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Crochet and Knitting Tips Home
I've learned it's the little things that matter. Hopefully we have compiled a list of small tips that will really make your knitting fly off the needles! Please submit any tips you have compiled over your knitting years to support@JimmyBeansWool.com. You never know, your tip may just get someone out of a late night snag and let them sleep soundly!
To help "find" tips on this page (or specific words on any web page), use the "Find" function that comes equipped with your browser. In Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox and some other browsers, hit the "ctrl" button (bottom left hand corner of the keyboard) and the "F" key at the same time. Then type in the keyword that you're looking for and click "find next". You can also select the "Edit" menu option at the top of the browser, and select the "find" menu item.
If you're not sure whether you have enough yarn to knit one more row or two, tie a slip knot half way through your remaining yarn and knit your next row. If you don't reach the slip knot then you have enough for another row. If you do reach the slip knot then you'll need to start your next ball. Submitted by Kathryn -- thanks Kathryn!
Use your digital kitchen scale to figure out how much yarn you've used so far on a project. Each 50g ball weighs approx 1.75 ounces, while a 100g ball weighs in at 3.5 ounces.
Do you have a pattern for a turtleneck, but you'd rather have a crewneck? Try just knitting a few rows, instead of a few inches.
Wash your socks in the shower. Works perfectly for hand-wash only items!
Don't have a stitch marker rings with you? Use a rubber band or a paper clip.
"Right is right." When knitting something in the round (like a hat or socks), remember that the yarn attached to the needle should always come from the right needle - as opposed to the left. This is particularly important to remember when you pick your work back up (after setting it down to eat dinner).
When a pattern tells you to do something every 4 rows, think of it in terms of "every other knit row" instead of trying to count 4 rows...
To create a clean edge along the side of a project, simply slip the first stitch of every row (instead of knitting or purling it).
When decreasing at the beginning or end of a row, I usually decrease 1 stitch in from the end - to maintain a clean edge.
On vacation & don't have a cable needle? Use a pencil or pen to hold the stitches!
When using a variegated ball of yarn, like Rowan Tapestry or Regia Sock Yarn, rewind the second ball to match the color changes; especially when knitting a second mitten or hand warmers.
When casting on hundreds of stitches (e.g., for sideways scarf or sweater in the round), place a marker every 20 stitches. Then you don't have to count each time!
To save a dropped stitch, put a locking stitch marker on it until you can get to it.
Don't have a stitch holder? Cut a piece of scrap yarn and use that instead.
If you cannot pull the yarn out for a center pull, place the ball of yarn in a ziplock bag, zip it up, leave a tiny opening to pull the yarn through. You can also use knee high pantyhose... This will stop the yarn from rolling all over the place.
Don't know if that picked up stitch is twisted? Slip if off the needle, pinching between your fingers. Place back on the needle, making sure the right "leg" of the stitch is over the front of the needle.
NO KNOTS IN KNITTING! To join a new ball of yarn, overlap the new yarn (leaving a 4" tail) over the old yarn remaining. Knit 2 stitches with 2 strands held together. Drop the old tail and finish the row. Remember that when you get to these 2 stitches, they are not 4 stitches!
Can't remember which way to wrap the needle when forming knits and purls? The yarn always wraps the needle counterclockwise, when looking down at the point.
Which is the right side? When using the long tail cast on, the first row is a wrong-side row. When using a knitted cast on or cable cast on, the first row is a right side row.
Cast on and bind off using one needle size up to prevent tightness.
Photocopy your pattern and place a post-it on it. Note any pattern changes on your photocopy and keep then track of your rows on the post-it.
Supposed to create that cable every 6 rows? Place 1 split marker ring at the top of your work on the cable row - and every row after that. When you have 6 markers, it's time to do another cable! (You can keep the 6 rings at the bottom of the work until you need them).
Traveling for the holidays and don't have a point protector? Use the cork from last night's bottle of Merlot!
Always finish your row before setting your knitting down. This helps to avoid stretching and losing your place.
Working on socks and supposed to start the heel after 6 inches? If you'll be knitting somewhere without access to a tape measure, you can plan ahead! After you initially cast on your stitches, cut the cast on tail to exactly 6 inches. You can then use that tail as a measuring tape!
When working with Chenille, reduce your needle size -- a tighter gauge will hold your stitches in place and reduce the likelihood of worming. (Crocheting, which tends to produce a tighter gauge than knitting, is less likely to allow for worming.)
When working with chenille, take steps to reduce the amount of twist that you are introducing. Every knit stitch introduces a small amount of twist to the yarn, and knit stitches twist in the opposite direction from purl stitches. This is why any piece knit entirely in stockinette stitch (knit stitches all on one side, purl stitches all on the other side) will roll at the edges. Balancing knit stitches with purl stitches, such as in garter stitch or seed stitch, can reduce the worming effect.
When working with chenille, try knitting continental style. Continental-style knitting tends to introduce less twist to the yarn than English style (throwing the yarn).
When working with chenille, knit from the other end of the yarn. If the twist that you are introducing is in the same direction as the twist of the core yarn, you'll be much more likely to have trouble with worming. Working from the other end of the yarn may balance the twisting of the core yarn and reduce worming.
When working with chenille, remember that certain fibers have a higher tendency to worm. Slippery fibers such as rayon and microfiber and other synthetic fibers are more likely to worm than cotton. If your favorite chenille has a high percentage of slippery fiber, you may want to hold another yarn with it when knitting -- the other yarn may help to anchor your chenille in place.
Substituting yarns: Pretend you have a pattern that calls for 10 balls of Karabella Boise, which is 163 yds. Given that, you'll need a total of 10 x 163 = 1630 yds. Now, if you want to use the Rowan Wool Cotton (which has 124 yds per ball), you'll need 1630/124 = 13.14 balls. It's always wise to round up, so you should purchase 14 balls of the Rowan Wool Cotton.
Don't know how much yarn to leave for binding off? If you can stretch your leftover yarn across the width of the knitting 4 times, then you should have enough to cast off!
Casting on to the end of the row is the same as the Backwards Loop Cast on.
Use the K2tog decrease on the left hand side of the work (so that it slants to the right - towards the middle of the work). Use the SSK on the right hand side of the work (so that it slants to the left - towards the middle of the work).
Don't kinow what to do with a 1/2 ball of leftover sock yarn? Grab a new ball in a contrasting color & use the leftovers for the heels and toes!
Not sure what size to knit? Measure your favorite sweater from underarm to underarm, double it, & match it to the closest bust size on the pattern.
If you notice a difference between dye lots (or want to be extra careful), just knit 2 rows with the old lot and then 2 rows with the new lot... i.e., alternate between the 2 dye lots. This technique should make the differences less apparent.
If you need a stitch marker and don't have one, a straw cut into rings can work in a pinch. Also plastic bread clips can double as locking markers. I have used both of these when desperate!
Always carry a crochet hook in your knitting bag. They are invaluable for picking up stitches, doing provisional cast ons and repairing mistakes in your knitting. Submitted by Tam in Columbus, Indiana -- Thanks Tam!
If you do complicated projects, always have a simple project on the needles too (a plain sock or a dishcloth for example). Only work on the complicated project when you can give it your full attention. Carry the easy project around for those stolen moments when you want to sneak some knitting in. This gives you maximum knitting time but prevents mistakes on your complicated project. Submitted by Tam in Columbus, Indiana -- Thanks Tam!
When doing a garment that gives instructions for several sizes, photocopy your pattern and circle or highlight all the instructions that pertain to your size. This prevents making a size small front and size large back. Don't ask me how I know this. Submitted by Tam in Columbus, Indiana -- Thanks Tam!
Always read your pattern ALL THE WAY through before you start knitting. There is nothing as frustrating as having a pattern say "Knit in pattern for 10 rows" and then AFTER you do that discovering that the next line says, "While at the same time decreasing...." Submitted by Tam in Columbus, Indiana -- Thanks Tam!
If you are making a sweater and are lazy about gauge swatching (like me), make a sleeve first. When it gets large enough, measure your gauge. If you get gauge then you can carry on and you haven't "wasted" time or yarn on a swatch. If you don't get gauge then you only have a small piece to rip out instead of a whole sweater back. Submitted by Tam in Columbus, Indiana -- Thanks Tam!
Check on the internet for errata for your pattern. Everyone makes mistakes (including knitwear designers and pattern publishers). You can often save yourself hours of frustration by checking to make sure your pattern is correct. Most magazines and many designers have websites which list corrections for their patterns when necessary. If you are working from an older magazine that you have a subscription to, check the next couple of issues after your pattern was published. Corrections are usually published within a couple of issues. Submitted by Tam in Columbus, Indiana -- Thanks Tam!
Sometimes circular needles are twisted or bent. (Very difficult to work with.) Just put them in some hot water and let them soak for about 5 min. The length between the needles will be smooth and oh so nice. Submitted by Iris Stewart from Collinsville, OK -- Thanks Iris!
Traveling toothbrush holders for my double pointed needles! I find the ones with the smallest drainage hole, and you can find them for little money at most places. Just double check for length. You can toss the container in you knitting basket/bag when not in use and they come in many colors if you have multiple sets (like a lot of us have!) Submitted by Shirley from El Sobrante, CA -- Thanks Shirley!