My First Knitting Project!

Do you still have the first thing you ever knitted? I do, and it's a doozy; a sampler of sorts. Here it is, in annotated form:

Kathleen's first knitting "project"

My mom's best friend from high school, Patty, taught me to knit. She sat down with my sister and me and we had a marathon, eight-hour knitting lesson.

Coming from crafty roots, I think both my sister and I had knitting in our bones somewhere, because we took to it immediately. We got the knit stitch down in a couple of hours, so she taught us the purl stitch, and we were off!

Patty was visiting us from Nashville, so when she left, we were on our own. My mom knit back in the day, but she gave it up when we were little, so she couldn't help us much.

Mimi's beginning knitting swatch looks quite a bit nicer than mine does. Really, though, it doesn't matter how your knitting looks when you're just starting out.
Just keep knitting!

My sister wasn't as enamored with knitting as I was, and she set down her needles for a year or so. I was hooked immediately, so I got the book Vogue Knitting Quick Reference, and used it to try all kinds of stitches.

One of my knitting group members, Mimi, happened to have one of her first swatches, too (shown at left). She made it in her beginning knitting class. Her's looks much neater than mine does, but we're both good knitters now, so the moral of the story is that neatness doesn't much matter in the beginning as long as you get the stitch mechanics down. Practice, practice!

One of the things that Patty taught me, and something that I teach beginners, is that they're not actually making a garment, they're making knitting. This theory can allow beginning knitters to ignore mistakes and just keep going, practicing their skills without worrying that the scarf, hat, etc., that they're making isn't going to look good.

I love this approach.

So if you're a beginner, my advice to you is to keep going. We all started out knowing nothing, and we progressed to knowing a lot! And so will you.


P.S. The Knitting Daily Shop has some great resources and patterns for beginning knitters. Here are some of my favorites:

Beginner's Guide to Knitting: This site has a bunch of good stuff for beginning knitters—both instruction and product suggestions. It's a great place to start.

The Knitter's Companion: You'll find a true companion in this book. If you're stumped, you'll find the solution in this handy reference, and it's sized to be carried along in your knitting bag. The deluxe edition includes a DVD on which author Vicki Square demonstrates every technique in the book. It's invaluable.

Knitting Daily TV: Get your favorite TV show on DVD! Knitting Daily TV is an amazing resource filled with tutorials, information about yarn and patterns. I've watched every episode, and KDTV has made me a better knitter!

The Rainbow Cowl: This beautiful cowl is deceptively easy. It's the perfect project for a beginner, too.

The Pinch Hat: Knit a simple, garter-stitch hat with a stylish twist! This easy project is just the thing for gift knitting.

Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Knitting Daily Blog, Knitting for Beginners
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

37 thoughts on “My First Knitting Project!

  1. I don’t still have my first knitting project, because I knit it sooooo tightly that I couldn’t remove the needles from the project! So I threw it outl! Then I gave my remaining needles, yarn and equipment to a friend who knits. It took me about five years, but I finally got up my courage and started again. I love knitting now. My only regret about my first venture into knitting, with the yarn and the needles, I gave away an amazing reference book, that I can no longer find on the market. Wish I could remember it’s name. But alas, I think I gave away my memory as well! Happy knitting!!

  2. I’m afraid I don’t have my first project, it was done around 1960 when I was in the fourth grade. I well remember it, though. It was a very simple stockinette sweater in bright red. I wore it until it just fell apart.

    The one thing I learned from it, other than basic knit/purl, increase and decrease, was to NOT pull the end of the yarn over the needle to the back when starting a row, causing the last stitch to pull over into two strands! I had an awful time trying to figure out why I kept having more stitches on the row than I should have. Even my perfectionist mother wasn’t able to figure out what I was doing wrong.

    But speaking of samplers, the first book I bought a few years ago after a 20-year hiatus in my needlework activities was “Knitting Lace, a Workshop with Patterns and Projects” by Susanna E. Lewis. It’s based on a sampler from 1800 in the Brooklyn Museum. I ended up getting it from, since everywhere else it was either unavailable or only second-hand at more than four times the price. A wonderful book and a wonderful sampler. It has inspired me to make a sampler of all the lace patterns I use.

  3. I don’t have my first knitting, but I have a knitting of my grandmother’s. She was born in 1875; she made this long sampler when she was ten. So this sampler is more than 100 years old!

  4. I am twenty three years old and have just started knitting properly. i say properly because I hadn’t touched a set of needles since i was six and i got my mother to cast on/off for me. I picked up the needles last year while i was pregnant with high ambitions. I wanted to knit a blanket for my son. I used google to learn how to cast on (I now have three favourite methods) and quickly knitted up a few squares in a simple garter stitch. I learnt how to cast off and thought i’d give a purl stitch a go. It took me just under two years, (I finished it three months ago) and now have the blanket for my son. He never uses it.However, every time I look at it I am constantly filled with a huge sense of accomplishment. My husband and I are amazed to think how far I have traveled in the last two years. Since the blanket (Its a bit weird in spaces, I didn’t have anyone to tell me not to do a ribbed square) I have knitted my son a beautiful cardigan, my soon to be born #2 a beautiful layette (I even made up the mitten pattern) and a cardigan for my friend who is expecting her first child. I love baby things, I think there is nothing more adorable than a child in heirloom style knitwear, but maybe one day I will venture into the world of knitting for adults. Knitting has brought me so many years of enjoyment and a huge impact on my life. Its wonderful.

  5. I still have my first knitting project but not the practice project. I was a college freshman and learned from a friend in the dorm. I had learned the basic single crochet stitch from a great aunt with steel hook and crochet thread (ie. doily weight) when I was 9 or 10. My mother sewed, a little tatting and smocking but no knitting or crocheting. Mary had my roommate and I get yarn and needles and we practiced and practiced AND PRACTICED casting on, knit and purl, and binding off until Christmas when she gave each of us yarn (wool), short no. 8 needles and a pattern for an ear warmer. The constant comment I get on my knitting from people who knit is how even my tension is – all that practice pays off. I have my supplies pack for a week-end camping trip. Girl Scout leader development week-end. I will be teaching both beginning and intermediate knitting classes – 12 or 13 years now. Practice does make perfect.

  6. I do not have my first project. Like many I don’t rember when my Mother let me try her needles for the first time .I am sure it was to make something for my dolls.Now as a teacher of both knit and crochet I tell my students, this first project is just to teach your hands how to move. I don’t care how it looks your cat will never know. When you work at home and you make a mistake just keep on going. That way We can see what went wrong and how to fix it . Pick a project for next lesson YOU CAN DO IT !

  7. No I don’t still have it but I remember it entirely. It was a pair of slippers that my 2nd grade teacher taught me at school. I immediately fell in love with knitting! Only to find out some 50 years later that I was knitting (and purling) incorrectly, or as they say today, alternatively. I fixed that after I taught my granddaughter and someone pointed out that all her stitches were twisted!

  8. I don’t have my first project, but I do have my grandneice’s first project. I taught her to knit and she sent me what she had created. A coaster for my teapot. It sits on my table and every morning I remember what fun I had teaching Olivia to knit. First projects always bring a smile to a grandmother, grandaunt, Mom or Dad’s face. They are cherished forever.

  9. My mom taught me to knit when I was five. She kept my first project packed away in her closet. I found it many years later after her death. I treasure it, a blanket made up of many unequal and somewhat raggy squares. It makes me feel like a little girl much loved by her mom.

  10. I cannot find my first project any longer (most likely it is worn out) but I did find the pattern just a few months ago. It’s a pair of slippers in moss stitch knit in 5 peices (sole, 2 sides, a front and back). Unlike most people hereI learned from reading a booklet called I taught myself how to knit. And I didn’t do samplers I just went straight to the project learning as I went along. I wish I had someone who did knit teach me… but alas I am the only knitter in my family. Although I have fond memories of my grandmother crocheting, but she never had the patience to teach me that either… that’s another skill that is self taught.

  11. I don’t have my first project but remember it well. It was a “pincushion” which was a knitted garter stitch rectangle, rolled up, whip-stitched closed with pom-poms on the ends. The crocheted chain fastened on either end so it could be worn around the neck was an option….yipes! (Who would wear this, I thought in my 9-yr. old mind). At any rate, I was thrilled that I could roll it up because then all my mistakes magically blended together and weren’t obvious. At least to me. My teacher made me take out the stitches and re-knit the baggy, hole-botched places. I look back on that time – nearly 50 years ago – and now realize I simply love to knit. So FROG away, it means more time knitting!

  12. I wish I had that first project! It was a triangular head scarf in stockinette with garter stitch edges and chained strings. I taught myself to knit when I was about 10 from “The Make it Book” and the pattern was in the book. I never gave up trying but once I visited my cousins grandmother, an expert knitter, she showed me a better way to cast on and I was off and running.

  13. Love to teach beginners! I always start them with felting wool and we make a bag, tablet case or scarf. By the time they are done they have the stitches smooth and even. It doesn’t matter that the beginning is wonky. We just felt it and they disappear. I like doing this because they actually have a very first project that looks good and is useful. This gives them a sense of satisfaction and spurs them on to make more. Before I started doing this, I had newbies who got discouraged and gave it up.

  14. I’d never been able to master knitting by watching videos or reading books, so I took a Park & Rec class. Small group and an awesome teacher… She taught us on cable needles… suddenly, my huge frustration with trying to maneuver two slippery regular needles passed and I fell in love. Our class projects were a hat and a knitted/to be felted bag. The hat was a masterpiece (ha ha). It’s a hat… that has several yarn overs and errant “bumps”, but I kept it and love it. It was the start of a love affair with knitting and after that first class I steeled myself and got out my straight needles and discovered the awkwardness was gone and so was my fear of them. I still gravitate to my beloved bamboo cable needles when I have a project I think might give me some problems, but all in all it’s therapy. Every now and then, I’ll drag out my old hat and marvel as to how far I’ve come and were I began.

  15. I still have my first few swatches from when my kids grandma taught me how to knit. She taught me knit and purl and I went from there. I learn mostly by making the projects I do. I’m working on a afghan right now for my ailing sister. I haven’t ventured to making clothes yet except a baby set for a friend. I really want to tackle cable knitting this year but from each project I do I realise Iearn something new. I’ve also picked up crocheting but I don’t seem to have quite the talent for that as I do for knitting.

  16. I just learned how to knit recently, through an online class. My first project — a lacy scarf that was the first project in the class materials — was awful. But I’m keeping it as a reference to how much better I’m becoming at the craft. I certainly won’t be giving it away! 🙂

  17. The first thing I ever knitted was a gray scarf, and I still have it. I had wanted to learn to knit for years. In 2000 right after Christmas I bought a “Learn to Knit” book. I slowly taught myself to knit, but I couldn’t seem to figure out how to purl. Someone at work taught me. I’ve been hooked ever since! I’m addicted, but there are much worse addictions!

  18. Just had to laugh! Sampler? When I was about eight my mother tried to teach me to knit. It didn’t stick. Ten years later I looked at a piece of knitting and said “Oh, it’s just one loop inside another. I can do that and proceeded to knit a fair isle sweater – with every stitch twisted, using my self-created version of a continental stitch in a country that at the time was exclusively using a thrown stitch so nobody could help me! Nearly fifty years later I’m still going and the world has caught up with me! (I don’t twist stitches anymore except intentionally!) and I’ve learned the value of gauge swatches! 😉

  19. My first two “projects”, by which were scraps of something knitted, kicked around in my children’s toy box for several years. They were full of unintentional yarn overs, different size stitches and tension was just about non-existant. My first project that actually would function and looked passable enough was a skirt for my then little daughter, who loved it for as long it fit her (about 3 years). That was several years ago and since I got serious about practicing two years ago I am a much better knitter with a lot to learn, but there is a lot I have accomplished as well!

  20. I do not have my first knitting project but I do have a top I made in my 3rd or 4th project. The top did not turn out that bad but I am not the same size I was when I made the top.

    I need your help. I am trying to teach my granddaughter to knit and I cannot get her past the cast on. Any suggestions?

  21. My mother taught me to knit when I was 4years old. She was knitting little white singlets for my younger brother – she would do the purl row and pass me the knitting for me to do the knit row. Being a competitive child I’d watch how she purled and one day took some needles and woo into my bedroom and taught myself how to purl. (i casted on by wrapping the wool round and round the needle!!) She was a fast knitter and when we would share the knitting of larger items, I secretly would pace myself against her speed so I could go faster!! At 71 years as I am now, I can still whip through the rows, much to the amusement of my grandchildren. Teaching them to knit is a future project.

  22. The first thing I ever knitted was a pair of mittens in my high school Home Economics class. Our teacher taught all of us girls how to knit. My mother had never knitted before, so I was able to show her how. This was over 60 years ago.

  23. My first project was a pair of soakers in white wool. Somehow I got through the ribbing and eyelet row, and then all the decreases. When I got the work down to 3 stitches, Mom was too busy to help me end the thing. I was 3 and even then realized it was a strange project for a tiny girl to be making. A hat, scarf or doll blanket would have been so much better! . . . In college I taught myself to knit and made an entire poncho of dark green Red Heart wool garter stitch with tassels on the edge. I still have it 50 years later. There was nobody to show me. I did not run the yarn thru my fingers; each stitch was its own grand production.I made alll the knit stitches thru the back loop! At least I was consistent!

  24. Thanks so much for this article! I’m just starting out, and it’s nice to know that everyone’s knitting starts out looking, well, not so perfect. Thanks for the encouragement!! 🙂


  25. I’m loving these comments! I do have my first project–I began lessons three years ago in preparation for my retirement which rolled around this past July 1st. The project is a little blue dish cloth and I can’t really describe the shape as no side is straight and there really aren’t defined corners. What a mess! I’m thinking about framing it to remind me how far I’ve come. I often say that my grandma is probably in heaven laughing–she tried to teach me to crochet when I was a child but I just didn’t have time to learn that kind of thing. (I’m also learning some basic crochet stitches.)

  26. I learned to knit when I was newly married for the first time, and I was taught by my mother-in-law. I remember wanting to learn when I was 10 or 11, but my own mother preferred the culinary arts to the fiber arts. Emilia — as I will call her — was very patient with me; then again, I was very eager to learn. After learning garter stitch (or plain knitting), stockinette (or stocking stitch), ribbing, seed stitch (or moss stitch), increases and decreases, Emilia declared me ready for my first undertaking. The last time I had visited the UK, I had found some beautiful Welsh tweed in indigo, turquoise, and magenta, from which I sewed a long vest. I brought it along when we went shopping for yarn and chose a mohair blend matching the magenta. The pattern I chose was a polo-necked jumper (UK) or a turtlenecked pullover (US) with the body in a checkerboard of stockinette and reverse stockinette. Emilia showed me how to pick up stitches around the neckline and how, unlike sewing of woven fabric, the sleeves were identical. Furthermore, sewing them in (even though it was by hand) was a SNAP compared to the gathering, smoothing, basting and then hoping for the best for machine sewing set-in sleeves to a blouse, dress, or jacket would be!

    However, being over-anxious to get my project finished, by the time my jumper was sewn up, I found that the sleeves were 3/4 length when they were supposed to be wrist-length, and the body of the jumper reached to the top of my hip bones when it should have been about mid-hip. Emilia was encouraging, saying that she personally preferred 3/4 sleeves, and I even wore the jumper once or twice. Still, it found it’s way to the rag bin eventually.

    Emilia gifted me with a useful booklet, which is still in my possession and which I still refer to, “101 Ways to Improve Your Knitting” by Barbara Abbey. Thank you, Emilia, wherever you are. I still feel a debt of gratitude to you.

  27. I love to teach people to knit. Have you noticed, usually a person remembers who taught them to knit? I feel that I have become part of someone’s ‘story’ when they tell about how they learned to knit. And maybe someday, when they teach a grandchild, they might say, “my friend’s mother taught me” or ” a lady on the train taught me’ when they talk about how they learned. It’s a skill that leads to so much. 🙂 My Mom taught me when I was seven years old.

  28. A jumper. Square-shape. No arm shaping, no neck shaping – it was too difficult then. It was quite good but it bacema thin after the first wash so that it became a pillow-cover after it all. It is a pity because I have never found such such a nice, marine-blue shetland wool again:))))

  29. I don’t have my first project, but I still have the instructions. It was a one-skein sweater that appeared in a WOMAN’S DAY magazine sometime in the 70’s. I made a ton of those, because you could literally make one in an hour or less.

  30. This brings back memories of MY first knitting project! When I was a little girl, my mom taught me how to knit and crochet. At the time, she was part of a ladies’ group at her church that was knitting bandages for lepers in Africa. They had to be a certain length and width, very long since they were rolled up to about a four inch thickness. So my mom figured I could improve my knitting skills by doing these bandages, since of course it didn’t matter if there were a few mistakes in them! Now after a while, it became quite boring to have to continue making these bandages. But I can remember, whenever I’d ask my mom if I could knit something FUN, she’d look at my knitting and tell me “Keep knitting Alice.” LOL

  31. I learned knitting over 50 years ago, the year my first child was born. I practiced on red “rug yarn”, the only thing available in the small southern town where we lived. Luckily, I found an infant book and suitable yarn—somewhere, must have been where we traveled (we did that often in the early years) and proceeded to make a blue cardigan for my enfant. I was hooked!

    The next project did not turn out so well—an adult brown coat that was large enough to fit over myself and my husband at the time. I put knitting away after that—-but years later, found a yarn shop, a former teacher of knitting in my art class—and I have not looked back since—-absolutely love the craft, the endless possibilities—-and the friends you meet when you drag out those knitting needles and a ball of yarn! Who would have thought?

  32. On this September 17th, what would have been my mother’s 93rd birthday, it seems appropriate that I write this homage to her … the very reason that yes, I DO still have my very first knitting project. When she came to live with my husband and myself for the last year of her life, I would spend hours crocheting. She encouraged me with, “Honey, if you would teach yourself to knit, I think you would love it…and I’ll buy you your first complete set of needles!” To this day I have the striped ponchos, one for her…one for me! I knew nothing of swatches, beginner patterns, starting small, etc. I merely bought a pattern & the yarns required and away I went, diligently and awkwardly working away, tearing out, starting over…all to the music of my beloved mother encouraging me onward to what she said was one of the most beautiful knitted pieces she’d ever seen! I love her for that! And I love her for introducing me to my favorite needleworking skill. Happy birthday, and thanks, Mom!

  33. As much as I would like to say yes, hummm!!! not. When I became better at it I found a yarn winder and unknit all the project that I did not like and make some things else with it. Which though that I keap a few sample to see the progress I have made with time.