I may be far from an expert, but I have compiled a few tips, aka reminders for myself, that are mostly from learning experiences.
- Check yardage requirements for a project and compare with planned yarn.
- Check yarn weight for project
- Swatch! Swatch! Swatch!
- Read the pattern ALL the way through.
- Practice new techniques before starting the project.
- Learn to read your knitting.
- Learn how to fix your mistakes.
- Block Your projects.
- Knit in Public, knit in private, knit wherever .... whenever
This probably seems like an obvious thing, but I have been guilty of not checking required yardage for countless of projects, including, but not limited to, my eyeball shawl, rose cadigan, the gaptastic cowl, Tecumseh sweater you get the idea. Obviously this is one of those things I really need to check before starting a project.
It doesn't take very long to check how much yarn is needed and compare the yardage of the yarn you plan on using with the yardage of the yarn that is used in the pattern. It will save you a lot of grief if you make sure you will have enough yarn prior to starting.
I'm sure many of you are sitting there thinking how could you not look at yarn weight when checking the yarn. But I'm not going to lie to you I'm incredibly guilty of doing this. Less so now that I have learned a bit more about yarn, but still.
A few years ago now I had decided I would make the Make a Wish cardigan. I had decided to get some yarn from Paradise Fibers in Spokane on my first visit there. I picked out a gorgeous green yarn, but let's be real I had zero idea about yarn weights
not zero idea but if it didn't tell me what the weight was I had a hard time figuring it out.
Hindsight, I should have asked!
Anyway the Make a Wish cardigan requires fingering weight yarn. I bought sport weight, because I didn't know any better then. Didn't swatch(see below), and ended up attempting to modify this pain of a cardigan so that it would fit.
Let's just say I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had asked if the yarn I intended on buying was fingering weight.
Swatch! Swatch! Swatch!
You ALL know that I am in the front of the line encouraging people not to swatch. Let me let you in on a secret. I kinda swatched for the rose cardigan, and by kinda, I mean I measured prior to ripping out my project on the size 6 needles and decided that moving down to a size 4 would be better. So really I still haven't swatched...
I'm slowly and painfully starting to see the benefit of swatching.
So when they say you need to swatch I will highly recommend swatching for at least your sweaters. I have had to either start over(2) or modify(2) sweaters because I didn't swatch. I also have a top that I never wear that possibly would be worn if I swatched.
Read the Pattern ALL the way Through
I know it can be hard to read through the entire pattern when all you want to do is cast on, but there are some patterns that require you to read through more than others.
Like my Rose cardigan pattern I didn't read the pattern all the way through and I messed up on it constantly because I would miss increases. Now don't get me wrong the Rose cardigan requires a bit more attention, the designer even says to read through the pattern before starting. But naturally I didn't listen and I had to start it over 4 times.
So when starting a pattern it is a good idea to read through it and see if it is straight forward or a bit more complicated.
Practice New Techniques
Are you starting a brioche pattern, but have never brioched? Is brioched the term? Or is it just the brioche stitch?
Take some spare yarn and practice a bit before trying it out on your pattern. This allows you to get comfortable before attempting in the ginormous shawl that you would hate to have to rip back on.
Or be a rebel and just try it in the pattern. If you choose this route I definitely recommend that you put a lifeline in prior to starting the new technique.
Learn to Read Your Knitting
Out of all of my tips I think this one makes your life when knitting a million times better.
Do you remember when you couldn't tell the difference between a knit or a purl side? Maybe you still aren't sure, and that's ok. Being able to do so saves you a lot of time when it comes to trying to remember where you left off in your knitting.
Learn how to Fix your Mistakes
Have you ever worked on a project only to notice a dropped stitch a few rows down? OR noticed you messed up on the direction of a cable?
Being able to fix these mistakes can save you hours and hours of work if you aren't able to fix them and end up having to rip back or worse yet frog it and start over.
I must admit I am fortunate to have children who tend to assist me in my learning to fix mistakes. Ripping the needles out of a project and having to pick up dropped stitches and live stitches while fighting off a child from causing more damage will help anyone when they have to actually fix things in projects.
Blocking Your Finished Project
So Blocking your projects can seem like that time consuming last step, but let me tell you it can make all the difference. Whether you're working on a lace shawl or a colorwork sweater blocking your project just helps transform it into the amazingly gorgeous project that you made.
Knit in Public, Knit in Private, Knit Wherever...whenever( Or Crochet!!)
Never be afraid to knit wherever you may go. We regularly have doctors/hair/etc appointments where we have time that we will be sitting and waiting. Now we could be like other non crafty people, but we aren't. So bring your projects along with you, no point in wasting precious knitting/hooking time.
But what if it's dark, how will I see what I'm doing??
Here's the thing
..you need to practice knitting while you aren't looking. Practice whenever you are knitting so that you can be proficient at knitting while not looking. Once you have managed to do this well you will be able to knit anywhere.
yes, even in that dark theater.
It does take time to learn to do this, but you will be glad that you will be able to grab a sock to knit on when you attend the next movie premier, or Broadway show, or even your next hair appointment(who wants hair dye on their knitting?).
Like any skill we must keep practicing until we become proficient, but with time and practice we can accomplish great things.