Hot Tip: Swap your needle tips

Hot Tip: Swap your needle tips

The first Hot Tip I ever posted was about using two different-size needle tips if knitting on interchangeable needles. When you’re knitting in the round, you only use one end of the needle for making stitches, and the other end is essentially just a stitch holder, and it’s easier to work the stitches off of a smaller tip. Many of you responded at the time that you also mismatch your needle tips for working flat to make up for gauge differences between knit and purl rows, which I found completely fascinating and sensible! (Bonus tip!) And then on Instagram over the weekend, I saw a whole ’nother angle on this from my friend Veronika of YOTH Yarns.

Ve is knitting what appears to be a cardigan with the body knitted in one piece, flat, so she’s got about 48″ worth of stitches on a long circular needle, and she’s working a lot of cable crosses on top of that, which causes her wrist strain. To help with the strain, she puts a smaller needle tip on the left end (or non-working tip end) of her interchangeable and the proper gauge needle on the working end, again making it easier for her to work the stitches (and especially the cables) off the smaller tip. That does mean every time she gets to the end of a row and is ready to start back the other direction, she has to swap out her needle tips. Seems tedious, yet according to her wrists it’s well worth taking the 30 seconds to do. But on top of that, she had a really clever tip for how to simplify that process, which you can kind of see in my screengrab of her video above. She slides the needle key doohickey through the hole in both tips at the same time, unscrews one, unscrews the other, then screws them back on in opposite positions. Like most great tips in life, that seems so obvious now that I’ve seen it!

Ve is a fount of stuff like this, so make sure you’re following her on Instagram @yarnonthehouse. Thanks, Ve!

p.s. If you’re not using interchangeables, I highly recommend them, and we stock the Lykke Driftwood beauties at Fringe Supply Co. If you’re reluctant to commit to a full set without trying them, I always suggest buying a pair or two of needle tips in your most-used sizes (which means you’ll want extras of them regardless) and a couple of cords. Then if you like them, you can either build a collection of the sizes you use, or invest in a set, which really does pay off quickly. Says the person who bought an ungodly number of fixed circs in her first couple years of knitting …


PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tips: Allow for adjustments

Hot Tip: Allow for adjustments

Hot Tip: Allow for adjustments

Sometimes the finish line of a project is not a bright line — you can ease your way across it with finesse, as needed. Take this sweater, for instance, which I bound off on Labor Day. This was a classic case of why knitting top-down is great and also why some people rail against top-down: To wit, A) yes you can try it on as you go and get it exactly how you want it, but B) only if you take into account what happens when you block it. My unblocked gauge on this sweater was 7.25 rows per inch, whereas after a wash it came in at 8.25. That’s substantial shrinkage! Had I simply tried on the sweater and bound off when it looked done, it would have been way too short once it was washed. Here again is why it’s critically important to count rows rather than measuring fabric. But that said, I wasn’t 100% sure how I wanted it to fit or how long I wanted the cuffs and waist ribbing to be — those are all little fit and design details that I like to let the sweater dictate as it takes shape. Part of trying on a top-down in progress, for me, is letting it tell me what it wants to be.

So in this case, I did my math to calculate total rows and decrease placement for my projected lengths but also left room for last-minute adjustments, just in case. A few rows before what I thought would be final, I put the cuffs and body on waste yarn, washed and dried the sweater (this O-Wool Balance is machine washable, but you always want to treat your swatch and your WIP however you’ll treat the finished garment, whether that’s hand-washing or whatever) and put it on again to make those final decisions before binding off and seaming. (I knitted the sleeves flat, as usual, so yes there was seaming.)

It’s all about being the master of your own knitting! I’ll show you the whole sweater as soon as I can get photos.


PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tips: Don’t panic

The basting stitch lives!

The basting stitch lives!

I recently saw Bristol Ivy saying on Instagram that she had incorporated my “basting stitch” idea into a sweater she had made for herself (among other fascinating mods detailed in her caption). Bristol is one of the more fascinating engineering brains of the knitting world, so for her to try (and like) my little trick felt like quite the endorsement, not gonna lie. I know from traffic and comments, and so on, that this post continues to draw in a lot of people, and there are now even sweater patterns out in the world that employ the idea. So for those who maybe haven’t seen it, today I want to point you the post where I first detailed why I had the urge to seam a seamless knit, and how I went about it: Basted knitting: Or, How (and why) to seam a seamless sweater.


The most important of all the Hot Tips

The most important of all the Hot Tips

This came up in one of my classes last week, and it really can’t be said often enough: If you want your knitting to turn out a particular length/height dimension, don’t measure it! So today I’d love for you to give this post a read: Count, don’t measure. And share it with your friends!

Actually, it’s a great time to just give the whole Hot Tips scroll a read …


PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tips: Check the back

What to do when you can’t (or won’t) “get gauge”

What to do when you can't (or won't) "get gauge"

When I asked about your all-time favorite posts, lisakoby said: “I have the post regarding swatching to get the fabric you like and using the gauge to adjust the fit bookmarked and I refer to it every time I swatch for a new pattern. Every single time. It has been invaluable in my knitting life.” That makes me so happy! I do find this to be a really important lesson for sweater knitters to learn, since often you simply cannot match both the pattern writer’s stitch and row gauge, so then what? It’s pretty critical to know how to think through the implications of knitting at a different gauge and making adjustments as needed — and it’s not even hard! So today that’s the post I’d love for you to read: How to account for gauge differences.

p.s. That post was tied to the knitalong for my Anna Vest, and I’ve had several people recently asking about that one. I’m aiming to get it published as a standalone pattern this fall!

(Bento Bag and ruler from Fringe Supply Co.)


Introduction to sweater knitting: Construction types and starter patterns

Introduction to sweater knitting: Construction types and starter patterns

If there’s one past post — or set of posts — that I believe to be endlessly useful and also of particular relevance at the moment, it’s Pullovers for first-timers: Or, an introduction to sweater construction and its lesser-known sequel, Cardigans for first-timers: Or, how button bands work. As we head into Summer of Basics, I hope to see a lot of people knitting their first sweater, and so I offer you these bits of guidance in choosing where to start. But whether you’re participating in SoB, maybe just thinking about getting started at some point the future, or have knitted a sweater before but want to gain a better understanding of the different sweater construction methods/types and their respective pros and cons, give these posts a read. And of course, they’re also chock full of pattern recommendations of every variety!

PICTURED ABOVE clockwise from top left:
Basic Round-Yoke Unisex Pullover by Hanha Fettig: top-down circular yoke
Sweatshirt Sweater by Purl Soho: bottom-up seamless raglan
Dwell by Martin Storey: fully seamed, set-in sleeves, sewn-on bands
• Casco Bay Cardi by Carrie Bostick Hoge: seamless, bandless, collarless


The Details: That sweatshirt V-patch look

The Details: That sweatshirt V-patch look

I mentioned when I first envisioned this little sweater vest that it was inspired by a jersey garment I once owned and adored — a sleeveless fleece top modeled on a classic sweatshirt. Unlike my version (full post here), that one did have a waistband; and I don’t remember whether it had the side panels or not, but I believe it did. I’m certain, however, that it had that classic sweatshirt neck detail of the little V patch just under the ribbed collar. Does anyone know if there’s a proper name for this neck detail? I don’t believe I’ve ever heard one, which is surprising given how ubiquitous it is. It must have a name — and I’m sure one of you will know. Anyway, I knew I wanted this vest to have it, and it was simple enough to do!

I’ve seen various such treatments in many knitted garments over the years (a favorite being Ysolda’s Polwarth sweater), but rather than studying them, I just measured the V on a sweatshirt in my closet and got out my trusty pencil and Knitters Graph Paper Journal and charted it out. Because of the marl here, I was concerned about the V having enough contrast with the main fabric, being rather small, so to help it stand out I worked the adjacent stitch on each side as a twisted knit stitch (knit through the back loop, in other words) holding only the grey yarn, then worked the stitches within my V in reverse stockinette. For the first few rows, I thought the grey stitch wasn’t accomplishing anything meaningful (and you definitely can’t see the lower ones shown in the chart below, meant to mimic the overstitching), but in the end I think that subtle frame of grey twisted stitches does help set it off just enough.

Mine is basically 13 sts wide (and 8 rows tall), which is slightly more than the number of stitches I bound off at the center for the start of the neck shaping. That was a conscious choice and meant the V business continued upwards at the neck edge for a couple of rows into the shaping, as you can see in the upper chart below — which made it a little more complicated. (And I have no idea why I didn’t BO an odd number so it was perfectly centered; told you I was apathetic!) But the easiest thing to do would be simply to make your patch the same number of stitches wide as the center neck BO called for in your pattern, as shown in the lower chart below, and then all there is to do is begin knitting it that many rows before your neck BO. In the totally hypothetical 13-st example shown, 8 rows before you reach the neck BO, you’d start this. Make sense?

IN SHOP NEWS: We’ve got the indispensable Cocoknits Knitter’s Block back in stock, plus a full complement of Bento Bags once again, and all the other beauties over at Fringe Supply Co.

Happy weekending!


PREVIOUSLY in The Details: How I sew elastic waistbands