Posts Tagged ‘Tuesday’s Tip’

Tuesday’s Knitting & Crochet Tip – Managing Two Colors

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
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Some of the simplest tips can be the most useful. This week’s tip comes for Tina, our Education Manager.

If you are working with two balls of yarn and need to keep the strands separate, but also need to keep the yarn in the same bag, use a zip-top bag. Zip the bag closed for a few inches, feed the first yarn out of the bag, zip a few more inches, then pull the second strand out of the bag.  The zipped spaces will keep the two strands separate outside of the bag!

How else have you used zip-top bags to organize your knitting and crochet life? Share your ideas with everyone in the comments.

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – Shaping in Stitch Patterns

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
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Fitting a stitch pattern into garment shaping is a challenge every sweater knitter and designer faces. Since each size has different shaping, and since the stitch pattern spans over a large number of stitches, there’s no quick and easy answer for how to work every increase row. So it’s ultimately up to your tastes, how you like to incorporate shaping. But I can give you some tips for making it as easy as possible for you.

My first suggestions is to make a nice, big swatch in the stitch pattern. Try for around 6″ square or at least two repeats of the stitch pattern. Not only is this necessary for finding the right needle size to use, it’s also a good way to get familiar with the stitch pattern before working shaping in it.

Next is to work the body, which usually has less shaping, before making the sleeves. This will also give you time to get familiar with the stitch pattern, and it’ll give a little experience working light amounts of shaping at the armholes and neckline.

When it comes time to work shaping, I like to view the stitch pattern like it’s covering a big piece of fabric that you’re cutting the piece out of, getting little fragments of the stitch pattern at the corners where there’s not enough room for a full repeat. Some might instead prefer to work the increased sections in stockinette or reverse stockinette stitch. In either case, the orientation of the stitch pattern is established when you start the piece. You add on additional repeats to the outside of this as the piece grows, or cut into it as the piece decreases. If there’s not enough room in a corner for the stitch pattern, you can just work it in stockinette stitch.

Increasing every 6th row in seed stitch.

Decreasing every 6th row in moss stitch.

If the stitch pattern uses increases and decreases, like a lace pattern, you have to be careful that the shaping isn’t negated by an unpaired decrease or increase in the pattern. In most lace patterns, every decrease (like a k2tog or ssk) will have an increase (a yo) and every double decrease (like a sl1-k2tog-psso) will have two increases to balance it out. So when you’re adding on to the outside of the stitch pattern, make sure that you’re only adding matched pairs of increases and decreases.

A simple lace pattern, first worked even, then decreased every 4th row 3 times, then increased every 4th row 3 times. Note how the decreases cut into the stitch pattern at the sides and how the increased stitches are worked in stockinette until there’s enough room for elements of the stitch pattern.

Alternately, if you’re feeling really comfortable with the stitch pattern, you can create the shaping with an unpaired increase or decrease in the stitch pattern – like a yarn over at the outer edge without a decrease to balance it out. But this may not be convenient every shaping row.

Another simple lace pattern that happens to work evenly with increasing every RS row. At the beginning, the outer yarn overs provide the shaping. In the second half, these yarn overs are balanced out with decreases, and additional increases built into the garter stitch border provide the shaping.

You may also get some good results by taking some graph paper and drawing the stitch pattern out for the whole piece at its widest, then drawing the outline of the piece you’re shaping to see how the stitch pattern can be built into it.

In general, knowing how to work shaping in a stitch pattern comes with experience, both with the concepts of shaping and with the stitch pattern itself. At some point in your knitting career, you’ll make the jump to seeing a stitch pattern as a visual pattern, not just as a series of instructions, and that will make it easier to tinker with at the edges. If you’re not there yet, start slow with a plain or less shaped garment, or perhaps with a patterned hat. It’s great to challenge yourself in knitting, but there’s no reason to be frustrated when there are so many great projects to knit!

– Kirsten Hipsky, Design Manager

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – Circular Knitting for Tight Knitters

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
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This week’s tip comes from Kirsten H. and is a simple solution for tight knitters using circular needles.

If you’re a tight knitter and have problems sliding stitches from the cable to the left hand needle when working in the round on circulars, a set of interchangeable needles may be your best friend. Only the right-hand needle tip determines stitch size, so you can use a smaller needle tip on the left hand side to make knitting and sliding stitches a lot easier.

You may find that going down just one needle size for your left hand needle tip does the trick. But if you’re not knitting in the round, this solution won’t work.

What tips do you have to help a tight knitter loosen up their gauge?


Tuesday’s Crochet Tip – How to Join Granny Squares as You Go

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
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This week’s tip comes from Sara Delaney and is an excellent way to join granny squares. You’ve got to try it out.

Granny squares can be a great, quick project to use up lots of scraps but the additional work of joining them all together can be a bit daunting. By simply replacing some of the chain stitches along the sides and corners of the squares you are joining together you won’t have to bother with a crocheted or a sewn seam. If you crochet them together as you go then there isn’t any seaming at all!

Watch our new video as Sara walks you through the steps of joining granny squares as you go.

Tuesday’s Knitting & Crochet Tip – Don’t Forget the Sticky Notes

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
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Today’s knitting and crochet tip comes from Tina McElmoyl and is so simple yet brilliant. After she suggested this tip, I’ve added sticky notes to my knitting and crochet tool kit and already found they came in handy on last weekend’s driving trip. My pattern kept slipping off of my lap, so I used a sticky note as tape and stuck the pattern to the dashboard. My pattern no longer dropped to the floor.

Sticky notes are one of the most important tools I keep in my knitting bag. I use them for everything. They are perfect for:

  • A non-permanent mark on a pattern or chart so that when I return to the project, I know where I left off.
  • Adding notes to a pattern if I make a modification on one mitten, for example, and want to remember to make the same change on the second mitten.
  • While working on a project during a car ride, I can stick the note to the dashboard or window and have a place to make tick marks to keep track of my rows that won’t roll around the car.
  • Quickly picking up spilled small stitch markers.
  • Marking the page in a pattern book that has abbreviations or special notes, so that I don’t have to fumble around while double-checking what the designer means in a pattern on another page.
  • If I want to focus in on a particular section of a chart, or just keep my eyes from wandering off the row of a chart, I can block out the symbols and rows I don’t need to see in that moment.

What other ways have you found sticky notes to be useful when knitting and crocheting. Share your ideas.

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – How to Add a Bead to a Knit Stitch

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
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This week’s knitting tip comes from knitwear designer Laura Nelkin.

Ever wonder how to add beads to your knitting? In this video I teach you a trick for adding beads easily with either a crochet hook OR a piece of Super Floss!

Adding beads to your knitting gives it weight, flare and a bit of bling. You can take a simple design and really help it shine! I’ll be coming to WEBS to teach for my first time later this month and look forward to sharing more of my beading techniques with you all…can’t wait!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to knit with beads, Laura will be teaching two classes in a couple weeks at our store. Follow the links below to find out more.

 Advanced Lace with Beads April 21st

 Butin: A Beaded Necklace April 20th

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – Working with Multiple Strands of Yarn

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
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Knitting or crocheting with multiple strands of yarn held together is one of the easiest ways to incorporate multiple colors and textures in a project. It’s super warm and durable, so it’s great for thick, winter socks and sweaters knit in a lot less time than it would take with any of the yarns held singly.

By holding variegated or hand-dyed yarns doubled, you can avoid pooling and create a fabric with subtle, blended colors.

Worked in stripes, you can incorporate scraps and bright colors into a fun fabric that looks a lot more complicated than it really is. And some bold, textured stripes can be made by working a doubled yarn, then a singled yarn, using the same gauge.

But it takes a little experimentation to get a desired effect. So, my first and most important tip for multi-stranding: SWATCH IT! Try your yarns at a few different gauges – you may be surprised at how adaptable a given combination can be.

Here’s a swatch of two strands of Valley Yarns Huntington worked at 5.5 sts to the inch on a US 5, then at 4.5 sts to the inch on a US 7. It feels great at both! Which I’d chose to use would depend on the pattern and what I’d use the finished object for. A drapey scarf or a flexible sweater might be better at the larger gauge, whereas a potholder or slippers might be better at the smaller, denser gauge.

In general, I’ve found that 2 strands of lace weight together equal a sport / DK weight, 2 strands of fingering equal a DK / worsted weight, 2 strands of DK equal a heavy worsted / bulky weight and 2 strands of worsted equal a bulky / superbulky weight.

I’ve also found that, when holding 2 strands of different weights together, the thicker one will dominate both in color and in feel. So be careful when multi-stranding with that lace weight hand-dyed cashmere. If you hold it together with a thicker yarn, you may not be able to tell that its there at all!

So, if you’ve decided you want to use this technique, how much yarn will you need? Well, if you want to multi-strand in a pattern that calls for a single yarn, you’ll need to get the pattern’s required yardage for EACH strand. So, say it calls for 1,000 yards of bulky weight, but you want to work it with 2 strands of DK instead, you’d need to buy 1,000 yards of EACH strand, or 2,000 yards total. Alternatively, if you want to work a multi-stranded pattern with a single yarn, divide the yardage by the number of strands. So if a pattern uses 3 strands held together throughout and calls for 1,000 yards each or 3,000 yards total, and you want to use just one strand of a bulkier yarn, you’ll need 1,000 yards.

So go forth and have fun combining and re-combining some yarns! Here are some Valley Yarns patterns that use this technique to get you started.


Valley Yarns 413 Square Bolero

Valley Yarns 346 Eventide Tea Cozy

Valley Yarns 264 Optimistic Little Blanket

Tuesday’s Weaving Tip – Sampling

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
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This week’s weaving tip comes from Barbara Elkins via Daryl Lancaster who will be teaching at WEBS in April, Garment Construction & Finshing Techniques and Exercises & Inspiration for the Color Challenged.

Daryl Lancaster in her studio

Many weavers don’t want to put a separate warp on the loom to check sett and finishing and lots of times we trip up. Here’s a way around it.

On a wide warp, wind a half-yard more than you expect to need and weave 12”. Cut the piece off, stay stitch around the edges and divide the fabric in thirds. For a scarf warp, add a yard and a quarter to the length of the warp and weave off a yard and divide it into three pieces.

Don’t do anything with one piece. Hand wash and air dry one piece. Put the third piece in a mesh laundry bag and throw it in the washer and dryer with the rest of your laundry. Compare the pieces and you’ll be able to tweak the sett and/or finishing of the final fabric.

Do you ever take the time to weave a sample before starting your project?

Tuesday’s Knitting Tip – How to Join in the Round without a Twist

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
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If you’ve ever knit in the round only to discover way too late that you had a twist in your cast on stitches, then you might like to try this week’s tip from Kirsten Hipsky.

Work a few rows back and forth (flat) before joining in the round. It provides a much more stable fabric that’s easier to divide among double pointed or circular needles. It’s much easier to spot a twist before joining to knit in the round, saving you from having to start over. Since you’re already going to have to weave in the end from the cast on edge, you can use this tail to sew your small seam of flat knitting.

Watch Kirsten’s video tutorial on How to Knit in the Round on Circular Needles for more information on this knitting technique.

Have you ever twisted your cast on stitches when joining in the round? What other ways do you use to make sure you don’t have a twist when knitting in the round?

Tuesday’s Weaving Tip – Using Fishing Line for Your Selvages

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
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Recently my co-worker Sara told me about using fishing line for your selvages to produce straight edges. I’ve always struggled with trying to keep the edges of my weaving even. So I couldn’t wait to try this in my next project.

The green towel I wove without fishing line, producing my usual uneven edge.

For the purple towel, I added fishing line (20 lb) to the selvages and weighted each to keep the tension taut. Not only was I able to easily weave an even edge, I was able to weave a lot faster. I could throw my shuttle across the shed without worrying about my edges pulling in unevenly. Weaving suddenly became a lot less fiddly.

Valley Yarns 4-Shaft Twill Towels

Once you take the weaving off of the loom, the fishing line can easily be slipped out of the finished fabric.

Edit: I’ve had some requests for additional information regarding this tip.

  • Tie the fishing line to the front apron rod.
  • Thred the fishing line along side the first and last warp ends in the reed.
  • Since the fishing line is a floating selvage, it does not go through any heddles.
  • If your pattern is a twill or other weave structure that would result in floats along the selvages, use the fishing line along next to your yarn floating selvage. (Thanks for pointing this out Sandra.)
  • The fishing line hangs over the back beam, weighted to keep the tension tight.
  • If you want to, you can reuse the fishing line for your next project after pulling it out.

I will definitely be using fishing line again for my next weaving project.

Happy Weaving!