To perform the most basic knitting, you just need to know how to do the following things, all of which we explain in Part II:
I Cast on: When you cast on, you create a series of loops on one needle as a starting row.
I Knit: A knit stitch is the most basic stitch in knitting; a purl stitch is its very close cousin. With these two stitches you can create a variety of patterns. Knowing only how to knit and purl, you can have a lot of fun knitting up square or rectangular pieces: hot pads, table mats, afghans, bags, and so on. To move beyond pieces with this basic shape, you need to know how to add (increase) or remove (decrease) stitches. Increasing and decreasing in a deliberate way creates pieces with more sophisticated shaping (think garments, socks, gloves, and so on) and lacework.
I Bind off: When you're done knitting, you have to remove the stitches from the needles in such a way that your hard work doesn't unravel. Sometimes (like when you want to create buttonholes or a neck opening in a sweater) you may bind off in the middle of a row.
I Fix mistakes: Knitters of all stripes mess up periodically. The most common mistakes, for novice and expert alike, are inadvertently dropping or adding stitches.
With a bit of practice casting on, knitting, purling, and binding off, you'll soon be amazed at your nimble fingers and ready to move on to more challenging techniques such as creating stripes, cables, and lacework and working with multiple colors of yarn. You can find those in Part III. And when you're ready to move on to garments, head to Part IV.
There's one more important thing to know as a knitter: how to figure gauge. Gauge is the one-word shorthand for "how big this thing will be when it's done." Although you can knit anything without determining gauge, you won't know what size you'll end up with until all is said and done. Although this isn't usually a problem for pieces for which size doesn't matter (such as scarves and bags), gauge is important when you want to make clothing. Chapter 3 tells you what you need to know about measuring gauge.
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