Anyone can learn to knit. Anyone can teach him or herself to knit. Anyone can achieve good results with good tools. The better the tools, the better the results. So start, right from the beginning, with good yarn, good needles and good instruction.
For the yarn, choose an all-natural fiber, either cotton or wool. My personal favorite for beginners is Tahki’s Cotton Classic, a cabled cord, or Lily’s Sugar & Cream, an inexpensive yarn that makes great dishcloths. In wool, Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride worsted, a one-ply yarn, works well. All of these yarns do not split easily and render a nice even stitch. You’ll like the look of it. DO NOT use acrylic yarn to start with! I know it’s cheap, but it splits and the stitches warp -- and your efforts will end up looking cheap, too. Acrylic yarn is very discouraging stuff.
The needles should fit the task. Since the task is learning and practicing, a 10” length in size 6, 7, or 8 will do (don’t worry; you’ll use them again for scarves and small projects). Longer needles get caught in the upholstery, and big chunky needles are unwieldy for beginners. Whether you use wood or metal needles is up to you. Bamboo gives a little surface tension so the stitches don’t slide off as easily; metal needles are slicker. Choose whichever is most comfortable and esthetically pleasing to you. I would not recommend interchangeable needles to start with because the tips and cables can loosen slightly and catch the yarn.
Good instruction can be found in books or videos. Coat’s & Clark publishes the Learn How booklet covering knitting, crochet and tatting. It’s good for the basics (and has been around for decades). Another reference book to eventually have on your shelf is The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square, which briefly but comprehensively describes and depicts all the basic knitting functions. For accurate and simple video demonstrations, I recommend www.knitwitch.com. Brittany goes slow, repeats operations and has the loveliest mellow teaching voice I’ve ever heard – it calmly lulls you into confidence!
Knit in Peace! Karlin (© 2012)