Athletic Knitting Basics – What You Need to Know

New knitters may get their heads twisted by all the abbreviations and terms in knitting patterns. They may also need help understanding the instructions and making mistakes like stitches sliding off metal needles.

To begin knitting, make a slipknot or lay the yarn over the right-hand needle without one (easier for beginners). Then incorporate — just like that!

Needle Size

The diameter of a needle determines your knitting gauge or how many stitches and rows are created per inch of fabric. A giant hand will make a looser, floppy knit, while a smaller one will produce a denser, tighter material. It’s a good idea to have a variety of sizes to work with since different projects may require different-sized needles.

When choosing a needle size for an athletic knit, follow the yarn’s recommended needle size and double-check it against the needle size called for in your pattern (if you are using a way). Then select a needle type, such as straight (single point), double pointed (DPNs), or circular.

For beginners, circular needles are the best choice, as they allow you to knit both flat and in the round. Then, decide whether you want to use metal or plastic needles. Also, consider the length of your project; if it’s a large hat, you must select a long circular needle, while a small pair of socks can be made with a shorter needle.

Most knitting needles come with metric and Singer/US sizing systems. The metric system is numbered, while the Singer/US system uses letters and then numbers. Both methods can be used interchangeably to find suitable needles for your project and yarn.


Knitting is the process of interlocking loops of yarn to produce a fabric. Those loops can be flat (planar) or tubular, created either in rows or bypassing the thread over itself. The string can be wool, silk, cotton, or other materials. There are a variety of knitting stitches, some of which are more difficult to master than others.

The most essential item a knitter needs is the suitable yarn and needles. The size of the hands will significantly affect how even your stitches are. It’s always a good idea to check the recommended needle size on the yarn label or in the pattern you use and double-check with a knitting needle gauge.

When it comes to the yarn, the type and thickness also play a big part in how your stitches will look. A soft, supple yarn will create smoother and more uniform stitches. A medium worsted-weight thread is a good choice if you start. A thinner yarn will be more flexible and easier to work with, while a thicker yarn will be more complicated to manipulate and may require a larger needle to get the same results. Another consideration is the color of the thread, which will influence the overall look of your finished garment.


You will likely need a pattern when you’re ready to move beyond your initial knitting projects. A printed design includes instructions that tell you what yarn and needles to use and how to knit a particular piece of clothing, hat, or other undertaking. You can also find patterns in downloadable or electronic form that include the same information but are intended to be read on a computer or mobile device.

Knitting patterns can seem intimidating when you first see them. The language of the design may look like a foreign language, and there will probably be lots of abbreviations that you need help understanding. Luckily, knitters and designers have created a dictionary of agreed-upon abbreviations and terms that make it easier for beginners to follow patterns.

Most patterns will also include helpful notes or special instructions at the beginning. These will help you get started with the proper tension, understand what the stitch diagrams mean, and set your expectations about the outcome of your project. They might also give you tips on working with the yarn or specific techniques.

Keeping a record of how many rows or stitches you have completed is a good idea as you continue to knit. This can help you if you need more yarn or need to start over because of a mistake. Stitch counters and row-counting apps can make this process much easier, but you can also use a pencil and paper to track your progress.


There are hundreds of different knitting stitches that can be used to create a variety of textures and appearances in the final knitted fabric. These variations are referred to as stitch patterns and can be used on their own or in conjunction with other stitch types.

When working with a pattern, it is essential to understand the notation and abbreviations that are used to describe how each stitch should be created. The more familiar you become with these terms, the easier it is to follow along when reading a knitting pattern. Most knitters start with the two basic stitches: knit and purl. Once you have mastered these stitches, you can do various projects.

Stranded knitting is one of the most common techniques for adding color to knitted fabric. This method involves carrying strands of yarn from the wrong side of the work to the right side. A more advanced technique, intarsia, avoids having the thread across the back of the work and is more suited for extended colorwork visible from both sides of the fabric. A final step to complete your project is blocking, which helps to flatten and shape the material.

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