Jadeite and size 9 needles. I have cast on 29 stitches for the demonstration swatch, but if you want to create a larger or smaller swatch, you can cast on any multiple of two plus one stitch. My swatch is 14 x 2 + 1 = 29.

    Ridges Lace Stitch
    Rows 1 - 3: Purl
    Row 4: K1, *yo, slip one st, psso, repeat from * across
    Rows 5 - 7: Purl
    Row 8: K1, *yo, k2tog, repeat from * across

    Let's really take a look at row 4. Here is what your needle will look like after you have knitted one, done the yarn over and slipped one stitch:

    Now you will knit the next stitch:

    Next is the psso (pass slipped stitch over). Using your left hand needle (or your fingers) grab the slipped stitch:

    Now take it all the way off of the right hand needle (in the image below my finger is at the slipped stitch that is no longer on the right hand needle):

    After you have completed several repeats of the pattern it will look like the image below.

    I have picked this ridges lace pattern because it requires a bit more counting and memory to follow all 8 rows, but it is still easy to remember and easy to find your place when you put your work down. I would suggest working this pattern until you are very comfortable with it and then moving on to another slightly more advanced lace pattern like the Covet this Lacy Cowl pattern.

    While you are learning to knit lace you may feel more comfortable marking each of your repeated patterns with stitch counters. Another tip to keeping yourself on track is to make use of a lifeline, perhaps after each set of rows has been completed successfully. A lifeline is just a piece of scrap yarn the width of your work. Using a yarn needle and working between the yarn loops and knitting needle, catch each stitch; leave the scrap yarn hanging out of your work. With the life line in place, you should never need to unravel (or frog) your work below that life line, no matter how much you mess up above it.

    As you start to explore lace patterns you will notice that many of them include both written directions for each row as well as a chart to follow. For more information on following charts head to my post entitled Guide to Reading Knitting Stitch Charts

    Here are some more fun and simple patterns to strengthen your lace knitting skill set.

    Lace Chevrons Baby Blanket Free Knitting Pattern LW4081

    Lace Chevrons Baby Blanket

    Delicate Lace Shawl Free Knitting Pattern LW4729

    Delicate Lace Shawl

    Lacy Baby Legwarmers Free Knitting Pattern LW5204

    Lacy Baby Legwarmers

    Adore This Lacy Cowl Free Knitting Pattern LW5144

    Adore This Lacy Cowl

    Hawaiian Lacy Fern Throw Free Knitting Pattern WR2044

    Hawaiian Lacy Fern Throw


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  • How to Do a Backwards Loop Cast On

    The backwards loop method is the easiest method of casting on, but the edge might not be suitable for all projects.

    1. With the slip knot on the needle, wrap yarn around your index finger as shown. Insert tip of needle in loop.

    2. Remove finger and pull yarn gently to snug loop around needle. If loops on needles are too tight, you will not be able to knit into these stitches, so practice until the loops are consistent.

    Below: LW3128 Ribbed Hat and Scarf Knitting Pattern

  • How to Make 1

    One form of increasing in knitting is to work into the strand between two stitches. This increase is called a make 1, because you make a stitch by itself, instead of using a previous stitch. It is less noticiable than knitting into the front and back of a stitch.

    1. Insert the left needle from front to back under the horizontal strand that runs between the stitch on the right needle and the stitch on the left needle.

    2. Insert the right needle under this strand through the back loop.

    3. Knit through the back of the strand to twist the new stitch and prevent a small hole.

    Below: LW4267 Reversible Cable Wrap Knitting Pattern

  • How to Measure Knit Gauge

    Gauge is the number of stitches and rows per inch (or centimeter) in a pattern. If the gauge does not match the gauge given in a pattern, the item you're making will not end up the correct size.

    A gauge swatch is a small sample of your pattern that you make before starting the main item. It allows you to measure the gauge, so you can make sure that you will not run out of yarn and the finished item will be the size you want it to be. Not matching gauge isn't as important for something like a dishcloth or a bag, but for garments and accessories the wrong gauge could mean the finished item is too small to put on or fit for giant.

    How to Knit a Gauge Swatch

    When knitting a gauge swatch, always work with the same yarn you're using for the main item. Cast on enough stitches for your swatch to be 5-6 inches [12.5-15.25 cm] across, and knit enough rows to make a square. Work in the same pattern that the gauge calls for. If different gauges are given for different stitch patterns, make sure you make a swatch for each stitch pattern. If no pattern is given for the gauge, work in whatever the main stitch for the item is. If the pattern calls for multiple sizes of needles, use the size mentioned in the gauge.

    Sometimes the gauge is given in pattern repeats. For example, for a ripple pattern, the gauge may say that from one point to another point of the ripple is 5" [12.5 cm].

    For patterns made of individual pieces, the gauge might be given as the size of a finished piece. For example, a throw made of squares might give the gauge as the finished size of a square.

    Other times, instead of a gauge, there may just be a note that the gauge is not important for the project. If you're making a Scrubby dishcloth for example, it doesn't matter if the finished item is exactly the correct size, or uses slightly more of the ball of Scrubby.

    How to Measure a Gauge Swatch

    After completing your gauge swatch, place it on a flat, hard surface with good lighting. Use a ruler or gauge measuring device like the Susan Bates® Knit-Chek or Susan Bates® Gauge Grabbers to count the number of rows and stitches in the number of inches given in the pattern gauge. The best practice is to count over 4", but some gauges call for 2" or 1", especially if the yarn is very thin. The gauge swatch should be larger than the area you need to measure, so you can just use the interior stitches to measure your gauge. Remember, half-stitches count too!

    What if my gauge doesn’t match the pattern gauge?

    Unless you knit with the exact same tension as the designer, your gauge won’t exactly match up with the pattern gauge using the same yarn and hook or needle size. This is normal! To make your gauge match, choose a different needle size.

    If you have more stitches and rows per inch than the pattern calls for, use a larger size needle.

    If you have fewer stitches and rows per inch than the pattern calls for, use a smaller size needle.

    Example: Ribbon Tie Tunic

    Ribbon Tie Tunic Free Knitting Pattern LW5104 For this sweater, the gauge is 21 sts = 4" [10 cm] and 28 rows = 4" [10 cm] in Stockinette stitch. Consider size Medium, which has a finished bust measurement of 40". If you have 19 stitches in 4" [10 cm], instead of the 21 called for by the pattern, you will end up with a finished sweater with a bust measurement of 44" -- much too big! Conversely, if you have 23 stitches in 4" [10 cm], you will have a finished sweater measuring 36 1/2" -- way too tight

    Uses for Gauge Swatch

    Treat your gauge swatch the way you would treat your finished item: block it and wash it to make sure you know how to take care of your work when it is complete. You may find that wants to stretch some when washed, for example, and you must carefully lay it flat to dry.

    When you’ve finished your item and don’t need the gauge swatch anymore, recycle it! Combine it with other swatches to make pillows, bags, afghans….whatever you can envision! Make sure you only use it in projects with similar yarns, so the care instructions will be the same throughout all parts of the project.

  • How to Knit with 4 Needles

    Knitting with four double-point needles forms a seamless piece in areas that are too small for circular needles, such as socks and mittens. Double-point needles have points on both ends, allowing the stitches to slide off either end so that you can knit in the round.

    Some sets of double-pointed needles, or dpns, come with 5 needles instead of 4 needles. The basic principles are the same.

    Cast on the required number of stitches onto one of the four needles and then evenly divide the stitches onto three needles (or the number of needles specified in the pattern instructions).

    Arrange the three needles into a triangle, being careful to not twist the stitches. The cast on edge should lie on the inside of the triangle.

    With the empty needle, knit the first stitch of needle 1 (the first cast on stitch), pulling yarn tight to avoid a hole between the needles. Continue across the row until needle 1 is empty.

    With the now empty needle 1, knit the first stitch of needle 2 and work same as above. Continue in this manner across each needle and for each round, being sure to mark the beginning of each round with a stitch marker.

    Tip: To prevent "ladders" between the needles, give the yarn a firm tug when working the second stitch on each needle. This will tighten the first stitch of the working needle and the last stitch of the last needle and will help prevent holes.

    Below: LW4405 Create Some Charm Hat Knit Pattern

  • How to Knit with Circular Needles

    Circular needles may be used to knit projects in the round or to accommodate large numbers of stitches. Additionally many knitters prefer to use circular needles for all or most of their knitting, even when it is not required by the number of stitches or the pattern.

    To knit in the round with circular needles, the required number of stitches are cast on and spread evenly around the needle. The needle length should be shorter than the finished circumference of the project, so that the stitches are scrunched together. If the stitches are too spread out they will be more difficult to work with. If you are following a pattern, the pattern will tell you the correct length for the needles. Circular needles are measured point-to-point.

    After the stitches are cast on, the pattern usually instructs you to join the round, being careful not to twist the stitches. The cast-on edge should lie on the inside of the circle, and there should not be any sort of twist in the stitches. If the stitches are twisted the project will not turn out smoothly and must be restarted from the cast-on. To join the round, begin knitting. Since the final cast-on stitch is on the right-hand needle and you'll start knitting with the first stitch of the round on the left-hand needle, the project will connect itself into an unbroken circle.

    Since the cable on circular needles makes them longer than most straight needles, circular needles can hold more stitches than a pair of straight needles. When used to accommodate large numbers of stitches, circular needles are treated the same as a pair of straight needles. At the end of every row you will switch hands, so the empty needle is now in your right hand and the full needle is now in your left hand. The cable with the stitches can easily sit in your lap or on a table and therefore is supported.

    Below: LW4290 Double Chevron Beanie Free Knitting Pattern

  • About Knitting Needles

    Knitting needles are used in pairs to produce a flat knitted fabric and come in a range of sizes based on the diameter. They are usually made from aluminum or plastic, but are also available in wood and bamboo.

    There are 3 types of needles: straight, circular, and double point.

    Straight needles are what most people picture when they think of knitting needles. Straight needles come in pairs, and each needle is pointed on one end and has a topper on the other end to prevent stitches from sliding off. Straight needles come in two standard lengths -- 10" and 14".

    Circular needles consist of short needles that are attached to each end of a flexible cable. They can be used to knit flat projects as well as tubular projects (such as hats). Some people prefer to use circular needles for all of their knitting.

    Double-pointed needles, as their name implies, are short needles with points on each end, and are usually sold in sets of four or five. Double-pointed needles are used to knit tubular fabrics such as socks and hats.

    If you are having difficulty obtaining gauge or working smoothly with a particular type of yarn, consider changing the type of needles you are using. Try several different needle styles to find what you're most often comfortable with.