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5 Tricks to Take Your Knitting Up a Notch

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The longer you knit, the more little tricks you learn along the way.  Some you discover on your own, some you pick up from other knitters.  I thought I’d share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned and pass them on to you.  These tipis should help your knitting look a little more polished or save you some time while knitting.  I’d love to hear some of your tips for your knitting.

These are a couple of my favorite tricks.

1. Use Stitch Makers when Casting On

Whenever I’m casting on a bunch of stitches…anything over 50, it never fails, that while I’m casting on and counting, something will distract me.  The phone rings, the cat coughs up a hair-ball, or my own inability to count, I always tend to miscount.  Then I have to stop and re-count the stitches I’ve just cast on.  Then it dawned on me I could save a whole bunch of time and headache by just adding a stitch marker every 25 stitches.  Now if I miscount, I can go back to the last stitch marker and recount and not back to the beginning to recount.

2. Add a stitch when joining in the round

If you like working in the round, but hate the gap that often appears where the join is made, then you’ll love this tip.  A great way to prevent this gap, is to cast-on 1 extra stitch then the pattern calls for and when you make the join to work in the round, move the extra stitch you cast-on over to the needle with the first cast-on stitch and knit these 2 stitches together as your first stitch.  You’ll be surprised how nice your join will look!

3. Help your cables look neater

When working cables, often times the stitches can get pulled and stretched and not have that polished look.  The cables can start to look a little loose and baggy.  I learned an easy trick to keep that column of knit stitches straight and “pop” off the background.

The cable swatch above shows a cable column with a 1 stitch knit column in between.  That 1 stitch column can sometimes get sloppy and loose.  The trick is to knit into the back of the stitch on the right side and purl through the back of the stitch on the wrong side.

Take a look at the photo again, I forgot to implement this little trick until about half way up the back.  See if you can tell the difference on the lower half of the photo compared to the upper half where the 1 stitch column is a whole lot neater.  Knitting and purling into the back of this stitch tightens up the slack.  This is a great trick to remember.  I also use it when picking up stitches along an edge.  Often times after you pick up stitches along an edge and then knit or purl the following row, you’ll see a good size gap form between the two knitted pieces.  An easy way to take care of the gap is to pick up your stitches like you normally do, and on the return row, either knit into the back loops or purl into the back loops depending on your pattern.  (I’ll have future posts on tips for picking up stitches along an edge.)

4. Slip Stitch Bind-off

I use this trick mostly on sweater construction.  When knitting your sweater, you’ll get to the bind-off for the underarm or neck area of the sweater.  The instructions will have you bind off a certain number of stitches at the beginning of several rows.

The swatch above shows a 10 stitch bind-off on the first row and then 6 stitches on the next right side row, then 4 stitches.   As you can see, I used the regular bind-off, knit 2 and cast-off one stitch, you see a noticeable bump.  To make your seam smoother and neat, when you begin the bind-off, slip the first stitch and then knit 1 and cast-off the slipped stitch.  In the photo, you can see the difference between the regular bind-off and the slip stitch bind-off.

5. Last stitch loop, pulling yarn end up rather than through

When you reach the last stitch of your cast-off row, most knitters will reach through the loop and pull the yarn tail up through the loop.  Nothing wrong with that, but I’ve found that sometimes you’ll get a baggy last stitch.  Instead, I grab the loop itself and make it bigger and bigger and eventually the tail will pull up.  This has helped me to have a neater last bind-off stitch.

I hope you can implement these tips and I’d love to hear some of the tricks you’ve learned along the way.  Leave me some comments and tell me what are some of your favorite  time-savers?

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