When you are ready to learn to knit you will need, first and foremost, yarn, knitting needles and scissors.
scissors tape measure and darning needle
Knitting needles come in a variety of materials, sizes, styles and prices. As you progress you will begin to use the type of needles that suit you best.
Knitting needles have been around for a very long time and have been made in a variety of materials from ivory to whalebone. Since they were first mass produced in steel they have been made in wood, aluminium, plastic and more. For beginners I would recommend bamboo needles as they have a silky finish, which lets the stitches glide across the needle and are good for clammy hands, one of the disadvantages of the new, nervous knitter!
There are three types of needle: straight, circular and double pointed. Straight knitting needles are sold in pairs and come in three lengths. You will need longer needles for work that is wider or if you need to pick up a lot of stitches - for instance, down the front edges of a jacket. A pattern should tell you if you need to use longer needles. Circular and double pointed needles are usually used for circular knitting when there is no seam.
A needle's size is determined by its diameter; the smaller the needle, the smaller the size of the stitch, and vice versa. Finer yarns are worked on smaller needles and bulkier yarns on larger ones. If you are not able to achieve the tension or number of stitches and rows to 2.5cm (1 in) that the pattern states then you will need to change your needle size to obtain the size of stitch required (see Tension on page 34). Needle sizes range from 2mm (US 0) to 9mm (US 15).
Scissors are important as they save you from the temptation of breaking off yarn with your teeth! A pair of small scissors with sharp points is the best, preferably with a case if you are going to be carrying them around with your knitting.
As you progress from practice squares you will also need a tape measure marked with centimetres and inches to measure your tension square and a blunt darning or tapestry needle to sew up seams.
Buttons chosen in a hurry or without much thought can really spoil a garment while the right ones add charm and style. There is a huge variety to choose from but if your local store doesn't have any that inspire you, try charity shops to see if you can find vintage ones. You are more likely to find ones you like in a small, rather old-fashioned yarn shop where they may be carrying old stock than in a modern department store.
Children often like to choose their own buttons with nursery images such as ducks or teddies, and pewter or metallic buttons can look great on denim-style yarns. If I am unsure of the type or colour of button that would suit my design, I often choose mother-of-pearl, which not only give a look of quality to a garment but also pick up and reflect the shade of the yarn.
Make sure you sew buttons on a garment for a baby really securely - small children love to fiddle with them or suck them.
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