Lesson 2

Now that you’ve knit your first project.  It’s time to add to your skill set.  The next project is going to cover purl stitches, increases, decreases, ribbing and knitting in the round (when you get to the bonus projects).  You’ll be needing 2 types of needles for this project, a circular needle which is a pair of needles joined by a flexible cable and a set of dpns (double pointed needles) which is a set of 4 or 5 needles that have points on both ends.  Many new and old knitters panic when faced with knitting with dpns.  Don’t worry!  It’s just sticks and string!


Purl a Stockinette


            So far you have been working in garter stitch.  Now it’s time to learn the stockinette stitch.  That means learning how to purl.  If you’re not knitting in a circle, you have to learn how to knit backwards, which is a purl stitch.


This is what stockinette stitch looks like.  On the back, are the bumps of the purls.  A stockinette pattern is made by knitting one row and then purling the next.

The Perils of Purline


            The purl is what makes ribs and cables possible.  It is also key in so many other stitches.  There are so many ways to use the purl stitch.  You will find that once you learn this stitch, the rest of it comes easy.



Increases and Decreases


Not everything in life grows in a straight line.  We are going to talk about increases and decreases in our knitting.  These are invaluable not only where you put them but what kind of stitch you use to increase or decrease.  An example of the importance would be the toes of your hand knit socks.  The two different decrease stitches we will discuss today (obviously there are more) have a slant to it.  You will take advantage of this to create a nice inward tilt to the stitches in your sock toes.  You also will be making choices (not yet) about the type of increase to make.  You’ll be asking yourself, do you want a ridge, a hole, or invisibility.  Most of the time, the pattern designer takes this into consideration for you.  But it is important to know why they chose a method.  Designers are after all, just human and sometimes make mistakes.  Or… wait for it… you may actually prefer a different look to your garment!  A good example where you can change the increases for a different look is Claire’s Fluffy Shawl.  By changing the increase from what it currently is to a yarn over (yo), you can have a nice eyelet edge.




There are 3 main increase stitches.  Of course there are more ways to increase, we are only going to talk about the 3 main ones.  These are the make one (m1), the knit in the front and back loops (kfb), and the yarn over (yo).  The m1 is as close to invisible as you can get.  A person would really have to look hard to find it.  The kfb is very popular because it makes a nice little ridge for textural interest wherever you use it by inserting a purl stitch next to your knit stitch.  And the yo makes lace by creating a hole.  It is the secret to knitting lace.  It is also important to know about the yo that on the next row, you will treat it as a normal stitch and knit or purl into it as your pattern calls for.  Here are the links to show you how to make these increases.  Our pattern calls for kfb.


M1 –


YO –


Kate’s notes about increases – Knitting in the front and back of a stitch creates an increase that looks like you knit and purled. If you need your increased stitch to look like a knit stitch, you would use an m1. But what if you’re starting with a purl stitch and you need your increased stitch to be a purl? Let’s go back to the kfb. It looks like a knit and purl because when you knit into the back of the stitch it reverses the stitch. So here’s the problem again, you have a purl and you need a purl. Easy, purl into the front of the stitch and then knit into the back. Tada! 2 purled stitches side by side. Great for keeping your ribs lined up.


As mentioned earlier, the 2 main decreases have a slant.  The SSK (slip, slip, knit)   slants left and the k2tog (knit 2 stitches together) slants right.  For the hat we are going to make, we are going to focus on the k2tog.




Kate’s notes about decreases –

Why does it matter which way you make the decrease? K2tog (knit two together) works for everything, right? Wrong! Every decrease has a different look and today we’re talking about the difference between k2tog and ssk (slip, slip, knit). SSK is the only time you will slip knitwise without being told to do so. I don’t know why, I don’t write the rules. When you make your decrease, you are turning 2 stitches into 1. It’s going to have a slant. It is important for that slant to be in the same direction as the slant of your fabric. K2tog slants to the right and ssk slants to the left. You will find this to be important when making socks and knitting lace. So be aware when you are making your decreases, not only what the pattern says (usually the designer has thought this through for you already) or what your fabric is supposed to look like when finished.


For Project 2, follow this link and knit the Fifi scarf.  This project is done in garter stitch with a couple of ribbed sections.







For more practice with these skills continue below.


Knitting in the round –

Knitting in the round is to knit a circle and avoid seaming at the end of the project.  Most people hate seaming but knitting in the round inspires fear.  There is no need to fear.  It is a simple thing to do.

There are 2 ways to knit in the round.  One is on a set of circular needles.  Circular needles are a set of 2 needles joined in the middle by a length of flexible cable.  You’ll find that circular needles come in many configurations.  Many people invest in a set of interchangeable needles.  This allows the knitter to change needle sizes and cable lengths easily without running to the store and hoping to find just the right set of needles.  They also come in bamboo or metal.  When shopping for interchangeable needles or fixed circular needles, one of the main considerations is the flexibility of the cable.  Many people consider this one feature the defining quality between a good set and a bad set of needles.

The other way to knit in the round is on dpns.  Dpns come in sets of 4 or 5.  They come in wood, plastic or metal.  This is the single scariest tool that faces a knitter.  The reaction is “Oh my God!  I can’t knit on 4 needles at a time!  I can barely handle 2!”  Don’t worry.  You still will only be knitting on 2 needles at a time.  The other needles in play will be used as stitch holders until needed.  Dpns also come in different lengths.  This is a recent change to meet knitters needs.  They now range in lengths from 5 inches to 12 inches.  For most projects, a seven inch length is sufficient.

Knitting in the round usually happens on the first row after cast on.  There are a few exceptions but those will be indicated by the pattern instructions.  To join your knitting in the round, first cast on your stitches.  Then lay your circular needle down flat with the working yarn on the right.  The working yarn is the yarn that is attached to the ball of yarn.  Make sure that the cast on stitches are not twisting around the length of the cable or dpns.  If you are working on circular needles, place your stitch marker on the right hand needle in front of the working yarn.  Make sure that the working yarn is to the back and over the needle so it doesn’t get twisted around the cable.  It isn’t a big deal if it does, it is just inconvenient.  Spread the stitches out so that you have stitches close to both ends of the needle tips.  Now bring the tips together in a circle and knit that first cast on stitch which is usually the slip stitch.  Snug it up and work the second stitch according to pattern.  Snug it up.  You’re off!  Remember to slip the stitch marker when you get back around to it.

Joining the round on circulars

Now you’ve made it all the way around to the stitch marker and again and there seems to be a 2 inch gap of yarn just hanging there.  What happened?  Nothing.  This will be absorbed into the knitting as you continue rows 2 and 3.  You can close any remaining gap with your yarn tail when you bury it.  However, some people just aren’t built for this relaxed way of doing things and they want that gap closed to start with.  Well if you are that person, I have a solution for you!


Avoiding the joining gap

Visit the link below to learn how to avoid joining gaps



For our pattern, eventually, you are going to get to the point on this hat where you no longer have enough stitches to go around on your needles and you will need to switch from circular to dpns.


Switching from circular to dpns



Basic Beret

Kate McCullough


No copyright intended!


Sized for children, adult and big heads!


Appx 150 – 200 yards worsted weight yarn

16″ 8US (5.0mm) circular needles

8US (5.0mm) dpns


Cast on 64, (72, 88) stitches.  Join in the round. Work in 2×2 (k2, p2) ribbing for 2, (2.5, 3) inches.


Begin increases.

Row 1: *k7, kfb, repeat from * to end

Row 2 and all even rows: knit

Row 3: *k8, kfb, repeat from * to end

Row 5: *k9, kfb, repeat from * to end

Row 7: *k10, kfb, repeat from * to end

Row 9: *k11, kfb, repeat from * to end

Row 11: *k12, kfb, repeat from * to end.  Stop here for the smallest size.

Row 13: *k13, kfb, repeat from * to end

Row 15: *k14, kfb, repeat from * to end

Row 17: *k15, kfb, repeat from * to end  Stop here for the medium size.

Row 19: *k16, kfb, repeat from * to end

Row 21: *k17, kfb, repeat from * to end

Row 23: *k18, kfb, repeat from * to end Stop here for the large size.


Begin decreasing after the next plain knit row.


Row 1: *k12 (k15, k18) k2tog, repeat from * for round

Row 2 and every even row: knit

Row 3: *k11, (k14, k17), k2tog, repeat from * for round

Row 5: *k10, (k13, k16), k2tog, repeat from * for round


Continue decreasing in this manner until only 8 stitches remain.  Change to dpns when the stitches do not easily span the circular needles.  Cut the yarn 8 to 10 inches and using a yarn needle, thread it through all 8 stitches remaining on the knitting needles.  Remove the needles and pull tight to close.  Secure and bury the yarn ends.


More patterns to practice these skills.



Basic Knit Hat

Kate McCullough


No copyright intended!


Sized for children, adult and big heads!


Appx 100 yards worsted weight yarn

16″ 8US (5.0mm) circular needles

8US (5.0mm) dpns


Cast on 64, (72, 88) stitches.   Join in the round. Work in 2×2 ribbing for 2, (3, 4) inches.  Begin working in stockinette until hat measures 7, (8, 10) inches.  Begin decreases as follows.


Row 1: *k6 (k7, k9) k2tog, repeat from * for round

Row 2 and every even row: knit

Row 3: *k5, (k6, k8), k2tog, repeat from * for round

Row 5: *k4, (k5, k7), k2tog, repeat from * for round


Change to dpns when you don’t have enough stitches to go all the way around the needles easily.  Continue in this manner until only 8 stitches remain.  Cut yarn 10 inches and using a yarn needle, thread it through all 8 stitches on knitting needles.  Remove the knitting needles and pull tight to close the hole at the top of the head.  Secure and bury the yarn ends.


You can download a pdf version of this lesson to print here Lesson 2