James Kicinski-McCoy is a writer and blogger, specializing in strategic marketing and branding, is a co-founder and editor of Mother Magazine, and co-owner and creative director of Two Son. She lives with her husband and four children in Nashville, Tennessee.
Congratulations, knitters! You are almost finished with your first project! Actually, if you decided to make a longer-length, traditional scarf you are finished. Just wrap it around your neck and go! If you are opting to do the shorter, neckwarmer type scarf you will need a button, needle and thread. One of the great things about knitting with big, bulky yarn like this is that you can often use the spaces in between the stitches as buttonholes. This is a 1″ diameter wooden button I bought from Michael’s. The size of your button really depends on how tightly knit your neckwarmer is. To be safe, I’d suggest going with an inch or smaller.
With a needle and thread, sew the button to the center of one short end of the neck warmer. It should look like this. Actually, yours will probably look a lot neater than mine…the hand-spun yarn I like to use lends the finished product a funky, textural feel (which I love!).
Now you can wrap it around your neck and slip the button through whichever stitch you like. That’s the great thing about not having designated buttonholes here…it can be totally adjustable!
I have really enjoyed seeing your progress on this project and would love to see your final product! Next time, we’ll be knitting a simple hat, and learning several new skills: long-tail cast on, purling, and knitting in the round to name a few. I hope you all have cozy weekends and stay warm!
Hello again, and welcome to our third installment of Knit 101, where we’ll learn how to take our scarf off the needles. First of all, I want to say that I have really loved the Instagram photos and emails you’ve been sending me showing your scarves in progress, like this one here. I am so impressed with your work! Please, keep them coming! Also, I want to make sure you know I am available if you have any snags or hangups…you can email me using the contact form on my website and I will be more than happy to help you out.
Now, on with the tutorial! First, you need to decide how long you want your scarf to be. If you have a ball of yarn with a lot of yardage and would like to knit a long, traditional scarf, go right ahead! If you would like to follow along with this project and make a shorter, “neck warmer” type scarf with a button closure, you will want to stop knitting when your scarf measures 20 inches long from the cast-on edge. Whichever length you decide, you will need to take your work off the needles, and that is called “binding off”. I’m going to show you the most basic bind-off technique. When you become a more advanced knitter, you will do this with your needles, but I find that in the beginning it’s easier to do it with your hands. So, when you get to your final row of stitches (congratulations!), you’re going to knit two stitches as if you’re starting a whole new row, but then stop. You will have two stitches on your right needle, and the other 18 remaining on your left needle.
Pick up the first stitch you knit, and pull it up and over the second stitch you knit, and off the needle.
You will now have one stitch bound off, and one stitch remaining on your right needle. Repeat this process all the way to the end of the row, knitting one stitch and passing the older stitch over it and off the needle…
…until just one stitch remains! Cut the yarn attached to the ball so you have about a 5 -inch “tail” hanging from that last stitch. Here is a video I really like for beginners showing a basic bind-off in action.
Remove your needle carefully from that stitch so it leaves a loop. Thread the tail through the loop and pull to tighten.
Now you have a finished, bound-off edge that won’t unravel! You will also have two unsightly tails of yarn: one at the beginning of your cast-on edge, and the one you just created. You just need to weave these into your scarf so they don’t show. There are lots of ways to weave in ends…you can use a tapestry needle with a big eye, or a crochet hook. But with extra bulky yarn like this, it’s also easy to just weave them in with your fingers.
Next week, we will attach a button to our scarf and it will be finished! Happy knitting!
So now that you have your stitches cast on to one needle, you’re ready to start knitting! There are two basic foundation stitches in knitting: the knit stitch and the purl stitch. Once these two stitches are learned, they can be combined in a seemingly endless number of ways to create different textures and patterns. For this simple scarf, we will just be doing the knit stitch. You’ll want to make sure the bottom edges of the cast-on loops all line up at the bottom of the needle. Hold this needle in your left hand (the short tail of yarn should be closest to your hand), and hold the empty needle in your right hand.
Insert the tip of the empty needle into the first stitch on the left needle as shown. The right needle should be crossed behind the left needle. With your right hand, wrap the yarn around the right needle one time, counter-clockwise.
Bring the tip of the right hand needle with its wrap of yarn through the loop on the left hand needle and to the front. Then just slide the whole stitch off the left needle.
Congratulations, you have just knit your first stitch! You will have one knit stitch on your right needle (you can tighten it up a bit by pulling on the yarn attached to the ball). Now just repeat this with all the other cast on stitches, until you have transferred all the stitches to your right needle.
It should look like this. The needle with all the stitches on it becomes your new left hand needle, and you just repeat all the stitches over again! Each time you knit a row of stitches you will be adding a row to your scarf. It’s really important to make sure the “work” (the rows of stitches that have already been knitted) stays lined up, and at the bottom. Here is a short video where you can see the knit stitch in action…it really helps to see it live! Next week we will learn how to finish the scarf…happy knitting!
I am thrilled to welcome and introduce the beautifully talented Rebekka Seale of Camilla Fiber Company as a regular contributor to Bleubird. I have been a long time fan of Rebekka’s work and having her here is such a treat. I have also always wanted to learn how to knit, so this new series is pretty perfect for me and hopefully for many of you. Please show Rebekka a warm welcome. – James
Hi everyone! Rebekka Seale here. I am super excited to be teaming up with my friend James on this series! Quite often, I get emails and questions about good resources for beginning knitters, and I’m looking forward to sharing a hobby that has brought me so much joy. I actually learned to knit several years ago via a few Skype chat sessions with a friend 2,000 miles away, and supplemented that with a lot of online video tutorials. So I’m pretty confident that knitting is a skill that can be learned online! My goal for this series is to take you through the basics of knitting, step-by-step, from the very beginning. The lessons will build on each other, and by the end of the series you will have a few precious handmade wearables to keep or share.
First, let’s talk supplies. For your very first project, all you will need is a ball of yarn and two needles. Yarn comes in several different weights…I learned using extra-bulky yarn, and love how easy it is to work with. The yarn pictured here is handspun alpaca from my shop, and I also like Wool Ease Thick & Quick for a first project. You can also go to your local craft store or yarn shop and just ask for bulky or extra bulky yarn. For needles, you can choose between metal and wooden. It’s really a matter of feel…metal needles are slippery and the yarn glides over them quickly. But wooden needles are warmer and a little easier to control, so I recommend them for your first project. Needles come in different sizes, too, and you want to pick the size that works best with your yarn. For this project, you will need US size 13 (9mm) single-point wooden needles. These bamboo needles are inexpensive and available in most craft stores, as well as online.
Now, we can get started! To demystify the process a little, knitting is basically transferring stitches from one needle to the other and back again, over and over. For our first project, we’ll be making a cozy scarf. Our first step will be to “cast on” stitches to one of the needles. There are several different cast-on methods, but we are going to use what I call the “thumb cast-on”. Unroll a few feet of yarn from your ball, and make a simple loop about ten inches from the end of the yarn (these ten inches will be our “tail”…we will weave it in at the end). Make this loop into a slip knot by bringing the yarn attached to the ball up through the loop. It will look sort of like a pretzel.
Pick up your needle, slip it through the second loop you just created, and pull on the tail to tighten. This is the slip knot that attaches the yarn to the needle, and it also counts as your first cast-on stitch.
Now we need to cast on 19 more stitches! To do this, hold the needle in your right hand, and drape the yarn attached to the ball over your left thumb as shown. Take the point of your needle up under the yarn on your thumb, then take your thumb out of the loop.
Pull on the yarn to tighten the loop around the needle. Now you have two stitches cast on! Repeat casting on with the thumb loop 18 more times, for a total of 20 cast-on stitches.
This is what it should look like! Kind of a mess, but it’s the beginning of something awesome. Next time we will learn the basic knit stitch, and start working on the body of our scarf!