Knitting 101

Getting Started

Pattern Sizes

Sizes for most Better Homes and Gardens knitting projects are noted in the instructions. When one size is written out in capitalized letters, it is to note the size of the modeled garment. The instructions are written for the smallest size with changes for larger sizes in parentheses. When only one number is given, it applies to all sizes. For ease in working, before you begin, circle the numbers pertaining to the size you are knitting or crocheting.

Metric Conversions: To convert inch measurements to centimeters, multiply the inches by 2.5.

Skill Level Rating Key

  • Beginner: Projects for first-time knitters are labeled "Beginner." These patterns use basic stitches, minimal shaping, and very simple finishing.
  • Easy: Projects labeled "Easy" use basic stitches, repetitive stitch patterns, simple color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.
  • Intermediate: Projects labeled "Intermediate" use a variety of techniques, such as cables and lace or color patterns, with midlevel shaping and finishing.
  • Experienced (Advanced): Projects labeled "Experienced" use advanced techniques and stitches, with detailed shaping and refined finishing.


Knitting requires at least two knitting needles to make the knitted fabric. Knitting needles usually are pointed at one end and have a knob at the other. They're available in plastic, bamboo, wood, steel, and aluminum. The needle you choose affects the gauge, or stitches and rows per inch, of your finished knitting.

Gauge Notations

Most knitting projects include a gauge notation. The gauge, or the number of stitches or rows per inch, is determined by the size of the needles and the weight of the yarn. Always work a gauge swatch (below) to see whether your tension equals the gauge specified in the instructions. If you have too many stitches per inch, you are working too tightly: Change to larger needles. If you have too few stitches per inch, you are working too loosely: Change to smaller needles. For practice sessions, choose medium-size needles (size 8 or 9) and a smooth, light-color yarn so you can see your work easily.

To make a gauge swatch: Using the recommended needles and yarn, cast on a few more stitches than the number indicated by the gauge printed on the yard band for 4 inches (10 cm). Work the pattern for at least 4 inches. Loosely bind off or remove the swatch from the needles. Place a ruler over the swatch; count the number of stitches across 1 inch and the number of rows down 1 inch, including fractions of stitches rows. If you have too many stitches and rows, switch to larger needles; if you have too few stitches, use smaller needles.

Continued on page 2:  Your First Stitches