Category Archives: Technique of the Week

How to Read Lace Charts

Unlike last year when we had a very late spring/summer, we are getting a taste of summer a bit early here in the Northwest! For the past week, everyone has been absorbing the sunshine and enjoying the nice weather. In addition to changing up the wardrobe with skirts and dresses, warm weather also signals a change in my knitting habits. As soon as there are a few consecutive days of sunshine, it takes a lot more willpower to pick up that sweater I started last month. Instead, my needles long to cast on light and airy shawls. Lace projects are my go-to summer project for so many reasons. I love that the project is small and lightweight, even though it will be large in size when blocked out. And I particularly love that I can squeeze my shawl project into a small bag that I bring with my when I ride my bike. And when I am done, my beautiful lace shawl keeps the chill off my shoulders on cool evenings. In my mind, lace knitting is portable, practical, and just plain fun! However, if you are new to lace knitting, there are many reasons that might make you weary of equating lace knitting with fun. And to help you love lace as much as we do, Kerin and I worked together to create an in-depth video tutorial that goes over all aspects of reading charts for lace knitting!

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How to Dye Tonal Yarns

Have you seen our new selection of tonal yarns yet? There are so many reasons to love adding the subtle shifts of color found in tonal yarns into your projects. Tonal yarns are a wonderful way to add the subtle variations of a color to your project without fearing that it will distract from textured stitches, cables, or even lace patterns. Each of our tonal yarns are made up of seven different shades of your favorite colors, which combine together to create complex, monochromatic colorways. Not only do tonal yarns add lots of visual interest when worked up with simple stitches, but they also beautifully highlight intricate stitch patterns.

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How to Make Your Own Starting Points Baby Booties

It seems that every other project of mine lately seems to be yet another baby project! I've had everything from baby blankets to tiny sweaters and hats on my needles over the last few months and I find myself constantly on the look out for quick projects that I can whip up. So, it was to my delight when I came across these super-adorable Starting Points Baby Booties! These faux suede booties are not only lined with a super soft sherpa fleece to keep your little one's feet toasty warm, but the cuff on the inside of the booties holds a mesh tape that can be directly knit or crocheted into - simply brilliant! If you haven't seen these before, they are truly the go-to solution for last-minute gifts (especially for all of the baby showers that I have been attending lately). And to show you just how easy-peasy these baby booties are to work up, we've create a step-by-step tutorial that shows you how to attach the cuffs into the mesh lining and voila, you've got a super-cute gift that looks fancy and impressive!

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Cable Cast On

The cable cast on is a great cast on method to have in your arsenal of knitting tricks, and yet oddly enough, it actually doesn't have a lot to do with cables at all! The Cable Cast On is a way of casting on your stitches in a way that creates a strong, yet flexible foundation row that works well for edges that you don't want to stretch out. This method also leaves you with a neat appearance on both the right and wrong sides of your work. Additionally, because it produces a firm and strong cast on edge, the cable cast on is one of my favorite ways to cast on stitches in the middle or end of a row and it also works particularly well on top of a section of bound of stitches, like a buttonhole. And if you are anything like me, instructions can sometimes tend to turn into a jumbled mess when I am trying to learn a new technique on my own. However, watching the fluid motion of a technique is all it takes for things to click and make sense - which is why we have a video tutorial to help you through your first cable cast on! Like all new techniques, this cast on can seem a bit tricky at first but it is a great cast on to know as every method has its unique advantages.

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How to Sew on Care Labels

We've all been there. The anxious phone call from a friend or family member asking is there was any way to stretch out the lovely handknit or crocheted project "just a bit". And after a few investigative questions to determine just exactly how much just a bit was and why the fit was off, the real reason reveals itself - the gift that was carefully made stitch by stitch was accidentally thrown into the wash or taken care of in a way that wasn't good for the yarn. After having this happen on an occasion (or two), I knew that things would be different for my knitted gifts in the future after I saw these adorable care labels we have at Knit Picks! These small care labels are perfect as that little reminder to the recipient as to how to wash your gift. We even made a video tutorial that shows exactly how to sew the labels onto your knitted or crocheted project in two different ways. The first way shown in the video lets you attach the label in a way that can be easily removed (if you want the recipient to know how to care for it, but be able to snip the tag off) and the second way in the video will show you how to firmly attach the label in place by using a simple backstitch.

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How to Dye Yarn with Food Coloring

As the sugar high of chocolate, jelly beans, and Peeps finally wears off, you might find a box or two of leftover Easter egg dye lying around the kitchen. Instead of tossing them back in the cupboards, grab some of your favorite Bare yarns and start dyeing! You might be surprised to learn that a lot of unconventional dyes, like Easter egg dye and food coloring, are a wonderful way of dyeing protein based fibers like wool, alpaca and silk. In addition to being inexpensive, these are dyes you can easily find at your local grocery store. Another great thing about dyeing with Easter egg dye and food coloring is that these are nontoxic dyes, making them ideal for a fun afternoon crafting project with children. And if you are anything like me, you might already know that right after the holiday is the best time to stock up on Easter egg dye packages for year-round yarn dyeing fun!      

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How to Spin Yarn on a Drop Spindle

During the very first sock summit (which was almost three years ago, back in 2009!), I got overtaken by all of the fiber fumes and came home with a drop spindle. I hadn't the faintest clue as to what I was going to do with said drop spindle, but I knew I needed one everytime I walked past someone drop spindling as they were standing around, waiting in line, or just hanging out. After I recovered from the fiber festivities, I tucked my drop spindle away in one of my craft containers. Finally a year or so later, I dusted off my drop spindle after a visit to an alpaca farm where I couldn't resist buying some fiber. From then on out, every few weeks I would break out my spindle to spin up a bit of fiber. It took a while to get the feel for drafting, but every time it got easier and more natural. If you have ever been intrigued by making your own yarn or spinning with a drop spindle, we have an entire 6-part series video class to help you get started! Kelley's Drop Spindling Class covers everything from terminology to drafting, finishing, and even plying your yarn. It really is so much fun and a great way to play with fiber!

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Working With Cotton Yarns

With warmer weather just around the corner (at least hopefully for us here in the Pacific Northwest), more of my project planning starts to focus on working with cotton yarns and blends. For me, shifting from planning and working up projects with animal fibers to plant based fibers can be a bit tricky since cotton fibers play by their own rules. This means that we as knitters and crocheters must sort through additional guidelines and characteristics to achieve the desired results that we are looking for in our projects. To help explain why protein and plant fibers differ, we have to look closer at the structure of the fibers. Unlike wool and other protein fibers, cotton yarns are made up of cellulose fibers. These are fibers that typically are inelastic, yet very strong and durable. The structure of these plant fibers also have the ability to pull away heat instead of retaining warmth. You can work with these qualities to your advantage, however – if chosen without these considerations, your project may not turn out as expected.

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How to Pick Up Dropped Stitches

A dropped stitch is something that probably most knitters have had to face at one point or another. It can be quite the frightening sight to see a stitch just hanging out somewhere in your knitting, far away from the needle where it should be nicely nestled on top of. Knowing how to pick up your stitches can help save a project just when you think all is lost and also prevent rows and rows of stitches from being ripped back. And to help you conquer those dropped stitches, we put together this handy video tutorial that will guide you through each step as you work your stitch back up to your needle. Not only do we show you how to pick up a dropped stitch on both the knit and purl side of stockinette stitch, but also on garter stitch fabric. So grab a crochet hook, and get ready to pick up some stitches!

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Seaming with Mattress Stitch

I have to admit that putting the finishing touches on any project is not my strong suit - mainly because as soon as I bind off my last stitch, my brain automatically categorizes the project as done. And most of the time, there is still a lot to do until it reaches the official status of finished object! Whether it be seaming, grafting, or weaving in ends, I usually take a break from my project before I muster up the enthusiasm for tidying up any loose ends and finishing everything up. However - when I do get into the finishing zone, I usually take a whole day to wrap up any projects I have laying around that need those finishing touches. And since motivation for a finishing spree doesn't happen too often, I do take advantage of it when it strikes and I end up feeling a huge sense of accomplishment (and relief). Although I do tend to put off the finishing aspect of my projects, knowing which techniques to use and how they work is a huge help! Mattress stitch is one of the more common techniques you might come across and it allows you to stitch together two pieces of stockinette stitch fabric, side by side. This method is nearly seamless and it is hard to tell where the seam lies from the right side. On the wrong side, you'll find the first stitch of either side tucked away. And for those of you who might be putting off seaming up those sleeves or stitching together parts of your sweater, we've made a Mattress Stitch video tutorial to help guide you along, step-by-step!

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