I’ve gotten quite a few questions about some of the basics of knitting, so I’m going to dedicate the next couple of blog posts to some great tips for beginners, and today’s post is all about telling the difference between knits and purls.

If you’re still in the practicing stage, where you just make a row of knits followed by a row of purls (or however you choose to practice), and you’re not really making anything in particular, this might not be entirely relevant to you.

But it’s a necessary skill when you start to advance and knit from patterns for one main reason: you want to be able to read your work.

This is what I mean when I say reading your work:

Say you just knit Row 9 of a knitting pattern, and Row 9 of this fictional pattern is K2, P4, K2. And then, say, you became distracted and forgot what row you were on. Should you knit Row 9? Did you just finish Row 9?  Or was it Row 7 that you were on?

Once you’re able to tell the difference between knits and purls, you can just look down at project, see what you knit, and be able to figure out that, yes, you did just finish Row 9.

So let’s take a look at the knit stitch first.

Here is a giant wall of knit stitches. I made black marks on various stitches, and I highlighted what you’re looking for when it comes to live stitches on your needle.

Knit stitches look like arrows or Vs, and there are two parts to a knit stitch to form these shapes.

Knit stitches.

Knit stitches.

 

Now let’s look at purl stitches.

Here’s a giant block purl stitches. Purl stitches on the needle have little bumps that distinguish them from one another, and multiple purls make waves or half moons.

Purl stitches.

Purl stitches.

Can you see the difference? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Next week, I’ll show you another way to determine your place if you get lost, and that involves counting rows.

I’m so excited to show you these gloves!

I saw this pattern in a blanket and I thought it would be so fun for gloves – or maybe a skirt at some point? – and I set about creating a pattern for them.

I hit a few roadblocks when I first started trying to convert this pattern into gloves, but something about airplanes and flying really does it for the knitting part of my brain because it all came together perfectly before I even left the runway.

Of course, it’s being released this late because I had to work out sizing and figure out my notes and whatnot

But here it is! I’m so excited that these are finally ready, and I hope you love them as much as I do.

I consider this an advanced beginner pattern. If you’re nervous about the lace – don’t be! Once you get the hang of it, it’s a simple repeat. Just go slowly and carefully.

Supplies
skein of worsted weight yarn
double pointed needles, US size 7 (4.5mm)
tapestry needle
scissors
measuring tape (optional)
stitch marker (optional)
t-pins (optional)

Gauge
With US size 7 needles, cast on 10 stitches and knit 14 rows. Gauge swatch should be 2’” by 2”.

Skills
To make these gloves, you’ll need to know how to knit in the round on DPNs, have familiarity with knits and purls, and decreasing and increasing with both knits and purls.

Here is the ravelry page, if you want to queue these babies up.

If you’re ready to cast on, you can order these here.

Because I’m really excited about this, I wanted to offer them to you, my amazing readers: use discount code WARMMEUP at checkout until February 25, 2015 to get them for free!

Like the color? I used M275 Spice Gingerbread from Brown Sheep Company.

I hope everyone has enjoyed the holidays so far! I’m gearing up for a very busy new year, working on new video courses and new patterns that I hope to roll out over the next few weeks.

If you’ve been thinking about purchasing the Basketweave Coffee Cozy video course for yourself (or someone you love), grab it soon because it’s half off until January 4th!

I found a story on a lovely woman who credits her longevity (she was born in 1910!) in part to knitting. She spends her spare time knitting wool hats for a charity that distributes them to needy children in the area.

Another inspiring story: A jailed Egyptian activist is spending her time behind bars knitting handbags with the label “Made in Prison” that she sells for £6 each. Money isn’t the main goal, but rather: “It’s just to deliver a message. Even if you’re jailing us, you can’t stop us. Our souls are free. Whatever happens, prison won’t stop our imagination.”

Wishing everyone lots of love, hope, and happiness in the new year!

The day is finally here! I’ve been working for months on end to complete my first video course, and finally I have something ready for you! 

The basketweave coffee cozy is the seemingly easy project, perfect for beginners. I say seemingly because while you only need to know how to knit and purl, you will be switching back and forth between the two different stitches, which can be problematic, especially if you’ve never attempted it before. The repetitive nature of the pattern ingrains the knit and purl stitches into your brain, preparing you for many knitting projects to come.

This nearly 2.5 hour video course serves an introduction to your first knitting project, and I will take you through 11 separate lessons, each at least 10 minutes long, so you know exactly what kind of yarn to buy and how to fix the stitch that you just dropped without starting all over – unless you want to! I show you how to rip out your work, just in case!

You should already know how to cast on, knit, and purl. (If you don’t, I have videos that will help!)

The course is available to purchase exclusively at Curious.com. If you’re not familiar with Curious, it’s a site that has videos teaching you about everything from knitting to excel spreadsheets to coaching basketball. Each video is broken up into segments so that the teacher can quiz you, and you have the chance to ask questions. I really love searching through and finding various topics, and I’m so pleased to announce that my course is now up there as well!

A general list of supplies for this course*:
worsted weight yarn
US size 7 (4.5mm) double pointed needles
button
tapestry needle
measuring tape 
t-pins
towel
mug or vase

*There are variations for a few items if you don’t want to purchase all new items. I go over supplies, especially needle sizes, extensively in the supplies and gauge sections.

Note: The links above go to examples and/or items I have used. There are many other excellent brands out there.

I’m really excited to let you know about a project I’ve been working on over the last few months: a slouchy lace hat knitting pattern!

I had some super bulky yarn that I was trying to use up, and I decided it would make a great winter hat. Because I wanted it to be slightly more intricate than a standard knit hat, as lovely as they are, I settled on a lace pattern and set about designing it. I’m so happy with the way it turned out, and I was right: the yarn is wonderful, as it’s incredibly warm.

Material
1 skein of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick Yarn
US size 15 DPN needles (10 mm)
Tapestry Needle
Scissors
Stitch marker(s) (optional)

Gauge
To make gauge, CO 10 stitches and knit 10 rows of stockinette stitch. The gauge swatch should measure 4.5” across and 4” in length.

I’m offering 50% off this week (until the 7th of November) for my subscribers. Use the code HappyHalloween when you check out.

You can find the pattern here on ravelry if you want to bookmark it.

If you’re ready to cast on, you can purchase the pattern here.

The Basketweave Coffee Cozy PDF can be downloaded here. (Or click here to have it emailed to you.)
The PDF for the XO cable cozy pattern can be downloaded here. (Or click here to have it emailed to you.)

Cozies, especially knit cozies, are incredibly cute and darling, but in a way that almost makes me hate them. You know, like when a dessert is too sweet?

They’re impossible to remember to put on your mug (until you burn yourself, of course), but when I finally do slip it on in the morning, I just smile to myself because it’s an added touch that isn’t necessary, but still pulls breakfast or brunch together perfectly.

Also, these are amazing first projects for beginner knitters so hopefully you’ll learn to love your cozies as much as I did!

I feel the need for a disclaimer: Just because I’ve assigned gender to each version of the cozy does not mean that one is more masculine or the other more feminine. No man should feel embarrassed for whichever he’s using, and if the couple is both male or both female, well, everything will still be grand.

Basketweave Cozy Pattern

Basketweave Coffee Cozy

So first up is the basketweave cozy, which is the seemingly simple version of switching back and forth between knitting and purling. I say seemingly because if you’ve just learned to knit, even switching back and forth can cause many, many problems. This is a great way to get your hands used to knitting, and I credit this pattern with helping me move forward to tackle bigger and better patterns. The Basketweave Coffee Cozy PDF can be downloaded here.

XO Cozy Pattern

XO Cable Cozy

The second is the XO cable cozy. This is perfect for anyone learning to cable. It’s also great if you’ve mastered the whole switching back and forth between knitting and purling, which is the main focus of the basketweave cozy. The PDF for the XO cable cozy pattern can be downloaded here.

Supplies
skein of worsted weight yarn
double pointed needles, US size 7
(4.5mm)
button
tapestry needle
scissors
measuring tape (optional)
t-pins (optional)
Gauge Swatch
With US size 7 needles, cast on 16
stitches and knit 10 rows. Gauge
swatch measurements: 3 inches x
1.5 inches.

 

Enjoy!

I love cabling.

It’s a pretty simple process and once you get the hang of it, you can create so many interesting shapes and designs. Here’s a sample of some different cable knits:

You can also make animal shapes as well:

Via Ravelry

If you’re new to knitting, cables might intimidate you, but I created a little tutorial and pattern to help you get used to knitting and cabling and get in plenty of practice!

Hopefully you have your yarn all ready to go. You’ll also need double pointed needles. If you have two sets of circular needles, that will also work. Unfortunately, straight needles will not work when you cable because you need to slide the yarn back and forth.

Once you have your needles and yarn, check out the video tutorial below.

 

Blocking is the final step in knitting before you can enjoy your newly made item.

Like knitting a swatch to check your gauge before you start a project, blocking is something that is easily and often skipped at the end of a project. Blocking relaxes the yarn so you’re able to manipulate and shape it into the desired shape. For example, if you’re knitting a sweater and it’s a little short, you can block it and shape it into the correct dimensions so it will fit you properly.

So how do you know when you should block your project?

First let’s talk about when you don’t need to block. If it’s a small project, say a pet toy or something similar, then it doesn’t really matter. You can start using it right away. Another time you might not need to block is if you’re using yarn made from synthetic materials. A lot of times blocking with synthetic yarn does not work because the synthetic materials don’t allow the yarn to fully relax – but some people swear by throwing their synthetic yarn creation in the washing machine to block it so you could try that as an alternative.*

Okay, so now let’s talk about blocking. Blocking can be great for a number of things. If you want to smooth out any weird puckerings, if you want to stretch or shrink your knitwear, and especially if you are making lace, blocking gives your knit piece a nice, professional finish.

Look at the difference:

Here’s another example:

Via KnitKnot Adventures Via KnitKnot Adventures

Blocking, while time consuming, is clearly necessary for a really nice finish.

In the first example, you can see how blocking may not be necessary. If you’re wrapping that around a coffee mug, do you really need to take the extra time and effort to make sure the stitches are straight and even? Probably not. But it does look a lot nicer.

In the second example, if you want to see the eyelets in the lace you’re creating, you absolutely need to block.

Hopefully you’re convinced. Let’s get to it!

As always in knitting, there are a few different ways to block.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Cold water and some sort of basin or bucket
1-2 clean towels
Knitting pins (similar to these: Gem 1.5-Inch T-Pins)
Optional: Foam mat or mesh board

Let’s start!
Essentially, you need to wet your knitted item. Some people like to use a spray bottle or steamer, but that’s too time consuming for me. I like to take my piece and dunk it in water. Cold water only, please! (Hot water felts and can also shrink – avoid it!) Soak it for a few minutes.

While the knit piece is soaking, lay a clean towel out on the counter or floor.

Carefully and slowly wring the knitted piece out. Don’t be too vigorous because you may accidentally felt parts of it. Your object will probably still have tons of water in it, but go ahead and lay it carefully on the towel on the counter/ground. Fold the towel and then roll the it up so you can step on it to get rid of the excess water.

Unroll the towel and retrieve your knitted piece.

Lay the knitted item out on the second towel. Use a mesh mat or foam board if you have those.

This is the part where you get to shape it. Look at your suggested finished measurements (if you have any) because chances are the knitted piece has shrunk up quite a bit by this point. Pull gently until the dimensions/measurements are correct and then pin into place.

Here you can see that just by stretching all the stitches out gently, it adds an extra inch to my cozy. I could stretch it even more (in either direction) if I wanted to.

Now wait until it dries, and don’t touch it a moment before!

Once it’s fully finished drying, carefully unpin your creation and show it off! Woohoo!

*As I have no washing machine and I don’t make any items for myself with synthetic yarn, I have no experience on the subject. Anyone recommend it?

There’s a part of knitting that I’m not fond of. In fact, I usually skip over it, which is a bad, bad habit.

In the instructions of a knitting pattern, it tells you what type of yarn (usually expensive) and needle size (one you don’t own, of course) to use. That’s not usually enough to get started on the project.

Everyone knits just a bit differently. And sometimes you don’t want to use a name brand yarn. And do you really need to go out and buy new needles when you have the next size down?

Well, my friends, making a gauge will help you figure it out.

The pattern instructions will tell you what the gauge should be. The instructions usually say something like: Cast on 20 stitches. Knit 20 rows in a stockinette stitch. Swatch should measure 4 inches by 4 inches.

So you take your recommended needles and recommended yarn (or something close to it) and you knit a little square. Then you measure it. A lot of people prefer to block it as well, especially if they’re making something form-fitting like a sweater, so they know how the yarn will react. (Article on blocking coming soon.)

If what you just knit measures exactly 4″ x 4″, then congrats! You can begin your project, knowing that what you knit should have the same finished measurements as given in the pattern.

If your swatch does not have the correct gauge, then it’s time to get creative. Since I’m sure you like your yarn choice, change your needles. If your swatch is too large, say it’s 5″ x 5″, then try going down a needle size or two.

Likewise if your swatch is too small, try going up a needle size.

It can be frustrating to try and get the gauge exactly right, but do keep at it because I have unraveled many projects because I didn’t take the time to check and see how it would come out.

You don’t always have to make a gauge. If you’re making a scarf or a sleeping mask or an amigurumi, then it doesn’t matter. But if you want, say, a sweater to fit you perfectly, you should do a gauge.

Here’s one of my first sweaters.

I did not do the gauge. I used the same sized needles, and while I did not use the recommended brand, I did use chunky weight wool, the same as the original.

Oh, and did I mention this was supposed to be an OVERSIZED sweater?

I have learned my lesson. Always take the time to make a gauge, no matter how excited you are to begin!

Everyone tells you how great knitting is, science has done studies on how it calms your mind down, and you really want to buy one of those cute pins that says something like, “I Knit so I Don’t Kill People,” but the truth of the matter is that you DO want to kill people – right after you burn your yarn and needles to the ground.

I get it. Knitting is hard. At first. There’s a huge learning curve, and when you spot a mistake several inches below your current spot and you need to take out, it can be wildly frustrating.

But don’t give up because that’s something everyone goes through. Stick with it, continue to practice, and you will become one of the zen knitters you see sipping tea on their porches. (Or at least, that’s my end goal.)

One thing that is a huge help is tension. Not tension in your neck or back (you’ll never be a zen knitter that way!), but tension in your yarn.

When you’re new to knitting, it’s hard enough to focus on what the needles and yarn are doing instead of adding another step to the mix, but something as simple as wrapping the yarn around your finger can give the yarn some extra tension, make it taut, and help achieve a neater row of stitches.

Wrap the yarn around your finger once.

Wrap the yarn around your finger once.

I know it’s not the most natural feeling, but go ahead and get into the habit now because it will help you achieve the results you want when you do master the knit and purl stitches.

Wrap the yarn a few times around your finger. Wrap the yarn a few times around your finger.

There is no wrong way to hold the yarn (except to not hold it at all). You can wrap it a few times around your finger, slip in between a few fingers, or you can even wrap it around you neck – anything you want to do so long as it holds your yarn taut.

Weave the yarn in between your fingers. Weave the yarn in between your fingers.

I made a quick little video that highlights the difficulty of knitting when you aren’t hold your yarn properly.

Let me know what you think! Any favorite way you hold your yarn?