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The art of knitting uses two long and straight handheld needles. The needles are tools for twisting strands of yarn from balls of wool into neat patterns. Many people follow a knitting pattern for every new item they create. A pattern can be as simple as a specific number of rows and columns. Not only is knitting a great and engaging hobby, but it also leaves you with a fantastic and practical end result. You can customize a cozy wearable garment or even something for the home like a throw or potholder. With resurgent interest in textiles and natural fibers, knitting is regaining popularity. Its repetitive nature lends itself to multi-tasking; it is popular to knit while in a lecture hall, watching tv, or listening to a podcast.  

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What you Need

Once you have decided that you are going to learn how to knit, you will need to acquire the basic tools required for the craft. Firstly, you will need two knitting needles which are the same length and width. You will also need some yarn or wool. Whether you start from a pattern or not is optional.

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How to Start

The first step in knitting is learning how to cast on. Casting on means getting the wool onto the needles. First, make sure you have enough wool for at least the first row, but ideally for your entire project. You will then make a slip knot on your finger which you will transfer onto one of the knitting needles. Once you have one stitch on one of the needles, you will continue to cast on single stitches until you have the number required.

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The Knit Stitch

This is the basic stitch required in knitting and it is the simplest. Hold the needle with the row of stitches you have cast on in your left hand. Start the stitch by sliding the right needle into the back of the first stitch in the row of stitches. Then loop the wool over the needle and the move  the stitch over to the right needle. Continue until all stitches have been transferred from the left needle on to the right.

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The Purl Stitch

The purl stitch is created when the needle in your right hand is inserted in the front of the stitch instead of the back as in the knit stitch. The wool is then looped from the front and the stitch is then cast off. This purl stitch is only slightly more difficult than the knit stitch. Continue until the end of the row.

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How to Follow a Pattern

A knitting pattern will tell you which size needles are best for a project and the thickness or ply of the wool to be used. The knitting pattern will use abbreviations such as K for knit and P for purl. The pattern will begin by giving you instructions for the first row. If the pattern is going to continue unchanged for a while, you will be instructed to continue until you have the number of rows specified. Follow the pattern and count the stitches at the end of each row you knit to make sure that you have not lost or gained a stitch.

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Knitting your First Item

Begin your new hobby by starting with an item which is easy to make for beginners. The simplest and most popular article with beginner knitters is a scarf. The task ahead will be easier if you use a thicker ply of wool with larger needles and only use a single color.

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Tension

If the stitches are knitted too loosely, tightly or unevenly, then the tension of the garment will be incorrect or unbalanced. The tension measures how many rows are in a particular length of work. You will need a small measuring tape to regularly check the tension of your rows. The measurement will be compared with the tension pecified in the knitting pattern. Once you have knit a few pieces you will be able to eyeball the tention of a piece.

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Additional Tools

There are a few additional tools which can assist with your craft. A knitting counter is a small device which is placed at the end of one of the needles. It is a tool for keeping track of the number of rows you have knitted so far. A stitch holder is like a large, old fashioned safety pin. A section of knitting can be placed on to the stitch holder and returned to later as instructed by the pattern.

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Famous Knitting Styles

There are some famous knitting styles in the world like the Scandinavian sweater with its distinctive star pattern or selburose. The star is a traditional winter emblem in Scandinavia. The well known Fair Isle Sweater had its origins on Fair Isle which sits off the coast of Scotland. The world-renowned Aran sweaters originated on the Aran islands which are located off the west coast of Ireland. They are famed for their cable patterns. The original sweaters were made of course unscoured wool for the fishermen who were going out to sea in their open boats or curraghs. The lanolin in the wool provided waterproof qualities against the elements, and it also softened the rough garments.

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Historical and Fun Facts

Historically, most knitted garments were originally made by men. It was an English man, William Lee who invented the first knitting machine in 1589. His invention modernized the process of knitting and remained in use for centuries. The longest scarf in the world knitted by an individual was knitted by a Norwegian man. It took Helge Johansen 30 years to knit his scarf which was completed in November 2013. This record-breaking garment was officially measured at an impressive 14,978 feet and 6.16 inches. Johansen keeps his lengthy scarf rolled up and in a city sports center in Oslo.

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