Basic knitting supplies for beginners

A detailed list of all the materials and tools you need as a knitting beginner and how to use them.

So, you want to start knitting? Maybe you found my free knitting school already and you are all stoked to get started. But now you don’t know what you need to buy? What are the best tools and materials for knitting beginners? In this post, I’ll talk you through the most basic knitting supplies. Things you absolutely need to knit those first stitches but also everything you don’t need

(Still, just in case: Here’s what I, as an advanced knitter have in my knitting toolkit).

All the basic knitting supplies you need as a beginner wanting to learn this craft
All the basic supplies you need as a knitting beginner

I’ve been there and I’ve seen it too many times. People start with a new craft, buy all those fancy tools and gadgets, only to realize 2 weeks later this hobby is not for them. That’s why I personally always recommend to keep it to the bare minimum at first. Always buy quality, but never overbuy.

If you go to a yarn shop, then you will find a looot of choices. And you will need most of them at one point or the other (just check out my list of the best knitting tools every advanced knitter needs or my list of gift ideas for knitters). You will also be tempted to buy all that beautiful yarn. Pinks, speckles, super soft merino…you name it. Don’t.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it!

Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.

1. Knitting Needles

Different knitting needles for beginners and professional knitters

Quite obviously you will need knitting needles. I wrote a detailed guide on the best needles for beginners here. But here’s the gist:

You will want to start with needles that are neither too small a size (very fiddly) or too big a needle (very cumbersome). Needles size 6 to 8 (so 4.00 to 5.00 mm) are a perfect balance. Then, most experienced knitters agree that bamboo is probably the easiest material to get started as it is super light, warm to the touch, and has a nice grip so your stitches don’t fall off.

For your very first projects, single-pointed needles (the one with the little knob on one end) are probably the best. There is no need to buy a full set of interchangeable knitting needles or eve Carbon knitting needles. Why? Your preferences will probably change over the next months and years.

Most knitters develop a focus: Say socks, sweaters or shawls. And depending on those choices (and a lot of other choices), you will need different needles. It wouldn’t be very frugal to invest a fortune in knitting needles you may not use in the long run.

Here are two needles I can recommend:

Both are very reputable companies known for producing quality needles. These needles are somewhat short, though. For your first projects (like a beginner’s scarf or a dishcloth), these will be perfect. If you plan a bigger project (so wider than 9 inches), then you would obviously need to get larger needles.

If you are absolutely sure you are in for the long run, you could also get a pair of circular bamboo needles (these ChiaoGoo needles will serve you will). Knitting with the cable is a tiny bit more tricky, but they are certainly a bit more versatile for future projects.

Later on, when you want to knit socks or other projects in the round, you will need dpns. Read my review of the best double-pointed knitting needles here.

2. Knitting Yarn

indie dyer colorways basking in the sun

The second thing you will need is knitting yarn. I wrote an in-depth guide on the best knitting yarn for beginners here. But in a nutshell, this is what you need to know:

There are virtually a million different kinds of yarn out there, but for beginners, superwash wool blends are probably the best choice. Sheep wool is an amazing material with a lot of stellar properties. It’s warm, it’s easy to knit with, comparably cheap, super stretchy, comes in a million different colors, and so on.

Why a superwash blend?

The only downside of wool is that it felts very easy. Every washing machine has a wool program for a reason, and you might know what happens if you put a wool sweater into the dryer (don’t!). Superwash wool yarn is treated in a way to discourage felting and blending it with a synthetic fiber (nylon, polyamide) reduces the risk even further.

But remember you have to buy the yarn in weight matching your needles. All commercially sold yarns will have a little label that states the recommended needle size. If you have got needles size 8, then you have to look for a matching yarn. Usually, the label states a certain range (like 8-10).

As a beginner, I would recommend you to focus on the lower number, as knitting with “smaller” needles will result in more uniform stitches. Also, make sure that you buy a skein of yarn and not a hank as the latter needs to be wound before you can start knitting.

Acrylic yarn can also be a good alternative, especially as it usually is much cheaper.

Here are some yarns for your consideration:

Reliable brands for basic wool for beginners: Schachenmayr (Regia 6ply in particular), Drops, Lion Brand, Lang Yarns, Rowan

3. A tapestry needle

a couple of different tapestry needles

Here’s the good news: Knitters use continuous rows of stitches to shape their projects without sewing or adhesives. But no matter how diligent a knitter you are, every knitted item will always be at least two ends. One from your cast on, and the other from your cast off. And once you finished knitting, you need to weave in these tails.

You can do so with a tapestry needle. That’s a kind of sewing needles with a blunt tip and a big eyelet which makes it easier to use with thick knitting yarn. You don’t really need anything fancy, but you might want to get a set of different sizes right away. It will cost a penny or two more, but then you are set for the future.

Here’s the link to the one on the picture above you can also buy a similar one on amazon.

Note: I personally prefer sharp tapestry needles, but as a beginner, the blunt version just might be a bit easier.

4. Scissors

Before you can weave in your ends, you will need to cut the yarn. And after you weaved in those ends, you will have to cut away the little tail still peaking out as well. And that’s more or less it. Later on, there are some advanced techniques like steeking (etc.) that also will require scissors, but for the beginning, anything that can cut yarn will suffice.

Most makers will have something around the house already, but if you don’t, you might want to get one of these super cute stork embroidery scissors.

5. A project bag

easy men's sock knitting pattern

The last thing you really need is a bag where you can store your work in progress. You may want to bring your knitting on the train or car (if you are not driving yourself that is!) or your household may have kids, dogs, cats or an overzealous partner. In short, there are many things that could spoil your efforts before it’s even finished.

Now, you don’t need anything fancy. A simple zipper plastic bag or a cotton bag (or whatever else you already have at home), will totally suffice.

That being said, there are some extremely helpful and not all that expensive knitting project bags available. This one is also very popular among knitters.

Later on, you might also invest in some nice boxes to keep your stash out of harms way. Here’s how to store yarn properly.

Other knitting supplies for beginners

Now, as I said in the introduction, there are tons of other handy little tools and gadgets you might want to get. But, for your first projects, you will not need them.

Take stitch markers for example (here’s a link to Etsy with a great variety). First of all, I don’t think you will need them for those super easy beginner projects. But even if you would, a simple loop in a contrasting yarn will do the job for the time being.

The same could be said about blocking mats. Yes, it helps to wash your finished project and then block it to even out the stitches and to get it into shape. But, you can also use the carpet (with a towel on top), your ironing board, or any leftover styrofoam you have lying around.

To start out, I would really think creatively. There are a lot of knitting hacks out there, and there is absolutely no need to spend all that much money on your first project.

I am a professional project manager, and I have a lot of experience in finding the right price for a given product. And let me tell you, inexperienced people are the perfect victims. If you don’t know a lot about a certain product range, a lot of people will lean towards the more expensive option, figuring that it will be better. This, however, may or may not be the case. It might just be overpriced.

So, again, keep your knitting equipment to the bare minimum as you start out. Later on, you can buy all the items you need if your pattern requires it. By then your experience will help you judge the quality better.

There is a very interesting acronym floating around the knitting community. SABLE. It means [yarn] stash acquired beyond life expectancy. It means that a knitter bought so much yarn that they won’t be able to use it all up before they die. And mark my words, this is a big problem in the knitting community. You want to own these beautiful colorways. Cashmere, merino, alpaca….everything is just so soft!

I want to be honest with you. I have got way more yarn than I need and I don’t even feel sorry about it. That being said, you don’t have to morph into a crazy knitting lady/boy before you even finished your first project. Leave that for later *chuckle*

Anyway, that’s it. This was my list of basic supplies for knitting beginners. Feel free to ask your questions in the comments below!

basic knitting supplies for begginers

20 thoughts on “Basic knitting supplies for beginners”

  1. Hi Norman,

    I have to say that you’re so right about SABLE πŸ˜†. I crochet a lot (bought lots of hooks and yarn indeed) before learning knitting 1 week ago. I want to buy all the needle I saw to experience all the sizes and mateials.

    But now I read this post, and I have to stop myself doing that. Thank you so much for your advices.

    Btw, I think wood needles are also a good choice for beginers beside bamboo ones.


  2. Thank you for sharing the wealth of your knowledge so generously. I am a ‘born-again’ knitter who learned it from my mother and grandmother (whose last name happened to be Selter. Guess which circulars I will be buying? πŸ™‚
    Upon deciding to take up knitting again, I ran across your videos on YouTube and signed up for your newsletter.

    Best regards from a German in the US.

  3. My daughter who is 8 is very artistic and wants to learn to knit and crochet. I plan on learning as well. Given her smaller hands, could you recommend a project with the size 9 needles?

    • Hey Caroline,
      that is very difficult to say but starting with a potholder or a little coaster is usually never a bad idea. Then maybe a scarf.

  4. Thanks for your guide Norman, very helpful! My flatmate and I are taking up knitting this weekend πŸ™‚ All the best!

  5. Hi Norman
    I want to thank you for your thoughtful presentation of your skills and knowledge. Your giving and emphatic spirit is a blessing. Thank you.

  6. My grandmother taught me to knit and crochet 50 years ago. The crocheting caught on but I never was good at the knitting. I have decided to try again for the umteenth time and think your course may do the trick. Your optimistic tone has me hoping. I look forward to working along with you.

  7. Oh my goodness, thank you, thank you! This entire post is beyond, thank you for your generosity in sharing all of this. It has been a wonderful help to me. I have not read the whole post yet, because I am getting ready to buy my first set of needles and yarn, and again your council was so appreciated, you talked this lady off of the edge.

    As, I mentioned before, I have not read the whole post. Do you have any tips on learning how to control and keep your tension constant?

    Thank you, suzie

  8. When I decided that I wanted to knit as my primary hobby, I dug out my old Aero single points that I had purchased about 35 years ago. They were still in their original holder/case but were showing a little bit of wear in the tips. I also felt that they were a bit too long, but I made do for a while. I then wanted to try circular needles and bought a set of very cheap wooden ones from eBay. A disaster! I then found KnitPro. Now all my needles are KnitPro. Great investment. I still have the old Aero ones, just in case!


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