Knitting projects can range from the simple potholder of a beginner, to a beautiful shawl knit from such fine yarn that it can fit through a wedding ring. And while these projects might look as different as night and day, they both use the same two stitches–knit and purl.
I love to know. And while I’ve yet to do something as fancy as a wedding ring shawl, I have knit a variety of projects. Socks are my favourite, but the doesn’t limit me at all. I’ve done colourwork, lace, cables, twisted stitches and more while knitting socks. And I’ve learned a heck of a lot (and have a lot more to learn). Here are some knitting tips that have helped me out:
- Knitting charts are worked from the bottom up and it is easy to get confused when looking at them. So, when working from a chart, cover the rows that you haven’t knit yet.
- If you are having a lot of trouble following a pattern, try recording it for yourself. (Speak slowly, using the same speed at which you knit.) You just might find it easier to follow along to spoken directions instead of continually looking from you knitting down to your pattern and back again. (This tip comes from the very talented designer Lucy Neatby.)
- Use stitch markers to keep track of pattern repeats. You might think that you will be fine without them, but wouldn’t it be better to know you made a mistake right away, rather than at the end of the row?
- Write on your patterns! Keep track of any changes you’ve made so you can duplicate them later (this is especially important when making sleeves or socks). Also keep track of your rows right on you pattern. Row counters can go missing, but you’ll always have your pattern on hand while knitting.
- Store your projects in knitting bags, together with all the needles you will need, your pattern, a pen or pencil, and a small notion bag containing scissors, darning needles, stitch markers and a tape measure. Good tape measures and scissors are cheap enough for you have them with each of your projects. And this way you’ll never have to look very far for the notions you need.
- When working on complicated patterns, considering using a lifeline. This is a thin thread (unscented dental floss works great!) that you thread through all the stitches of a row. Be sure to not run the lifeline through your stitch makers. If you make a mistake, you can pull out your needles and safely rip back to that row, and not any further. Just be careful to run the lifeline through all the stitches, and not to pierce the yarn. Once you are done your project, the lifeline will pull out easily. Check out this video from Knit Picks for more information.
- Use locking stitch markers, like these from Clover, to hold together the pieces of your sweater when you are sewing it up.
- If you have purchased your yarn in hanks, consider winding it up yourself rather than asking the shop to do it. This will allow you to closely examine the yarn for breaks, knots, weird colour changes, and anything else that might be wrong. For more tips about winding yarn, check out this post.
- I use two different methods for keeping track of needle sizes when knitting a swatch. Sometimes, I indicate the US needle size by making the same number of purl bumps in the fabric, and sometimes I make yarn overs (with corresponding k2tog to keep the number of stitches the same)instead. So, if I am swatching with a US8 needle, I will either make eight purl bumps or eight yarn overs. And, if I need to switch to a different needle size, I just do a couple of rows of garter stitch (in either the old or new needle size) and then go back to knitting in stocking stitch with the new needle. And, again, I mark the new size with purl bumps or yarn overs.
- Came across a knitting manoeuvre you don’t understand? Check out YouTube. It is an absolute goldmine of information. My favourite channels include Lucy Neatby, Knit Picks and Knitting Help.
- The best tip I have is to sign up for a Ravelry account and make use of all the features. Enter your yarn, needles and pattern library into your notebook so you know what you have. And check out the forums, especially Techniques, Patterns, and Yarn & Equipment.
Image via Flickr from user lovefibre.