Originally Posted by SFCDave
So does that mean because I am a guy that I am going to be all thumbs as I start out? I'm not even forty yet, and a Soldier... I think I will pick up the circular ones.
As a guy (and former soldier) who didn't learn until after 50 (and is missing 3 fingers on my left hand) my reflexive answer is "Yes!" But I don't think it's necessarily gender or occupation related. EVERYBODY starts out that way. It's like learning anything else. And dexterity is dexterity whatever you're doing.
Guys tend to have larger hands, so when you're starting out I'd avoid doing hats in the round as a first project. You'll eventually wind up using a 16" circular, which typically have very short tips which -- for ME at least -- were a little hard to manage at first. I'd say don't do what I did and jump in the deep end all at once. start with the most basic thing you can find. A scarf, a potholder, or even just a swatch. Something flat and rectangular anyway, that doesn't require any shaping. And as boring as it will seem to you later, just start with a simple garter stitch (where you knit every row), then advance to stockinette (and beyond) after you've gotten the hang of that.
For yarn, I would recommend finding something that doesn't split easily. If you're not sure, roll a strand of it between your fingers and see if it starts coming unplied (untwisted). If it starts unraveling right off the bat, it's probably best to avoid it until you've done a couple of things. Almost EVERY yarn will do this to some degree, but what you're trying to avoid is the stuff that starts falling apart as soon as you touch it. You'll also want to avoid the "furry, fuzzy" yarns or any of the fancy art yarns that change thickness. stick with the most string-like stuff you can find for the first project. You'll be a lot less frustrated.
Looks like you've already gotten lots of recommendations on needles, but I'd second any motion that says start with a US 8 or 9 -- or even larger. The bigger the needles are, the easier it is to see the structure of the stitches in the fabric you're making, and THIS will help you more than anything else in the learning process.
And (this is important) knitting is NOT machining, nor is it rocket science. You can't hold tolerances down to 0.005" with yarn, it just doesn't behave that way. I had to figure this out after many, many hours of wrapping the yarn tight around the needle in a vain attempt to make all the stitches the same size. It worked as far as THAT went, but the stitches were so tight that knitting them -- especially if there were any increases or decreases -- sometimes involved industrial lubricants and a ball peen hammer. This is NOT recommended.
Also, be prepared to do stuff wrong. And when you do, take notice that the world is still on its axis and the International Space Station is still in orbit. The absolute WORST thing that can happen is you'll find yourself pulling out a bunch of stitches and starting over.
Welcome to the dark side!