You might want to check out this site herehere
They have basic diagrams for the knit & purl stitches.
I've written this before but here is what I would do I wanted to learn to knit.
First, circular needles are easier to use than straight needles - but any needles will do (I just read about a woman who used watercolor paint brushes for 12 hours worth of knitting on a plane, another who used chopsticks.)
Wool is easier to start with than cotton or acrylic. It is forgiving and pleasant to work with.
Once you figure out how to cast on (see link above), cast on 20 stitches and knit back and forth in garter stitch (knit each row) until you can knit without looking at your hands and the tension between all the stitches/rows is even.
Your hands now know how to knit and you don't have to think about that stitch any more. Bind off - easiest way is to knit two stitches and pass first (furthest from the left neddle) stitch on right hand needle over second stitch, leaving one stitch on the needle, repeat till all the stitches from the left hand needle are gone. Cut yarn and thread through the one remaining stitch.
Next, cast on 20 stitches and repeat the above only pearling every row back and forth. Again work back and forth until your fingers know what they are doing and you don't have to look at the work and when tension is even. Bind off same as before.
One more swatch to go! Cast on 20 stitches, knit one row, purl one row, this is called stockinette and creates a lovely flat fabric. Go back and forth for 20 rows and bind off.
Now, get a ruler out and measure your last swatch. We are going to figure out your gauge (tension). You know you have 20 stitches, right? How wide is your swatch? 4"? 20/4=5 stitches to the inch. 3"? 20/3=6.66 stitches to the inch. How about rows? Is your swatch 4" high? 20/4=5 rows to the inch. These numbers are critical
once you start to knit from a pattern. They appear on every ball of yarn (yarn samples
) and on every (pattern
Matching these numbers means everything you knit will fit, and why bother spending all that time and money if you can't use the item?
You may need to troubleshoot a bit - too many stitches per inch than a pattern calls for? Get a bigger needle, too few, a small needle. Repeat the swatch process until you get it right. Keep your swatches if you like the yarn and want to use it again, or throw it in the wash, felt it and use your swatches as coasters.
Once you master the swatch process, you have the tools to master any pattern out there because you can concentrate on new stitches and patterns and not on the actual knit and purl process. When you are ready to get fancy - check out this site
and try your hand at some cool stiches.
My daughter has been watching The Sound of Music for weeks now, and I am reminded of Do Re Mi - once you have the tool, you can sing anything you want to. But you must master the tools, which are really just knit and purl. When you can do those with your eyes closed (and really we are talking about an hour or two of practice, each) the knitting world is your oyster.