Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Top Five Knitting Tips

I realized that I haven’t posted anything significant about knitting lately so today I’m giving you five of my favorite knitting tips.
1.     When working with yarn that is at least 75% wool, I join a new ball by splicing the ends together. This is particularly fun to do in front of the uninitiated. Simply feather the ends of the old and new yarn, put both in your mouth to get them nice and wet (saliva is a must for this part—clean water doesn’t have the right enzymes or whatever is needed to make it work), then overlap the ends about 1” in the palm of one hand and rub your palms together vigorously until the two ends felt together. The overlapped section should be close to the same diameter of the original yarn because it has been compressed.
2.     I have always knitted tighter than I purled. This causes unsightly “rowing out” in stockinette stitch worked in rows. For a while, I avoided working stockinette stitch in rows. Then I discovered that if I used a smaller needle for the purl rows, my purl stitches were the same size as my knit stitches. Now I routinely work stockinette in rows with two needle sizes—say a size 6 for knit rows and a size 5 for purl rows.
3.     I use a set of Boye interchangeable needles so that I can use a different size needle tip on each end of the cable when I knit stockinette in rows. Some years ago, I discovered that if I kept the smaller needle tip on the left end of the cable, it was much easier to work in the round. The stitches are made to gauge on the right needle tip, then they slide easier around the cable and onto the smaller left needle tip to be worked on the next round. Because the left tip is smaller, it’s also easier to manipulate the stitches for lace or cables!
4.     To ensure two pieces of knitting are the same length (such as the front and back a sweater, two fronts of a cardigan, or the legs or feet of two socks), I always count rows. Knitting stretches and it’s all too easy to be a few rows off when measuring length. If the pieces are the same number of rows, they will be the same length (as long as they are worked in the same stitch pattern with the same needles, of course). This makes it so much easier to sew seams.
5.     When counting rows of knitting, whenever possible I count purl ridges instead of individual stitches. I like to turn the work over, pull a little on the length of the knitting, then work my thumb up the knitting, counting two purl ridges at a time. It’s much easier on the eyes than trying to focus on one stitch at a time.

11 comments:

JelliDonut said...

Thanks for these great tips--bookmarking them.

re tip #1--I'm assuming this won't work with superwash wool, or am I wrong?

Sara said...

I LOVE tips 2 and 3. I never thought of using different size needles to deal with these issues, but it makes perfect sense. Thanks!

Julie Matthews said...

Fantastic advice. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

ann budd said...

The spit-splicing method works with superwash wool (I use it when knitttng socks), but not as well. I try to knit with the yarn right away after splicing it together to hold the stitches. Usually I get two or three stitches from the spliced area.

noallatin said...

Isn't experience a great teacher? Thanks for the useful hints. I also suffer from "enlarged purl syndrome and will keep your two size tip in mind.

fiberfrontlines said...

Love these tips, esp. the interchangable needles/different tip sizes one. Excellent! Thanks for sharing.

Mona said...

Great tips, Ann. If only the small size circs came in interchangeables, my sock knitting could go faster! thanks!

Liz said...

Wow! These tips are so helpful, I just used the spit spliced one on the Castle sweater I'm knitting out of Quince & Co. wool and it worked like a charm. No hole where I joined the new yarn. I also have the "purl looser than I knit problem" so I can't wait to try that out as well.

chickenbetty said...

Ha ha! The first time I did a spit splice in front of my kids they were speechless with awe and believed that this fantastical joining of yarn ends could only be joined by "Magic Mama Spit"

Cathy said...

For your tip #4, I knit my sweaters all at the same time-front, back, front using edge stitches in garter stitch. Then mattress stitch them up for a faux seam, making them look as if they were all separate pieces. Not only do they all get the same number of rows, but they get the same tention all the way up to the armholes. Above the armholes, I'll knit the pieces at the same time off of different skeins of yarn. After all if it works for knitting two sleeves at a time, why not the body of the sweater basically in one piece?

Sandra said...

Can I ask something? when you say that you have a different tension, can you put up a picture of what it looks like ? not sure i get the rowing out? I feel i may have the same problem - but i have no way to explain how my stitches look. so a picture would be worth a thousand words. My stitches (as in stockinette) look like they are fat on the left side and thin and stretched on the right side of the stitch - that appears on the right side only. thanks.