Let’s Answer the Most Common Beginner Knitting Questions

New knitters are often overwhelmed with taking on their first project (e.g. knitting baby socks and beanies). After all it’s a new skill and there seems to be dozens of small details to learn before someone can call him/herself a knitter.

Learning how to knit is different from learning other skills and hobbies. There are specific and minute movements and details to master. At first the movements are clumsy but with more practice you can get it faster and more natural.

But first, you have a lot of questions in your mind right now such as:

  • How to read a knitting pattern?
  • How do I know which knitting skill level I’m on?
  • What do all those knitting abbreviations mean?
  • How do I knit if I’m left-handed?
  • Can I knit while in the plane?
  • I’m not sure what to knit. Where do I start?

Let’s answer those questions now so you can immediately get back to learning and practising your new craft.

How to read a knitting pattern?

A knitting pattern seems different from instruction manuals. It seems those patterns (whether free or not) are reserved for the elite knitters who have undergone intensive training courses and years of experience.

Learning how to read a knitting pattern takes a bit more effort at the beginning. But once you learn the abbreviations (more on this later) and how the pieces are put together, knitting will feel like a breeze. You don’t need intensive training courses and years of experience to understand a knitting pattern. It can be intimidating or overwhelming at first but once you understand the basics it will all be easy and smooth.

For starters, a knitting pattern includes the following information:

  • Skill level (beginner, easy, intermediate, advanced)
  • Size (this is important if you’re knitting a fitted piece)
  • Gauge (may not be important for beginner knitting projects)
  • Other pattern information (e.g. what kind of yarn was used in the pattern, what are the size of needles)

Reading and following along a knitting pattern will become second nature as you complete more and more projects. After all you can visualise the “finished product” and the intermediate steps will then be easy to imagine and perform.

How do I know which knitting skill level I’m on?

Earlier we mentioned that the skill level is included in the knitting pattern. Of course if you’re here we’re assuming that you’re a total beginner. But what do those skill levels mean? How do you know if you’re ready for the next level? We’ll discuss the answers later so as early as today you already know what those mean.

First, Beginner projects have the easiest patterns. They often have simple shapes and only require knit and purl stitches (perfect for first-time and newer knitters). Experienced knitters also choose these kinds of patterns if they’re looking for something easy and quick to complete (e.g. it’s a lazy weekend afternoon or while on travel and they want to knit).

Next to Beginner is the Easy Skill Level. Patterns that indicate this skill level are a bit more complex or more time-consuming than the Beginner patterns. The Easy patterns use repetitive stitch patterns and basic colorwork, shaping and finishing techniques.

Once you’ve got some experience (you’ve completed a few Beginner and Easy patterns), it’s time to take on Intermediate and Advanced patterns. These are more complex and difficult because these projects have intricate designs, advanced shaping requirements and yes these require a lot more time to complete.

If you’re starting to take on these patterns, you don’t only show and prove your skill level. You also show your commitment to completing such a monumental task. The time commitment (plus the patience) also shows that you’re getting serious about knitting. Whether it’s for your own pleasure or creating something useful and beautiful for a friend or loved one, the effort will be worth it because you finished something you could be proud of.

What do all those abbreviations mean?

Knitting is a specific skill and hobby which has its own language (sort of) because of several abbreviations included in almost all knitting patterns.

For your quick reference, here are some of those abbreviations and what they mean:

  1. CO. Cast on. This is the foundation of your project and this tells you the number of stitches you’ll need to finish the project.
  2. K. This means to knit the most basic stitch.
  3. P. This stands for purl and is the second most common stitch next to K (what does this mean again?). You will always see K and P in most Beginner patterns.
  4. RS. This means the “right side” or the front or correct side (there’s a wrong side which we’ll mention later). This applies to patterns that have a distinct front and back.
  5. WS. This stands for “wrong side” or the back of your project. (I have no idea why we call it the wrong side and right side).
  6. BO. And for the final touch, BO means “binding off.” This is about taking the project off the needles and you’re done.

Those are the common abbreviations you’ll find in most Beginner patterns. You’ll encounter more abbreviations as you take on more difficult projects. But for now, those abbreviations above are enough to get you started.

How do I knit if I’m left-handed?

This is a more common question by beginners than what you might have expected. After all, most tasks (and objects) are designed for the right-handed.

When it comes to knitting, lefties don’t need to worry because the craft requires the use of both hands. You don’t need a high level of skill or dexterity in your right hand. What you just need is patience in learning how to use both hands. After all, even the right-handed also struggle or feel awkward when first learning how to knit.

Can I knit while in the plane?

Yes (at least in most parts of the world). Knitting can be done while on plane travel. However, the problem is more about whether you can bring the needles and scissors on board. That’s because the airport security (upon his/her discretion) might not allow knitting needles and round-ended scissors to come along in your carry-on bags.

Check first which items are prohibited. Different airports and airlines might have varying regulations depending on safety concerns and recent threats. To be safe, just focus on knitting once you get home and do something else while in the plane (read a book, watch a movie, listen to music). You’ll always have lots of time to catch up because you can do knitting anytime you want while at home.

I’m not sure what to knit. Where do I start?

If you’re looking for patterns, we have an enormous collection here at The Aussie Knitting Co. For beginners, occasional and experienced knitters we have a wide range of knit pattern items (including baby patterns, toy knitting patterns and fashion patterns). We have patterns available in different forms (project kits, pattern books and PDFs).

You can also contact us here at The Aussie Knitting Co if you have more specific questions about knitting and our supplies (yarns, needles, accessories, patterns). For 20+ years we’ve been the trusted source of knitting supplies because we’re committed to sharing our products and knowledge so that beginners and experienced knitters complete more awesome projects.