Over the holidays, a few friends asked me my opinions on how to start knitting. So here's what I recommend.
First off, before you even go out and buy supplies, you've got to have PATIENCE! Seriously, it's probably the most important thing about knitting, because there will be times when you drop a stitch, add a stitch, have to tink (knit backwards) several rows to fix a mistake, etc. And trust me, that can be very frustrating. I have been known to snap at people when I'm in the middle of a pattern row and have to start recounting 96 stitches to make sure there's not 97 or 95 of them by accident. Knitting takes time and it takes practice, so be prepared!
To start off with, use a size US 8 or 9. This is a average size needle that will get your hands used to working with knitting techniques. Too small needles (especially ones like 4 and 3) can be hard to deal with when you're not sure what you're doing yet. I speak from experience on that one! I also would recommend starting out with straight needles instead of circular.
This is probably why you want to start knitting in the first place. You go into JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, Michael's or a local farmer's market and by God, the YARN! Sparkles and sequins and wools and literally more colors than you can wrap your mind around!
But to start off with, don't get too crazy. Especially if you're not used to the technique, bulky yarns and yarns that are double- or triple-stranded can be difficult to maneuver (read: way easy to add stitches into your project!).
I would start out with a basic yarn such as Red Heart Super Saver, Caron Simply Soft or another yarn that is a medium weight 4.
Look on the yarn label for this icon to make sure you're getting the right weight!
There are literally like a zillion knitting books on the market right now. I own two of them, but THIS one is by far the one that is kind of my knitting bible. I learned to knit about five years ago and I am STILL using this book to help me learn techniques and use basic project patterns.
I Can't Believe I'm Knitting! Updated Edition was published in 2006 (I got it in '08) and it is really comprehensive. Many of the techniques I'll be sharing on this blog come from here, because it is for serious amazing. It's on Amazon for $10.95 and in stores it retails for between $10 and $15.