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!


Meet Lisa, from Dicentra Studio

A while back, I got to spend the day with Jen, from Hanks in the Hood and learn all about how she makes those goregous spinning batts
of hers! Additionally, Jen was kind enough to take some time to share a
bit about herself, how she got drawn into the wonderful world of fiber,
and her inspiration. And it was awesome! I find it so amazing that so
many different people can connect with something as simple as fiber and
yarn, in such a lovely and inspiring way.

I simply love hearing these stories from everyone I meet. Which is
why I was thrilled when Jen asked if I would like to also spend time
with Lisa from Dicentra Designs! My answer was a resounding yes, the
more – the merrier! I got a chance to sit down with Lisa, an amazing
fiber artist, to chat with her about her love of all things color,
fiber, spinning and of course dyeing. In addition to dyeing her own yarn
line, Dicentra Designs, Lisa also helps Jen, from Hanks in the Hood, with the processing and dyeing of the stunning silk hankies!
And with Lisa’s love for bright and vibrant colors, it’s no wonder that
her color sense is a perfect match for working with Jen’s fearless
color combinations. Just look at all of the amazing colors you’ll find
in the silk hankies from Hanks in the Hood to see for yourself!

To hear more about Lisa’s color inspiration, the process for dyeing the silk hankies, and some of Lisa’s favorite ways of working with silk hankies – be sure to check out Lisa’s video!


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!


Figure Eight Cast On for Toe-Up Socks

Knitting socks from the toe up has been quickly becoming a favorite technique among knitters. At first, the idea of working socks from the toe up instead of the cuff down boggled my mind- how would you cast on, how would you work the heel, would there even be a heel flap? All of these questions came to mind, but eventually my curiosity grew to the point where I simply had to see how a toe-up sock came together. And I have to say, I’m so glad I gave it a shot! It was a lot easier than I thought it would be and I even found a few advantages to toe-up socks that I really liked.

So, if you’ve been on the fence to trying toe-up socks, this week’s technique of the week is here to help you get started! In the Figure Eight Cast On for Toe-Up Socks video tutorial, Kerin shows you a simple and effective way to cast on for your toe-up socks.


Get to know Jen Andersen from Hanks in the Hood!

There are certain people that you meet in your fiber travels that simply beam with a passion for what they do, and no one embodies this like Jen Anderson, the face behind Hanks in the Hood. It is a quality that is infectious in person and hard to express in words. And since Jen is a local to us here in Portland (she is based out of Gresham, Oregon), I was so excited when I was able to spend a day at her shop (Andersen Fiber Works) and her fiber processing studio for a little video interview! All of us here at the office love Jen and of course, her rovings and batts from Hanks in the Hood. And personally, I am thrilled to be able to share Jen’s story in addition to her enthusiasm, drive, and passion for what she does everyday.

I hope this little video lets you get to know Jen a little bit better, I am sure you’ll love her as much as we all do!


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!


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!


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.


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!