knitting tips!   knitting blog

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From Noemi:

When I have to knit cables, I don't use a cable needle, but a hairpin. You know, one of those big hairpins used to hold  your hair in a knot (the french word is chignon, I can't find the english word right now....) It's easier to carry around , you can use it even with thin yarn, and it's not as cumbersome as cable needles (I have two of those, but never use them). So I always have two hairpins with me, just in case I have to knit braids! And you can also straighten up a "thrombone" (the metal thing used to attach paper sheets without stapling them, like the one drawn to join files to e-mails. I can't remember the english name of that either!), so it makes a U, and use it as the hairpin, to hold the stitches in front or in back of your work. I've done that plenty of times while knitting at work when I had forgotten or misplaced my favorite hairpin!
 

From Malin:

When knitting in the round, use a piece of yarn in contrasting colour to mark end of rows. Let he yarn travel up the side of the work. When working shaping, for example on sleeves, put the spare yarn on the other side of the fabric. This way, whenever something happens, for example in- or decreases, it is easy to spot because the yarn changes side of the fabric. It is also very easy to count the number of rows to go between each in- or decrease, you simply count the strands directly above the piece of contrast yarn.

When knitting in the round, cast on 1 extra stitch. When joining to a circle, knit the 1st and last stitch together. This way, there is no loose spot where the two ends meet.

From Maeve:

My tip is to re-use earrings as stitch markers.  I had quite a few pairs of small dangly earrings that I don't wear anymore, so I took a knitting needle and wrapped the earring wire around it.  I snipped off the very end of the wire to make a more-or-less smooth circle, and voila!  Fancy stitch markers.  I used both a size 5 (for smaller needles) and a size 10 (for larger needles) so that I could have both large and small markers.

From Cyndilou:

Use markers to denote the beginning/end of pattern repeats (or even every 20 stitches or so if it is something that requires a lot of counting).

From Kristie Taylor:

1.  I use an old wine cork as a needle protector -- I just jab the needle into the end.  It works great for circulars, and when the holes become too large or the cork cracks, I just open another bottle of wine.

2.  The plastic bags that linens come in make great project bags.  They are usually clear, quite sturdy and have zippers or snaps that keep everything inside.  I use the pillow sham bags for sock projects, and the larger sizes for shawls and/or sweaters.

From Mare:

Read elizabeth zimmermann's knitting without tears.

From Sandy LeCompte:

I was trying to sew shoulders together and it suddenly occurred to me that what I needed to make it easier was to somehow be able to pin the pieces together.  I used sock needles.  They worked just perfect.  Everything was held in place and no damage to the sweater.

From Shirley, in PA:

When I first started knitting lace, I was told to use markers to keep the patterns separate so I would only have to count small amounts of stitches.  But the markers I used were too big, and kept getting in my way. I tried loops of yarn, but they often fell off my needle.  Then someone mentioned using those little jumper rings that are for jewelry.  I bought some at a bead shop and they're wonderful.  I even put some seed beads on them in different colors to separate the borders from the main work.

From Becky:

I haven't been knitting that long, but I have learned that LIGHTLY spraying starch on embroidery, cables and other types of textured knitting while they're blocking, preferably via cold water sprays, will set them nicely.

From Linda Most:

When you are starting a sweater on circular needles, knit the ribbing back one row before you join the ends and start circular knitting.  This helps keep the cast-on row from twisting on you.

From Katherine Matthews:

"Stay calm, be brave, and wait for the signs..."

I think it's a good mantra for knitting.

Stay calm, even if you've made a mistake, because with a cool head you can solve any knitting problem.

Be brave -- you can try new knitting experiences, broaden your knowledge, and even attempt the Dreaded Steeks.

Wait for the signs.  Well, I dunno about that last one, but I'm sure if one waits long enough there's a solution for everything, even if you find the answer by just setting your knitting aside for a bit and letting it simmer nicely.

From Caroline F.:

I wind my center-pull balls around a prescription medicine bottle. The one I have is about 3 inches tall so it works for small balls like 2 oz of J&S or Hebridean 2-ply, but I have also used it for 100 grams of heavy yarn like the Handsome Harry's you sent me.  I have a swift but I used to do the same thing when I used an upside-down chair to hold my hank.

I put the beginning of the yarn (several inches) down into the bottle and put the cap on, then I begin winding the yarn around the bottle.  After it gets a little thicker and has 'shoulders' I can wind so that the yarn crosses over the bottom of the ball, and as long as I leave that cap accessible I just wind like I would any other ball.  When I finish I tuck the end into the outside of the ball, take out the bottle, and remove the cap to free the end of the yarn.

I may be showing my age but the finished ball with the bottle in it reminds me of those old bombs that the coyote used to throw at the road runner....

I like this method because: I like winding by hand so I can control the tension placed on the yarn and so I can just make friends with it.  It leaves a bit of a hollow in the center of the ball so it can relax when I'm done.

From Marge:

I always slip the first stitch of the row - i.e.: I do not *work* it - because that will give me a nice smooth edge when the piece is finished.

From Carissa:

ALWAYS do a swatch before starting a project! No matter how well you think you knit! and keep swatching until you get the proper gauge, no matter what!

From Sherrie:

I have a "magnetic board" for tracking charts, but I don't use it anymore.  Too much of a hassle when I can just use "Post-it Notes".  Makes the whole charting thing much less hassle.  I can also write and keep notes about the project on the notes.  I love it!!!!

From Ruby Davidson:

I do quite a bit of my knitting when I am on our boat.  A knitting Shetland sweater, which is what I’ve been knitting recently, have multiple colors and I needed a way to keep the colors separate and in sometime indifferent lighting to make sure I use the correct color.  I’ve found that if I put the balls of yarn in a small zip lock bag (with the label of the skein) and write with a large black marker on the bag the number (identifying label of the yarn color) that I don’t make any mistakes of picking up the wrong color.  The bags are easy to ‘stuff’ into my knitting bag, and fit nicely into the odd shaped corners that one find on boats!  It makes it easier to make the knitting portable!

From Rose in Seattle:

I have found that I tend to have a hard time figuring out where I need to pick up stitches after I have made my heel flap on socks. Here is a tip....

Go to your fabric store (I found these at Joann's) and purchase button pins! They are little tiny safety pins (without the coil at one end and a little "hump" for the button) that are supposed hold temporary buttons onto your clothing (i.e., like if you have a white shirt that you want to be multifunctional, put on fancy buttons for evening and then trade them out for more casual buttons during the day).

I have used these little things as stitch markers (for smaller sized needles), marking the side of heel flaps (for pick up stitches) on socks, color counting, even to mark spots where I needed to duplicate stitch a design on items. They are super lightweight, do not snag like traditional safety pins, and when you have a little one, don't poke you like straight pins, plus they are easy to find in your knitting. I have even made little "dangles" out of seed beads and attached them when I needed color coding for intricate patterns or duplicate stitch work with many colors.

From Debbie in Austin Texas:

One of my favorite and very simple "purls of wisdom"/tips that I especially like to share with new knitters is to cast on over a larger needle so that the cast on row isn't so tight when they are trying to drive the "tips" of those turbos into the first row. I also love split ring stitch markers that I can add while counting. I hate counting a gazillion stitches over and over for a grande cast on.

From Jo, learned from Melissa:

"TIP FOR NEWBIES/SELF Whenever you successfully complete a section of your knitting project, insert a length of different coloured yarn through the stitches on the needle to mark the spot. It only takes a minute and it's very easy to do with a darning needle. This way, if you need to frog back later, you are all set to go. And if you don't need to, the yarn pulls out easily. I'm going to just do this routinely from now on when I know I'm likely to make several attempts at a heel. You can see my safety net yellow yarn in the picture. It's much easier than trying to thread the stitches later during a crisis."

From Josée Fournier:

I make a lot of top-down raglan sweaters for my kids and when it comes time for the fitting, I make sure my stitches are on two long circulars. It just makes it easier to try it on without loosing any stitches, and the needles weigh down the knitting a bit so it doesn’t curl up. I get a better idea of how things are progressing, and it gives the kids a chance to participate in the designing process.

When I join around for the body after setting aside the sleeve stitches, I always cross the left stitch over the right stitch. I’m not good at explaining, but I know that a lot of people do the same thing when they join the first row when they’re knitting socks. When I go to do the sleeves, I do the same thing. Makes the join a bit stronger I think, and looks like a neat little x right in the underarm.

From Christina Coghill:

Heres my easy knitting tip, when knitting socks use the tail to mark the beginning of the round, this works really easy for the leg part. 

From Judy Hammond:

This is one of the most useful hints on finishing sweaters I've ever learned. And the credit goes to Sally Melville. To finish a neckline pick up the stitches, and knit in REVERSE stockinette. You end up with a neat ,inward turning collar that looks really good.

From Debi:

My favorite tip is when joining a cast on to knit in the round (as in top down socks) I cast on one extra stitch at the beginning of needle#1. I then move this stitch to be the LAST stitch on needle #4.....I pass the stitch to the left of this last stitch over the last stitch and move the stitch back to being the first stitch on needle #1.....a seamless, undetectable join and no bulk of the k2tog usual join.

From Chris:

Tip-I use my left over Altoid tins to make handy accessory cases. I use them to hold some markers, needles to graft with, tape measures, and stitch counters. Anything that is small enough to get lost in my bag. I glue magnets in the lids to keep the needles in place. Since I eat the Altoids like candy I have enough to keep one in each knitting bag-that's if I keep my projects to a manageable few!

From Polly:

Here's my favorite tip... When threading beads, I don't use needle and thread, but a drop of clear nail polish on the end of the wool or cotton.  This stiffens the yarn and I can thread away.  The best bit is, it works well with beads with small apertures, which sometimes you can thread with needle and thread. I also use up old nail polish that might be a bit too clumpy.

From Pat:

My tip and entry to your contest is that I use a crochet hook when binding off.  The crochet hook makes binding off faster, easier and much more even and neater, doesn't stretch any stitches.  It can be done on any pattern stitch including ribbing.  I usually go up a couple of sizes from the knitting needle size.

From Julie in Flagstaff:

I like to photo copy the current project that I am working on so that I
can make notes, adjustments, mark a place in a pattern (what ever) and
still have the original pattern/instructions for next time.  Then keep
your photo copy (with all your notes and scribbles) in a ziplock baggy
tucked into the book or magazine or whatever so that you can use it as
a reference tool.  I do this even for patterns that I download from the
web so that I always have an original copy without any scribbles.

My other tip on knitting:  everyone should always have a cat close by
(preferably on their lap) while knitting.  There is something about
having a warm, purring creature close at hand that makes everything
just right.

From Valerie M.:

To keep track of increases/decreases (depends if you are working from the wrist up or the shoulder down):  I count out the number of decrease rows for the entire sleeve, then make a chain of the little coil-less safety pins with one pin for row.  As the knitting progresses, I remove a pin and place it on the row where the decrease occurs.

This way I can see the progression of the increases/decreases.  And when I'm out of pins . . . I know I'm that much closer to being done with the sleeve!!

From Joanna Stromberg:

Ok, here's my tip, for keeping track of rows when following a stitch chart (it might work on color charts but I haven't tried it).  I put the page with the chart into a clear plastic page protector (i.e. for a 3-ring binder).  Then I use a dry-erase marker to highlight the row I'm working on.  Once the row is done, I can wipe off the marker and highlight the next row.  I find it easiest to keep focused on the correct row when it's a different color.

From Terry:

Casting off at the shoulder. Instead of casting off  the number of stitches specified at the begining of the row, knit two together on the previous row by working the last two stitches together, then cast of one less stitch on the bind off row. This really makes a nice gentle slope.

From Jennifer:

I use the rings from soda pop cans as markers in my knitting. They're free, easy to find and replace and narrow enough not to interrupt my knitting.

From Christa Imbriale:

My favorite knitting tip was to use circular needles for everything.  It made me faster and doesn’t hurt my wrists when I’m knitting sweaters.

From Nancy:

At a loss for finding a good (and inexpensive) way to store circular needles, I found they fit perfectly multiple-CD zippered cases. I then label each needle in its plastic sheath for size, and once the case is zippered up, all the needles are safe and sound within.

From Victoria:

When sewing sleeves into a drop shoulder sweater (after joining the shoulder seams) leave the sleeves stitches live on your needle.  On the body, pick up an equal number of stitches from the body onto another needle, centering the shoulder seam in the pick up area.

From the wrong side, attach the sleeve by using a 3 needle bind off between the live sleeve stitches and the picked up stitches on the body.  Easy!  One more hint:  use a crochet hook to perform the 3 needle bind off.  This allows you to pull the loop through the two bind off stitches and right through the stitch you are decreasing, rather than the two step process with a knitting needle (bind of two stitches together, then pass one stitch over).

From Enjay:

If you are having a difficult time getting your needle into the stitch, you can roll the stitch towards the leading leg of the stitch with your finger and that usually gives enough room to squeak the needle into the bottom of the stitch.

From Carie:

An Alternate Method for Slip, Slip, Knit (SSK):

Insert right needle into front of first stitch on left needle, into back of second stitch on left needle, then knit 2 together.

Personally, I find this much quicker than slipping the stitches from left to right then reaching in to knit them together with the other needle.

From B. Davio:

Knit first and then do the stuff to maintain order.  Most of "housework" is expendable anyway.  Knitting is necessary for mental health.

From Mary:

Here is my fave tool:  Go to a Joann's Fabric store or a Michael's and buy a cheap folding mini scissors [amazingly sharp for something under one dollar].  Go to an Ace Hardware and buy a mini tape measure-keychain.  You will find that the little eyehole ring on the scissors that seemingly has no useful purpose is just the perfect diameter to fit it to the keychain end of the mini tape measure.

Thus, the perfect tape measure attached to the perfect folding yarn snipper.  Throw in knitting bag.  No snags, to pokes, one grab, perfect tool.

From Maggi:

When joining a new ball of yarn at the beginning of a row, make a slipknot and place it over the first stitch as you would the strand of yarn. Later, it can be untied for the weaving in of ends, but it holds firmly in the mean time.

From Karen Berglund:

Here's my knitting tip -- when starting a new project and selecting your needles, check the mm size of the needle as well as the numerical size to make sure you have what the pattern is calling for to knit your gauge swatch. I believe Addi Turbos, at least the one set that I have, the size 1's were a different mm size than what the pattern called for, so I need to get a different brand of size 1 needles.

From Heather:

As a city dweller who spends too much time on public transportation, i try to always have some KIP-worthy project to distract me from the quirks of commuting (i.e., the freaky guy talking to himself or the couple getting hot and heavy on the seat next to me). and since i am *always* late getting out the door in the morning, i never can find what i'm meaning to bring to work on. so taking a lesson from my lovely mother, my tip is to pack your lunch - erm, KIP-ping, the night before:

A quart size freezer bag fits nicely into most purses and stands up well to probing needle points. in here goes an altoid tin with the necessities (markers, tape measure, tip guards, etc.) and the WIP. if at all possible, knit on two dpns used as regular needles and get yourself some rubber tips for the needles. pop em' on the non-working ends of the needles if you like while you're knitting, and then use one on each end of the same needle when you finish a row and need to exit the bus/ train/ etc - they hold whatever you're working on solidly so you never reach into your purse six hours later only to find that you've dropped all the stitches you put on. and the tiny size of the dpns fits nicely into my freezer bag to be sealed up tight when not in use to protect from falling coffee, lunch, leaky water bottles, and all of the other treacheries lurking in my purse...

From Kelly:

I’m one of those knitters who prefers to knit from a chart rather than a written pattern. Before beginning a long project, I’ll sit down with my measurements and pattern, calculate everything, and chart out each stitch. I’ll use this time to make adjustments to the pattern, figure out how I’ll incorporate increases into a complicated stitch pattern, perhaps add a little flourish or two, etc.

Sounds like this takes a lot of time, but it really doesn’t because I no longer bother with knitter’s graph paper. Instead, I use a spreadsheet program to create my own personalized graph paper that matches my stitch and row gauge ratio, simply by adjusting the column widths and row heights.. I “draw” the outline of the garment piece using the Borders and Fill Colors functions. I can easily experiment with color patterns with the Fill Colors and repeat stitch patterns with copy-and-paste. By printing at different scales, I can get a close-up graph of a particular area at 100% scale, or I can print the entire garment piece to a single page. And since this is a spreadsheet program after all, I can easily convert inches to stitches or yardage, and I can flag little notes to myself about particular sections of the work. Best of all, I figure out all my math mistakes or shaping quirks on the computer – no erasing and mad scribbling, no crumpled sheets of graph paper, and ultimately no ripping! (okay, there’s always some ripping, but less!!!)

From Janice:

I like the elasticity of the long tail cast-on and the best way to determine how long of a tail to leave is to wrap the yarn around the the size needle that you are going to use 20 times to determine the length needed for 20 stitches and then multiply this length by the number of times 20 goes into the total number of stitches needed. It's always a good idea to leave a little extra for seaming.

Example: 100 stitches needed divided by 20 wraps = 5 lengths, plus a little.

Works everytime!

From Glynis:

My tip, or at least something that works well for me, has to do with K1,P1 ribbing - flat knitting. I pull all the knit stitches, both front and back, slightly tighter than usual and relax all the purl stitches slightly so that the ribbing turns out more uniform and the lines are straighter. Before that, my lines definitely looked hand-knitted, but not in a "charming" way.

From Yvonne:

I love to knit Fair Isle, too!  My tip would be my "project board" which is a piece of cardboard with the charts on one side, perhaps 8-1/2" x 11" or smaller, and a Xerox copy of the finished sweater on the other side, along with a plain area for making notes as I go.  I cover the side with the charts with wide clear strapping tape.  I find that the wider Post-It Notes are easy to move from the bottom of the chart upwards and stick well enough so I can put the "Board" into my knitting bag, and preserve my original pattern.  The Post-It notes loose their stickiness eventually.  I change them about 3-4 times during the course of the construction of the sweater.  I also keep samples of all the yarns used on this Board.  When the sweater is finished, if I have decided to stitch and cut the neckline instead of steeking it, I have this small section that I can also staple to the Board.  I have a box full of these Project Boards, and they are such fun to look back at!   So there you have it!  Yvonne, on the Sunny Southern Oregon Coast.

From Daphne:

My favorite tip is from my knitting teacher regarding fair isle. To help avoid buckling when changing colors, tug the stitches of the previous color slightly to separate them and hold while knitting the first stitch with the new color. Takes just a second and becomes second nature very quickly. And it helped me avoid buckling on my first fair isle project! :)

From Mags:

When you get near the end of your row and you don't think you'll have enough wool, don't worry - just knit faster.  This works on typewriters too when you don't think you'll get it all in on one line.

From Angela:

Wind your slippery, slinky yarns into center pull balls and then put them into either one of those yarn bras, or better yet, the good leg cut from a pair of torn nylons.  No more tangles!

From Deb White:

I like to knit when travelling, on the bus, during staff meetings-WHENEVER AND WHEREVER-but I usually do not wish to be bogged down with ruler/measuring tape.  So-when I cast on, I leave a long tail (good for sewing in at the end anyway) and I knot the tail (loose knots, not tight), starting from the knitting, at one inch intervals.  So then I just lay the end against my knitting, and count up the knots so that I won't go over the
prescribed length!  I can also see how much I have knit per boring staff meeting speech, or between signposts on the road (umm, when my husband is driving, that is ;-)  ).  It's a low tech tip, but works for me!

From Kristen:

My favorite tip - Except for using dpn's for items like socks and sleeves, I've given up straight needles and work exclusively with circular needles for all my knitting, including "flat" patterns.  They are so much more comfortable and convenient to use: needles aren't falling to the floor; stitches seldom drop off the tips; the bulk of the knitting is centered in your lap so your hands don't tire  as easily.  I wonder now how I learned to knit with straight needles as a child.

From Pam Kurst:

1st is from Cheryl Oberle, mentioned in her shawl book. When knitting a repeat pattern (fisherman knit, etc.) transpose each row to an index card. Hole punch the index card and slip a binder ring through the hole. Voila! Flip as needed (row 1=index card 1; get it?!).

I use a binder clip to hold the cards so if dropped I always know what row I left off. Magic!

2nd--I always knit both sweater sleeves at the same time. Increases are equal, if it's a pattern I sail through the "second" row but most of all....when I'm done, I'm done!

From Andrea:

I usually work on socks on the way to and from work in NYC, and found myself a while back, in a morning stupor caused by cutting out coffee, often not completing rounds while doing gusset decreases and getting everything out of whack. I'm a firm convert to the two circs method, but this is helpful to me anytime I'm decreasing/increasing in the
round and the start of the round isn't immediately obvious: I always keep small markers made with red yarn and green yarn in my tools kit. While setting up for the gusset, I place a red marker on every needle except the last in the round, on which I place a green (on two circs, I just mark one needle with red and one with green). Ready for the goofy reason I do this? Red = caution, you're not done yet; green = you're done with the round
after this needle.

From Heather:

For folks who use the "oblong" skeins of yarn (like Red Heart or Bernat) or even a skein that hasn't been wound with a center pull, an easy way to keep it from flopping around is to cut off the bottom of a 2 liter soda bottle (after it's been cleaned and dried, of course) and thread the working end of the yarn up and out of the neck opening. Reattach the bottom of the bottle and set it in a handy place while knitting. No more yarn bouncing around your lap!

From Diana:

My knitting tip is -- knit both sleeves on the same needle at the same time. This way the increases are the same without worrying about comparing it to the finished sleeve.
 

From Marty Frey:

Need knitting markers:

Take a scissors to a straw, and snip, snip, snip. Inexpensive knitting markers have just been made available to you. Save those McDonald's straws. They are a little wider than the straws purchased in a store.
 

From Megan Shaner:

My favorite tip is adapted from something Lou Henry Hoover (wife of Herbert) once said: "You and I are too busy to rip. If you make a mistake, make it again the next row and call it a new pattern..."

From QueerJoe:

Next time you see a cone of nylon, machine knitting yarn, in your yarn store, at Stitches or on eBay, buy it (especially if it's a very bright color).  The slipperiness of the nylon allows it be used for many things in your daily hand knitting:

1.  Provisional cast-on.  When a pattern calls for a provisional cast-on, use the nylon.  It makes it much easier to pick up live stitches, kitchener or graft the stitches and the nylon makes it a lot easier to pull out the waste yarn when you're done.

2.  Stitch holder.  Use the nylon yarn as a stitch holder.  Most yarns won't fuse with it, and it pulls out easily after you've moved your stitches back to a needle.

3.  Safety net.  Whenever I'm doing a complicated pattern stitch that is difficult to rip out or frog (because of slip stitches, cables or yarn-overs), I use a basting needle to run a length of nylon yarn through all the active stitches.  I do this every five or ten rows so that even if I make a heinous mistake, the most I have to rip out is 5 or 10 rows.  The nylon yarn becomes my safety net, and it's easy to remove from the knitting when the safety net is no longer needed.

From Adrienne Fong:

More on organizing knitting magazines than knitting itself . . . but you can't knit if you can't find the pattern you thought you saw!!!! Does that make sense?

Anyhow . . .

Make a copy of the magazine cover and the table of contents and keep in 3 ring binder. You can note on the table of contents which patterns you are interested in making and for whom. That way, a gazillion years from now, when you are finally ready to start that project, you can find it back without having to search through ALL your magazines.

From Tamara:

Tip A: When knitting from a chart, make photocopies of the chart(s), and use a highlighter pen to mark across each RS row after you complete it.  Mark off the row # after you complete the WS row. Not only does this help you keep your place, but it makes it easy for your eyes to stay on the right row of the chart. 
Tip B: I keep my working copies of the charts clipped onto a clipboard which I can lean against something (or lay across my lap) for easy reading while I knit, and for easy marking with my highlighter.  And the highlighter marker doesn't get lost if it's stuck to the clipboard.

From Melissa:

Each time I reach a milestone in a knitting project such as dividing the stitches in half to start a heel on a sock, I thread a piece of different coloured yarn through the stitches on the needle before proceeding. This way, if I goof up the heel, I can frog back to the yarn that's already in place. I find this much easier than reaching a crisis point and then trying to identify all the correct stitches to thread with the darning needle.

From Sabine:

Let me say this first, I knit the continental way, but I suppose this works for any kind of knitting method. It is a tip concerning first and last stitches. Always knit the first stitch by inserting the needle into the back of the loop, i.e. pointing from right to left (instead of from left to right as usual). Never knit or purl the last stitch, instead you bring the yarn to the front after having knitted/purled the stitch before the last one and slip the last stitch to the right hand needle. This gives you very neat borders which can easily been sewn together in kitchener stitch.

From Susan in New Mexico:

My favorite knitting tip is to "frame" my gauge check swatches.  Cast on 8 additional stitches.  Knit stockinette for 4 rows.  Knit up your gauge swatch keeping 4 stitches at the beginning and end of each row in stockinette. Finish up with 4 rows of stockingette.  This gives you a nice little square that doesn't roll at the edges and makes measuring a lot easier.

From Lori O'Brien:

When I was knitting my first sweater I thought 3 inch yarn tails would be plenty long enough to weave in later. They were not. So I made a short needle, by cutting one of those blue plastic needles and sharpening it. It worked like a charm.

From Brenda Hanrahan:

I learned this tip at an LYS fairly recently:  The clerk and I somehow got on the topic of casting on. She said that when casting on a large amount of stitches, she places a marker every 25 or 50 stitches, recounting before each individual grouping before carrying on. I personally hate having to recount after casting on (and always do to double-check anyway), and it can be frustrating if you are interrupted while casting on. I tried this recently, placing a marker every 25 stitches. It worked so well that I will definitely be doing this all the time now.

From Peggy:

Since this yarn is laceweight, here's my favourite tip for that category - if the yarn breaks or you needed to join a new ball... use the Russian Join. Basically, you take the two ends and curve each of them into a deep (maybe 2") "U" and then interlock them like monkeys in a barrel. Ta da! That's how I do it anyway. Not a new trick, I know. But I love it. I use it mainly when I break the singles when I'm plying handspun.

From Geane Helfrich:

When doing corrugated or color patterned ribbing front bands on a Fair Isle cardigan, steek it at the bottom and knit it in the round rather than work it back and forth. I put a MC purl stitch on either side of a few steek stitches, cut down the center of that and fold both little steek pieces to the wrong side and catch down with yarn.

If (like Roscalie Cardigan, some Dales) your bands have some colored pattern then a plain MC stockinette stitch facing, by all means stop knitting in the round and go back and forth. You don't need the extra bulk,  and the facing will cover up the small steek very
well.

This also kind of helps your bands match exactly with the bottom of the cardigan . . . you know how sometimes the band pick-up can be deceiving and you might wind up with an empty space at the very bottom?

From Nina Saulic:

When knitting Fair Isle designs in the round, I hang a hang tag from the office supply store at each decrease and steek point indicating how often, every row, every other row, etc and how many decreases in total have to be done. Also, when I am done decreasing for the neck and still have the sleeve decreases to do, I remove the tag from the neck steek so I know not to decrease there any more. My knitting gets interrupted a lot and this method helps me not lose track.

From Jenn:

Ripping Mohair and fluffy yarns can be a PITA! When this pesky job comes about, pop the knitting into the freezer for a little while and when you bring it out your ripping will go a lot faster!  It works like magic!

From Nod:

When doing increases or decreases, I link together a number of split ring markers with a green marker at one end.  So if there are 3 plain rows then 1 decrease row, I put 3 red markers and 1 green and slip into the next marker as I make progress.  That way if I put my knitting down, I won't have to work very hard to pick it back up and continue.

From Diane:

I bought a multi colored pack of itty bitty post-it notes (1" by 1 1/2").  I keep a few different colors in my knitting bag and baskets and use them for:

  • keeping my place in a pattern
  • keeping track of rows/stitches
  • jotting down quick notes
  • as dividers in a loose leaf book of patterns
  • as page markers in knitting magazines

I use the different colors for coding at times if needed. 

From Suzanne:

Here is a hint I got from one of the email lists a few years ago.  I know a lot of people don't use cable needles but this helped me to avoid the holes at the sides of the cables when I am making them.

When making a cable, re-arrange the stitches on the left hand needle before knitting them.  When you knit them already re-arranged, the hole that usually appears on the sides of the cables either don't appear or are a lot smaller than usual.

From Rebecca:

I tend to carry my projects around everywhere with me. So that the pattern book or magazine that I am using doesn't get destroyed, I make a photocopy of the instructions that I can throw out when I am
done with my project. (I think that's fair use since I own the book or magazine and I don't keep or redistribute the copy afterwards).

and

NEVER EVER EVER forget to wind Shetland yarn into balls before knitting your swatch!!!!!

(I JUST finished untangling a mass of Shetland yarn... and I KNEW better too! UGH)

From Johanne in Sweden:

When you have to move your knitting around and don´t want all the stitches to slip of the end of the knitting needle, take a cork from a wine bottle and stick the end of the needle into it. It will also provide you with a good excuse for opening a bottle of wine.

Oh, and I always use olive soap to wash my wooly garments to make them soft.
 

From Jean in the U.K.:

When knitting socks, make detailed notes of any variations you may have made when knitting the first sock. This should include basic things like numbers of rounds knitted for foot and leg, length and type of ribbing etc, as well as changes in the texture/colour pattern used. You always think you'll remember exactly what you've done the first time - but in my experience, you never do, so it's definitely worth the extra effort to do this.

From Julie Doughty:

Sometimes the loose patterns that you can purchase are printed on very dark paper, so if you go to photocopy the pattern so that you can check off or mark on it, you really can't read the photocopied pattern.  So I slip the pattern into a plastic sheet protector, take a dry erase marker or a grease pencil and mark on the outside of the page protector. I can pull the pattern out for the next time I want to use it  and slip it in a new page protector. (The marks don't come off of the page protector too well.)

From Jo in NYC:

The first you may know is good if conventional markers are too large for very fine needles and/or you have no markers or useful yarn /thread to make any-take a disposable drinking straw and cut little circles to the width you like, cut evenly so you don't snag your yarn or thread.

2.) This one I unvented, its particularly good too, for very smooth yarns such as cotton or rayon, and slick metal needles, but can be used anytime. A lot of dollar and dime stores sell bags of 100-200 very small rubberbands in a myriad of rainbow/dayglo colors. They are around the size of a dime, and I've found them to be excellent and cheap markers esp. in the above circumstances.

From Anne Harrison:

A cheap/quick yarn ball holder: cut a notch in the side of a lid to a GLAD LOCK or other brand plastic food container. Place the yarn in the container and snap the lid on with a tail hanging out. The hole can be made as large or as small as you need for the yarn you are working with. The containers are fairly cheap, last a long time, cut easily, come in a variety of sizes and are widely available. These are wonderful for white or other light color yarns that gets dirty or that might entice cats !!! You can also cut in the center of the lid if that works easier for you, but it isn't as easy to get the yarn in and out that way.

From Lolly:

I always cast on two extra edge stitches when knitting sleeves flat and I knit them in stockinette. It gives me a perfect 'jump' point for a "lifted" increase because it provides an always-ready purl bump on the wrong side and I avoid the little holes that I always get from using other increase methods. It doesn't add noticeable bulk to the sleeve seam and looks divine!

From Pat:

I use a "lifeline" of # 10 sewing thread (the heavy duty kind) with a tapestry needle or bodkin about every 10 - 20 rows depending on what type of pattern I am doing.  I run the thread through the live stitches on the needle.  It is easy enough to pull them out when I am finished.  Obviously, I am not the only one to have "unvented" this tip but it always works for me and I always still do it.

From Sara Peasley:

If binding off annoys you, try binding off with a crochet hook in your right hand instead of a knitting needle.  Pretend it's a knitting needle while you work the first two stitches, then use the hook to pull one stitch through the other!  The tension of the bound off edge will be nice and even as you work your way across the row.  This works great for the three needle bind off, too (although that would make it a "two needles and a hook" bind off, technically!).

Use a crochet hook as close to the same size as your knitting needle as possible.  The best and most accurate way to tell if a crochet hook is the same size as a knitting needle is to translate both the hook and needle sizes into millimeters.  Here's a chart to help (although different manufacturers may vary in how the needles and hooks are labelled):

HOOK                B         C         D         E         F          G         H         I           J
(mm)                2.25    2.75    3.25     3.5       3.75      4.25     5.0       5.5       6.0

NEEDLE (U.S.)               2          3         4         5          6         8         9         10

 

I found this hint in Vogue Knitting when I was looking for help with something else.  Enjoy!

 

From Wendy Thompson:

 

Do you hate to purl?  There are several ways to avoid purling.  One is to work in the round if you are doing stockinette stitch, but sometimes you are knitting something back and forth (like the heel flap on a sock).  You can still avoid purling.  I just flip the yarn from my left index finger over to my right index finger and knit backwards.  It takes a little getting used to, but it is exactly the same as knitting frontwards except that your hands have to switch functions.  If you can SSK, you can do it.  It gets faster after you are used to it too.  And it also keeps your yarn from getting tangled with having to turn your work frequently and you can always be
looking at the front so it's nice for charted designs too.

 

From Connie:

 

Alternative to buying stitch holders.
Use a smooth yarn like cotton in the same thickness as your knitting and preferably in a contrast color as a stitch holder and tie both ends of the yarn into knots so that the stitches don't slip out and your knitting is secure.  Then when you're ready to release the stitches, you can just cut the ends off and slide your stitches off.

 

From Rosemary:

 

Use a long straight knitting needle to baste seams together when sewing up. Yes, some of us still do knit things in pieces.

 

From Renee:

 

Do yoga or some other exercise that increases strength and flexibility of your back, neck and shoulders.  You'll be able to knit more and longer with less pain not only in the aforementioned areas but also with less pain in your wrists and hands.

 

Use 5 needles when you're knitting with double-points, not 4 as is often recommended in the US.  The fabric will be under less strain, you'll be able to look at your work better and you're less likely to get "ladders."

 

From Mary:

I find that no matter how many little tape measures I have, I can never find one when I need to make a quick measurement. I’ve found that for measuring in desperate conditions, paper products like business cards, index cards or typing paper can be put to use. By taking a piece of paper of a standard size, use one of the edges to measure. For example, if you fold a standard 8.5 x 11 inch piece lengthwise, the top edge will be 4.25” wide – perfect for measuring a swatch. A standard business card is 2” x 3.5”. This works well for swatches.  

A similar idea is to mark off a couple of inches along the edge of the instruction page so that you’ll always have a quick way to measure.

From Lisa K.:

Keep your socks in progress in a hard plastic pencil box - harder to break or bend the needles.

Wash wool in shampoo and use a little conditioner in the rinse.

Use a crochet hook to tuck in the ends when a needle isn't working.

From Rosemary in Colorado:

Weed whacker "wire" (what exactly is that stuff called?) makes excellent stitch holders.  The stuff that we have in the garage is light blue, amazingly flexible, and about the same diameter as most of my circular needles' cable portion.  My favorite thing about it is that it doesn't fray, so you can thread your needles back on it very easily. Try it!