Everything else can wait until I finish this row…

Technique – The Purl Stitch

Time to show you how to do the Purl stitch, this is the other basic stitch in knitting.  Once you start purling, you will be able to create some beautiful patterns with the knit stitch, such as stockinette, seed, ribbing.

Right now my tutorials are being shown in photos here, but I am also working on getting a You Tube Channel set up in order to share some how-to videos.  I am still in need of some equipment like a  video camera, a tripod, and  professional salon manicured hands!  I want to make sure that the videos I share with you are clear, not just in instructions but also in the image resolution.  I might still be a while, but it will be done!

Until then, here is how you create the purl stitch:

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I hope this helps! Happy Purling!! 😉

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Giving Knitting Purpose to Everyday Objects

Ok, so my last post I showed you a shoe cubby that I plan to use to organize my yarn.  And so I wanted to open the forum to see what other everyday objects are people out there using for crafty purposes.  Here are some of the things that I use myself or have seen other knitters use:

  1. Over-the-door Shoe Organizers: Another great way to store your yarn so that it is visible – I guess just about any way you can organize shoes, you can use to organize yarn
  2. Make-up bags: just about any little make-up bag pouch can be used to carry crafty supplies.  A friend from California used a roll intended for brushes to keep her crochet hooks
  3. Suit cases: I have an old Samsonite hat box that I use to hold all of the many smaller bags of crafty supplies.  Also, the handle of my carry on just broke and though my first thought was to throw it away, I realized that it would be a great place to store my yarn
  4. Dental Floss Case: Once you have used up your dental floss keep the little plastic case, the compartment that held the floss is great for holding stitch markers and you have a thread cutter that can easily go with you on the airplane
  5. Bread Bag Ties: This is another trick that I picked up from my California Knitting Group, they make great yarn bobbins.  They might be too small for Intarsia purposes, but it certainly is great for holding the tail end of your yarn in place
  6. Pantyhose: The ladies in my SoCal Knitting group are great innovators, some used cut-up pantyhose to hold their center pull balls of yarn, which kept it tightly packaged and protected from tangles.

    I don't think the Surgeon General really needs to warn us about cable needles

    I don’t think the Surgeon General really needs to warn us about cable needles

  7. Pencil Erasers: With the smaller sized needles (2 or smaller), you can use erasers as tip protectors
  8. Cigar Tubes: If you wash away the smell thoroughly, you can store your DPNs and/or cable needles in there
  9. Packaging  Bags of Linen Items: Next time you buy new curtains, sofa cover, duvet, towels, bed sheets, pillow shams, etc keep the zippered bags.  They are great for carrying a small project, which can protect it from a spilled drink at the table or a quick run through the rain to get inside the LYS
  10. And there are a ton of small, round, and clip-on items that can be used as stitch markers, including:
    • Rings
    • Earrings
    • Electric Toothbrush Markers
    • Safety Pins
    • Wine Glass Charms
    • Paper clips
    • Keychains

These are just a few things that I use, what everyday object do you use for knitting purposes?

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving here in the US and I just got back home after a long day of cooking, eating, football, and festivities!  The best tip that I can offer after such a busy day is to get yourself a Knit Kit, it is the best thing a knitter can have while travelling.   This is the Swiss Army Knife for knitters, it has everything you need for your project on the go.  I always carry mine with me b/c  it is so easy to grab it from one project bag and transfer it to another.    It has all the little things you need in one container: measuring tape, stitch markers, row counter, crochet hook, scissors, and point protectors.   I compare it to your wallet when changing purses, because it has all of your essentials: ID, cash, cards, photos, etc.  My husband gave me mine for Xmas last year and I don’t know how I ever managed without it, worrying about gathering and carrying all those little things whenever I grabbed a different project bag.  Honestly, I want another one… maybe even more!  It would be great if I could keep on permanently in the car, another one by the couch, one in my suitcase, one in my purse, one in my craft room, one at work, everywhere!

We did about 8 out of the 23 hours of driving already and in case you’re wondering I decided to cast on some socks for this weekend trip.  I was inspired by other bloggers who I have encountered are avid sock knitters (something that I still hope to become one day).  Plus, I wanted to give one final push towards my New Year’s Knitting Resolution of knitting a sock a month.   So farI have only made 5 pairs (if you count the ones for the dog, which I do) and I wanted to be able to say that I accomplished at least half of my goal.

The pattern I am using is Varsity by Melissa Morgan-Oates (2-at-a-time Socks, 2007) which is a good vanilla pattern to show off the self-striping yarn I chose, Schoppel-Wolle’s Ambiente.    I am knitting them up simultaneously, but not in the method described in the book.   Instead I am using two 9″ circulars and alternating between the two socks, which is working out so far.  Funny thing is the way the two different skeins are knitting up – it would be hard to identify them as being of the same colorway if you didn’t have the label with you.  One sock is coming out mostly gray & purple, while the other is has more brown & purple.  I guess that’s the problem with ordering yarn online, I got the skeins that someone else picked out.  Sure they are the same colorway and dye lot, but that was just someone quickly filling an order and moving on to the next one, if I had done it myself I would’ve carefully chosen two skeins with similar colors on the outside.   Oh well, I still like the unique look, check them out:

Not only are socks great portable projects to work in the car, but you can take them pretty much anywhere!  Here is a photo that shows you just how obsessed I am with knitting:

Please tell me I am not alone in this…. what are some unlikely circumstances where you have pulled out your needles to work on your projects?  I can’t be the only one that has worked a few rows while waiting for my hair to dry, right?


Going from Flat to Round

Once upon a time, people believed that knitted garments could only be flat like the Earth.  Now a days we know that the Earth is round and our knitting can be too.

I hate seaming my work, finishing the projects by attaching the front to the back and the sleeves to the body.   According to my Ravelry Projects page, the last time I made a project that required that much seaming was a baby sweater in 2008.  Whenever I come across a sweater pattern that is knitted flat I have two options:

  1. Forget about it and move onto the next pattern
  2. Knit it in the round instead

Today’s tip is a simple formula on how to make a sweater from a flat construction to a circular construction:

Cast On = (the # of  stitches for the front + the # of stitches to the back) – 4

Why subtract four stitches?  Because the first and last stitch of the front piece and the back piece usually disappear when you seam them together.  If you keep those four stitches when converting a flat pattern to a circular construction you will be adding width to the garment.

The hoodie that I am making for my husband is supposed to be knitted flat, I opted to make it in the round instead.  So inserting my numbers to the formula above I get:

C = (SF + SB) – 4

C = (83 + 83) – 4

C =  166 -4

C = 162

So I casted on 162 stitches and I was off knitting stockinette in the round.  There is a lot more to this tip than what I am telling you here, but that is the knowledge I have to share with you.   There is also a way in which to take a round pattern and knit it flat if that is what you prefer (but I haven’t tried it).  For further reading on the subject of going from round knitting to flat knitting or vice-versa check out this document from the popular needles & yarns company, Knit Picks: 

I hope this helps! Happy Knitting!

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Technique – the Basic Knit Stitch

This technique is known as English Style knitting; you hold the yarn on your right hand and wrap it around your needle.  It is commonly used in the United States.  In Europe they use what is known as Continental Knitting; you hold your yarn on your left hand and pick up the stitch.   But don’t worry about that now, I can show you Continental Knitting another time.  No matter what anyone tells you there is no right or wrong way of holding your needles or your yarn, the outcome is always the same gorgeous stitch.

Ok here is the basic Knit Stitch broken down for you.  This is where every knitter starts from and this is what will lead you to gorgeous sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, blankets and other beautiful knitted works of art.

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the image:

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Trick on Avoiding a Twist (and Shouting)

In October I made a dog sweater within a week and now my husband is joking that he is jealous that the dog got a hand knitted sweater before him! Jokes aside, the man has a point. Considering how he puts up with my Yarn Addiction he deserves a sweater.

And in truth I had every intention of making him a sweater long ago. I purchased six skeins of James C. Brett Marble Chunky to make a man’s sweater during the first LA County Yarn Crawl of 2012.  In my excitement to be Yarn Crawling I completely overlooked the fact that the yarn I bought for this project is 100% Acrylic! The Yarn Snob within me is outraged! How could I have been so careless in the yarn selection for the man I love so much? But he was there too, I would never buy a yarn for such a large project without the recipient choosing the color.  After 8 years of being with me, he has become a Yarn Snob by proxy.  He knows the warmth of Merino, the softness of Alpaca, the fuzziness of Mohair, the luxury of Cashmere, and the horror of Acrylic! How could he have allowed me to buy a sweater’s worth of the stuff!?  Unfortunately there is nothing we can do at this point but work with what I’ve got. This is the only sweater’s worth of bulky weight yarn in my stash and at the moment we cannot afford to buy him something else.

So after a short guilt trip, I have found gauge for the sweater (4 stitches per inch with a size 10 needle) and hope to have this done in time for Xmas.  The pattern I am using is called the Hooded Sweatshirt by Bruce Weinstein (Knits Men Want, STC Craft, 2010).  It is meant to be knit flat, but since I hate seaming and this is a self striping yarn, I chose to do this in the round.    Because this is a self striping yarn, I will have thin stripes that match up on the front and back of the hoody until it comes time to separate for the arms.  Then I will be forced to knit the two pieces separately causing my stripes to get wider since I will be working over less stitches.

Today’s Trick = How to Join Your work in the Round without Twisting your Stitches

In honor of last night being Halloween,  I will be showing you a Trick on how to join your work in the round without creating a twist.  This trick works with double pointed needles as well as circular needles.

Once you have casted on your stitches lay down your circular needles on a flat surface:

 Take a careful look at your stitches and make sure the bottom of the loop is consistent in its position, they should all be facing in towards the circle.   If the bottom of the stitches are not facing the same direction, carefully rotate them so they are all facing the inside of the cables.

Once the stitches line up carefully pick up your cable needles and join in the round.   Knit a few rounds then lay your work out flat again to make sure that you have successfully avoided a twist in your circular project.  Here is the start of my husband’s sweater:

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, twisting our projects happens to all of us which can be especially frustrating if you are working with hundreds of stitches.   If you keep having difficulties when joining in the round, I have another Trick for you to try instead:

  1. Start knitting your project flat for a few rows – easy to do as long as you’re not dealing with a complex lace pattern
  2. Once you have at least an inch then join in the round – follow the steps in the Trick above if you want to be extra careful
  3. Later you can just use your tail to stitch those first few rows together – you were going to weave your tail in regardless might as well put it to work

I hope this helps! Happy Knitting!

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Tip on Checking Your Gauge

Today’s 4T Tip is on checking gauge.  I cannot lecture much on the importance of gauge because that is one of the biggest things that I still procrastaknit on.  Too many times I have chosen to skip checking gauge and jumped right on ahead into the project.   This is a hat pattern that I made back in 2009; the one I gifted to my friend was made with  size 6 needles, the one I made for myself was made with size 5 needles because I was using my size 6 on a different project at the time.

Bad Gauge = Bad Fit

Perfect Gauge = Perfect Fit

While I wish I could say this was a rookie mistake, it’s not.  I still make such careless mistakes with my gauge because I am usually so eager to cast on a new project, I decide to throw caution to the wind and just cast-on with a needle size larger since I know I tend to be a tight knitter.   Currently I am working on a double-knit hat that I did not bother to properly check gauge, so now it is large enough to fit over my head as a cowl!  Consequently I will be making that project into a purse and will post photos once I finish.   New knitters learn from my mistakes, expert knitters go ahead and laugh.

Today’s Tip =  Making It Easier To Check Your Gauge

Most patterns give you a gauge in stockinette pattern, I recommend that you add about 6 or 8 extra stitches to the given gauge of the pattern so that you can create a garter stitch border (3 or 4 stitches on either side) which will help your swatch lay flat as you count your stockinette stitches.  Keeping with the border idea do a few rows in garter stitch before starting the stockinette portion AND before casting off your swatch.

Creating a garter stitch border helps you see where you changed needle sizes.

If you find that you have too many stitches per inch, switch to a larger size needles to lessen the number of stitches per inch.  If you have too few stitches per inch, go down a needle size to add more stitches per inch.  This is Finding Your Gauge 101, my tip to help you in the process is  to knit another 4 rows of of garter before you switch your needle that you create a separation of two different sizes.   Repeat this process as many times as needed until you have the right number of stitches per inch.

Keep changing needles until you have found the right size.

I have come across knitters that didn’t create a divider before changing needle sizes, so they were weren’t sure where the stitches with the smaller needles ended and the ones with the larger needle began.  Creating a border helps to differentiate the two without having to cast-on a new swatch.  If your gauge is given in garter stitch, just use a different stitch (i.e. seed stitch) for the border.

I hope this helps! Happy Knitting!

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The First Ever Tips, Tricks, and Technique Thursday!

OK, so today marks the first Tips, Tricks and Technique Thursday (a.k.a. 4T).    I do want to contribute to the knitting and crochet community, and though  my blog posts may not be as innovative as Judy’s Magic Cast-on technique, I hope that the little bits and pieces that I share here will help beginner and expert crafters alike.

While I am still getting acquainted with writing this blog, I will be using photos to demonstrate all of the Tips, Tricks and Techniques.  I do intend to create instructional videos in the future to facilitate your learning experience, but right now I don’t have the best video equipment for to accomplish that task, so I hope you will bear with me during my growing pains.

Now, since I am just starting out I will start with the a basic technique: the Knitted Cast-On.  If this is the first time you have ever picked up a pair of knitting needles, this is where you want to start since this technique imitates the knit stitch.  Once you get used to this cast-on you will have an easy time learning the knit stitch.

Also, if this is the first time you are attempting to knit, look at the yarn label and consider this when choosing your materials:

  1. Choose a medium weight yarn, this is also known as worsted weight or #4 weight.   Look for this symbol: 
  2. Choose a light and solid color yarn that is smooth (avoid bumpy, fuzzy, loopy, thick & thin, and other textured  yarns), this will make it easier for you to see your stitches.
  3. Choose a yarn that is 100% wool, or if you’re in a tight budget acrylic is OK.  Avoid slippery fibers like bamboo and silk. Avoid fuzzy fibers like mohair and angora.
  4. My recommendation for yarn is Cascade 220 (shown in photos below), which comes in a multitude of colors and can be found at local yarn stores.  A cheaper option that is easily found at major craft stores is Lion Brand.
  5. The yarn label should indicate which size needle works best with it, generally speaking sizes 8-10 are compatible with worsted weight yarns
  6. Start with a pair of straight needles, instead of circular needles.  This will allow you to be more consistent with your stitches
  7. Either metal or wood needles will work.  Metal needles will allow you to slide your stitches more easily is your are pulling your yarn too tightly while wood needles will help them stay put so you don’t have to worry about loosing your stitches.  It is all a matter of personal preference.
  8. My recommendation for needles would be Knit Picks Harmony for wood or Susan Bates for metal (shown in photos below)

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