Tag Archives: knitting techniques

Book Review: The Beginner’s Knitting Manual

By Debbie Tomkies                                                                                                                                  

Have you always envied beautiful handknits made by others? The Beginner’s Knitting Manual is perfectly written for you. Knitting is a rewarding and fun activity that can be easily learned by going step-by-step through this book.

The very first chapter, Getting Started, will discuss the tools you will need. Needles, yarn, and other notions such as a tape measure, scissors and stitch markers are a few of the inexpensive items you can purchase online or at any craft store.

After you assemble the tools, you will learn how to hold the needle, keep tension to create your knit items and begin your practice work. Learning the two basic stitches, knit and purl will enable you to create many other stitches which are just variations of those two. Start small, items such as scarves and potholders. Then branch out to some of the beautiful patterns in the last chapters. The sky is the limit once you have learned the basics of knitting.

The Beginner’s Knitting Manual is also for seasoned knitters who might want to branch out. There is a comprehensive chapter on Fair Isle colorwork. Maybe you have always wanted to give it a go – here is your chance to learn that technique step-by-step.

I highly recommend The Beginner’s Knitting Manual for anyone who wants to learn to knit or already knits. The tutorials and patterns are interesting and highly detailed with pictures as well as instructions. Patterns include a baby blanket, mittens, socks and more.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Knitter’s Dictionary – A Must Have For Knitters

Knitter’s Dictionary

Knitting Know-How From A To Z

By Kate Atherley

Kate Atherley’s newest book The Knitter’s Dictionary, is a must have for fledgling as well as seasoned knitters. Her no nonsense, easy-to-read information about everything from alpaca to wool and everything in between will keep your needles busy creating successful projects.

There are so many interesting and informative tidbits in this little book, it is difficult for me to choose my favorites, but I have finally narrowed it down. At the top of the list is the comprehensive section on gauge. I know that gauge is the part of knitting most knitters hate. Seems like a waste of time – until the garment you have spent a month making is either too small, too large, too long or way too short. Knitters know you should always swatch for gauge. Atherley goes further to explain how to correct needle size and/or yarn type depending upon how your gauge is off to ensure your finish project is perfect.

There is great advice for choosing the perfect yarn for your project. Each fiber gives feel and strength info as well as additional information to keep problems to a minimum. For example, Possum yarn (from Australia, not the United States Opossum!) is warm, soft but can be pilly. It is not a strong fiber when used alone. I can confirm that description 100%. I purchased some of this yarn and created a beautiful shawl that is warm and soft. But working with it was a challenge do to the tendency of the yarn to simply pull apart.

Lastly, I loved the section on sweaters. The illustrations are detailed and the descriptions include shaping and the actual fit of the different types of sweaters. Atherley’s detailed definitions are easy to understand and inspire knitters of all levels to push themselves a little bit further then they may have thought possible.

If you need one more nudge to get this terrific book, The Knitter’s Dictionary is the perfect size, 8 inches by 6 inches. It will easily slip into your project bag or purse. Since the holidays will soon be upon us, you just might want to purchase two; one for yourself and one for one of your knitting buddies.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Bookish and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman



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Master’s Monday finally and again

I have no excuse for not posting for way to long. This will be short and sweet.

As for the Master’s program, I have done zip, zilch, nada. If thinking about it counts as progress, I am in! Hopefully next week I’ll have a teeny bit of progress to report.

While I have your attention, I’ll update you on my WIP and the list of this years projects.

helix scarf on Indy

My helix scarf out of the Bison yarn is done. Indy is graciously modeling it.

Purple socks 1 almost done

And 1 of the purple socks is done, the second should be done by the weekend because I only have the ribbing to finish. I love using the magic loop method so I don’t have second sock syndrome which often plagues my projects. Check out Liat Gat website with the instructions and patterns. (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/beginner-toe-up-socks-for-magic-loop) I like to use 4 needles to make the cuffs because they go quicker for me that way.

One of the baby blankets for baby CJ is complete and was done in time for the baby shower last week.


I liked the pattern for CJ’s blanket so much that I am going to make it again for the other baby shower scheduled for June. This time I am going to use cream and royal blue and adjust the pattern so it is only 36 inches wide instead of 40. Overall, I am looking forward to making it because it works up so cute with the shells looking like tiny hearts.

I’ve ordered some beautiful yarn from Maluhia Farm.( http://yarnhawaii.com/www.yarnhawaii.com/HHWC_Welcome.html). I’ll post a picture when it arrives.

I tried to purchase yarn while in Hawaii, but my timing was bad so I ordered from Jan online. As soon as it arrives, I’ll make up my mind as to what it will be used for . I am leaning toward a cowl. maybe socks,  or a scarf.

How are your projects coming along this year?


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Masters Monday #3

I made my first swatch for the TKGA Master’s program this weekend. I chose to make swatch number 3 first because, quite frankly, it is the easiest one. It is a small, 4.5 inch seed stitch swatch. I am familiar with the stitch, have used it many times to edge washcloths and cuff hats. But I’ve never had a knitting expert examine my stitches before, so that made me knit a little slower than usual to make sure each stitch was as close to perfect as possible.

I am using the required worsted weight yarn in a cream color. I purchased it from Unwind Yarn House (http://unwindyarnhouse.com/). They were at Stitches Midwest, and I liked the feel of their yarns. The kind I purchased is Timothy Street, and has wonderful definition. Each stitch can be seen, which exactly suits my needs for this project.

Debbie's washcloth

The edging of this washcloth I made last Christmas is seed stitch, which keeps it from rolling. Seed stitch may be an easy stitch, but I thought I’d learn a bit more about its origins if I could. Thanks to the internet, anything can be found. My first stop was http://knitting.about.com/od/stitchglossary/g/seedstitch.htm. Here I found out that it is made by working multiples of 2 stitches. Either an odd number of stitches in each row, working k1, p1 for each row (this was the requirement of my swatch) or alternate even number of stitch rows k1, p1 and p1, k1. Most knitters know this already. 

What I didn’t know was it is also called the “British or Irish Moss Stitch”. The Tricksy Knitter website (http://www.tricksyknitter.com/knitting-stitches/irish-moss-stitch-634) also calls it the rice stitch.

The dense fabric this stitch creates (no matter what you call it) is very useful, but apparently it isn’t that interesting because every site basically said the same thing.

I’m glad the questions that have to be answered aren’t about the history or uniqueness of the seed, moss or rice stitch.


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Master Monday #2

This week I read through the questions for the TKGA Hand Knitting Master’s Program Level 1 to see what I need to be looking for to answer them fully as I make progress on the program this year.

Question 1 has you look at the yarn band to collect information to determine gauge, and various other info. My yarn band gave me less information than many others I’ve used. It read: “Worsted, Afghan, Aran; 16-20 stitches per inch on 4.5 – 5.5 mm needles”.

This was a short story  compared to the sagas on some bands. Sometimes you learn when and where the fibers were collected, washing instructions in several languages and pictures and in once case the name of the alpaca whose haircut allowed me to knit. (pic from google images: u-knittedamiras.blogspot.com)

I’ve downloaded the “Standard Yarn Wt System” to give me all the info I needed to reference regarding yarns. I’ve been knitting for over 40 years and learned new things reading the info on their the Craft Yarn Council website.  http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/weight.html

They have advice, answers and classes for new knitters and crocheters and seasoned veterans. You get discounts on classes they offer with your TKGA membership.

So I’ve bookmarked the site on my computer for reference during and after the Master’s.

I am going to make swatch #1 this week and answer the associated questions. I’ll let you know how it goes on Monday.

Meantime, I had to share the coolest yarn holder my son bought me for Christmas this year. He was with his wife at a craft show and saw these handmade yarn bowls, thought of me and now I think of him every evening when I knit or crochet after dinner 🙂

yarn pot

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Master Monday #1

All programs, degrees, certificates and other achievements have to begin at the beginning. That is what I have done with The Knitting Guild of American’s Master Hand Knitter’s Program Level 1. Actually, my beginning began last year when I downloaded the instructions and bought the yarn. I was rather unorganized and not surprisingly let life get in the way of completion.

This year I requested and received the updated instructions and reread them to freshen up my memory. I am taking this program slow and steady and hopefully to completion this year. So far, I’ve read said instructions and wound the yarn. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but we are only 7 days into the new year and it is further than I was last year. LOL

I’ve decided to update my progress every Monday. Hence the name of this post. By #52 I have the highest hopes of saying my notebook was sent to the committee for consideration. Come along with my craziness and we’ll see where it leads.

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Losing Ground and Making Up Time

This has been a crazy week, but lots of progress on my projects. The project that I lost ground on was the mystery shawl knit a long because I was so far off on my count, I frogged the entire piece and started again. It was unfixable. There are four sections of the pattern in the first clue. I was supposed to have 17 stitched in each section, one stitch dividing each section and and two stitches on each end. In each of my sections, I had 19, 17, 18, 19 respectively.

Looking back, I figured out what I did wrong. I am not used to using lace weight yarn. because it is so fine, the last stitch was pulled over the needle, therefore I was making a stitch on the beginning of some of the rows. This was enough to skew the pattern and my stitch count. Live, learn and rip out to start again.

I also got some different stitch markers. I was using very small brass markers that had the tiniest opening that would not have mattered with heavier yarn and bigger needles. They were not good for this shawl. After fighting with them, I read on that some people were using the smaller, closed rings used for jewelry making. I got them at Hobby Lobby for less than $1.50 and they are working wonderfully! So twenty rows and counting.

The snowflake afghan is coming along 26 of 59 squares are completed and sewn into strips. This is for the Ravelry group I joined in January. The idea is to make any granny square pattern that you want, one square a week. By the end of the year you have a complete afghan. I am only 12 behind – actually 14 behind because this is a Christmas gift. I am not allowing myself to start another project to take to work until I am at least caught up. If I don’t have too many meetings, that should be in approximately 3 weeks.

Pr socks – I found a really cool pattern from watching Knitty Gritty on TV. I am going to make Simple Master Coriolis Pattern by Cat Bordhi I am really excited about these, they are different from other’s I’ve made.

My alpaca hat is still a ball of yarn, neatly wound.

Here’s a picture of the completed shawl and my friend. 🙂

Master’s program – I received the yarn and it is really nice. The winding hasn’t been done as anticipated, but will be hopefully before the weekend is over. I am going to put the Master’s on hold until at least the holiday knitting and crocheting is done. A woman can only do so much.

The last baby blanket will probably preempt my hat due to necessity. The baby is due in a couple of weeks.

Last but not least, the Bear’s scarf is complete! I washed and blocked it this morning, and it is ready for Christmas morning.

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Finishing Touches on Finished Shawl

Done, finished, completed..need I go on? The dreaded shawl turned out great! Once I found a pattern that I really liked (“Sunny Days” in Knit Prayer Shawls by Leisure Arts), yarn I could work with (Brown Sheep)  in my stash and got busy, it got done.

Knit Prayer Shawls

Now for the hardest part. Finishing the finished product takes time.

Weaving in the ends. *heavy sigh*. The detailed yoke was a snap. The feather and fan design worked out with minimal frogging. I admit counting isn’t my strong suit, especially when I am at work chatting. When I figured out that every fourth row was lace (duh) and the next three were purl, knit, purl that was only one row that had to be completed at home. So, if I that row at home, then the next three could be done on break and lunch hours at work.

That increased my productivity the last few weeks tenfold!

Then came the edging. After completing the five rows at the bottom of the shawl and binding off, the instructions said not to break off the yarn. The next step was to pick up stitches all along the side, then collar, then down the other side to the bottom. I tried to talk myself out of doing this. I could easily crochet an edging. But the look I was after was an entire knit shawl, not a knit shawl with a crocheted edge.

Honestly, it took way less time to pick up all of the stitches than I thought it would. I must pick them up weirdly though, because when I knit them, it is like they are twisted on the needle. I do this habitually, so it wasn’t that big of a deal that I slip each one off before I knit it slip back on the left-handed needle then knit as usual. Does anyone else do this? Should I leave it alone and knit it the way it has been picked up? Can someone tell me how to pick up stitches differently so I won’t have to slip them off and turn them around? I dunno.

Getting back to the ordeal ahead of me – weaving in the ends – the best way I’ve found is the duplicate stitch method. You literally weave it back and forth either on the knit side or the purl side mimicking the stitches of your piece and you can’t see the ends. You have to leave a small tail on the wrong side so it doesn’t pop out, but when you block it, the wool tends to tighten up and hold it where you left it.

There are lots of sites on the internet explaining much more clearly that I can. This is one of my favorites. http://community.knitpicks.com/notes/Weaving_In_Ends

There are videos, pictures and explanations, whatever kind of instruction you like is available.

Since we are talking about finishing a knit piece, we may as well carry on to blocking. I used to think blocking was a waste of time. I’ll admit right now that was crazy. Not every piece of knitting and/or crocheting has to be blocked. Blankets, afghans, mittens, hats, some scarves… use your own discretion. But when making a lace piece, or a sweater, shawl or even a scarf that doesn’t showcase the stitches or is wonky, blocking is the way to go.

It isn’t difficult, but does take a little time. I like the wet blocking. Use a nice wool soak according to the package directions.

Carefully roll up your knitting in a thick absorbent towel and squeeze as much excess water out of it as possible. Then carefully use T-pins or blocking wires to shape your piece to the proper size on a board or mat.

I like to use those foam interlocking mats that are about a foot square. They sell them on knitting sites, or you can pick up colorful interlocking mats at a craft store (I got mine at Michael’s) that are actually made for kids. You can make the base as small or as large as you need to.

There are several methods. The one I like least is steam blocking. The idea is to use T-pins to hold your knitting in the correct shape/size and carefully hold the steam iron over it being careful not to touch it or you might flatten the stitches you are trying to define. You an also steam block by place a damp cloth (cotton is often used) on your knitting and carefully steam iron over the top of it.The key again is not pushing too hard or the stitches will be smooshed. Lastly spritz blocking. It is wet blocking in reverse. You pin the knit item to the blocking board, then spritz it with water until it is damp. I’ve used this method, it is ok for smaller items like scarves. But a larger item is easier to block using wet blocking.

Stitch definition and edges look so much more professional after blocking, not to mention the drape of the fabric.  It also makes it easier to sew the individually blocked pieces together. There a so many websites to choose from that tell you more than you’d ever want to know about blocking. One of my favorites is from Knitty.com.

This link will give you tips on all types of fiber, not just wool.



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Fiber Filled Labor Day Weekend

It has been a fiber filled Labor Day weekend. I’ve been reading and knitting my way through the days since Friday night.

Most people plan picnics, pool parties or at least hang out at the mall to snatch up some holiday specials. I did take time out for dinner with my extended family, visited the youngest member of our family to watch her crawl (new skill!) and date night with hubby. But if you are a knitter, you know exactly where I am coming from when I say my knitting weekend has been exquisite.

First and foremost, I received the long anticipated first clue for the Fall Mystery Shawl KAL Group. Check it out on Ravelry! I was itching to start it as soon as the first clue arrived yesterday morning. But I knew if I cast on those 7 stitches, I would never keep up my self imposed schedule of completing at least 3 rows a day to have it done in time for my friend’s birthday in a couple of weeks.

As incentive to sit and work diligently, I decided to finally watch the final Harry Potter movie. (I got it for Christmas and have been meaning to get to it, but 2 hours is a lot of time to commit to..). I finished the 3 rows, then decided I should keep working on it until the movie was over. Reasoning that it would be too difficult to pay attention to a new pattern during the demise of “You Know Who”.

Ta da! I finished 12 rows and plan to finish one more today (the lace row) so that I can work on this tomorrow at work during break and lunch just to make better progress. Check it out!

Late last night I finally got my new addi lace needles out to start the mystery pattern. I made ok progress, like my choice of beads (which I have never incorporated into a knit item before) and have been counting over and over to make sure I don’t miss an important step and end up with a mess instead of a scarf.

I am contemplating a rescue row or lifeline before I go much further just in case. Do you ever use rescue rows?

When I began knitting socks, I was frantic about turning heals. Now it is one of my favorite parts of sock creation, but then it was very scary. I don’t know why, if I just would have read the pattern, stopped thinking and did what it said, I would have been fine.

A gal on one of the yahoo sock groups suggested a rescue row so I wouldn’t lose the work I’d done. All you have to do is cut a length of yarn or dental floss that is smaller than the yarn you are using. Using a darning needle, thread it through the stitches on the needles. You can either tie it in a very loose loop, or just leave it hanging free.Then just keep on knitting like it isn’t there. Once you feel safe that you aren’t messing up, you can remove it. If a problem arises, then you can frog back to the rescue row, pick up the stitches that are safely saved on the rescue thread and continue on (again) :)When I was learning to knit socks, I left it in until I was done. It was my knitting wooby for a while.

As you’ve been reading, most of my progress this week has been on the 2 shawls I have on the needles. I’m made ok progress on the Bears scarf because it was my travel project for work last week.

The last baby blanket, alpaca hat and socks have not been thought of this week. I have the yarn for all of them, but it would be cheating to call it progress when I’ve had it for quite a while.

The snowflake afghan is in hold until the first shawl is done. One must work triage sometimes – or if you are me – most of the time. 🙂

Hope you all had a safe and happy Labor Day – and if you are a knitter – I hope you added lots of perfect rows to your projects.

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Wooo whoo! Finally loving a shawl pattern

Lisa Gentry – I love, love, love your Sunny Day’s prayer shawl pattern that I found last night in the Knit Prayer Shawls pattern book! Finally I am rockin’ and rollin’ on a beautiful pattern for my girlfriend’s birthday next month. My progress is astounding considering I only worked on it a couple of hours last night. See pic below:

I have to increase stitches evenly the next row I knit. Uh oh, math. I know it should be pretty easy, but I want to make sure I have it right because I don’t want to mess up the pattern and have to start over.

It would take me forever to look in my library for the exact formula, so internet here I come. There are many online sites that give instructions. I had my pick  and I thought I’d share a couple of them with you.

First things first – I only care about flat knitting increases for this project, so I won’t confuse anyone (ok me) by mixing in the directions for knitting in the round increases.

You have to add 1 to the number of stitches you are going to increase. (I know, it doesn’t make much sense, but stick with me). To increase 10 stitches evenly over 100 stitches, you add 10 + 100 = 110 stitches. Now divide this total by the number of stitches you need to increase (11 – don’t forget that extra one) then divide the total number of stitches (110) by this number (11) – 110/11=10. The increase would be every 10th stitch.

That was easy – but what if you have a fraction? (my mind begins to drift at the thought…) Ok, suppose you have 110  stitches and need to increase the same 10 (11 really because we’ve added the extra one – don’t fight it, I can’t explain it either) and you end up with 120/11 = 10.9. You still increase 1 stitch every 10 stitches 9 times and the llth stitch the last time.

If I don’t overthink, this will work every time. (http://www.knitabit.net/wisdom/increaseevenly.htm )

Now that you have used your calculator and possibly fingers and toes to do all of this headache inducing math – I found an even easier way. Go to this website http://www.thedietdiary.com/knittingfiend/tools/IncreaseEvenlySpace.html (save it to your favorites if you want, you may be using it often!)  The Knitting Fiend Lucia has created a wonderful “plug and play” formula for all of us to use when increasing evenly.

At the top of the page, you plug in the number of stitches in your row. In the next box, the number of stitches you need to add, then bingo! the number of total stitches shows up in the box below. Now scroll down a bit and the written instruction for the row is there for you to use. Thank you Lucia!!!

Hope these sites help if you are unsure of your increases. Happy knitting 🙂

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