Hello! I have finally released my Heat Wave Socks pattern. This little guy was not cooperating with me for the longest time. But, it pulled itself together and has now finished Tech Editing and Testing! It passed both with flying colors. 😀 Now it can be yours. These socks are great for any kind of weather, but especially for warmer weather. The great thing about hand knit socks is that you really can wear them year round. The lace detail in these socks gives some lovely air holes for breezes and AC to travel through to cool those feet down. I have to wear socks all the time thanks to foot issues, but if I have to wear them all the time, they may as well be cute, right? The pattern on these socks was designed to mimic the heat waves that come off pavement in the hot weather. You know the ones that seem to shimmer off the road like a mirage? The pattern zig zags up the leg to give a lot of interest. They also have a bit of a relaxed fit because of the lace, but are not droopy on the legs. If you have (as one of my testers put it) “fluffy” calves, then these will fit great! This pattern is worked cuff down, with a heel flap and gusset.
I’ve written a number of posts now on how to knit. However, there are some common problems that beginner knitters struggle with that don’t necessarily fit in a how to knit post. They cover a variety of topics, but definitely deserve to be addressed. Many of these problems can be very frustrating, and I would hate for you to quit knitting because of them. Learning to knit is like anything else. It’s learning a new skill. It takes time. It takes some level of muscle memory and some brain memory. If you have to keep looking things up, that is absolutely okay! For example, if you delve into something like socks that require grafting (stitching together), you will come across the Kitchener stitch. I have met so many people that don’t remember how to do it, and they get frustrated. It can be so hard for people to remember, that you can actually buy key chains and other things with the directions on it. Having to repeated look up anything is completely normal, and I would very much encourage it. For the first year or two, depending on how many projects you do, you will probably need to continue to look up how to cast on each time. I know I did. I kept forgetting. And with my brain fog, some days I still get confused and have to go look it up to reassure myself that I’m doing it right. 🙂
One of the initial problems that knitters have, and I covered this briefly in the first how to knit post, is gauge and tension. Gauge is how many stitches or rows/rounds you get for every 4″. This has a huge impact on garments. Tension is how tight you hold your yarn as you work. As a beginner, your knitting is going to be crazy tight. I mean really tight. So tight that as you try to knit, you are going to hear it squeaking. Again, this is normal! This is why I recommend starting out making dish clothes. As you learn to knit your stitches will loosen. If you are making a scarf, this will make for a very wonky scarf that is tight on one end and loose at the other. What you are looking for, are stitches where your knitting needle can be slipped in to knit or purl, with no effort, but not so loose that everything is just dropping off your needles. You want that stitch sitting on your needles to cover the needle, with just a small amount of slack. It’s hard to explain, but when your stitches stop squeaking as you try to knit them, you are there. To get there, you will need to figure out how tight to hold your yarn. When you knit a stitch, you are never going to pull it tight. When you hold your yarn, you are going to have it held just tight enough that it will tighten the stitch for you, but it will still slip through your fingers as you work the stitches. Unfortunately, the only way to learn this is repetition. Some people can figure it out quickly, others take longer. Your speed is just right for you.
When it comes to gauge, this is going to be a lifelong thing that you will need to keep in mind. This is not just for beginners. When a designer writes a pattern, they write it for their own gauge. Gauge is different for every knitter. It depends on so much. Your needles will change your gauge, the temperature in your house, how you are feeling. Everything can loosen or tighten your gauge. Depending on how much pain I am in on any given day can mean that I have to pay attention to my gauge. Especially if I am knitting a sweater. For example, in the sweater I am working on right now, I had to tear out the sleeve. My gauge really tightened up compared to the body. I am re-knitting it looser, and it now matches the body. The important thing is to not lie to yourself. If your gauge has changed, accept it and work to fix it. Don’t do what I do, and think oh it might be okay. It’s never okay. lol Your gut understands more than you do. Take the time early to do the fix.
Another problem that new knitters run in to is the randomly added stitch. You are chugging along just fine, and then realize you have 3 extra stitches on a row. You will do this less and less as you improve, but this is terribly common with beginners. We’ve all done it. But, how did it happen? Well, when you are dealing with stitches that are too tight, you can very easily knit a stitch, and split the yarn that is the stitch of the left needle. That inadvertently makes two stitches. You get two stitches from one thread of yarn. You have bisected the yarn. And 9 times out of 10 you don’t even notice. The number of times you do this, will decrease as your stitches loosen, but it’s good to keep your eyes open. Here is what a split stitch looks like:
As you can see the needle has split the yarn. It can blend in so well that you can keep on going and really not notice. When you split it, you will notice that all your knit stitches make nice lines going up your piece, but then there is this little hole, which you can see to the right of the knit stitch in that second picture. This is the split part of the stitch that should not be there. As you get more comfortable with how your stitches should look, it will get more obvious. Now, this isn’t just a beginner problem either. Some yarns have a very loose twist or are just fluff that makes it super easy to split. You might hear talking about how yarn is ‘splitty’. This is what they are talking about. They get cruising on a project and their needles just keep splitting the yarn. Sometimes they are left with an extra stitch, but something the entire yarn comes off the left needle, and you are left with a stitch to the right with only half of the yarn caught. This can create a weak point, and can be very annoying. Just know that this can happen to even the best of us. If you find a spot like this, check out my post on fixing errors. You can either rip back to fix the stitch, or you can drop down to it to fix it. That post will give you details on how to do that. You can use these methods if you have split your stitch and have extra stitches now. Or, depending on your pattern, if you can find where you split the yarn, you can head over to the post on decreases, and just knit the two stitches that were supposed to be one, together. It will reduce it back to a single stitch. I’ve done this many times, and it’s a super easy “cheat” to get back to the count you need.
This last bit is all about confidence. When you start learning a new skill, it can be a mess. And it can be that way for a while. You will need to learn to embrace the process. Even the ugliest of dish clothes will still clean your dishes. 🙂 And everyone has started somewhere. Never think that you can’t do something. I was told that for a long time, and it caused me to stop knitting for about 15 years. There is nothing you can’t do. Whether you can master it is a different statement, but you can certainly do it. Who cares if it looks a bit messy the first time. Like anything, practice makes improved. Again, that’s why I love small projects when you start. It gives you so many options to learn a multitude of techniques with so little commitment. 😀 But, if you want to branch out into something bigger, do it! Pick a pattern and dive in! Read through the entire thing before you start, and if there are parts you don’t understand, head to the internet to look it up. There are so many people that have blog posts or video’s on how to make a garment, or how to do certain types of stitches that you will quickly have all the information you need to conquer it. Also, ignore the difficulty rating on patterns. All that means is that if it’s harder than a beginner level, there are techniques that you will need to look up and learn. You’ll never grow as a knitter if you don’t dive in to the more difficult patterns. However! If you just want to make simple scarves and that is your happy place, then darnit keep making those! Knitting is all about your happy place. I have friends that feel bad for only ever making garter or stockinette scarves. But they enjoy every second of it! Sometimes it’s because they don’t think they can learn something more difficult, which should never cross your mind. Of course you can, but only if you want to. This is all about your happy place, not mine or any one elses. Rock what you make and have fun!!
This pullover has been a long time in the making. It took a long time for me to get just the right amount of ease to get the fit I wanted. This sweater is designed to be loose and comfy for those cool days when you are just curled up with a cup of tea. 😀 It has a lacy texture that also makes for a sweater that is not sweltering. It will be perfect for a cool night, or a Spring or Fall day, but you can put a long sleeved shirt under it and it will still be great for Winter. Since I live in an area that does not get super cold, I am really looking forward to cooler weather, so I can wear it. I used a DK weight for this sweater, which also makes for a lighter sweater, and will be wearable for more of the year.
Welcome back! It has been a busy few weeks for me, but I am finally sitting down to continue with this series. I debated on what to do next, but I decided that before I move on to other techniques, that I should take time to look at how to fix mistakes in your knitting. I will go through a couple techniques. First up will be the simple, but very time consuming option, which is ripping out your work. Most people will refer to this as frogging because rip it sounds an awful lot like ribbit. hehe A fun word for a pain in the behind task. lol This is very time consuming, but it is also the easiest way to get back to your mistake. I will use this if I find I made a huge mistake, like I completely missed a row in a chart, or there is a larger section of error. Technique two is the scary one, and will require an understanding of the make up of the stitch. However, it is the method I use the most. If I find that I purled a stitch instead of knit, for example, and it’s 3 or 4 rows back, it’s a lot easier to fix that one stitch than it is to rip back those 3 or 4 rows. Now, while this can be a difficult technique that will require some thought on your part, it’s not impossible. And after a few attempts, you will find it gets much much easier. It also gives you a great understand of the structure of your piece. I would not consider this a beginner technique, if I were to rate it on difficulty, but it’s absolutely something a beginner can learn, and it’s something that can really benefit them, skill wise. I will try to take the best pictures possible to explain everything that I am talking about.
Before we get into the fixing of the mistakes, there is a get out of jail free card, so to speak. When you are knitting lace or have a particularly complicated pattern, it can be scary to contemplate frogging all those rows or dropping your stitch down to fix a mistake. My preferred method when knitting lace is to put in a life line. This method uses a spare piece of yarn (waste yarn) to thread through each stitch on your needles, so that if you find a mistake, you can just pull out your needles and pull out the yarn, until you are stopped by that waste yarn. Once you get to that, you have a piece of yarn in each stitch, holding it in place for you to simply slip your needle back into, to begin knitting once again. Also, when you put in a life line, it’s important to mark what row of the chart or written directions you were on, so you can pick up with little thought. To insert the waste yarn, thread the yarn onto a tapestry needle, and then thread the needle through each stitch on your needles. Pull the yarn through all those stitches, but leave them on your needle. Those stitches are now secure in case you need to go back to that spot.
Now what if you want to just go back a couple stitches in your work. Perhaps you made a mistake on the row you are on, or you don’t have a lifeline and need to keep frogging back to fix a larger mistake? Knowing the construction of your knitting will help you know where to insert the left needle to get the old stitch back. First, we’ll look at knit stitches, since they are easier to see. Looking at the right needle, where your new stitches are, you want the loop that is below the needle.
Insert your left needle into that loop, so that your new stitch falls off the right needle, and you can pull the yarn out from the stitch. You will now how the old stitch back on your left needle.
If you are purling, you will be looking for the bump under the needle.
Insert your left needle into that bump to pick it up, and then let it drop off the right needle and pull your yarn free. You now have the old stitch on your left needle.
One of the more difficult fixes is when you have one stitch that is wrong, but it’s a few rows down. You don’t want to spend hours frogging stitch after stitch to fix just that one stitch. The fastest way, but for many the scariest, is to drop the stitch down to where the mistake is and pick up all the little threads of yarn to get back to where you were. In the picture you can see a little purl bump where a knit stitch should be. A crochet hook will make this much easier to do. The first step is to use your crochet hook to catch the stitch that you need to fix, so you don’t pull down too many stitches. In this case, you slip the hook under the purl bump to hold it in place. If you don’t have a crochet hook, many places sell small hooks that are made for fixing stitches. Amazon even has a set of three little hooks to give you a range of sizes to match the yarn you are using.
Next, pull that stitch off your needle, and gently pull the yarn out of each loop until you get to your crochet hook.
In this case, the last thread of yarn is sitting in front of your stitch. You will want to adjust it so it sits behind it, like all the other threads.
Once everything is where you need it to be, and is neat and tidy, you can begin recreating your stitches. All of these stitches need to be knit stitches. Grab the lowest strand of yarn, and pull it through your loop to make a new stitch. Do this for every strand of yarn, working from the lowest to the highest.
Once you have worked every strand, place the loop back on to your needle.
If you are trying to fix purled stitches, you will want to have all your strands in front of your loop.
Just like the knit stitches, you will grab the lowest strand of yarn first, and pull it through the loop, working from lowest to highest until they are all used.
As you are fixing your stitches like this, you may find that you get a line of stitches that is looser than the stitches around it. You can fix this a bit, by pulling on your knitting both lengthwise and knitwise. This will pull the yarn a bit to even it out among some of the stitches. The other thing to be careful of, is that when you are pulling the yarn out of the stitches to get to the one needing to be fixed, make sure you don’t pull too hard on that yarn. Same as when you are pulling it back through the loop. If you pull on it too much, it will tighten the stitches beside it, and give you too much slack when making your new stitch.
I hope these tips help you as you increase your knitting skills. Fixing a mistake can be daunting, but it can be done easily. If you are knitting lace and want to use the lifeline method, don’t be afraid to put a lifeline after every 10 rows, or every repeat of the chart, or however often you want to put in a new one. You want to be able to rip back a few rows, and not have to redo too much of your work. I prefer to go no more than 10 rows between lifelines, but that is just my personal preference.
Thanks for reading and happy knitting!!
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