If you’re a beginner knitter, most of your focus is on making sure you complete your knit or purl stitches, but fairly quickly, you’ll wonder why your knitting is so uneven, lopsided, and doesn’t look like knitting in a lot of pictures on the internet.

If you’re not sure what tension is, or how to achieve a “proper” tension, check out my video here. (And a bonus: Franklin makes an appearance to play with some yarn demonstrate how not to tension your yarn.)

Looking over a knitting pattern for the first time can be intimidating or even scary, especially if you’re looking at abbreviations for lifting stitches, cabling, or making bobbles. Sometimes though, even writing out knitting abbreviations like k3, p2, c4b, p2, k3 is too much work, and that’s where knitting charts come in.

I don’t know anyone that likes charts and is eager to learn how to read them right away, but they are useful and if it’s a complicated piece of lacework, I do find myself preferring charts to written instructions.  That said, reading charts is a learned skill so I have a few tips for you to help you interpret these not-so-frightening boxes that seem to invade the more advanced knitting patterns.

  1. Always consult the legend first. Occasionally it happens that a legend doesn’t exist, but most of the time, there is a key somewhere, and you should make sure you understand what the symbols mean before you begin. Don’t assume that everyone uses universal knitting symbols because that doesn’t exist! (That said, there are industry standards, and you can find a US based list of symbols here.)
  2. Know if you’re knitting in the round or if you’re knitting flat. This affects how you’ll read the chart. More on that in a second.
  3. Start at the bottom right hand corner of the chart. You’ll read the chart from right to left for the first row. start here
  4. If you’re knitting flat, the wrong side is sometimes omitted from the chart. If the wrong side is on the chart, you’ll read the wrong side rows from left to right – and reverse the symbols. Notice that the even rows, aka the wrong side rows, are numbered on the left – it’s to remind you to start from the left and work your way right. Also notice the legend; the stitches are reversed so even though it looks like the knit symbol, because it’s the WS row, you’re purling. flat chart
  5. If you’re knitting in the round, each line chart will be read from right to left, as you’re not knitting on a wrong side, and thus, there’s no need to “knit back” or reverse stitches. Check out the way the chart is numbered for knitting in the round. Also notice the difference in the legend for this chart.round chart
  6. Double check with the written instructions if anything is unclear or looks wrong. Everyone makes mistakes, including designers and tech editors, so sometimes there’s an incorrect instruction. If something looks wrong, find the same row in the written instructions and cross check.
  7. While you can use a highlighter or pen to mark off your work, I prefer using a post-it note or slip of paper to keep track of which row I’m on. It also means I can reuse the pattern!

Do you have any great tips for reading and understanding knitting charts? Share them below!

Are you ready for another Knit Along? Because it’s time!!

IMG_5735m

Voting happened over the last week and a half or so, and with 63% of the vote, the Rockaway Cardigan beat out the rest of the options.

Great news: whether you voted for the Rockaway Cardigan or not, all of the options up for vote are 50% off in Ravelry until the 1st of June – just add it to your cart and the discount automatically applies.

More good news: Previously the Rockaway Cardigan only had written instructions. I am creating a chart that will be available before the KAL start. Whether you join the KAL or not, if you’ve previously purchased the pattern, I’ll send out an email letting you know when the updated pattern with chart is ready, which will be before the start of the KAL.

Check out the video where I chat a bit about the cardigan and why it’s one of my favorites, along with the supplies you’ll need.

Important Info:

Rockaway Cardigan Pattern
Get on the list for the KAL – if you voted, you’re already on the list!
Join the KAL group
Wool and the Gang yarn*
#weallknithere
#wakhkal

*Affiliate link – sign up and get 15% off your first order

needles
In honor of my latest pattern being released, Lake Diamond, and since a lot of my patterns involve lace in some way, I thought I’d come up with a list of tips for the beginner lace knitter. While knitting lace is certainly a skill that takes a little bit of work, it’s not nearly as intimidating as most people think it is – so here’s my 10 tips for lace knitting.

1. Pay Attention. If you like to zone out when you’re knitting or if you’re new to knitting, you need to be careful when you’re knitting lace. Some lace repeats are pretty easy once you get the hang of them, but until you have it memorized, maybe don’t knit lace while you’re watching something that’s subtitled.

2. Learn to Read Your Work. No matter how closely you pay attention, you’re going to have a moment when you stop paying attention and you forget where you are. It is so handy to be able to read your work, to look down and say something like, “Oh, I just did the k1, yo, k2tog, so now I need to yo, ssk to finish it.” (Or whatever the case may be.) Don’t know how to tell your knits from your purls? Learn to read the basic knit and purl stitches here. In time, as you begin to pay more attention to your work, you’ll learn more stitches and what they look like. It’s a valuable skill, not just for lacework.

3. Knit a Lace Sample Before You Begin. A lot of people wouldIMG_20150329_115043
file this as #2 under the list “Definitely Not Going to Do,” right behind gauge swatching, but hear me out. If you’re making a larger project or garment and you’re not familiar with knitting lace, it’s probably a good idea to just knit up a bit of the lace repeat/chart to get the hang of it. You’ll see how the lace works with your yarn, and you’ll work out any issues you might have – all without the possibility of having to unravel and start over the whole project if you do mess up.

4. Count Your Stitches Frequently. Counting isn’t normally fun, and it’s even less fun when you’re counting upwards of 100 stitches, and sometimes many, many more. But counting all those stitches after you just finish a lace row is a lot more fun than discovering a mistake and unraveling your work. Get to counting and make sure you have the right number of stitches on your needle after each row!

 

sm

You can even make your own stitch markers like I did with scrap yarn!

5. Use Stitch Markers. If you have a lace repeat, it is an amazing idea to use stitch markers around each repeat. So to use the earlier example, if your lace repeat is *k1, yo, k2tog, yo, ssk*, then you’ll place stitch markers every 5 stitches, where the asterisks are. That way, you’ll know right away if you mess up if you don’t have 5 stitches in each section. Also, it’s much easier to look at your 5 stitches and read them and see if they’re correct than to try to glance over the entire project. Additionally, if you do have an issue, you’ll be able to locate the problem fairly quickly and possibly fix it.

6. Compare Chart and Written Instructions. I know some people prefer charts and other prefer written instructions for lace. Regardless, it is helpful to know, read, and understand both, especially because sometimes you might not understand what one area is saying. You can easily cross reference it with the other section to understand it a bit better. Many times I have found mistakes in written instructions, but was able to continue knitting without any mistakes because of the chart.

7. Mark Off Your Rows. As you begin to move throughout the pattern, always mark off which row you’re on. You can mark it with a check or tally mark or use a post-it note to help keep track. I always do this for each row because you never know when you’re going to get distracted and suddenly not remember if you’re on Row 9 or 10. (And if that does happen, refer back to #2 before you get totally lost and have to unravel.)

8. Use a Lifeline. I cannot stress this enough, especially if the lacework is complicated or you’re new to knitting (or prone to mistakes!). This takes only a few minutes and can save you SO MUCH TIME if you make a mistake. Watch the video for it here if you’re not sure how.

9. Fix Your Mistakes. Some lace mistakes can be fixed. Try searching youtube for videos, or check out this one here with common mistakes. Also, I’ve heard great things about Craftsy’s class called Save Our Stitches: Fixing Lace Knitting Mistakes.

IMG_20150909_124442

10.  Always Block Lace. Sometimes lace looks really cool hanging off of your needles, but most of the time, it looks saggy and uneven and just kind of okay. You HAVE to block your lace to open up those wonderful eyelets you’re creating – and so that they’ll stay open. I know blocking can be a pain to do, but trust me, it’s a must for lace. (Also, if you do a lace gauge swatch, you should definitely block it because lace stretches open and if you’re measuring, you should definitely have the lace open.) For real though, if blocking makes this much of a difference for regular knit stitches, imagine the difference it will make to your lace!

 

Did I forget to mention your favorite tip? Share it below!

I am so excited to introduce this tank top to you guys! It’s part of Knitty’s Spring + Summer 2016 collection, and my tank top is the surprise for the issue, which technically came out a little over a month ago. Surprise!

 

Lake Diamond was inspired by the hot summer days spent chasing a cool breeze. A lacy, cotton tank top is perfect for summer. The open lacework is stylish and will keep you cool, whether you’re spending a day by a lake, the beach, or an amusement park.

The tank is knit with Wool and the Gang’s Shiny Happy Cotton*. The front is knit mostly in stockinette, with eyelets around the collar and hem. The back is constructed separately and has an intricate lace diamond arrangement. The chunky gauge and simple construction mean you can work this up quickly and enjoy the warmer weather sooner!

Of course, I made a video chatting all about my inspiration, some of the details of the construction, and the materials. Check it out!

So all the links again in case you missed them:
Knitty
Ravelry
Wool and the Gang*

*Sign up for their email list to get 15% off first time orders. If you use my link, I’ll get a bit back for referring you. If you want to google them and avoid the affiliate link, that’s cool, too!

3 (2)

So after a long hiatus for the winter, Any Stitch Will Get You There is back! Episode 7 features Sarah Wilson from The Sexy Knitter, and it is definitely worth the wait.

Sarah is such an accomplished designer, and I’ve been a fan of her work since before I started knitting. Her sweaters, dresses, and skirts are so innovative and everything would be in my closet if I had all the hours to knit everything. Flip through a sample of her work here:

Sarah was kind enough to chat with me about her name, The Sexy Knitter, empowering women, knitting in kayaks, and how she stumbled her way into designing. Check out her interview here:

IMG_0889-001_large

Sarah’s designs have been featured in Knit.Wear, Knitscene, Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits, Knit Edge and more! You can check out the full explanation behind her name here or read more at her website, The Sexy Knitter.

Go say hi:

@thesexyknitter on ravelry, facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube, and pinterest

Sort of from the archives (have I been making videos this long??), here’s a video for beginners that goes a bit beyond Yarn 101.

In the video, I discuss a few things:

-Different ways yarn is stored
-How to start a new ball using yarn from the inside and the outside
-When you need to wind your yarn
-How to wind your yarn (so that it pulls from the inside!) when you don’t have a ball winder

 

Knitting for CharityKnitting is hugely important in our lives, obviously, and so it only seems natural to want to extend and share our knitting with others.

I’ve been trying to compile a list of national charities either in the US or in the UK where you can make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve broken down the charities by topic, and I’ve also tried to include a variety – because while it’s great to knit a million blankets for those in need, sometimes you want to switch it up, you know?

Additionally, I did not include local charities, but please do a search for knitting charities in your area as there are SO MANY. Plus, you can probably just drive by your local hospital or shelter and drop items off.

Be sure to check each site’s requirements for yarn – some prefer acrylic or cotton!

  1. Neo-Natal Units/Grief Closets
    • Care Wear – Care Wear is a group of knitters / crocheters that provide handmade baby items to hospitals. They have a list on their site of hospitals and want the hospital is requesting.
    • Lisa’s Stars (UK Based) – This is a large community who help create a difference for parents who lose a child pre-term. They supply hospitals throughout the UK with blankets, hats, and clothing.
  2. Animal Shelters
    • Comfort for Critters – Knit blankets for animals in shelters and foster homes. This includes cats and dogs, but also rabbits, guinea pigs, whoever makes it in!
    • Leggings for Life – You’ll have to volunteer before you begin knitting, but this charity provides leggings for disabled animals to help prevent ulcerations and discomfort.
  3. Nursing Homes
    • Sunshine International Blankets of Love (UK Based / Donations accepted March 1 – November 30) – This charity accepts knitted blankets and shawls. She also showcases each donation on her blog, if you want to look through it for inspiration.
    • I did not find a national charity for the US, but check out Bev’s Country Cottage for pattern suggestions and ideas for local nursing homes.
  4. Children
    • Red Scarf Project – (Accepted September 1 – December 15) Knit a red scarf for a foster child that’s made it into university. Foster Care to Success sends out care packages to each student from foster care as a way of support and encouragement, and the red scarves make it into the Valentine’s Day package.
    • Knit for Kids – Knit a blanket, hat, or sweater for children in need – from New Orleans to Swaziland.
  5. Victims of Sexual/Domestic Violence

  6. Cancer Patients
    • Knots of Love – Knots of Love accepts hats for those experiencing hair loss, usually chemo patients, veterans, burn victims, etc.
    • Knitted Knockers (UK Based) – Knit or crochet cotton breast prosetheses for women that have undergone mastectomies or lumpectomies.
  7. Abroad
    • Knit for Peace (UK based) – This organization distributes to over 80 outlets, including hospitals, women’s refugees, prisons, hospices, and they also pass on donations of yarn and needles to knitters of a low income.
    • Knitting 4 Peace – Based through the US and Canada, the organization personally delivers items to women and children in global areas of conflict in North America and around the world.
  8. Blankets
    • Warm Up America – This wonderful charity accepts finished afghans, accessories, and 7″x9″ knit or crochet sections all year. This is a really great way to use up smaller bits of yarn scraps, but still contribute to something larger.
    • Project Linus – This organization donates handmade blankets to children, aged 0-18 years, who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need of a blanket that can provide security, warmth, comfort, and love. They also accept fabric, yarn, and any materials you’d like to donate.
  9. Homeless
    • Emily’s Hats for Hope –  Emily was a teenager when she started this charity, and it has grown wildly in the last 4 years. She collects hats and distributes them to the homeless around the world, though it’s mostly in the NJ area. There are also many chapters where you can find a place closer to home.
    • I’m a huge fan of yarn bombing for a purpose. Check out this BBC article on leaving scarves out, or this story out of Albany where knitters are dressing statues – and leaving tags explaining that the items are for whoever needs them.

This is far from an inclusive list – please feel free to link to a charity that accepts knitted items that’s close to your heart in the comments below.

It’s time for a technique video!
Double pointed needles are super versatile and can be used on so many projects, but if you’re new to using them, getting started can be a bit of a pain.
I’ve put together a little video to show you how to spread out your stitches, begin knitting, and make sure you don’t get those pesky ladders up the sides of your project.
Check it out here:

The Catalina Beach Sweater Knit Along starts next week! (Do you need the details and sign up info??)

And, of course, the question inevitably comes up of the best yarn substitutes, and, with that, gauge swatching. I did a quick poll on social media and in my facebook group, and I found that pretty much everyone hated it.

And I do get it. I hate swatching for a lot of projects.

But sometimes it’s necessary. And sometimes it can even be fun!

Okay, I’m not going to try to sell you on the fun part, but check out my video below. I cover:

Why You Should Swatch (03:20)
When You Can Skip Swatching (Maybe) (06:25)
The Official Way to Swatch (09:26)
Things to Consider When Substituting Yarn (12:10)
How to Measure Officially and Unofficially (16:11)
Multiplying Out (aka a shortcut) (21:31)
How to Adjust When Your Gauge Doesn’t Match (22:30)
Future Swatching! (23:49)

Want to check out the handy dandy stitch gauge tool? It’s here on amazon.