Knit/Purl: Knitting is Kewl

by Fran Barber

I wish I had discovered knitting at the beginning of my degree. Not only a productive way to procrastinate, for me knitting is a feel good exercise and a creative outlet – knitting gives me energy! I first learned to knit on the night of the 2014 election, which was convenient as I had something absorbent to mop up my tears as the results came in. 2014 was also the year that I completed my undergraduate degree, and as I came to the end of my studies I realised that I had been so focused on course work and navigating the social scene I was in that I didn’t know what I liked doing anymore. Well it turned out that I liked knitting very much and you might too!Here’s an introduction to the essential skills all knitting virgins need to know:


  • Two knitting needles
  • Some wool, any ball will do

Cast on: there are many different ways one could choose to cast on. I’m recommending the ‘knit-on’ method as it kills two birds with one stone – learning a versatile cast on method and getting used to handling your needles.
Image below taken from (Editors of Vogue Magazine, 2018, p. 34)


knit and purl are the bread & butter stitches of the knitting world. The first things to consider before you begin creating stitches are whether you are working on the right side or the wrong side of your work & whether you hold the working yarn in the front or the back. Other essential considerations not covered in this blog concern your knitting style – English or Continental – and of course whether you are right- or left-handed. Please refer to the recommended reading and watching sections at the end of this post to access guidance about these stylistic variations. When one knits knit stitch on the right side, and purl on the wrong side, the outcome is stocking stitch. Stocking stitch is the standard v-shaped fabric that people often associate with knitting. The diagram below demonstrates the difference in appearance between the right (pictured on the left) and wrong (pictured on the right) side on a swatch of stocking stitch.

Image below taken from Editors of Vogue Magazine, 2018, p. 46

When one knits knit stitch, the yarn is held in the front. When one knits purl stitch, the yarn is held in the back. This differentiation is important because if a stitch is created with the working yarn coming from the wrong direction, the resultant stitch will be twisted. Because the method for creating stitches is dependent on stylistic preference (English or Continental) and right- or left-handedness, this post does not include instruction on creating knit & purl stitches – please refer to the recommended readings and watch list below.

Image below taken from Editors of Vogue Magazine, 2018, p. 47

Cast off:

As in casting on, there are myriad ways and means to cast off too. The diagram below shows how to complete the ‘basic knit’ method, which is an easy and multi-purpose cast off.
Image below taken from Editors of Vogue Magazine, 2018, p. 61

Recommended reading:
Editors of Vogue Magazine. (2018). Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book (The Completely Revised and Updated, First ed.). New York: Sixth&Spring Books.
Walker, B. G. (1968). A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Recommended watching:
YouTube is every knitter’s best friend, go forth and prosper!

Resources in the Dunedin’s community:
– Knitting Squad:
About: BYO knitting or crocheting, or come and learn.
Time/location: 1pm-3pm, Wenesdays – North East Valley Community Rooms.
Contact: Marjory 03-473-7751
– Art Fibre Dunedin:
About: Bring lunch and requirements.
Time/location: 10am-3pm on the 2nd Sunday of each month – North East Valley Community Rooms.
Contact: Viv – 03-473-0343;

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