how to read a knitting pattern

A lovely reader asked yesterday on my blog post how to start to read knitting patterns. How do you make the transition from a scarf to an actual garment. For me that came when I restarted knitting in my 20’s. I found a great little book, Debbie Bliss Baby Knits for Beginners (find it here on fishpond). I started with a pattern for a little jumper (find it here on ravelry) that had 2 rectangles which were the front and back and simple sleeves and the whole garment was stitched together when you were done. I also fell in love with the simple baby hat that I have made time and time again.
It started my love affair with Debbie Bliss because of her straight forward instructions, clear diagrams in her books and lots of pictures of how to do things. It’s how I learnt to do seed/moss stitch, cast off, increase and seam garments together. Look for books that have lots of pictures/diagrams and explain the stitches in a section of the book so that you can refer back to them.
image source here
And when all else fails find your nearest knitting store or knitter and pop in for some trouble shooting. Take your project with you. What are you getting stuck on. Often knitting shops have bring your own classes where you can bring what you’re working on (or stuck on). I did this when I was getting confused with increasing and it made a big difference having someone show me how to do it the right way.
I also think youtube is an amazing tool and really helped me with my crochet when I started before the twins were born. I quite like this series (by howcast) which I found this morning as it’s fun and step by step. And this is cute too for a beginner knitter – a baby hoodie! I want to make this myself.  
I’d love to hear any other tips, great books or advice for the beginner knitters out there because winter is approaching down under and that means knitting time! 


  1. What about sewing for Dummies? I have a machine but have no idea how to go about learning to sew. I’d love to give knitting & crocheting a go too. Will have to try Youtube.

  2. Might have to give that Debbie Bliss book a try – I love knitting for babies! I have found YouTube to be an amazing resource since getting back into knitting – there seem to be endless amounts of American ladies with manicured hands willing to share their expertise! I have been knitting horses recently and learned how to knit i-cord on YouTube and how to do short row knitting – good to see the technique in real life, as it sometimes hard to fathom in a diagram. Love that baby hat – too cute!

  3. Thank you for this. I love your knitting projects and keep saying to myself one day!! (oh by the way, hold off on all these books you keep telling us about – I can’t help but direct myself straight there and purchase!! You should be getting a commission. That’s two in two weeks now!). Thanks!

  4. That was the book that got me back into knitting as an adult. I love it!

  5. Sadly I didn’t knit a lot when my boys were young! But at least the 10 yr old will still wear knitted items. I can crochet but haven’t a clue how to read a crochet pattern! I would love to learn how!

  6. Thank you Corrie :) Your beginners knitting and sewing tips are so helpful. Love to hear more when you are able to.

  7. I’m no expert knitter, but found videos on the internet very helpful, because I could watch them again and again and imitate easily. I’ve mostly made scarves, baby blankets and a baby cardigan. I think knowing how to crochet already helped me to handle the yarn.

  8. Oooohhh! Imagine my excitement when I read this post! Thank you Corrie, you are a one-of-a-kind lovely. I will order that book for sure, come winter time, my goal will be to complete something other than a scarf or set of bed socks! By the way, I have completed my 1st really-real proper quilts, not rag quilts, not quilt-as-you-go quilts, but a fair dinkum pieced top, sandwiched and quilted in free-motion stiple stitch. I made two actually and have started my third, and will blog them soon. (Fabric came from your ebay clearout) I am well chuffed with myself!!!

  9. Hi Corrie,
    Congratulations on the mortgage (?!) this morning!
    I’m wondering if the Debbie Bliss book has a pattern for a little vest? I’m looking for one for some of my many friends who are pregnant. A friend told me there’s a good one in a Debbie Bliss book but not sure which one.
    Thanks so much. Jane

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