There aren’t any standard guidelines for rating how difficult a pattern is, besides maybe it’s ratings on Ravlery. So, I’ve made this guide to help you determine if a particular pattern is right for your skill level. (But toooootallly ignore this if you’re feeling adventurous. Finished knitting projects are NOT supposed to turn out perfect - that’s the beauty of handmade!)
If you’ve mastered some of these skills already, use this list to decide what to learn next. So here it is - What to Learn Next: 9 Gorgeous Knitting Skills from Easiest to Hardest
0. Rectangle shape using garter stitch
This is skill #0 because it’s an excellent starting point if you’ve never knit before. It doesn’t matter what you make, as long as it’s rectangular and using garter stitch! That does limit you a bit - mostly to scarves, blankets, potholders, washcloths, and anything you can put together with squares. Personally, I’d recommend making lots of squares. You can make them any size you’d like, and stitch them together later to make a blanket or scarf. And if you mess up a square, you don’t have to unravel the whole project.
1. Consistent stitch pattern with knit and purl repeats
There are all kinds of stitch patterns you can do just with two simple stitches: knit and purl. These are the basic building blocks of all stitch patterns. Stockinette is the probably the simplest stitch pattern that uses both knit and purl stitches, alternating a row of each. You can also try rib, seed, double seed, etc. You can make the same types of projects suggested for skill #0 with these stitches.
2. Increasing and decreasing
There are many different ways to do this. Almost every pattern that has any shaping will use increasing and decreasing to do so. Some patterns use increasing and decreasing to create a special stitch. If you decrease the same amount of stitches as you increase in one row or a set of rows, there won’t be any shaping but it will create a unique stitch pattern. When you’re learning how to increase and decrease, be sure to count your stitches after every row! You can also place stitch markers more often along your row to make counting
3. Knitting in the round
Once you’re comfortable with basic stitch patterns and increasing/decreasing, you can open yourself up to so many more patterns by learning how to knit in the round. This is actually a much easier skill to learn than the others I’ve listed above, but it’s 3rd on the list because most patterns that’ll have you knit in the round will require the previous skills as well. You can do this either with the magic loop method or DPNs (double pointed needles). I personally found the magic loop method easier to learn for beginners, but that may not be the case for everyone. A great first project for this is a hat!
Introduce yourself to colorwork with the easiest method: stripes! If your stripes are alternating two colors and are very small (1 or 2 rows each stripe), you can even do this without cutting off the non-working color before using it again. Color melting is a technique that has become very popular recently to fade from one colorway to the next, and it is done solely by (you guessed it) stripes!
If you didn’t encounter the YO (yarn over) when learning increasing, then you surely will as you try out lacework. There are quite a few fancier moves you’ll learn, depending on the lace pattern you choose. It sometimes involves techniques like psso (pass slip stitch over) and bobbles. I recommend doing some lacework in thicker yarn like worsted weight before using sock or lace weight to get the techniques down first.
I don’t want to bog this post down with tips and tricks, because I’ll save them for another post - but I’ve got to say this!! If you’re just starting out with lacework - don’t get your ssk (slip slip knit) and k2tog (knit two together) mixed up! It will likely distort whatever imagery you are trying to achieve.
6. Stranded colorwork
The concept behind stranded colorwork isn’t very complex, you’re simply holding the non-working color behind your knitting. However, you’ll want to master a steady gauge first, as how tight or loosely you knit the non-dominant color can make a big difference in the final look and stretch. If you’re learning, try a pattern that has shorter “floats” - aka the amount of space between stitches of the same color.
I promise cables look harder than they are. For the most part, they might just be time consuming. The hardest part of knitting a cable is the row where you switch up the order of stitches. You might need to practice how tight you need your gauge on this row to avoid having larger gaps on the edges of the cable. Alternatively, if your gauge is too tight it will make switching the order of your stitches more difficult. All other rows are normal knitting!
An excellent way to begin is with a smaller cable. The smallest cable you can make is two stitches wide, so try for something smaller than 5 stitches wide at first.
8. Advanced construction
This “skill” is a bit hard to define because it could mean all kinds of things. Generally more “advanced” construction might entail picking up stitches, seaming together knit pieces with rows not in the same direction, gussets, short rows, steeking, etc. You’ll find these elements in patterns made up of multiple shapes like a sweater, cardigan, or pair of mittens.
9. Sock knitting, or any other project using a 1mm or 2mm needle
I hate telling anyone that knitting is hard - or that sock knitting is hard. It isn’t! It just takes practice. :) The reason it is last on this list is because you will likely need to combine a majority of the first 8 skills in one sock project. The added difficultly lies within that teeny-tiny gauge. You may have knit with sock weight yarn before, but probably that shawl or hat project still used a larger needle such as 3mm or 4mm. Knitting socks with sock weight yarn usually requires a 1mm to 2.5mm. The smaller scale requires a bit more precision and lots of good lighting, especially when learning. First timers should try for a pattern with little to no lace, color, or cable work. A simple stockinette sock pattern will get you started quickly!
That being said, once you start making socks, you probably won’t ever stop. :) There are so many beautiful possibilities, and they make for a very travel friendly knit! If you decide the smaller gauge isn’t your strong suit, you can always find patterns for socks knit in DK or worsted weight.
If you don’t know which of these skills are used in a particular pattern, reach out to the designer or join their Facebook/Ravelry group and ask there. They are usually great about answering questions like that.
Did I miss something? Comment below if you’ve tried a technique that you weren’t ready for. Or, was there some skill you’ve put off in the past for fear it was too difficult only to try it out and learn easily?