DIY: A step by step tutorial on knitting coasters for beginners from beginning to end, plus all the materials you will need.
A hand-knit square coaster can be a wonderful addition to your dinner table setting. But how do you knit a coaster if you are a beginner and haven’t knit a single stitch yet?
In this tutorial, I’ll show exactly what you need to create your own square coasters. I’ll show you all the techniques you need to know, the tools and yarn you need to buy, and how to add your own personal touch. You’ll also find a video where you can see me knitting the coaster from beginning to end.
This is the most simple coaster pattern I can think of it and it’s the perfect first project for a knitting beginner. Feel free to check out my free knitting school in case you want to expand your knowledge even further. And once you mastered this, you may consider reading about how to knit fingerless gloves the easy way (flat).
Anyway, let’s dive right into it, eh?
- Step: Prepare your materials
You can knit a coaster with pretty much any yarn and any needle size. So, just walk into a yarn shop (online or offline) and pick a yarn that sparks your interest, and then find matching needles (the label will tell you what you need). I recommend cotton yarn.
Cotton will be able to soak up all the condensation water (and whatever you might accidentally spill), and it's easy to wash. Wool, on the other hand, will easily felt if you wash it too warm, while acrylic yarn won't keep any moisture at all. No matter which yarn you pick, one skein will be enough to make a couple of coasters.
If you already have scissors in your house, then there's no need to buy new ones. You only need them to cut the yarn at the very end. You probably will need a tapestry needle as standard needles have too small an eyelet for thick knitting yarn.
- Step: Cast on 19 stitches with needle size 6 /4.0 mm
Now it's time to start knitting. The first thing you have to do is casting on stitches. That's what you call the technique to create a row of loops around your knitting needle which you can then use to start the actual knitting process.
There are many ways to cast on knitting stitches but I recommend a simple longtail-cast on. You will find my step by step tutorial on how to cast on knitting stitches for beginners here.
Together with the initial slip knot, you will need 19 stitches. That is if you are using the same or similar yarn. But if you end up with 18 or 20 that won't be a big deal. In fact, by casting on more or fewer stitches, you will be able to adjust the size of your knitted coaster.
Pay attention that your cast-on leaves a tail of around 6-8 inches. You will need this little tail later on. If it's too short (like only 1 or 2 inches) cast on again. Here's a handy little guide that will teach you how much yarn you need for a longtail cast-on. In this case, 25 inches will be more than enough.
- Step: Knit across for 30 rows
Once you finished casting on, you simply have to knit across all stitches with the knit stitch. While I urge you to read my full tutorial, it's always the same motion: You go into the loop on the left needle from left to right. Then you wrap the yarn around the right needle counter-clockwise. Then you pull the yarn through and drop the loop you just knitted through off the left needle.
Once you finished a row, you turn around your work, and bring the yarn to the back of your needle and continue knitting knit stitches. The pattern you will create is called the garter stitch.
There are special row counters but you can also use a pen and paper.
- Step: Bind off all stitches
Once you finished knitting 30 rows in total, it's time to bind off (or cast off; you will find both terms) all stitches. The proverbial problem with knitting is that it will unravel by itself if you pull out your needles. A bind-off is a special technique that will create a permanent edge that won't unravel.
Here's how to bind off knitting for beginners.
Basically, it boils down to knitting two stitches. And then passing the stitch farther to the right on your right needle over the first stitch. Once you did that you knit one more stitch and pass the new second stitch over the first again. By continuing these motions until the end of your row you can secure all stitches.
- Step: Secure the tail
The classic bind-off will leave you with one stitch left on your right needle. Simply cut the yarn leaving a tail of around 8 inches and pull out the loop with your knitting needle. This will tie a simple knot to finish your coaster.
- Step: Weave in the tails
Once you finished the actual knitting process, you will notice that your coaster has two little tails: One from the cast-on and one from the cast-off. As these aren't all that pretty you will want to hide them.
So, thread the tail on either end on a tapestry needle. And then, stretch out the ribs of your coaster and weave in the tail through the legs of these stitches in between. Make sure you split the yarn as you go. And then, go in another direction one more time. Stretch out the fabric a bit with your fingers and cut the tail using your scissors. This process is called weaving in and here is a detailed tutorial for it.
- Step: Wash your finished coaster gently and block it
Your little knitted coaster will probably look a tiny bit wonky or lopsided right now. That's nothing to despair about. If you want it to be all neat and square, handwash it gently in lukewarm water. Then, wring it out gently between a towel and pin it to a soft surface.
While there are special blocking mats advances knitters use, a simple towel on a carpet is all you need. And then let it dry for a day (or however long it takes). Remove the pins and your coaster will be all nice and square. The blocking process also helps to even out the stitches.
As a really fast and easy alternative, you can also pin it to your ironing board and use the steam function to block it in shape. This is much faster and will work much better for yarns with a high plastic/acrylic content.
To check if your coaster is square and you knit enough rows, simply fold it into a triangle. If you can make all sides meet, you can stop knitting. Obviously, nothing prevents you from knitting a rectangle.
And when it comes to weaving in the tails, you can also go through the edges. I feel this is a tiny bit more visible but maybe a bit easier for beginners.
Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.
Get creative with your coaster knitting
Now, I showed you how to knit a basic coaster. As a beginner, I recommend knitting a couple of them until you get the hang of it and you can produce neat and consistent results. And then you can apply your full creativity to embellishing the basic pattern.
Two colored coaster = twice the fun
A great option is knitting a coaster with two colors. To change colors, you simply knit to the end of one row, cut the yarn, and starting knitting with the new color. The first stitches will be a bit difficult but if you tug on the tails as you go, it’s manageable.
And once you finished the coaster, you simply weave in these two additional tails the way I showed you above (make sure they are long enough!).
You could even add stripes by alternatingly knitting two rows in two different colors. If you stick to switching every two rows you don’t have to cut the yarn off. You can simply let the yarn you are currently not using hang down and pick it up once you need it again. Just make sure you don’t pull the first two stitches in the new color two tight so you don’t mess up the edges.
Creating a mug rug
Adding fringes is one of the easiest ways is to make your knitted coaster look special. A fringe is basically nothing else but tying a hitch knot through the stitches of your edge with some scrap yarn. With this little trick, you can create fun mug rugs in no time.
I usually use a crochet hook. This makes it easier to pull the individual strands through the edge but you can also use your tapestry needle or your hands (a bit fiddly).
Trying out different knitting stitch patterns
A coaster boils down to knitting a square. There really is no (knitting) magic involved at all. So, it could be the perfect project to try out new knitting stitches. I have a full library of different stitches and you can basically pick any of them and knit a coaster using them.
There are two things you need to ensure though:
- Some knitting stitch patterns (especially stockinette stitch) tend to curl in at the edges. That’s why you need to add a garter stitch edge of 3 stitches on both sides. Here’s everything you need to know about keeping knitting from curling.
- Most stitch patterns don’t have a square gauge. So, you will have to knit a couple of more rows. If you use the triangle trick I showed you above, you’ll have no troubles at all.
There is a free pattern for a christmas tree coaster here on my blog you can easily use as a template. Be aware that you will need to know how to knit the purl stitch and possibly even other stitches.
Here’s the advanced coaster knitting pattern if you want to try out new stitches.
This will create a coaster with a garter stitch selvage on both sides that prevents your knitting from curling. You can fill this coaster with any knit stitch pattern you like.
So, it basically boils down to knitting 4 rows in garter stitch at the bottom. And three selvage stitches on each side. But again, different stitches have a different gauge and you may have to adjust the number of rows you need to knit.