Tips and Tricks

Organizing Yarns, Patterns and Knitting Supplies

  • Store yarn in 5-gallon ice cream containers (well cleaned of course).
  • Try sorting leftover yarn by weight rather than color.
  • Place patterns in plastic sleeves and store in loose-leaf notebooks; keep a different color notebook for each category of pattern.
  • Tool boxes with shallow drawers can easily store knitting needles and supplies.
  • Store double pointed needles and smaller knitting supplies in a canvas pencil case from an office supply store.
  • Place yarn, books, and patterns in storage boxes with a number code and keep track of numbers on index cards.
  • Old dressers are useful for storing larger quantities of yarn or other craft projects neatly and out of sight.

Starting Project

  • Re-chart patterns using spreadsheet software such as Excel so all stitch codes can be the same on all your patterns and color coded as the user prefers (yellow for K2tog, blue for SSK). As sections are completed, shading can be added to the printout, and new patterns can always be reprinted.
  • Work project swatch with a buttonhole to take with you when you need to buy buttons.
  • Start sweaters with a sleeve first, using this as your gauge. If the gauge isn’t correct, you can start over easily.
  • Wash your swatch so you know what the results will be before you wash your completed garment.

Proceeding Through a Project

  • Helpful tip in measuring a sweater – leave a 36″ tail with your cast-on. Hold the yarn up to the end of the ribbing and tie a knot. Do this again at the armhole. This isn’t completely accurate, but it works well if a tape measure isn’t readily available.
  • To keep track of cable stitches in a pattern, write down the frequency of the cable rows in columns on a piece of paper.
  • Double Your Fun! When knitting two pieces that have to be even, knit them at the same time. Just cast both onto the same needle, one after the other, using two separate balls of yarn. That way your pieces will always end up the same length and your increases and decreases will be on the same row on each piece.

Important Techniques

  • To keep from twisting the yarn when joining on circular needles, knit back one or two rows after casting on, then join. Sew the small seam at the bottom with the leftover tail.
  • On projects with many stitches, place markers at evenly spaced intervals to make it easier to identify missed stitches without having to count the entire row.
  • Use post-its or highlighter tape to mark where you are in a pattern.
  • Place a reverse stitch in the pattern to mark the button placement in the same rows where the buttonhole will be.
  • Use slick dental floss along with your yarn when binding off the armhole to keep it from stretching.
  • Since the last stitch in a bind-off can be loose, knit (or purl) the stitch in the row below, and don’t use the last stitch on the needle.
  • When making socks, mittens, and gloves, reduce the needle size on your last row before sewing up the final stitches for a neater appearance.
  • When using an invisible or provisional cast-on, place a knot at the end of the cast-on so you know which side to zip when you remove the waste yarn.
  • Join a row on circular needles by switching the last stitch with the first and then knit before continuing to knit.
  • Use knee-high nylons as yarn holders.
  • You can join two ends of wool yarn by unraveling both ends slightly, wetting both ends in your mouth, and rolling the two ends together to join. This only works with wool.

Improving Stitch Techniques

  • When picking up stitches, pick up anything that looks like a hole. If you have too many stitches at the end, decrease evenly across in the next row.
  • For a handy cable holder, keep a darning needle tied to the end of your cast-on tail and use the needle to hold your cable stitches.

Finishing and Joining/Blocking

  • When joining a sleeve to a sweater, use a three needle bind-off. Pick up the stitches on the armhole with one needle and pick up the stitches at the end of the sleeve with another needle. With right sides together, bind off with a third needle.
  • Bend a metal coat hanger in the shape of a sock for blocking and drying socks.

Care of Knitted Items

  • Never store in plastic bags.
  • Roll sweaters for storage.