Saturday, June 30, 2012

Learn the knitting basics

You will learn to hold the yarn and how to knit, purl, cast on, and bind off.  I am teaching the Continental method of knitting, but add instructions to the English method in this handout.
You will learn through a simple project such as a scarf or dishcloth to use these new skills.

Cast on

1.  Knit on Cast- on         

                I have started to teach the knit on cast on method in the beginners knitting classes as from there it is only a small step to learn the knit stitch itself.
                Knit -on cast on
2.  Long tail cast-on
              Put the slip knot on one needle and hold the needle in your right hand. With the left hand, separate the two strands that are hanging down, with the "tail end" to the left and the "ball end" to the right. Hold both strands toward the bottom of your hand, just to give it some tension. You now have some yarn from the ball end draped over your left index finger, and some yarn from the tail end draped over your thumb.

                Take the needle and bring it down so a loop forms on your thumb. Then put it through that loop and pull yarn from your index finger through this loop.  Drop the loop off your thumb and pick up more tail end yarn with your thumb.  Repeat these steps until you have cast on the right number of stitches.

                Here is a nice video illustrating the process:
                Long Tail Cast on

 And for the left-handed knitter:

 Left-handed long tail cast on

3. Backward loop cast on
                Put your slip knot on one needle and hold the needle in your right hand.  Simply loop your working yarn and place it on the needle backwards so it does not unwind.  Repeat until you have the necessary amount of stitches.
                Here is a nice video illustrating the process:
                Backward Loop Cast on

Basic Stitches

1. The Knit stitch
                The Continental method of Knit Stitch:
                With the yarn in the back you insert your right needle from the left to the right of the stitch and pull the yarn  through from the right.  In Germany this stitch is also called the right stitch.

                The English method of Knit Stitch:
                Knit Stitch (English Method)

2. The Purl Stitch
                The Continental method of Purl Stitch:
                With the yarn in the front you insert your right needle from the right to the left of the stitch and pull the yarn through from the left.  In Germany this stitch is also called the left stitch.

                The English method of Purl Stitch:
                Knit and Purl Stitch (English Method)

Cast off

                 To cast off you simply knit (or purl) two stitches.  You have now two stitches on your right needle.  You slip the first stitch over the second stitch. You have cast off your first stitch.  Now you knit a second stitch and again slip the first stitch on your needle over the second stitch.  You will repeat this process until all stitches are cast off. 
After casting off all your stitches you cut your yarn to a few inches and weave in the end with a darning needle or crochet hook.  

ENJOY YOUR NEW SCARF (or dishcloth)!
Again, here is a video to illustrate the process:

Friday, June 29, 2012

My first official class

Yesterday I gave my first sock knitting class and my first private instructions at The Knitting Garage at Stickles.  Thanks to Joan, Katie and Camille it was a lot of fun.  I hope each one of you is doing well with your project (the yarns you choose are gorgeous!).  Please come into the store or let me know directly if you get stuck and need more help.  Also I'd like to see your finished pieces.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

In a knitting funk

Recently a friend of mine sent me this e-mail: "I am in a knitting funk; no inspiration and not very pleased with my latest finished product: a top that is a little too large. I could use some new something!!!"  I think we have all been there at one point or the other.  Here is what I wrote back to her and I hope it may be of help to other knitters:
"Oh, that sounds like quite a dilemma.  You need something which is quick, easy and will come out perfectly so you can reassure yourself as the accomplished knitter you are :) happy
Personally I never tire of knitting shawls.  There are so many patterns in many weight yarns and a shawl can make all the difference to an outfit.  Look through your stash and decide which yarn you want to work with (very important since you must like the feel of it to keep knitting).  Then I would go on ravelry or any other site and search for a pattern specifically for that yarn and yardage you have and see what comes up.  If there is nothing which really speaks to you I'd extend the search by adding a second yarn from your stash which could go well with it (same weight, complimentary color) and could either be worked in stripes or alternate rows thus increasing the yardage on your search.
I do hope you will find something soon."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Health Benefits of knitting

Judy is a wonderful knitting instructor in the New Paltz area and a little bit my role model.  As I was reading Judy Reichler's blog Knit With Judy. I came across her post "reasons to knit" and want to share with you about the health benefits attributed to knitting such as prevention of memory loss and boosting the immune system.  Check out this CBS video: Health Benefits of Knitting
In order to keep your knitting relaxing it is a good idea to take frequent breaks and do some exercises specifically designed to release stress in those areas which often get sore from repetitive overuse.  Click here for some advise on exercises: Relaxation Exercises for knitters.  And this one is great for working out a shoulder knot; you will need to have a tennis ball handy: Getting rid of a shoulder knot
Here are more links to research done to show just how good it is to knit or crochet:

  • Let's start with this cute video.  Please note that the benefits will be the same no matter which method of knitting you use (Continental, English etc.)

How to knit a swatch and check your gauge

Start with the yarn you want to use in your project and the size needles called for in the pattern. Knit a swatch approximately six inches square. It doesn't have to be perfect, but most gauge measurements are based on four inch squares, so you'll want a little more to work with.
When you've finished your swatch, lay it out flat on a table. Pick a point to measure from and use a straight pin to mark that spot. Use a tape measure to mark out four inches and count the number of stitches. Use the same process to count the number of rows.
Compare these numbers to the numbers listed in your pattern. If you're spot on, congratulations and get to knitting. If you have more stitches per inch than the pattern calls for, that means your stitches are too small. Try again with larger sized needle.
If you have fewer stitches per inch than the pattern states, your stitches are too big. Make another gauge swatch using smaller needle.
The length measurement is not as critical as the number of stitches per inch on most projects, because you can always adjust that by knitting more or fewer rows.

If you are not concerned about the finished size of your project, go ahead and skip the gauge swatch. Projects like scarves, baby blankets, shawls and throws don't need to be an exact size, so you can probably get away with skipping this step.
If you're making anything which needs to fit, it pays to take the time to make a gauge swatch.

How to choose a yarn substitute

The most important step is to compare the gauge.  The yarn suggested in the pattern and the yarn you are thinking to use should give you the same gauge when knitted up.  This way you make sure the sizing will be the same.  Most yarn bands will give you an estimate of how many stitches and rows the yarn works up to on a certain size needle over an inch or four inches. This is often shown graphically with a number of rows and stitches on a grid with a particular needle size named outside the grid.
To find yarn which has the same gauge you will look at yarns of the same weight (fingering, sock, DK, bulky etc).

Another point to consider is the fiber of the yarn.  Go with yarn you like to work with or able to wear (if you are allergic to wool choose a cotton or linen etc). There are so many yarns you can choose from that it is worthwhile looking till you find the one you really like.

Now you will need to consider how much of the yarn to buy.  In the pattern you should find the number of skeins or hanks used to complete the project you should also find the yardage of each skein.  This will help you to calculate the total yardage.  Make sure you buy that amount of yardage.  Of course most patterns don’t use up every last scrap of yarn and you may have plenty of yarn left once your project is completed depending on the yardage in each skein of your substitute yarn.  I recommend not winding up all your skeins at once.  Most yarn stores will let you bring back unused full skeins in their original form.

Before you start on your project make sure you knit up a gauge swatch.  This is especially important when you substitute yarn. It seems like a lot of work when what you really want to do is start your project, but just because the yarn band says a yarn will work to a certain number of stitches doesn't mean it will when you are holding the needles.
Every knitter is different, and even small variations in the number of stitches per inch can make a big difference in the sizing of a knitted article. When you learn that you need to use a different sized needle to get the desired result based on doing the swatch you will be glad that you knitted up the swatch. It's much better than knitting your whole project and then finding it doesn't fit.