Introduction to Knitting

Learn to Knit Introduction
Learn to Knit Introduction
Learn to Knit Introduction

Knitting with Mikey

In recent conversations with our sponsor, Yarnspirations, the term knitting came up. The Crochet Crowd and knitting seem polar opposites. For me, the word knitting means high-end yarn, fancy, hard, impossible, difficult and much more that aren’t truly inspirational words. If you want me to lie, “It’s all fabulous!”, there you go. But let’s keep it real for me here and get back to reality. I’m hoping to change my mind and I will share more below.

As a Child

I learned to knit with my mother when I was about 8 years of age. More Canadians knit than crochet. So it may seem polar opposite that me, being Canadian, gravitates towards crochet. I will share those reasons later. We lived in a small community that was a tourist base. Busy as can be in the summer and completely desolate in the wintertime. TV was whatever you could get on the antenna. Power would go out in the middle of the winter and the storms were fierce. Our home was a cottage and you could be indoors for days.

More Knitting Tutorials

  1. Starter Knit Dishcloth
  2. Long Tail Cast On
  3. Thumb Long Tail Cast On
  4. Twist & Transfer Cast On
  5. Between Loops Cast On
  6. Cast Off
  7. How to Hold Yarn
  8. Yarn Placement Tips
  9. Knitting Gauge
  10. Knitting Tools & Gadgets
  11. Knit with Red Heart Sassy Lace

Corking or Spool Knitting

As a child, my mother taught me how to cork or spool knit. Today, we know it as loom knitting. Many of us corked our hearts out as children. As a child, I would cork until my fingers were bruised. I made the longest snakes ever. I am talking 50 – 75 feet. At the end of the project, I would help my mother curl them up and watch her sew the curl together. So I had a pillow face. By using whatever yarn I could find, I had very much a scrap yarn project but at the time, there was nothing scrap about it.

Mom was happy, we were out of her hair and I would occupy my time with the spool knitter.

Knitting with Two Needles

Mom eventually gravitated to show me how to knit. Nothing too serious. Mom would cast on for me as I never understood that as a kid. I would knit and purl. Though I would knit, I never did any projects. In retrospect, it was more of sample making. I would lose interest in knitting. Seemed like it took forever.

Oh, wait… I did make something, now that I type about it. Don’t judge me… I made a hammock for my sister’s Barbie. I played with Barbie. She was a rock star and after a long hard day, she needed to relax in the hammock I made her. It seems foolish but that is imagination at play. As an adult, I have not allowed my imagination to disappear which helps me be creative.

Weaving Machine Toy

Weaving Machine
Weaving Machine

In Grade Four, I was about 9 years old. My teacher was an advocate for conservation and yarn arts. She had a professional, home quality, weaving machine. As one of the activities in the class, we could use her weaving machine to weave.

By now, I am attracted to yarn. I enjoy the fibre arts. I begged my parents to buy me this Weaving Loom. It came for Christmas and I was so excited about it. Many I weaved up a storm. Loved this machine.

So proud, I would wear scarves made from this machine. So for show’n tell, I brought it to school in the box. If ever you would regret things in life, this would be a moment in time where utter humiliation would be on top of me.

I hadn’t thought about the box. There are girls on the box playing with the loom. Big mistake to bring the box to school. Boys in the class would eventually grab my loom, which I was so proud of and they snapped the crossbars and destroyed my loom. Besides being labelled as a sissy, I felt so small and cried going home on the bus that my loom was broken. A purely joyous moment for me to share my crafting ability ended up being a huge mistake.

Advocate for Crafting

If ever I were to be an advocate of anything in the crafting world is for the manufacturers to pay attention to the package. While most toys are either boys or girls, the packaging usually reflects that. For me being a boy and the packaging geared to girls, it puts the automatic pressure in your mind when you see it on the shelf and realize society suggests you shouldn’t be interested in the craft if you are the wrong gender.

Crafting in the Closet

So while I was humiliated, I wouldn’t wear my scarves to school that I had made since the moment of being humiliated. I crafted quietly at home without sharing that with others. In retrospect, I feel sad to type this fact. Kids can be so cruel. While my parents were supportive without question, what happens outside the home is a different matter when your parents cannot protect you from bullying and the cruelty of other children.

I would quit yarn crafts at the age of 11 years old. We had moved to the city. City life is very different than country living.



I saw my mother crocheting for a couple of years in my high school years. I was in Grade 10. I had a part-time job to make me feel like I was part of society. The more I worked, the more validated I felt as a kid. Today, my workaholism tendencies from this moment in my life.

My mother taught me to chain and do double crochets. I was so hooked on it. I went to the department store and bought my first yarn. It would be the Bernat Yarn in blue variegated. I used an N or 10 mm crochet hook. It was way too big for the gauge of yarn but it allowed me to make a double-size afghan for my bed.

My mother would knit mitts for the homeless and needy. Sometimes she would crochet matching scarves. I never picked up knitting from the earlier years and went right to crochet.

Crochet for me has speed. I like projects that are on and off the hook. Nothing too complex or too much time.

Adult Years

I would turn to crochet several points in my life. It was like spurts of time and not consistent. I came to realize I only crocheted when I was upset or hurting inside. The year The Crochet Crowd started 2008, I had realized if I make crochet part of my daily routine that I can stay more even-keeled.

Crochet has meditation built into the hook. It has the validation of creativity. It has instant gratification. It can be challenging to exercise your mind. It can be rewarding to be acknowledged by crocheters.

Knitting Re-immerges 2011 for Me

In 2011, you may remember the massive trend on Ruffle Scarves. To crochet them is more difficult than it is to knit. I would come to buy a set of knitting needles to make ruffled scarves. Like everyone else, I jumped on this trend. It’s pretty much foolproof. For me, that’s a good thing.

For me, I haven’t ventured too must past this moment. I have picked up a bit of a stitch that my mom taught me. Just the basic knit stitch and purl. I hold the needles as my mother showed me. It’s not incorrect but I realized I can knit quicker if I change my hand positioning.

Magic Knit Scarf
Magic Knit Scarf by Mikey. Yarn is discontinued today and is the Stockinette Stitch I would come to realize as of just a few days ago though I knitted this 4 years ago. I didn’t know the name of the stitch. I just did it.

Now Today…

One thing that I am not in denial about and will easily admit, some projects look better-knitted versus crochet. Crochet has it’s purpose and creativity but knitting can provide a completely different look and feel with the exact same yarn.

I find yarns today, some look incredible to knit and can be the complete polar opposite for the crochet project.

So this brings me back to Yarnspirations and my conversation with the team I report to. It was suggested I learn to crochet and being able to understand it from a professional point of view. This idea is not forced upon me but I really would like to learn more.

Major Goal

Is to remove the negative feelings I have for knitting. With my continuous love for everyday and affordable yarns, expanding one’s personal skill is more mentally rewarding. I think I dislike the idea of knitting because of my lack of knowledge of understanding how to really do it.


I have to teach myself the basics. Right from the very beginning.

  1. How to hold the knitting needles.
  2. How to relax with the yarn in my hands without fear.
  3. How to do some basic stitches and research in which stitches are used.
  4. How to read knitting patterns.
  5. How to find time to do the learning process without impacting the work on The Crochet Crowd.
  6. How to move forward into doable projects.

So ultimately, I want to share as I am learning the steps involved in learning to knit. I don’t come to the table with a very knowledgeable base in my mind. So I am using books, resources from Yarnspirations and more to teach myself to understand knitting.

So as I release the steps, I am learning in real-time with the audience. This is part of my personal goal for 2017. If I can learn, others may as well. I don’t promise people will love knitting but another life skill doesn’t hurt anyone.

I didn’t learn crochet overnight. Knitting is the same way. I am working on a full-size scarf right now. I noticed that I am starting to get my groove. So I need to learn the lessons, practise… practise… and practice… It would be unrealistic for me to learn something new with knitting and suddenly teach it.

I think my only worry at this point, is people asking me knitting based pattern questions. Right now, I cannot read a knitting pattern. I am sure it makes sense. I just have to teach myself from scratch.

The knitting portion will not overtake crochet. But merely a Side Show to our platform. Hopefully, some of you may enjoy the process. For myself, this is more personal for me where you can tag along. If you choose to participate or not, that’s in your hands.

Knit Cowl Pattern Ideas

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  1. Barbara Stowers

    Hi Mikey, I love your stories. I love your teaching, too. Everyone think I can crochet and knit, NOT!!!. My journey started similar to yours. I would watch my grandmother quilt, sew, and embroidery and dream of doing the same. My sister use to do macramรฉ, pot holders (you know what I am talking about) and embroidery. Never taught any of it. I read Better Homes and Good Housekeeping magazines at doctor offices and other places for ideas. That is as far as it got. My grandmother gave me, age 16, a cross stitch Christmas ornament to do. It was a cross mess so I threw it aside. I got sicker and sicker which mean more reading those magazines (ripping out pages and sneaking the whole thing, shhhhh). I picked up cross stitching around 18 1/2 to 20 (don’t really remember). I caught on fast, by 21 I was cross stitching and embroidering art work.

    Also at 21, I start working at a local hospital. There was a guy there who crochet doll clothing and sold them to make extra money. I wanted to learn how to do that. I found this old lady who had a home yarn shop and she told me that knitting was easier. She talked me into getting the stuff and paying her to teach me how to do a sweater (now I know from other knitters that was a big mistake). Well my arms were…let’s just say it was a hot mess. I also stop going because she had early signs of dementia (cannot spell). So that stayed in my closet hung up. I tried the books. So I also do a bee line when it comes to knitting stuff. I was given a sunflower afghan kit with a flower loom from another lady’s son. I tried to make them, I did not know how to crochet (only knowing how to chain and follow direction), but I was working that flower loom. About age 39, I got the loom knitting kit and found Pinterest and turned that sweater into hats for my Mother’s Morning Out class. Everyone loved it and wanted me to make them one.

    Then it got into scarfs. This is when I met David, Tanis, then you. Y’all taught me how to crochet the right way. I am still learning and still looking at knitting patterns (dreaming). So, I been ready to go to the dark side and knit, just need someone with me.

    • Barbara Stowers

      I also use to only do needlework when I am upset, hurt, or sick. I feel the same way, “Crochet has meditation built into the hook. It has validation of creativity. It has instant gratification. It can be challenging to exercise your mind. It can be rewarding to be acknowledged by crocheters.” GMTA!!!!

    • Devora Baronofsky

      I understand how sad you were when your loom was broken. Toy manufacturers should never label toys for boys or girls. In 1962 my dad bought me a Remco science kit. I loved it. Came Xmas time and it was advertised as ” the thinking boys toy”. They got a real angry letter from my dad and from my mom, a teacher. Well, about a year later they ran the commercial again, the announcer says ” the thinking boys toy”, then a girl comes on screen and says” and also for girls”. I guess my folks weren’t the only angry parents.

  2. Laura Jeanne Brown

    I loved reading your story, Michael. I shared a little of my history with both crafts on the FB page a couple of days ago, and if you get the time, you can read it. A few similarities. I also gravitated towards crocheting because I could control it, it was easier to fix mistakes, and the results looked so much better. I had to chuckle when you talked about those long snakes from spool knitting. I never let them get too long because my mom and I soon figured out there was not much use for them. So much today that you can do with them…glad that has changed. My mother did not know how to knit or crochet; the lady across the street taught me, and she was left-handed. Red, short, double-pointed needles. I made a lot of headbands that looked like crap because I increased and decreased stitches without knowing what I was doing. Plus I only learned the knit stitch, never learning to purl. I finally learned to crochet after getting out of college, and I loved it! Anyway, I figure since you are picking up the needles and learning, so can I. I remember being so proud of my mom when she took a knitting class and learned to make a gorgeous sweater for herself. I was amazed! Delightful journey we are embarking upon! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Linda

    I would like to make knit socks. What is a great knitting place for beginners on socks with circular needles.

  4. Susana

    I’ve been knitting for 12 years and love it. I’ve been learning to crochet with you so any help I can offer knitting, let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Janelle

    I learned to both knit and crochet around age 9. I dropped both at around 11 or 12 and picked crochet back up at about 25 (I’m now 45). I’ve tried to pick up knitting again several time over the last few years but my very adept crocheter’s hands just can’t grasp what to do with two long, pointy sticks. I discovered the Knook – where a hook and long thread replace the two knitting needles. I can hold the hook and fabric the same as when I crochet, but it’s knit. I love it. Also, just bought a knitting machine for those items that I prefer the look of in knit rather than crochet.

    All my best to you as you try to learn knitting. With your determination, I bet you’ll be clicking right along in no time.

  6. Vangie

    You are such an open person. Thank you.

  7. Ange

    I think you’re a perfect person to teach beginners to knit. Being a new knitter yourself you will understand exactly how every newbie feels, and what you find intimidating, will be scary to everyone else too. Every hump you have to get over is beneficial because you can expect those same questions from someone else. A person who has been knitting all their life might have the experience to recommend specific yarns or techniques to perfect a project, but they won’t have the recent experience of the learning struggles to teach someone how to overcome a problem. I’ve been a crocheter for almost half my life, and have only been knitting for about 2 years now, the hardest part is making mistakes and not being able to just rip it back to the error… you have to plan in advance for that, learning how to spot a mistake will make you more confident, and once you know how to fix a mistake, you’ll be all set… so go ahead and make a bunch of mistakes… and then learn how to fix them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, and if you’re like me, you might find the English method of knitting much more comfortable than the American method, since right-handed crocheters hold the yarn in the left hand as in English knitting.

  8. Enah

    Thanks Mikey for introducing knitting, i can do anything else apart from knitting so for me this is the best chance for me to learn

  9. Susan Cross

    Hi Mikey,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I felt so bad about those kids breaking your loom and making you feel so bad. Where was the teacher?
    On a different note, you are the reason I am finally able to crochet and love it. My mother tried to teach us kids how to knit and crochet as children, but I never caught on. My mother and both sisters know how to do both. Ma is going to be ninety years old, and is still crocheting and knitting till her hearts content.
    I will be coming to visit you and Diva Dan , in Dallas at Michaels . Can’t wait to meet you.
    P.s. I watched your Christmas decorating video. I liked how you hung the balls in the window. Did you use fishing line? I will ask you in Dallas. Great idea though .
    See you in Dallas. I live in SugarLand, about four hours away , but I plan to be early

  10. HI Mikey ,
    Thank you for sharing your personal life and knowledge. I learnt to crochet from your videos, and have found something I truly love and stick to. I to only know a little bit about knitting. My mother and sisters do both crochet and knitt. Although I will try at some point to knit, I want to know how to crochet patterns first, and learn more about crocheting in general. I also love the fact that crocheting is faster and easier to correct mistakes.
    I am coming to Dallas to see you and Diva Dan. I can’t wait to finally meet you.
    P.s. I enjoyed watching your Christmas decorating video. I was thinking that you used fishing line to hang the balls in your window. Nice idea.

  11. Kelly

    I’ve been trying to teach myself to knit for years and just can’t seem to get it. If anyone can teach me, it’s you Mikey, no pressure tho, lol. Looking forward to learning along with you in 2017. Thanks for sharing with us.

  12. Nikki Meade

    Knitting takes tons of patience…… it has no instant gratification to it…… however it is very very worthwhile and I would strongly urge you to get some decent needles….. I personally love the ease and convenience of the chiagoo red circulars……. no long needle to fumble around with and if you need to take a break you can slide the stitches back onto the cord and sit it down without any hessitations. plus you will already be ready when you decide to leap onto larger or longer or even round projects!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Vickie

    I understand where most of you crochet come from but I’m more knitter than crocheter only because I have trouble with granny square patterns my biggest problem is in right hand so I knitt right hand but my daughter pointed out I crochet with my left so with me patience as I learn it again my grandmother and aunt taught me both just enjoy your projects and have fun.

  14. Sharon

    Yes, children can be so cruel. My daughter was bullied at school because she’s a redhead so I changed her school.
    You will be fine with knitting. I can do both, nothing fancy but I can read patterns ok. I have to agree that some things do look better knitted than crocheted. I always thought I preferred crochet because I tend to be impatient and like to see quick results…but in recent months I have leaned towards knitting again and have to say I am really enjoying it. Two things I cannot do though no matter how hard I have tried…cable stitch and using double pointed needles. I figure that being in my 60s I have managed this far without them so don’t need to learn them now.
    I have a reasonable stash of yarn and my biggest problem is either not being able to decide what to make with the yarn I have or not having the right yarn or quantity for what I want to do!
    A lot of people will have opinions on how you should do things (how to cast on, holding the needles and yarn etc) but you’ll find out for yourself what feels right for you. I look forward to following you on your knitting journey, Mikey. Good luck x

  15. Marylou Howland

    Mike, I so desire to learn to knit correctly… but Im a leftie… my mother gave up on me so I taught myself.. She had my arms crossed and elbows above my head and i knew this was terribly wrong… I also taught myself to crochet and i crochet like a fiend…and to tat which is a lost art within itself…
    I can knit and i can pearl… but when it comes to a patterns and then the instructions Im so lost. I try tofollow them abd when finished.. it looks odd, unlike the picture offered.. kind of inside out and backwards… So I would love to do this.. and try again now that i have time to concentrate as Im a granny now… Like i said i so want to learn to knit. MLe

  16. Kathleen

    Hi Mikey,
    Thank you for this!! I feel the same way about knitting, it just never felt natural the way crocheting does. But, learning new things is good for everyone, and in 2017 I’m looking forward to learning to knit from you!

    Thank you for all that you do,
    Kathleen in NY

  17. Lydia Murphy

    Okey dokey – here’s a few suggestions from someone who mainly crochets (self taught) but knits enough to get by (again self taught) – meaning the ruffle scarves, cotton dishcloths, simple cardigans for beginners, hats and regular scarves that started as practice strips for a new stitch.

    Use short needles with decent points (I love the lightweight aluminum ones in various colours…mainly vintage but I have a vase full of sizes) – use point protectors, even a rubber eraser, like pencil toppers will do for a start to keep your stitches from falling off the needles. Long needles are cumbersome and a royal pain in the backside.

    Search out good youtube videos that teach you knitting the way you teach crochet…and remember if you like the technique but the voice drives you crazy, the pause and mute buttons will get you through it. It’s the technique you want to keep for a lifetime, not the person on the screen.

    Start with good cotton like Peaches n Cream and Bernat (you know where to find them)…Make practice squares in garter stitch , knit, turn, knit, turn, knit, turn….that can be used as kitchen dish cloths or wash cloths – or if they’re really not something you want others to see, under the sink in the bathroom they go, but use them.

    Practice squares for stitches like basketweave and make a strip for the table, or sew a few together for a lapghan, save squares for a knit stitch sampler and make a couch blankie for Riverstone.

    And your best tool is right at your fingertips – with a great team that probably knows enough about knitting to field any questions you’re not comfortable with.

    And lastly, since The Crochet Crowd is about crochet mainly, you could anchor a Knitting Only post at the top and TEACH members to USE IT instead of the regular Visitor Post area where knitting questions could get lost with the daily crochet posts. And if knitting questions show up in Visitor’s a friendly nudge comment directing them to the pinned knitting post would be helpful. And if you have the technology to do it – just relocate their knitting post to the pinned knitting post and let your crocheters who knit help out these members. Even letting them know in the anchor post that you can’t be there for them to answer most knitting questions, but the community can.


    • Bonnie Ratcliff

      Lydia you are wise beyond years. I love your response and your tips for beginning knitting. I always enjoy your posts. I got a small set of knitting needles in the round from Spinrite as a promo gift a few months ago. Learning along with Mikey may be the perfect time to put them to use!!

  18. Karen

    Thank you. I pretty much feel the same way toward knitting. I can do the knit stitch and “garter” is my go to for making scarves…the mainstay of my knitting. You just taught me how to crochet so now I will learn to knit with you.

  19. Anna Johnston

    I grew up in VT where my grandmother taught me to knit at age five. Sixty-five + years later I now live in NC. I still knit and crochet. Some of many years of insights about knitting and crocheting:
    * knitting takes less yarn than crochet
    * knitting creates a denser fabric than crochet
    * knitting has snob appeal (never knit with cheap yarn)
    * knitted garments are warmer than crocheted
    * northerners knit, southerners crochet
    * crochet is faster than knitting
    * crochet is better for afghans, rugs and other home accessories
    * crochet mistakes are easier to fix than knit mistakes
    * crocheting is faster than knitting
    * knitting and crocheting compliment each other, often in the same project
    * being able to do both is the best solution!

    Am proud of my Nova Scotia and Vermont roots, and my NC adopted home!

  20. Wonderful article. I learned to knit first and love it. As you said some things look better knitted. Crochet also has its place and now I need to learn more about crochet. Doing both is best. Knit on Mikey!

  21. Shandeh

    You’re doing it!
    I am blown away with how fast you are learning to knit. ?

    – Shandeh

  22. Jacquie

    I just recently learned to knit after two years of struggling to get it. I am making dishcloths and it’s been exciting to me and led me to decide that I could try broomstick lace finally. Because if, as a crocheter, I can knit, I can do anything.

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