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How to Use Lifelines in Your Knitting

This guest post was written by Jody Richards, founder and editor of Knotions Magazine. She’s been a knitter and crocheter for over 30 years and is one of the original users of Ravelry. 

Jody shares even more great tutorials here on the Knotions site, and you might be interested in the latest eBook on shawls from Knotions – ShawlStar

All patterns are free on Knotions and it’s mobile-friendly for both tablets and smartphones. Don’t miss the PDFs of every pattern as well!


Not just for Lace Knitting

Lifelines aren’t just for lace knitting. Read on to learn how they’re helpful for all knitting!

Regardless of your experience level, lifelines can be a great time-saver and sanity-saver if anything ever goes wrong. 

And let’s be clear – something WILL go wrong. You might: 
  • mis-read a chart
  • start on the wrong row after putting your work down
  • just forget where you are in the sequence.
If any of those things happen and you realize it several rows later, a lifeline can be a real lifesaver.

Great for laundering, too

Another reason for a lifeline is so you can launder the work before you’re done. I’m actually a big fan of this with top-down designs because yarn has a tendency to bloom and who wants to knit more than is needed?

After an important section

I also use lifelines after I’m done knitting a section and it looks good. It’s a way to say “things are good through this point”. 

I personally HATE knitting ribbing, so I’ll often add a lifeline once I’m done with ribbing. This way, if I do have to rip, I won’t rip into the ribbing. Because seriously, I don’t need to knit that ribbing a second time.

Putting in a Lifeline

It’s actually a pretty easy thing to put a lifeline in.

Once you’re done with a row:

Thread a blunt needle with smooth yarn (I use a smooth cotton for this step). Make it easier on your eyes and use a contrasting color.


Weave the yarn in through the whole row SKIPPING ANY STITCH MARKERS. I use the knitting needle and cable to help guide me. The important thing is that you DON’T miss any stitches. It’s easy to miss a yarn over or do something wrong around increases, so if your pattern has rest rows, I recommend doing this on a rest row.


Now that your lifeline is in the entire row, make sure that the lifeline yarn doesn’t pull the work in and make it tighter. Then, cut the yarn to be a length of more than the width of the work so you can knot the ends together and, again, avoid it from pulling the work in at all.


Knot the ends together.


IMPORTANT: Once you’re done, make sure you remember what row it’s on. An easy way to remember this is if you do it after you’ve knitted the last row of a repeat. But that may not be convenient, and you might need to do it at another time. If so, just make sure you note the row number. A couple ways you can do this:
  • Indicate it on the printed chart.
  • Take note of it in your Ravelry project.
  • Keep track of it on your cell phone.
These are just ideas – the important thing is that you DO it.

If you need to use the Lifeline

If you find yourself in need of ripping down to deal with an error, have no fear because that’s why you put in the lineline!

Just take your needle out of your work and rip down. As long as you caught every stitch when you added the lifeline, the ripping won’t go beyond that row.


Now that you’ve ripped down, you need to put the work back on the needles. Just follow the opposite process this time. 


Once you’ve put the work back on the needles, you’re ready to start knitting again! Just make sure you start working on the appropriate row (you took note of that as I suggested above, right?) and that you don’t catch the lifeline while you’re knitting that first row.

An Alternate Way to Thread a Lifeline

Just like people prefer to knit in different ways, there are multiple ways to thread a lifeline.

If you have interchangeable needles with the little tightening holes, you might want to try this way instead.

In order to do this, you need to knit the work using a pair of interchangeable needles.

Step 1: Scoot all the work onto the metal part of the needle


Step 2: Fish the lifeline yarn through the tightening hole. Knot it loosely (I say loosely because you’ll need to undo it in Step 4 below.


Step 3: Scoot the work down the needle and onto the cable to it’s all on the lifeline yarn.


Step 4: Untie the knot at the tightening hole. Knot the lifeline yarn together.


Step 5: Continue knitting regularly, being careful not to catch the lifeline yarn when knitting.


Give a Lifeline a Try

I gave you two ways to add a lifeline to your work and steps on how to remove it.

I also gave you a variety of ideas on ways to use a lifeline in your work because it’s more than just for lace.

Make sure you give them a try! They’ll likely save you time and make your work nicer!

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How to Knit Two at a Time Socks

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a knitter in possession of a single handknit sock, must be in want of its mate. It is a sad fact, however, that many knitters fall to the dreaded “Second Sock Syndrome” and are unable to cast on for that second sock. The cure for this ill is simple: knit socks Two at a Time!

Knitting socks two at a time is exactly what it sounds like. This can be accomplished using the magic loop technique (knitting both socks on a lengthy circular needle) or using 2 shorter circular needles. For the purposes of this post, we’re going to use a free pattern on Ravelry, Rye by Tin Can Knits, to demonstrate how to knit socks two at a time. We’ll be knitting the socks in the Toddler size, but if you don’t have any children’s feet to cover, you could practice this technique and knit a warm pair of socks for yourself.

This post assumes basic knowledge of sock terminology and techniques; if you are new to sock knitting, check out the Learn to Knit Socks video series from Very Pink Knits.


Supplies:

Yarn: 1-2 skein(s) of worsted weight yarn, depending on size desired
Needles: US 3 and US 5, either 1 long circular needle (40”/100cm) or 2 shorter circular needles (16”/40cm or 24”/60cm)
Notions: Stitch markers (optional), Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

We’ll be knitting our socks on magic loop, but you can also find more information on knitting socks on two circular needles on VeryPink.com. If you haven’t used the magic loop technique before, you can read a little more about it on Craftsy.

Rye is written as a top down sock pattern, meaning that we will start at the cuff and work down the leg, through the heel, and then through the foot and toe. Of course, you can apply the Two at a Time technique to toe-up patterns as well!

Before you start knitting, we find it helpful to divide the yarn you will be using into two separate balls, one for each sock. While you can knit from both ends of the same ball of yarn (ninja magic!), it will be easier to have two separate balls of yarn for your first time trying this technique.

Casting on is a little tricky, but once you practice this technique a few times you’ll understand how everything fits together. You will begin by casting on half your required stitches for Sock A using your first ball of yarn. Next you will slide these stitches down your needle. Using your second ball of yarn, you will now cast on the full number of required stitches for Sock B.   



Slide the stitches for Sock B down the needle. Now you will bend the cord of the needle in the middle of your stitches for Sock B and pull it out slightly, so that half the stitches will be on one side of the loop you have created and half the stitches will be on the other side of the loop.  Are you still with us? Finally, you will cast on the second half of the required stitches for Sock A. Phew! You made it!



Step 2: Joining in the round.   
Now we’re going to get ready to join in the round. You will begin by pulling your back needle and your yarn for Sock A around to the front needle. Being careful not to twist your stitches, you will join your yarn for Sock A and knit across the first half of the stitches for Sock A.

Next you will pick up the yarn for Sock B, and again being careful not to twist your stitches, you will knit across the first half of the stitches for Sock B. Turn your work and rearrange your needles. This time you will work first with yarn for Sock B, and knit across the second half of the stitches for Sock B. Then you will pick up your yarn for Sock A and knit the second half of the stitches for Sock A. Turn your work again, and you are back at the beginning of your round!




You will continue to work both cuffs of your sock in this manner, completing rounds on magic loop, until you are ready to begin your heels.





Step 3: Heels. 
You can work whatever heel you choose using the Two at a Time technique. In Rye, the pattern calls for a heel flap and gusset. The key to knitting heels using the Two at a Time method is that working the heel is the only time during the knitting of your socks that you will be working each sock by itself.




Now you will repeat the same process for Sock B by working the heel flap and heel turn per pattern. Then you will knit across your heel stitches and proceed to pick up the gusset stitches for one side of Sock B’s heel flap.

You will now begin working in the round again by knitting across the instep (top of foot stitches) for Sock B, then repeat the same for Sock A.


Finally, you will pick up the second half of the gusset stitches for Sock A, and then knit across the heel and previously picked up gusset stitches.  Complete the same for Sock B. Your heels are almost done!


You will continue to work around the loop as you did with the cuff, working half of each sock in the same manner as before. The only difference is that you will be decreasing your stitches at the beginning and end of the stiches on the heel side of the sock (creating your gusset) until you arrive back at the original number of stitches (half on each side of the needle).


Step 4: Feet and Toes.
The feet of your socks and the toes are worked the same way as the cuffs: for the foot, you will continue working your socks in the round as you have before until you reach the desired length. When you knit the toes, you will continue in the same manner while decreasing stitches on both sides of the needle (both the top and bottom of the sock) to create your toe.



To finish your socks, you will cut the yarns after your last round, leaving tails long enough to use the Kitchener Stitch to graft each toe closed. You will complete this final step one at a time as well.

Congratulations! You just knit your first pair of Two at a Time Socks.


Here are a few more tips and tricks for Two at a Time socks:
  • It is very easy to get confused between your two balls of yarn and accidentally knit across your needle using only one yarn, rather than one ball each for Sock A and B. Keeping your sock yarns contained by placing one ball on either side of you as you work can help; you may wish to invest in yarn bowls or dispensers to hold your skeins or project bags to keep your yarns separate. In a pinch, placing each skein in a ziplock bag will do!
  • It is also a good idea to untangle those balls of yarn every few rounds so they don’t get hopelessly twisted. This can also be accomplished by alternating the ways in which you turn your work, but if that’s too complicated, untangling the balls will do.
  • When you drop your yarn to pick up the next yarn for the next sock, drop it in back of your work. This will mean that your yarn is waiting there for you when you turn your work (If you forget to do this, you can pull your yarn to the correct side of your work, but you’ll have to be careful not to create an extra yarn over by accident.).
  • Make sure that you pull your joins taut. Each time you start a new side of the sock, make sure that you pull the yarn snugly on the first stitch worked to avoid unsightly ladders.


We’d love to see your Two at a Time sock projects in our Ravelry group or on Instagram (be sure to use the#knitterspridehashtag when you post!). Be sure to also check out our Crafty Pets photo contest that is happening now through April 20 - click here for more details!


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Crafty Pets Photo Contest from Knitter's Pride

Do your furry friends like to "help" with your knitting or crochet projects, or photobomb your work in progress (WIP) and finished object (FO) photos? We'd love to see your best photos Knitter's Pride products and your animal friend(s). Don't have a pet? We encourage you to get creative for your submission - only your imagination should limit you!


How to Enter
Take a photo of your favorite Knitter's Pride products (WIP and FO projects are welcome!) with your pet or animal friend. Any craft counts!

Post your photo here on Ravelry to be entered in our grand prize drawing (note: 1 photo entry per person, multiple entries will not count towards grand prize drawing).

Grand Prize Drawing
1 lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive a Large Navy Pattern Holder and their choice of either a Deluxe Zing Interchangeable set or a Waves Crochet Set. 

We'll announce our grand prize winner here on this blog on Friday April 27 - all photos posted between now and April 20 will be eligible for the prize drawing. Hint: we may award other prizes for originality, too! 

We'd love it if you'd also share your entry on Instagram using the #KPpetphotocontest and #knitterspride hashtags to help us spread the word (we may even repost your photo to our Instagram feed with credit to your account), but posting on Instagram is 100% optional!

Also, congratulations to Raveler MemorableOne, the winner for last month's giveaway!

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Sticking Your Steeks: How To Cut Your Knitting Without Fear

Steeking is a technique used primarily in colorwork knitting where you knit in the round, adding extra columns of stitches that you can later reinforce and cut open. "Steek" is a Scottish word that is used for the columns of stitches that will later be cut. This technique enables you to knit colorwork patterns in the round without interruption, rather than having to work back and forth on sections to accommodate armholes, necklines and openings for cardigans. 
For instance, if you are interested in knitting a colorwork cardigan, you may choose to knit the garment as a pullover seamlessly in the round, adding a small panel of extra stitches at the front that you will later cut open to create your cardigan fronts.  
Steeking is best accomplished using non-superwash animal fibers that are slightly sticky or fuzzy because they tend to hold together better when you cut them open. While you can steek with superwash yarns, we recommend using something a bit stickier for your first attempt, as superwash yarns are normally fairly smooth. Traditionally, steeked sweaters are knit with Shetland wool (as in Fair Isle sweaters) or in Icelandic wools (as in Nordic sweaters).
If you are contemplating steeking a colorwork project, the best thing you can do to prepare is to create a swatch. Let’s try it!
Supplies:
  • A pattern, specifically a colorwork chart.
  • Appropriate yarn and needles as your pattern requires.
  • A crochet hook that is approximately the same size as your knitting needles.
  • 5-10 yards of sturdy waste yarn.
  • Stitch Markers.
  • A pair of sharp scissors.
Optional:
  • Sewing machine, threaded and ready to go.

Start with creating a swatch of your colorwork design in the round, adding a short vertical panel of 5 stitches where you will be making the cut to your knitting later on. For this swatch to be useful both in terms of testing your gauge and as a steeked swatch (it's always good to make your swatches do double duty!), be sure that you knit a sufficiently-sized swatch to check gauge (click here to read our previous blog post about swatching). For whatever gauge you knit at, we recommend knitting your swatch as a 5” or 6” square. Additionally, a design which has frequent color changes is ideal for your first steek, as denser colorwork holds together the best when cut.   
Step 1: Cast on your chosen number of stitches for your swatch (remember to add 5 extra stitches for your steek panel!). Knit the first row of your swatch in your main color. At the end of Row 1, join your work, being careful not to twist it, and place a stitch marker to mark your beginning of round. When you knit Round 2, place a second stitch marker 5 stitches from the end of your round. Now knit 2-3 more rounds in your main color.
Step 2: Begin knitting from your colorwork chart. You will be working Row 1 of the chart over all of the stitches of your swatch, except for the last 5 stitches of the round (which is now located between your stitch markers). Most often, patterns will have you work 2 colors per row; you should alternate these colors in 1x1 colorwork when you reach the final 5 stitches of the round (which we'll refer to as the steek panel). 
For instance, if you are working with colors A and B, you can knit the 5-stitch panel in A-B-A-B-A. On the next round, if you are using the same colors, you should reverse the colors, so you knit B-A-B-A-B.  If you are using different colors in the next round, just alternate those colors in the 5-stitch panel. When you finish using any color, you can cut that color, leaving a 5-6” tail.  
At the end of your swatch, knit 2-4 rounds in your main color and then bind off loosely.
Step 3: Once you have created your swatch, the next step in steeking is to reinforce the edges where you wish to cut. There are two primary methods you can use for this: sewn reinforcement and crochet reinforcement. If you are comfortable machine sewing your knitting, run a single or double line of stitching vertically along the outer edges of where you will be cutting. We recommend running these lines through the 2nd and 4th column of stitches of your 5-stitch steek.  
If you are not comfortable with the sewing machine method, you can use a crochet hook and crochet around the 2nd and 4th column of stitches holding your knit stitches into place, as shown below. For additional photos and a tutorial on how to do a crochet reinforcement, you may wish to consult Kate Davies’ excellent tutorial on her website, Reinforcing and Cutting.
Step 4: Once you have reinforced the edges, it is time to cut your knitting!  For this you will want to use a pair of sharp scissors. You will also want to pick a vertical line in the center of your steeking panel, the 3rd stitch, and cut through your knitting at the same point in each row.
At this point you made your first steek! What follows are additional suggestions for finishing a steeked edge garments or other finished knits.  You may wish to practice these techniques on your swatch, but if not, you can now wash and block your swatch to check for gauge and get ready to start your project.
Additional Steps: After you have cut open your knitting, you will need to begin your finishing work.  From the outer edges of your reinforcement line, pick up for your button bands and knit them as written in the pattern. Or, in the case of sleeves, you may pick up the stitches and knit your sleeve down to the cuff; alternatively, you could knit the sleeves separately and sew them in.  
There are many methods for finishing the inside of your garment where the steeked edges are. You may wish to knit a folded button band. If you do this you can tack down the inside portion of the folded button band over the steeked edge, trapping it inside the buttonband, out of sight. 
If your button band is not folded, you may wish to purchase some ribbon to line the inside of your button bands. This will both stabilize your button bands, as well as cover the steeked edge. Again, if you are comfortable using a sewing machine on your knits, you can attach the ribbon to the button band using your machine. If you are not, you can tack the ribbon down and hand sew the edges to the button band, covering up the steeked edge. 
Whether or not you hide the steeked edge, after a few washes the edges should felt a bit and become even more secure.
If you are interested in more information on steeking, you may wish to read:


Giveaway
It's been a while since we hosted a giveaway here on our blog! We're giving 1 lucky reader a chance to win this Pattern Chart Keeper and Blush Needle and Crochet Gauge with Yarn Cutter from our 2017-18 Collection! To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post telling us if you've ever given seeking a try (and how it went if you did!). Be sure to also mention your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win. We'll randomly select a winner to announce on our next blog post in March. Good luck!

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Stashbusting in 2018: Making the Most of Your Yarn Stash

We know that some of you may be “cold sheeping*” in 2018, but even if you’re not, we all have yarns marinating in our stash that we’d like to use. Today’s blog post will talk a little about how to use your stash, with a look at a few ways that Ravelry can help you make the most of your precious skeins.

Better Stashbusting Through Ravelry
First, we'll look at a few tools on Ravelry that can help you find the perfect match between yarns in your stash and patterns to knit with them.

We recommend taking the time to enter ALL of your stash into Ravelry - even those skeins lurking in the very bottom of the bin! While this may take an afternoon of your time (or perhaps several afternoons), it's worth it if you are committed to stash-busting.

You can easily go to the Stash tab in your notebook and see what you have already entered into Ravelry, and also use the Add to Stash button to enter your yarns into your stash.


If you decide at some point that you want to knit with a specific yarn in your stash, you can click on that yarn entry, and then view projects that have been made with the same yarn. This may help you narrow down your choices for that perfect pattern!



Perhaps you'd rather start with the type project you want to make and then figure out what yarn in your stash you'll use for it - Ravelry makes that easy, too! First, go to the Patterns tab, and then click Pattern Browser and Advanced Search. You can now sort by a variety of factors: pick the kind of project you might want to knit (hat, scarf, shawl, sweater, socks, etc.), and then you can scroll down the page and on click the menu option Yarn in My Stash.


If you want to narrow down the pattern by what weight of yarn you have and how much you have (for instance, say you have 1,000 yards of worsted weight yarn in your stash), then select the appropriate parameters and Ravelry will find patterns calling for just that amount of yarn.

Mixing Yarns in Your Stash
Sometimes there are a variety of skeins that appear in one's stash that are all different weights and fiber types - have you ever wondered if you could use some of them together? In general, you may not want to mix yarns of extremely differing fiber types or weights within the same project because they may detract from the finished object. For instance, you might not want to mix merino yarn with a cotton yarn because the merino will be soft and stretchy and bounce back into shape, whereas the cotton may not have very much give or might get stretched out of shape more quickly. Or you may not want to knit a striped project out of a fingering weight and a worsted weight because there will be such a variation in your gauge between the sections.

However, you may want to explore projects where yarns of different fibers and types are worked together. Kobuk by Caitlin Hunter is a hat that is knit by holding a lace weight strand of mohair together with DK strand of merino yarn to create a super fluffy and warm hat. Stephen West designs a large number of his patterns to be knit with yarns of multiple weights and fiber compositions, and his latest Marled Mania theme is all about holding two strands of different yarns together for the effect it creates.

Leftovers
Do you have a ton of leftovers in specific weight(s) of yarn? Perhaps you knit socks like crazy and always have odds and ends left over, or maybe you love to knit hats and lots of little bits of worsted weight yarn lying around. If so, you might consider the following stashbusting projects:

Blankets
There are many, many projects on Ravelry that can be knit with leftovers of various types. Scrappy sock blankets are a popular project now. Try the Sock Yarn Blanket by Shelly Kang, Memory Blanket by Georgie Nicholson, or Barn Raising Quilt by Shelley Mackie & Larissa Brown, all of which can be knit with sock scraps, or adapted for any other weight yarn. Another pattern to keep in mind is Stephen Wests' Garter Squish pattern, which is available for free and could be adapted for a variety of yarn weights and yardages. If you’re a crocheter, you might check out patterns by Lucy of Attic24 which incorporate a variety of stripes and colors into fun afghan patterns.


Colorwork Projects
If you’re feeling adventurous, you might check out patterns featuring colorwork to use up your odds and ends of leftovers. This works best if your leftovers are solid, but we have seen some beautiful projects out of variegated colorways as well. For this you can use the search parameters we discussed above and select what you might like from the Colorwork folder under Attributes. Then you can add what weight yarns you’re looking to use up, and determine what might be your perfect project.


Reclaiming Your Stash
We all have those unfinished projects, you know the ones that we were so excited to cast on but are now languishing in project bags out of sight and out of mind. You might try rediscovering those yarns and repurposing them for other projects: Frog that sweater you started 2 years ago that is now too small for the recipient (here's a great tutorial on the Knitted Bliss blog)! Don’t like knitting with lace weight as much as you thought? Use the tools above to find a project where you can combine it with another yarn or hold it doubled and select a fingering weight project that shows that beautiful yarn off. Or just use the pattern search to help you find different patterns that catch your fancy. Don’t let those beautiful yarns go to waste!

We hope the stash busting ideas and tools we discussed above will help you make the most of your stash. Please share your stashbusting projects with us on Instagram by using the tag #knitterspride. We look forward to seeing what you create!

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*Cold Sheeping: Trying not to buy any new yarn!