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.


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!


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!


The Long Tail Cast On

The long tail cast on is probably my favorite go-to cast on. I love the rhythm of it, how quickly my stitches appear on the needles, and how it has a bit of stretch to it while still being sturdy. I also find that when I use the long tail cast on, my next row is always very easy to knit. It is also the cast on I primarily use for most of my projects, unless the pattern specifically states otherwise (and even then, there have been times I turned to my trusty friend – the long tail cast on).

Having had such a good relationship with the long tail cast on, I was shocked when I learned that it wasn’t always the go-to choice for other knitters. Some mentioned it was too finicky, that it looked confusing, or just that it seemed like too many steps for a simple cast on. And being such a big supporter of the long tail cast on, I couldn’t resist making this video tutorial all about the long tail cast on – filled with step-by-step instructions as well as a few tips and tricks.


Three Color Stranding

One of my favorite parts about working with other knitters and crocheters is how much there is to learn! It seems that everyone has their own repetoire of tips and tricks that they have gathered from years of experience. That being said, this is exactly how this week’s technique of the week came together! Kerin is always working on something, whether it be charity hats, pullovers, or complex colorwork sweaters. While knitting on a hat she had been making up, the converstion turned to the techniques of stranded colorwork, which led (obviously) to how one handles stranding three colors across the row at once! As usual, Kerin was nice enough to indulge my excitement and we created a video tutorial to share this technique with other colorwork obsessed knitters!


Technique of the Week: Kelley’s Mitten Class

Whenever I head out the door during the cold winter months, mittens are an essential part to my outfit. My hands always get so cold, especially during those early morning car rides into work – I really don’t know how I would manage without one of my many pairs of mittens! In fact, I have just started to wear holes through the top parts of where the pads of my fingers are on my very favorite pair of mittens. Instead of sulking in the tradegy of my fast fading pair of mitts, I saw this as a great opportunity to make myself another pair. So in honor of my love of mittens, we will kick of Technique Tuesday with Kelley’s Mitten class!

And just what is Technique Tuesday, you ask? Every week, we will feature a different technique, lesson, or video class to help build your crafting skills! Mittens are such a wonderful project for beginning knitters who are familiar with knitting in the round, but want to throw in a few extra skills. In addition to ribbing for the cuff, you will learn how to create a gusset for your thumb through a series of increases, which leads into the hand of the mitten that will later be tapered down through decreasing.


Technique of the Week: How to Use Silk Hankies

This week’s technique of the week is all about silk hankies! Also known as mawata, each silk hankie is made
of silk from cocoons that are stretched and dried over a square loom that can
then be pulled apart, drafted and worked into yarn.
Best part of all is that you don’t need any special tools and you don’t even need to know how to spin in order to enjoy these lovely silk hankies. Simply peel off a light-as-air layer of silk and slowly pull it apart by beginning in the center, and you’ll be ready to knit or crochet with it.

These stunning Silk Hankies from Hanks in the Hood are available in so many beautiful colors, choosing your favorite just might be the hardest part! Another advantage for those unfamiliar to spinning techniques is that silk has very long fibers, which makes it easy to draft without accidentally pulling it completely apart. Although the process of turning your silk hankies into yarn is rather simple, it can be a bit intimidating at first and feel somewhat like you are venturing into unknown waters. And if you are anything like me, a little visual reference can go a long way when I am learning new techniques. Which is why we put together a video tutorial all about how to work with silk hankies. You’ll learn all about seperating and drafting each layer by layer, how to start working with your drafted fiber, along with other tips and trick for working with these beauties!