Archive for the ‘Knitter’s Table’ Category

Top Ten Knitting Tricks

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Who said you can’t teach an experienced knitter a few new tricks?  It seems the more we knit, the more we have to learn about timesaving tips, the best finishing methods and helpful stitch techniques to make our favorite craft so much more enjoyable.  Plus they can be really fun to pass on to your knitting friends.

Here are our Top Ten Knitting Tricks-

1.  Slip Stitch Join: Working in the round should be easy breezy, shouldn’t it?  No messy edges, no seams to sew, yet there is that inevitable opening that occurs between the first and last cast on stitch.  Sure, we can sew in the tail end while slipping it through the opposite edge to help smooth it out but this trick is so quick and effortless-

Cast on one extra stitch. Before joining in the round, slip the first stitch from left needle onto right needle, pass the extra stitch over this first stitch and slip it back to left needle. Tighten both yarn ends and proceed to knit.

2. Tightening Up Ladders: Aaargh! A pet peeve for sock knitters who use double point needles, ladders are enlarged spaces that can form in the fabric as one needle switches over to the next.  Pulling the yarn extra tight when making the transition to the next needle actually widens the gap.

To correct this issue, after knitting the first stitch on the next needle, do not tighten, leave it a little loose and tighten only the second stitch.  

3. Rounding Off Step Shaping: Those jagged little cast off edges that take place along the underarm, neck or shoulder shaping area can make it tricky to sew a smooth seam.

When a pattern calls for a certain number of stitches to be cast off at the beginning of a series of rows, simply knit or purl the first two stitches together. 

4. Casting Off Too Tightly:  When casting off the last row on a project, the tendency is to knit firmly to ensure a neat edge.  This can cause a problem on the neckband of a child’s pullover or across the front border of a cardigan when there is no allowance for stretch.

When in doubt always cast off with a larger needle.

5. Long Tail Cast On: How many times have you attempted to cast on using the long tail method and either overestimated or underestimated the length of yarn required to achieve the total number of stitches?  Its a frustrating way to start a new project and a time waster.

Instead of playing ‘yarn chicken’ try the two ball approach.  Pull a length of yarn from each ball and hold together (or use the center pull and outside end of one ball), make a slip knot four to six inches in from the end.  Now separate the two lengths to position one around the finger and one around the thumb.  This way you can cast on to your heart’s content and simply cut off the extra yarn as you begin the first row.  See video tutorial here.  

6. Jogless Stripes: The problem with knitting stripes in the round is the unsightly step where the two colours meet.  No matter how tightly you knit across this transition point, the jog remains.

This is a simple issue to resolve by first knitting one round in the new colour.  Before starting the next round, lift the righthand side of the stitch directly below the first stitch onto the left needle.  Knit this loop together with the first stitchSee video tutorial here.

7. The Final Hurrah:  You have reached the finish line!  Casting off the last stitch is always a reason to celebrate.  At the end of the row, do you make a slip knot from the last stitch to secure the tail?  This creates an unnecessary knot that can be difficult to hide in the seam especially if your chosen yarn is thick and bulky. 

A more polished way to finish off  the final stitch is to cut the yarn leaving a lengthy end and pull the loop upwards until the end comes through creating just a single tail. 

8. Lifelines:  Making a mistake in a knitting pattern is not the end of the world but having to rip out row after row can seem like a real setback.  A lifeline may easily become your new best friend.  Its just a contrast yarn worked into the knitting in order to save the stitches directly below the mistake which will make them easier to pick up on the needle. 

See tutorial here.  

9. Colour Coded Cables: Following a charted pattern with many different cables and twists can be daunting to say the least.  Each symbol so closely resembles the next and precious knitting time is lost trying to decipher each one at a glance.

This is where highlighters come in handy, buy a pack with as many assorted colours as you can find.  Enlarging the chart is the first step, and then simply colour code each symbol with the corresponding ones on the chart.  Not only will you have an attractive looking pattern, just watch how quickly your eyes recognize the difference between each cable. 

10. Hiding The Purl Wraps: Wrapping and turning has become standard practice in today’s knitting patterns, especially when it comes to creating shaping in collars or shawls.  Learning the w&t technique is quite simple and well-explained in most patterns however there is still the process of hiding the wraps on the purl row that has many mystified. 

See video tutorial here.   

Knitting Lingo

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Is there a secret code in the world of knitting?  In order to fully relate to other knitters, who knew we had to learn not only the written pattern abbreviations but also the hidden meanings of acronyms currently winging their way around online knit n chat groups, ravelry forums, and any other chicks with sticks get-togethers.  Is it just a matter of convenience?  Or is this new-fangled lingo designed to create a close-knit society who can essentially communicate in a secret language?


Here are sixteen of the most common knitting acronyms decoded-

FO – Finished Object (newly finished project).

FOTN – Fresh Off The Needles (the needles are still warm to the touch).

ISO In Search Of (a term often used on ravelry to signify a yarn search between knitters).

KAL – Knit A Long (a project worked on at the same time by a group of knitters).

KIP Knit in Public (taking a project to the streets).

LYS – Local Yarn Shop (better than any ice cream or candy shop).

LYSO – Local Yarn Shop Owner (that special someone who gets to rule the yarn castle).

MKAL Mystery Knit A Long (an organized group project especially popular on ravelry with a series of clues posted over a designated time period).

OTN On The Needles (current project).

SABLE Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy (never enough yarn!).

SIP – Sock In Progress (most current sock project).

SSS – Second Sock Syndrome (just like a virus, it hits every sock knitter at some point).

TINK (KNIT spelled backwards, refers to using both needles to un-knit a project one stitch at a time in order to repair a mistake.  Not to be confused with FROGGING, the rip-it, rip-it method of unraveling stitches row-by-row).

TU – Toe Up (a specific type of sock pattern).

UFO – UnFinished Object (the ‘never speak of it again’ project that hides in the shadows).

WIP Work in Progress (a current project).

Picking vs Throwing

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

“Are you a picker or a thrower?”  Try posing this question as an icebreaker at your next knitting-related gathering.  You may get a few puzzled looks or an answer pertaining to baseball but the majority of knitters know that there is a great divide when it comes to technique.  Although there is virtually no difference to the finished work, there is a huge distinction in the appearance and actual method of achieving that end result and a great deal of controversy over which method is the fastest.

Picking is the term which refers to Continental knitting, and involves the use of the opposite hand (usually the left) to hold the yarn.  The tip of the working needle grabs or ‘picks’ the yarn while the left index finger acts as a lever to regulate tension by holding the yarn slightly up to tighten and down to slacken the stitch.  The wrist is constantly in motion flicking forwards for purl position and backwards for knit.  Hands are situated over the needles and there is a strong resemblance to crochet which makes it easier for dual crafters to adopt this style.  Originating in Germany, Continental knitting made its way to surrounding countries in the early nineteenth century and eventually to North America where Elizabeth Zimmermann was instrumental in its introduction.

Continental Knitting Method

Continental Knitting Method

Throwing refers to the method of English knitting which consists of the yarn being held in the dominant hand (usually the right).  The yarn runs from the ball around the baby finger and is wrapped over the index finger for tension control.  An overhand position on the needles is generally more favorable although some knitters prefer an underhand hold for support.  To create a stitch, the right hand moves upward reaching to ‘throw’ the yarn over the tip of the needle.  This can be achieved by quickly releasing the right hand from its hold on the needle or with a bit of practice by sliding the hand along the shaft of the needle.

English Knitting Method

English Knitting Method

The Switch: There is always a fair bit of wiggle room for improving your knitting technique, and the payoff for learning both the Continental and the English method comes when you are working in fairisle.  With practice and patience, holding one strand in the right and one strand in the left hand will vastly improve speed, plus the notorious tangled mess will be eliminated.  If its just overall speed that you are hoping to achieve, then this instructional video on Continental knitting is a great place to start as well as signing up for a hands-on workshop at your local yarn shop.

Tip: To learn the Continental method try working on a sample in the round first, practicing just the knit stitch for a few days and then attempt the purl stitch on its own for a few days.