dear knitter: february 2016

February 24, 2016

DEAR KNITTER: How do you count rows? – ROW COUNTER

DEAR ROW COUNTER: Because there are so many stitches out there, I am going to focus on the basics: Garter Stitch & Stockinette Stitch. Understanding what is happening while you knit or purl can help you recognize the rows more easily.

  • Garter stitch
    • Garter stitch worked flat {knitting all rows} creates ridges on both sides of the fabric. When you knit a row on the right side you are creating a ridge on the wrong side; when you knit a row on the wrong side you are creating a ridge on the right side. To count these rows you must count a ridge as one row and the row between the ridges as another row.
    • Garter stitch in the round {knit one round, purl one round} creates the exact same look as working garter stitch flat. When you knit in the round on the right side you create a ridge on the wrong side; when you purl in the round on the right side you create a ridge on the right side. The procedure for counting the rows/rounds is exactly the same as counting the rows flat.

  • Stockinette Stitch (St-st)
    • St-st worked flat {knitting on the right side & purling on the wrong side} creates flat “v” like stitches on the right side and ridges on the wrong side. You can either count rows on the right side or the wrong side. When you knit on the right side, you create ridges on the wrong side; when you purl on the wrong side you create ridges on the wrong side. To count on the right side, count each V; to count on the wrong side, count each ridge.
    • St-st worked in the round {knitting all rounds} creates the exact same look as working St-st stitch flat. When you knit in the round on the right side you create a ridge on the wrong side. The procedure for counting the rounds is exactly the same as counting rows flat.


  • Helpful tips
    • For easy counting, add removable stitch markers on the first or last stitch of every 5th or 10th row as you work. This is a good way to keep track of your rows if you have a lot to keep track of or if you don’t have a row counter.
    • When following a multi row/round chart or pattern it is a good idea to add lifelines every repeat if you are feeling less confident or less often if you feel sure. Lifelines can seriously be a lifesaver. There are two ways to add a life line:
      • take a scrap piece of contrasting yarn (this will be your lifeline) close to the same yarn weight as the yarn you are working with and while the stitches are on the needle thread the lifeline using a blunt tapestry needle through the stitches keeping the stitches on the needle. Make a note to which row/round in the pattern you place your lifeline. After, if you make a mistake on a row/round and need to rip {frog} a row/round you can easy rip back to the lifeline without worrying about losing stitches or row counts and you will know exactly which row/round you are on. It is important to use a blunt tapestry needle to thread your lifeline through your stitches so you don’t split the stitches.
      • Addi invented a cord that has a little “eye” built in, like an eye of a tapestry needle. Threading a piece of scrap yarn {which will be your lifeline} through the eye and then working a row/round will automatically thread your lifeline into your stitches. This will save you a bit of time over manually threading in the lifeline. These Addi lace cords come in the pink lace interchangeable lace set but the individual cords are sold separately and can attach to any of the Addi interchangeable sets.


February 17, 2016

DEAR KNITTER: I have some ideas for knitwear design, where do I start? – ASPIRING DESIGNER

DEAR ASPIRING DESIGNER: This is a bit of a loaded question; however, there is always a starting point. I would advise that your first design be simple; mine was The Flower Headband.  Don’t quit your day job yet, try these simple steps to start the design process:

  • Grab a note book or sketchbook and start by sketching (it doesn’t have to look pretty; this can be for your eyes only, so only you need to understand it).
  • Write down the info about the yarn you chose: name/company/color/dye lot/yardage/meters (keep track of how many skeins you are using).
  • Write down the needle size(s) you are using.
  • Write down any notions you are using: st markers, cable needles, st holders…etc.
  • SWATCH. Swatch in St-st and swatch in the pattern you are going to use.
  • Measure your swatch(es) per inch and per 4 inches. This will give you the base for our math. Let’s say you want to make a hat that has a 24” circumference. If you are getting 20 sts per 4”: divide 20 sts by 4” = 5 stitches per inch. Then times 24” x 5 sts = 120 sts to cast on.
  • NOTE: There is a lot of math in knitting. Getting yourself a good calculator if math is not your strong point is key as a designer!
  • Now you have your swatch, you have written down your essential info (yarn & needles & notions), you have a sketch, you know how many sts to cast on. The important step now is to WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING YOU DO/KNIT. Never assume you will remember!
  • Write down how many sts you CO; did you start with a ribbing; how many rows have you worked; what stitches are you working; do you change needle sizes; are you increasing or decreasing; do you have a st pattern you are following…etc…
  • NOTE: Your written details are probably one of the most important steps!
  • Now you have your written instructions & your final design knitted.   Here is the part where you have to decide what you can do on your own and where you need to hire a tech editor. It is really important that your patterns look professional and are written out in a way that is easy to understand for your audience. Often times, how you personally knit is not necessarily how someone else knits.
  • NOTE: This is where I study the patterns I love. I look at other designers and see what they have done, how they have formatted, how they speak to me, instructing me to do their steps, what I like, what I don’t like. DO NOT COPY, be INSPIRED and LEARN.
  • Either write out your pattern or get someone to help you. A few programs that you can use for formatting patterns are: Word, or Pages on iPad, or my program of choice, Adobe InDesign (big learning curve if you are not familiar with the program).
  • Take some great photos (take them yourself or hire someone). Photos are what sells your pattern/design; make sure they are great!
  • It is always a good idea to get your pattern tested. In the testing process you will get valid tips on how to improve your pattern, to fix mistakes and get an insight on how your readers will understand your pattern.
  • Ravelry is the best resource, not only for knitters but for designers! Here are some helpful links:
  • You now have your pattern formatted and tested! What next? I choose Ravelry as the best place to publish your first pattern and patterns their after. You need to add your pattern to the data base by going to your notebook tab and clicking contributions, follow the steps and upload your pattern. Then, you need to e mail Ravelry to set up a pro account!
  • Other avenues to become published are magazines; and other online pattern resources like PatternFish, Loveknitting, Craftsy, Knitty to name a few. Hand dyers often publish patterns and designing for them can also be a great outlet. Go to your favorite magazine websites and in the designer area there are often sign up forms to get onto their design submission list (they will e mail you every time they are looking for submissions).

Don’t be discouraged; be confident in your own style. It takes a lot of work to go from idea in your head to final pattern.  It takes many hours, many frustrations, a lot of restarting/reworking to get a final pattern out that is quality and that you can be proud of.  It takes a lot of work after: promoting, marketing, getting noticed, social media…etc.  But, if this is your passion and you enjoy the process, then the reward is worth it!

Do not compare yourself to any other designers out there; be confident in your own style: own it! I have given you just one suggestion on how to get started, but as a designer, you need to figure out your own process.  I guarantee your process, whatever it is, will be different and that is OK! Every designer has their own way of designing; whether it is methodical, planned out and organized, or scattered, hectic, and passionate. If you stick with it, you will build an audience and create a fan base; and the amazing thing about these fans/knitters, is the fact they not only love your style, but they also love another designers style!  There is no point in comparing or trying to compete; as designers we can work together, we can help each other, we can have our own voice and point of view and still share the same audience simultaneously; it is a beautiful thing!


February 10, 2016

DEAR KNITTER: What is the etiquette for bring my knitting projects to parties…and then…knitting.  – POLITE PARTIER.  

DEAR POLITE PARTIER: First rule of thumb, never leave your house without your knitting!  Sure, call it a ‘security blanket’ but you never know when that moment to knit will present itself; your friend is five minutes late, your car breaks down, you’re stuck on a bus, the grocery store line up is stalled…I could go on….  As for parties, I don’t know if there is a steadfast rule or a right or wrong answer to this one; I always assess it when I am in the situation and I certainly am always prepared to pull out my knitting when the timing feels right!  More importantly, I think it is the type of project you choose to knit/crochet at a party; if it is a super complex project where you have to constantly look down and it takes too much concentration I would probably say this one is best left at home: you certainly cannot tell your friends to keep it down or stop talking while you finish counting, or tell them “just one sec, I need to finish a row;” and perhaps bringing your knitting to the table, while enjoying a meal, is taking it too far.  On the other hand, if it is a ‘no brainer’ knit or a project that keeps your fingers busy but doesn’t take away from making eye contact or participating in conversation then I say, why not!  I am sure your friends, by now, all know you are never without your knitting and expect to see yarn hanging out of your purse or knitting needles sticking out of your pockets!  If not, start bringing your projects out everywhere and they will get used to it pretty quickly!  Knitting can also be a nice icebreaker and conversation starter.  It can also help you concentrate better and be more present in the moment.  So, to summarize:

1) Never leave the house without your knitting.

2) Be aware of the situation and vibe.

3) Do not feel embarrassed to knit in social situations outside of your house.


February 03, 2016

DEAR KNITTER: I am confused sometimes on which increase to choose and I often forget how to do them and I am not sure why it’s sometimes M1L or M1R, versus K1fb or knit in the stitch below. Please advise. – INCREASE INQUIRER

DEAR INCREASE INQUIRER: It can be confusing and there are many increases and decreases out there to choose from.   A lot of designers will include their preference for increasing in the pattern and hopefully include a brief description of the technique preferred in the notes and/or abbreviations. Some designers do not include this which leaves you, the knitter, to choose. Here is a bit of a breakdown of the most common increases:

  1. M1L {make one left}: this increase is done in the bar between two stitches. The bar is picked up {front to back} with your LHN to create a new stitch which is then knit in the back loop. This stitch slants left, which is why it is called make one LEFT.
  2. M1R {make one right}: is very much like the M1L increase; however, you pick up the stitch in the bar between two stitches {back to front} and knit into the stitch normally which creates the new stitch slanting to the RIGHT.
    1. NOTE: M1L & M1R do NOT use an existing stitch to be created. Example: if you have 10 stitches and you want to M1L or M1R, it could read like this: K2, m1L, k6, m1R, k2 (12). You can see that K2 + k6 + k2 = 10 stitches and the M1 stitches were added in between existing stitch count.
    2. It is also important to note, that if you do not make that new stitch, created by the bar, TWIST as you knit into the back loop (M1L) or normally (M1R) , you will create holes where you increase (this could be an intentional design element if you wish, but no good if you don’t want them). This rule applies to both M1L & M1R.
    3. M1L & M1R are pretty seamless increases. If you are trying to increase without showing it, this is a great option.
  3. K1fb {knit one front and back}: Using an existing stitch, knit into the front (normal), keep the stitch just knit on the LHN, and knit into it again through the back loop, remove the stitch off the LHN.
    1. It is important to note that this increase uses a stitch. So unlike M1L/M1R, K1fb must be included in the original stitch count. Example: if you have 10 stitches and you are increasing using K1fb it would read like this: K2, k1fb, k4, k1fb, k2 (12). You will notice that k2 + k4 + k2 = 8 which means the K1fb use one st (k2 + 1(k1fb) + k4 + 1 (k1fb) + k2 = 12
    2. This increase leaves a little purl bump. If you want the decorative bump to show or are working in garter stitch, this is a great option.
  4. Lifted increase or knitting into the stitch below is a similar increase to M1L/M1R and does not use a stitch. There is a left and a right:
    1. RIGHT: Lift the right side of the stitch below the first stitch on the LHN, onto the LHN and knit it, then knit the stitch.
    2. LEFT: slip the next stitch from the LHN to the RHN, lift the left side of the stitch below the slipped stitch and place it on the LHN, slip the stitch back onto the LHN, knit the 2 next stiches.
    3. This increase is also fairly seamless and won’t show as much as K1fb. It is a bit more seamless than M1L & M1R where the leaning stitch can be slightly more obvious.
  5. YO {yarn over}: This this increase makes a hole. It is a decorative increase and is often found in lace knitting or where the designer intentionally wanted an open look or uses it as a design element. Here are some techniques to create YO increases:
    1. If you are knitting between YO’s: bring your yarn forward (back to front) through the middle of your needles and knit the next stitch wrapping the yarn around the RHN as you knit creating an extra stitch.
    2. If you just finished a knit and need to purl right after a YO: bring your yarn forward (back to front) through the middle of your needles, then wrap the yarn around the RHN and bring it back between the middle of your needles again, purl the next stitch.
    3. If you are purling between YO’s: bring the yarn around the RHN to the back and then bring the yarn forward between the needles (wrapping the RHN), purl the next stitch.
    4. If you just finished a purl and need to knit right after a YO: keep your yarn in the front and knit bringing your yarn around the RHN to the back creating an extra stitch.