The different types of knitting techniques include casting on to start a piece and binding off to finish it. Shaping knitted clothing by increasing, or adding, and decreasing, or subtracting, stitches are other common techniques. Knitting with multiple colors as well as using different types and sizes of needles create many pattern variations. Although knitting is based on two stitches, the knit and the purl, the combinations of them worked in different ways create hundreds of unique looks.
Using only one of the two basic stitches is the easiest of all knitting techniques. Beginning knitters can create simple dishcloths and scarves using one stitch. Knitting one row, purling the next and repeating the pattern creates what is called a stocking or stockinette stitch. It's a flat woven stitch and the basic look for many plain sweaters. The elastic ribbing at the bottom edge, cuffs and neckline of many sweaters is created by alternating knit and purl stitches on the same row so that stripes or ribs of texture are created in what is called a rib stitch.
Alternating one knit stitch with one purl stitch for complete rows, then knitting or purling across whole rows creates a raised texture. These types of knitting techniques create moss or seed stitches. Following a knitting chart of moss or seed techniques combined with background stockinette stitches results in textured patterns such as the diamond stitch. Connected diamond shapes, which are sometimes also called lozenges in knitting, can be created as the knitter follows the stitch chart.
Wrapping yarn around a needle before working the stitches makes wanted holes at certain places in a knitted pattern. Buttonholes or a lacy effect are created using these yarn over needle knitting techniques. Lace-like knitting patterns take some experience to master, but the effect can be worth the effort needed to learn these openwork stitches.
Cables, which are twisted vertical knitted accents on classic sweaters and scarves, are made using two or more sets of needles. The different cable needles are used to allow sets of stitches to be crossed over other ones. Knitting techniques using cable needles require a lot of concentration and are best attempted by knitters with some experience.
Duplicate embroidery is a knitting technique done on top of stockinette stitch. Rather than knitting a design or pattern into the piece, duplicate embroidery is done on the finished item. A large-eyed sewing needle and knitting yarn is used to follow, or duplicate, separate stockinette stitches to create a pattern such as a flower, figure or other design. Duplicate embroidery knitting techniques can add interest to plain stockinette stitch sweaters or blanket squares.