Archive for the ‘Tips and Techniques’ Category

This post could also be called “do what you want!” because I realized my point is that you should try different things, when you want to try them, and nobody should tell you there’s only one way to knit. (And if they do, don’t listen! Unless they’re telling you about twisted stitches. Then you listen, because having lots of twisted stitches can change the outcome of your project. Then after you have listened, YOU decide how you want your stitches. **)

Only use knit stitches

There’s only the two basic stitches anyway, but personally I don’t like the look of garter stitch (knit every row).  If someone told me I have to knit miles of garter stitch in order to learn to knit I probably wouldn’t have. Certainly it is a good way to start.  Purling is a bit more awkward than knitting.  But once you get the hang of it, throw in some purling for variety! (Or don’t!)

Make a scarf to start with

I have now made four scarves in the last 25 years.  The first one was double knit with a complex photographic pattern.  A plain old garter stitch scarf? Even a plain stockinette one?  Never.  Granted, I knit a lot faster now, so it wouldn’t be as painfully mindless as at the beginning, but I think a scarf is too much to tell a beginner to do (unless, of course, that’s what they want to do).

Use only wool from a yarn store

I just read this one recently.  I don’t get it.  It may be there was a time this would make sense, but the yarn manufacturers have put a lot of work into making nicer synthetic yarns in all kinds of textures and sizes.  Don’t get me wrong.  I would love to use $30 skeins of yarn.  But if you’re just starting out and don’t even know if you want to knit, wouldn’t a nice soft $4 skein of acrylic do? And does it matter where it comes from? (Of course, if you want the advice of the yarn store employees or owners, it’s only proper to buy things from them!)

Don’t tie knots

I understand the logic.  But the first time you attach a new yarn and you suddenly have to deal with making sure the tail doesn’t pull out while also making a decent stitch, and then knitting or purling it when you come to it again and making sure the tail still doesn’t pull out AND the stitch you’re knitting into isn’t ridiculously large/loose is difficult.  Tie a knot please.  Make it tight enough to hold, but leave it loose enough to undo later to weave in the ends.  (Or just tie a knot and weave in the ends.) If you want more options for adding a new ball of yarn, 6 ways to join in a new ball of yarn over at might interest you!

You have to knit continental (or English, or [insert style here])

I was taught a particular way, because that’s the way my teacher was taught.  I stick with it because it works for me. I have modified my technique since I first learned and recently found out what I do is called flicking, a modification of English style that I find to be pretty fast.  It’s best to try the different knitting styles and find the one that suits you. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong.

You have to hold the yarn this way

Nobody told me how to hold and tension the yarn, at all, so I made up my own way.  It works for me.  I have tried other ways people show and I just get frustrated.  Certainly, learning a tensioning method (or more than one even) at the beginning is good.  But this is like knitting style; it’s not one size fits all.

[Insert technique] is hard

This is not to say that I don’t think any techniques are hard.  I won’t say what I do think is hard, because I’ve heard of people who didn’t try certain things for years because they had heard that and were afraid of it!

Several years ago I learned to knit with double pointed needles by making half-finger type fingerless gloves as a Christmas gift. The pattern started at the fingers. That was hard. Since then I’ve learned that you don’t have to jump straight into a project with a new stitch type or technique. Now I often swatch just to try techniques or stitch patterns, so you can do this just to try a new thing, or to practice the new techniques in a pattern you want to knit.

This method or technique is the only way to do it

For example, I’ve heard that magic loop is the best way to knit in the round.  Guess what?  I get ladders when I try to magic loop.  I don’t with DPNs.  So, I would say that DPNs are the best way to knit in the round.  Is that true?  Yes.  For me.  For other people, magic loop.  For some other people, two circular needles. And still another group prefers one circular needle.

Never mind that this statement can’t be 100% true because knitters are still inventing or discovering methods for knitting all kinds of things.


So, now you know. Try everything and go with the things that work best for you. You will end up a much happier knitter!


**Speaking of twisted stitches: I just discovered about four days ago that I have consistently been twisting my knit stitches for years!  The difference between a normal knit stitch and a twisted one is very subtle.  Fortunately it only took a couple of rows of knitting to correct my wrapping technique.

I’ve seen others’ lists that are much longer, but there are only two main things I would really have liked to know when I first started knitting.


There are different ways to cast on

I was taught with the backwards loop cast on.  Just the backwards loop cast on.  I HATE the backwards loop cast on.

It is easy to do, and it is easy to remember how to do.  It is not, however, easy to knit that first row.  The first few stitches go fine, but you start to get a little extra yarn between your needles.  With each stitch this bit of yarn gets longer and longer until the cast on stitches are loose and hard to manage.

If you only need a couple of new stitches but need a not noticeable edge, backwards loop can be your friend.

These days I default to the long-tail cast on.  It has its own problems (like trying to estimate the yarn tail so it’s not too long or short), but it is easy to start knitting on and looks quite nice on the cast on edge.

Between those two I used the knitted cast on or the cable cast on (they are similar), which are both easy to do and easy to start knitting from.  I still use these when I want to cast on in the middle of a row, if the edge they create won’t cause a problem.

We have access now to so many different types of cast ons.  They have their own uses, advantages, and disadvantages.  It’s good to memorize a general method and have a reference available for when you need a special cast on.


Not all knitting needles are 14″ long and not all needles are made of aluminum

I used my mom’s knitting needles when I first learned how to knit.  She still has them, a full set of 14″ long aluminum pairs of needles in a nice case.  I hate using them.  They’re awkward, especially for a larger project, and very slippery.

When I first tried double pointed needles, I got 8″ long aluminum needles.  The length is okay (for me), but aluminum is slippery.  I constantly had needles falling out of my project.  It was irritating.

At some point I discovered bamboo needles.  These are great!  They’re not so heavy and not so slippery, so now they only fall out of my project when there is only one stitch on them.  (There’s still no cure for pulling the whole needle out thinking it’s the empty one!)  I use bamboo DPNs all the time now, even for flat knitting if the project isn’t too big.

And then I tried circular needles.  These are great because your project can be huge, but instead of hanging awkwardly to one side or the other, you can put it in your lap.  You can also find them in a variety of lengths, so you can even knit blankets in one piece.

I’ve tried nickel-plated needles, which feel nice, but I have not personally found a use for.  (I hear they are great for lace though.)

The needles themselves even come in different shapes than round, like square and triangular.

There are so many options you should be able to find needles that fit you and your projects best.

Stitch With Koshka