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How to: hold knitting needles

Lesson • Before You Start • 05:04 • Beginner

Holding your needles and yarn comfortably will help you to knit more smoothly, quickly and accurately. There are a couple of ways, so experiment and see what suits your natural style the best.

Before You Start

Course Overview



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What you need

What you need

A pair of straight single-pointed needles; knitting pattern; a pen and if possible, a highlighter; yarn; tape measure; pins (optional)

Course Description

Calling all beginners - here is where you need to start. In this course, you'll master the basics from how to hold your needles through to getting that all-important tension right. Once you've got this under your belt, you're ready to start and the world of knitting is at your feet.

Meet your instructors

  • Julie Peasgood

    Julie is an actress and presenter just starting out on her knitting journey

  • How to: hold knitting needles Knitting Video

    Neti Love

    Neti is your resident knitting expert who knows the ins and out of all things yarn

Practical Guides

  • As you knit, you'll find that you are frequently shifting your hold on your needles and retensioning your yarn. This is a natural part of knitting and becomes second nature!

  • There are two things to try when starting to knit, namely how to hold your needles and also how to hold your yarn. These videos show knitting with the knife grip with yarn held in the right hand (English style). You can hold your needles in the pencil grip or the knife grip, and with the same amount of pressure, so not excessively tightly. With the pencil grip, the palms of your hands are turned slightly upwards so your fingers support the needles mainly from underneath and your thumbs rest on top of each needle, in effect controlling your needles from below. This needle hold may be suitable for small pieces of knitting. By contrast, the knife grip controls the needles from the top, with your palms facing down and your index fingers are on top of the needle, with thumbs holding the side of the needles. This hold is suitable for most knitting as hands are out of the way and your knitting can hang freely. One of your hands will also control the working yarn that comes from your ball; the yarn usually tensioned across your index finger ready to be wrapped around the right-hand needle, but you'll usually need to tension the yarn around another finger as well, often the little finger. To pick up your yarn, hold your needles in one hand as though about to start knitting, pick up the yarn by wrapping it once around your little finger close to the tips of the needles, then move your hands into knitting position, letting the yarn slide enough to let you pop your index finger from the same hand under the yarn near the needle tip, leaving a few centimetres or so for knitting. Different yarns run through your fingers with more or less ease, depending on how smooth they are, so just adjust this hold until it allows you to knit smoothly.

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