Category Archives: technique

Fiddly Bits

Around October of last year this Craftster post made the rounds at Reddit. Two of my very good friends (who happen to be brothers) both asked me if I could possibly please knit them one. I took a look at the pattern and included pictures in their Christmas present with the caveat that I would knit them when I got to them and don’t rush me.

I started the first one last night, and while the pattern isn’t complicated (although it did require me to do some math, dammit) it’s fiddly. This is only the 3rd stuffy I’ve ever knitted and, of course, it requires a LOT of sewing. Sewing is not my favorite thing to do in knitting. I like sewing on my sewing machine. I’ll even do a bit of hand-stitching now again.

All these fiddly bits have me roundly cursing myself as well as struggling with the internal debate of “When I finish this, should I just start right away on the other and get it out of the way? Or wait until I’m less aggravated at the fiddly bits?” Currently I’m leaning toward just knock it out and be done with it. It should be noted, though, that I haven’t sewn on the legs or tail yet.

Two down, six to go. /cry
Two down, six to go. /cry

Ultimately, I have learned a few things from this project. 1) How to do a wrap and turn short row 2) I really need to learn to crochet as that would’ve been much easier and 3) that these two friends really are knitworthy because I know that they will love these little buggers. Just as soon as they get them. 🙂

Technique Tuesday!

Like most knitters, I loathe and detest weaving in ends. (Yes, I feel that strongly about them) Generally speaking you create ends when casting on/off or joining a new ball of yarn. Today I will give you an option for each type of end to be dealt with WHILE YOU’RE KNITTING!!!
We’ll start with weaving in on your first post-cast on row! This photo tutorial I found via sock pr0n‘s blog and it seriously changed my knitting life. It’s a VERY photo intensive tutorial, so make yourself a drink or something if you need to while it loads. I promise you, though, it is TOTALLY worth it. I find myself doing this on 80% of my knits, no lie.
The other tutorial I have today is via the fabulous Jane Richmond’s YouTube channel. The double knot yarn join is one of the TWO MOST PERFECT way to join two balls of yarn together without leaving you any ends to weave in (the other being the Russian join.) It’s perfect for any yarn that you can’t necessarily divide the strands in order to join. If you can make a knot, you can do the double knot join. It’s easy peasy! (I realize I’ve talked about these two joining methods. What can I say, I really really like them!)
And for those who were wondering, the shawl is moving apace! See?

75% done!
75% done!

Also, this marks the first post since I moved from Blogger to WordPress! Hopefully, you didn’t even notice the difference, but if there’s ANYTHING missing that I didn’t notice, please feel free to let me know!

Lace Really Does Need Lifelines

So in addition to my first sweater, I also cast on a very pretty lace shawl. (Ashton Shawlette for those curious) If I can finish it in time, it will do double duty as a Quidditch project for the HPKCHC and as a gift. Right now, though, that’s a BIG if.
You see, I forgot the cardinal rule of lace knitting: always use lifelines. The first time I made it through chart 1 before I realized I did half the decreases wrong.
The second time I made it all through chart 1 and started chart 2. I showed it to my husband (spreading it out a bit so he could see the lace pattern) and that’s when I saw it. I had dropped a stitch!
Now, had I used a lifeline, it would have been a simple matter of pulling out my needle, unraveling back to my lifeline, reinserting my needle, and reknitting that small section. Instead, I had to frog (so called because you have to rip it, rip it) the whole thing and cast on again.
Before the fatal dropped stitch occurred. RIP Round 2!
So this afternoon will see me making a journey to the closest store and purchasing a roll of dental floss to use as a lifeline. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here, sobbing quietly. (But not into my yarn, I’m using Plymouth Sakkie and don’t want to felt it!)

Small Circumference Knitting

Knitting in the round is done, traditionally, in one of two ways. You use a set of double pointed needles (DPNs) or a pair of circular needles. Sometimes, though, you need to knit something really small around. Maybe you’re decreasing the top of a hat, or knitting baby things, or making sleeves.

For small circumferences you have 3 options. Trusty DPNs, Magic Loop, or 2 circular needles. I’m a big fan of Magic Loop and use it for just about everything. As always there are pros and cons for each method. I’ll outline each and let you make an informed decision on what’s best for you. (I also recommend trying each method a few times, at least enough to feel comfortable with it, before settling on the one that’s right for you.)

Each link will take you to a YouTube video that clearly demonstrates how to knit that method. All the pictures shown are taken just for you, friends, to show that I can do it, which means you can, too!

Two circular needles is probably (in my opinion) the easiest method
Magic Loop knitting is my hands down absolute favorite method to knit in the round for anything small. 

DPNs  which is the original method of knitting a small diameter object. 
Here’s a video that compares all three methods of knitting small circumference.

What’s your favorite method of small circumference knitting? Let me know in the comments! And happy crafting.

Learning to Knit

I’ve had a few people ask how to learn to knit. Now I got lucky and had a mom who teaches people to knit. Not everyone gets to be born to a knitting teacher, so here are a few ways to go about learning how to knit yourself!

My first recommendation would be to go to your local yarn store (LYS) and ask if they teach beginning knitting. The answer will most likely be yes and they will tell you when, how long the class runs for, and how much it will cost. This is not the cheapest method of learning, but (imo) it’s the best as you have someone there who can show you exactly how to do what you’re learning to do, show you how to fix mistakes, and just generally be your knitting guru. Don’t have a LYS near you? Check your local Michael’s, as they sometimes offer knitting classes, although they won’t be as often. (Generally a LYS will offer a beginning knitting class a few times a year, while a big box store might only offer it once a year.)

If learning in person is not an option for you, you still have two very viable methods. You can buy one of the MANY learn to knit books that have been published. This is great if you are the kind of person who can learn by reading and looking at diagrams. (And with some techniques this is easier for me, too!) This is handy as it gives you a concrete reference guide you can go back to again and again. (In fact I have copies of The Knitting Answer Book and The Knitter’s Companion on my official crafting books shelf and refer to them on a regular basis.)

The other option you have is Youtube videos. This is a great option if you need to see how something is done in order to do it yourself. With the wide array of channels it’s always possible to find one that best suits your learning style. Additionally, several of the major online yarn stores have Youtube channels with various tutorials listed. With so many choices there’s bound to be a good fit with your learning style, but it can be frustrating trying to wade through to find the one that works best for you.

Once you’ve learned the basics, ask around to see if there’s a local knitting group. Your public library, coffee shop, or LYS are all excellent places to check. Don’t be afraid to join if you’ve only been knitting a short time, as there are always various skill levels present in each group. Plus, it’s a great way to expand your craft, learn about new patterns, and have friends with similar interests! 🙂 If there’s no local group (and you don’t feel up to starting your own) you always have the option of joining Ravelry the largest online yarn/knitting/crocheting/spinning/dyeing forum currently in existence! With over 4 million registered users from all over the world it’s super easy to find a group that’s right for you!

Illness and a new technique!

Hello, everyone. Sorry this week has been post free. Monday I came down with a virus. As a crafter, you KNOW you’re sick when you’re too sick to craft. I couldn’t knit! So I’ve spent most of this week recuperating. I don’t know what I had, but I DON’T recommend it!

Today has been the first day I’ve felt like picking up my needles, and now that I don’t have to worry about contaminating my yarn, I decided to finish the cowl I started Saturday. Fourteen is a super easy knit as soon as you figure it out. Unfortunately, the directions were too vague for me, but with the help of Google and this particular TECHknitting article I was able to figure it out. Once again, my tablet has been a super useful knitting tool and I ALWAYS keep it in my knitting bag.

Generally speaking, I use a Russian join to connect my old yarn to a new skein when I’m in the middle of a project, but that’s not always the best join. I, like many knitters, HATE weaving in ends, so I’m always on the lookout for a join that lets me avoid it. Here is my 2nd favorite join. It also has no weaving in of ends, and is perfect for acrylics and other types of yarn that don’t lend themselves to a Russian join. Jane Richmond’s double knot join is easy and works wonderfully! Try it the next time you need to join a new yarn and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Technique Thursday!!

I can’t promise a new technique every Thursday (as there are only so many techniques in knitting) but today I learned something new! Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast On, shown here by the lovely people at Jimmy Bean’s Wool is something completely new to me. I try to learn something with every item I knit. It keeps me interested and helps expand my expertise.

I’m currently working on a secret project with some other people and this is the cast on needed. I was worried, but as this is the 2nd time this week I’ve come across a pattern I wanted to knit that used this cast on, I figured it was a sign.

It looks super complicated, but once you get the motion down, it’s super simple. Of course, if you have ANY experience with crochet, it will help as you use a crochet hook to do this cast on. (Never fear, though, it’s really simple)

Sorry no pics today. Don’t want to spoil the secret (and no one wants to see my currently messy desk!) but soon, my dears. There will be pics soon!

First Post!

First posts are kind of a big deal. I’ve been thinking about blogging about my knitting for quite awhile now. This week I’ve finally given myself the last push I needed to start, so here I am! This blog will be following my adventures in knitting. I’ve only been knitting for a few years consistently (although my mom taught me how, repeatedly, as a small child) and every project I knit I try to learn something new.

I’m currently working on a small knitted bag to store stitch markers in. I really like this pattern as it’s easily put down (handy while knitting with cats and small kids) without losing your place. I’m using Not So Sad Sacks by Sue Sedlak with some KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Worsted that’s been languishing in my stash for 3 years! Poor yarn! Ravelry project page is here.

So far with this project I’ve learned how to do a provisional cast on, as well as improving my picking up and knitting skills.

The bag so far!

So tell me, my fellow knitters, what’s on your needles right now?