Category Archives: Technique of the Week

Embroidery: How to do the Back Stitch

Every couple of months, I get the urge to break out of my little knitting bubble to try my hand at some other crafty craft. My latest adventure has been with crochet. I've dabbled in crochet here and there but I've never undertaken more than a small toy (yet at the moment, I am completely obsessed with working on my first-ever crochet blanket!). However, a few months back when I got the itch to try something new with my yarn collection - I fell in love with the world of embroidery! This was a whole new way to explore color and texture, it was almost like drawing (slowly) with yarn. I even bought a shadow box to frame my little embroidery sampler that I was working on as a fun way of meshing my crafty explorations with pretty home decor. So it was no surprise that my interest in embroidery was revived when I saw Kerin's latest design - the Suzani Jacket! This pattern incorporates four different types of embroidery to embelish and beautify this colorful cardigan. If you've had your eye on this pattern but haven't had much experience with these techniques (or maybe you just want more fun and unique ways to use up those odds and ends!), we've created a series of video tutorials that focus on different embroidery techniques. For this week's technique of the week, we're highlighting the versatile back stitch!

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Get Acquainted With Alpaca

Alpacas are known for their cuteness, but they do have a few other tricks up their woolly sleeves! Hailing from South America, Alpacas belong to the camelid family (which also includes camels and llamas) and are known for its fleece that spins into luxurious yarns. In centuries past, the Alpaca was an incredibly valuable animal, even more so than precious gems - although if you ask a knitter or crocheter today, they still might be inclined to agree with that sentiment. So in honor of Reverie, our newest Alpaca blend yarn, let’s explore the properties of Alpaca and just what exactly makes it so wonderful for us fiber fanatics! Our newest addition, Reverie!

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The Provisional Cast On

The provisional cast on is a technique where a piece of scrap or waste yarn is used to create a cast on that can be easily undone later on to expose live stitches. These stitches are then picked up and allow you to seamlessly knit in the opposite direction. It also allows you to easily graft the new live stitches onto another knitted piece. And I have to admit that for the longest time, the provisional cast on was the most elusive cast on method to me. No matter how many times I practiced this only to rip it out and try again, I never quite got mine to work quite right. Instead of easily pulling back my waste yarn to neatly unzip my stitches from the cast on, my attempts always ended up taking quite a bit of time as I calmly tried to sort through the mess I made of my stitches. Yet no matter how hard I tried, the universe was dead set on keeping this technique in my knitting. Project after project, the provisional cast on kept showing up in patterns I was working on. I loved what this temporary cast on allowed me to do; I just didn't love the process so much. So in my quest to find a provisional cast on that even I could master, I turned to Kerin. Of course she had just the thing I was looking for, so we put together a video tutorial to help you master the crocheted provisional cast on as well! In addition to your yarn and needles, you'll just need a piece of waste yarn and a crochet hook to get started.

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Weaving in Ends

Weaving in your ends is one of the last steps in finishing pretty much any project, and is almost impossible to avoid one way or another. Now, how you weave in yarn ends - that is a whole other story! There are so many different ways to weave in ends. Some knitters save all of the ends for last, some weave them in every few inches as they go along their projects. And sometimes, it also just plain depends on what kind of yarn you are using! And in this case, we have a handy video tutorial that shows you just how to make sure those ends stay woven in when you are working with smooth yarns and plant-based fibers like cotton and linen blends. So grab your tapestry needles and get ready to finish all those projects that have a few (or many!) leftover ends still hanging out.

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Measuring Wraps Per Inch

One of my crafting goals that I set for myself way back at the beginning of the year was to learn how to spin. I had used a spindle on and off for a while, and felt that it was finally time to step it up a notch and try spinning with a wheel. It took a few bumpy starts, but once I got the feel for it I knew that I was completely hooked. I've been spinning up yarn faster than I can use it, and have gotten quite the ever-expanding fiber collection already! However, the one thing I have noticed is that I am still in the learning process for spinning with a specific weight of yarn in mind. So far, I have been spinning away, happy to see how the fiber twists up and plies together - all with no specific end goals or projects in mind. But for now, I am left with many skeins of yarn ranging from light sport all the way up through super bulky. So far, I've found myself spinning from 4oz. batts and rovings, which means that my finished product is going to be a single one-of-a-kind skein. This makes it tricky when it comes to using up my handspun yarn. I don't want to fuss with too many gauge swatches to find out what weight of yarn I have, since it is already a limited quantity. This is when I turned to wraps per inch as a tool to help me gauge my yarn!

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Backwards Loop Cast On for Toe-Up Socks

It was just around this time last year when everyone was buzzing with excitement over the second Sock Summit, held here in Portland, Oregon. And even though there are no gatherings on such a grand scale happening this summer, it sure hasn't stopped any of us here at the office from springing right into a summer of sock knitting! It seems as though everyone has slowly put away the sweaters on their needles or quickly finished their WIPs in favor of these portable knitting delights. Even more interesting is watching just how everyone works their way through socks - some work their socks both at the same time, some use the magic loop method, and others use double pointed needles all while some knit from the cuff down and others from the toe up. Don't even get me started on the various cast ons, heels, and bind offs there are to choose from! And I love that about sock knitting - even though everyone is going through the same motions to create the same basic shaping, everyone gets to pick and choose from different styles and techniques to arrive at the finished project - a cozy pair of handknit socks. So in honor of our sock obsession that is taking over all of our needles, this technique of the week highlights our video tutorial for the backwards loop cast on! Perfect for starting your next toe-up pair of socks, this is yet another cast on that is wonderful to have in your knitting repertoire.

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Dyeing with Bare Hare

When Bare Hare arrived to at our office, everyone's first reaction was to uncontrollably "ohhh!" and "ahhhh" over how incredibly squishy and soft it was. Then almost immediately afterward, it seemed as though the same idea popped up for everyone at the same time - Bare Hare is an undyed yarn, which means you can dye it whatever shade is your color of choice! All of us have had previous dyeing experience and so of course, we couldn’t help but jump over to the dyeing section of the Knit Picks website to check out the different dyes and colors. In addition to the Jacquard dyes, we were also drawn to the Earthues and Greener Shades dyes. And because we loved Bare Hare so much, we thought - why not experiment a bit and try out all three different types of dyes? I had been wanted to try out the Greener Shades Dyes, so I opted for the Coral Reef Aqua. Stacey chose Emerald in the Jacquard Dyes and Kerin went with the Earthues natural dyes. Here is the result of our Bare Hare dyeing extravaganza, I love how they turned out!

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How to Use a Lifeline for Lace Knitting

On my very first lace project, it was inevitable that I would make a mistake somewhere as I was working across with a few hundred stitches. This, of course, led to shedding a few tears before spending the next day ever-so-carefully unknitting several rows of lace. Fastforward a few months, when I stumbled across this amazing trick called a "lifeline." Simply put, a lifeline is a scrap piece of yarn that gets threaded through your live stitches on your needle and serves as a placeholder. If you realize you have made a mistake between your lifeline and the stitches on your needle, you can then happily pull your needle from the stitches and rip back until you hit your lifeline where you will find all of your stitches sitting happily on the scrap piece of yarn. You can then very easily place all of your stitches from your lifeline row back onto your needle, and continue forward! And now,to take this little trick a step further, we've created a video tutorial that shows you how to use your Knit Picks Options Inchangeable Needles for lifelines! The best part? This useful tip shows you how to thread your lifeline scrap yarn through your stitches as you work across the row!

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Smitten with Single-Ply Yarns

Have you met the newest addition to our special reserve line up – Preciosa? This has got to be one of my favorite special reserve yarns to date, not only was I instantly drawn to the bright, saturated colors (I’m looking at you Ginger and Gecko!) but I have a special place in my world of fiber for single-ply yarns like Preciosa. My needles simply cannot resist the siren song of a single-ply Merino. And because Preciosa is a single-ply, the loose twist really brings out the cushiony softness of the fibers. Although single-ply yarns do require a bit of special attention, I’m always up for the extra care because the end result is just so lovely.

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How to Block Lace

My summer knitting ritual consists of finishing up any sweaters that I may have still on the needles in favor of lace. It can be anything from a very large, traditional shawl to a cute, elongated shawlette - if it's got lace, then it has a home on my needles during the warm, summer months. But, in order to fully appreciate all of the time and effort that went into the lace project, I definitely have to set aside a day of blocking for my projects. If you are anything like me, you might even have more than one lace project set aside, just waiting to be blocked out into its full lace glory. It’s okay to admit it - blocking your project takes a bit of time and patience. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil (in my opinion, anyways!) since your finished lace project will come off of the needles looking akin to an ugly duckling. The lace yarn is so feathery light that it cannot hold its intended shape. And like the duckling, it is awkward and clumsy. But fear not! With a little dedication, blocking will transform your duckling into the beautiful swan it wants to be. And to help you reveal the regal and delicate elegance of your lace project, we've got a wonderful video tutorial to help you block your lace into shape!

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