Knitting 101: Lesson Two

Now that you have all you supplies gathered and your slipknot on your needle, we can start lesson two. We’ll begin by casting on.

There are several methods for casting on and I am only going to show one in this post, so here are some more from google in video form for those of you struggling with the method I’m about to show you.

The first thing you’ll want to know is how many you need to cast on. If you’re working with a pattern, the very first instruction should be “Cast on x stitches” or “CO x sts” if they’re abbreviated. For the sake of our dishcloth, we’ll need 54 stitches cast on. REMEMBER: your slip knot that is getting us started counts as one stitch! We will be casting on 53 more stitches.

To start casting on, pick up you needle with one hand and your yarn with the other. I am right handed, so all these picture will be shown for right handed cast on. If you’re left handed and having trouble let me know and I will gladly help you out.


Lay your yarn across the needle-less hand from pinky side to thumb side crossing your palm and wrapping around the outside of your thumb and going between your index finger and your middle finger. Make sure your needle is on the end that is going through your index and middle fingers. I use my pinky and ring fingers to help guide the yarn and keep a good gauge. If that does not work for you, or if a different way of keeping the end steady works better, do that instead. The only right answer here is to get the loops on the needle.


Now, using your needle, cross the string that you pulled behind your thumb and index finger to make a loop around your index finger.


Slide the needle into the loop around your finger and lift the loop off.

Cinch the loop if needed (gently! Think happy stitching thoughts) and congratulations! You have cast on your first stitch. Wrap the string back around your index finger and do those same steps again until you have a total of 54 stitches on your needle, including the loop from our slip knot.


Seems like a lot of stitches doesn’t it? Well, remember that long rambling post where I talked about gauge? The pattern gauge is for a cotton yarn that is thinner and knits differently than the standard cheap-o acrylic I am using for my practice run. The recommended gauge for the yarn I am using is one stitch less and one row less on needles two sizes smaller.This will probably be the biggest dishcloth I make ever, but that is actually really good for two reasons:

  1. The larger stitches are the easier they are to see. So if you need to count stitches or rows, finding what you’re counting will be very easy.
  2. The larger gauge will have more “bounce” and forgive loose stitch errors much better. The looser your stitching is all around, the easier it is to “tug out” that one loose stitch in the middle of the row.

Now that we have those on, we can start the 2×2 rib that is our border. For those of you who know what that means, get started on 4 rows of 2×2 ribbing. For those of you who don’t head on over to Lesson Three.


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