KNIT Helpful Hints

This page will have tips to help knitters

Knitting needles
There are many different kinds of needles out there. Plastic, bamboo, wood, metal, and glass are just a few of the different types of materials that knitting needles come in. There are also many different shapes and sizes--circular, straight, and even double point. Needles with a large radius are for thicker projects and small needles are for making a fine project, ranging from 2 to 15. The radius of needles affect the stitches, gauge, and the elasticity of your project. Choosing the right size of needles is very important in how your finished project will look.  It's best to use needles that are a different color than your yarn.  That makes it easier to see the stitches.

One of the best things about knitting is choosing yarn!  There are many different types and brands.  As a beginner, it's best to start with something that is inexpensive and I strongly suggest using a solid, light color.  Save the fancy more expensive kinds for later when you're more experienced.  And it's better to buy too much for a project than to run out and can't find the same dye lot when you're trying to finish.  You can always use the leftovers for small projects or even use it as stuffing for toys and pillows.

Different fibers of yarn will result in completely different results in your piece or garment. You want to be familiar with the different kinds of yarn fiber and how they will work in a knitting or crochet project.

Synthetic Fibers

Nylon, rayon, acrylic, viscose, and polyester are all synthetic fibers that appear in yarn. 100 % acrylic yarn is a common choice as it is the most inexpensive yarn. This makes acrylic yarn a good choice for those just learning how to knit or crochet.


Many yarns blend different natural fibers, synthetic fibers or natural fibers with synthetic fibers, such as for a softer feel. If you want to felt your knitted or crochet project, you must ensure the yarn is at least 80% wool, but the other 20% can be synthetic.

Natural Fibers

Cotton- Made from cotton plants, many types of cotton yarn are treated with chemicals to make them more durable, mildew resistant, and able to accept dyes better. Some environmental concerns have been raised with traditional cotton production though.

Wool- Many different kinds of wool exist and are spun into yarns with different weights and textures. Wool accepts color very well and is very warm. Merino wool yarn is a popular choice in making garments.

Cashmere- Cashmere, from the soft undercoats of cashmere goats, is a more expensive yarn which is especially smooth while still retaining warmth.

Alpaca/Llama- South American llamas or alpacas produce very soft, warm yarn. Llama wool yarn is less soft and bulkier. Alpaca and llama wool is non-allergenic, since it does not have the lanolin found in lamb’s wool. This yarn does not accept color as well as wool though.

Mohair- Mohair is a thick yarn from the Angora goat with an especially fuzzy look.

Angora- Angora is an especially soft rabbit fur yarn which has a fuzzy appearance.

Linen- Linen yarn is made from the flax plant and is a lightweight yarn perfect for summer garments.

Silk- Silk comes from silkworm larvae and is very smooth and light. Since silk does not have much stretch, silk is generally combined with other fibers for yarn, often cashmere for a truly-luxurious yarn.

Eco-Friendly Yarns

Organic Cotton- Please see this article for more information on organic cotton created without synthetic fertilizer or pesticides and, when made into yarn, without chemical dyes.

Bamboo- Bamboo yarn has the feel of silk and is very strong. Bamboo is a renewable resource because it can be harvested without killing the plant, which then regenerates the removed bamboo in a couple of months.

Hemp- Hemp is another renewable resource which can be grown without pesticides or herbicides and is the strongest natural fiber. Hemp yarn garments are softer with each machine washing and can be treated for softness as yarn. Check out LanaKnits to read about and purchse Hemp yarn.

Knitting Accessories/Tools

There are a lot of things that can help make your knitting experience a pleasant one.  I'll list some and describe how they're used. They can be purchased separately or sometimes in a kit.  You might want to consider putting the items in a small closeable pouch or small bag that fits in the bag you have your project in.  This way you have everything ready and available.  A nice pair of small scissors are also a good thing to include as well as a pencil and paper.

Stitch Markers: Placed on the needle and carried throughout the knitting to mark points of increase, decrease, or changes in pattern.  The split-lock design can also be slipped through completed work to mark for buttonhole placement or any other necessary marking.Stitch markers can be purchased at your local yarn store, or sometimes found objects can be used as stitch markers. The white plastic rings in the picture were in a container of blank CDs.

Row Counters: Used to record the number of rows completed.  Some counters slip onto a needle and are manually advanced as each row is completed.  There are also electronic counters and apps for digital devices.

Point Protectors are used on the points of your needles to keep them from damage, or to hold your knitting on the needles while stored in your knitting bag. I will even use them on double point knitting needles to convert them to short single points. Do your double points like to slide out of your yarn when knitting in the round? Cap each end with a point protector and your stitches are safe and secure.  And when knitting in the round, you can write numbers on the point protectors so you'll know which needle is which!

Stitch Holders: Used to temporarily hold stitches which will later be worked into a garment.

Cable Stitch Holders: used to temporarily hold a few stitches to the front or back of work while forming a cable.

Yarn Bobbins: used in multi-colored knitting.  Each color being used in the design is wrapped around a bobbin, and the bobbins are allowed to hang from the work, a short distance from the needle. Since the bobbin stores the yarn, there are no long strands to tangle or become knotted while knitting, so the colors are much easier to manipulate while creating the design.  Bobbins are available in several sizes to accommodate different weights of yarn.

Yarn or tapestry needles: used to sew knitted or crocheted pieces together.  The large eye allows easy threading of various thicknesses of yarn and the blunt end prevents splitting the yarn.

Crochet hook: Used in picking up dropped stitches and to correct mistakes.  It is best to work with a crochet hook the same size millimeter as your knitting needle or slightly smaller.

Knitting needle size and stitch gauge tools: They come in a variety of configurations and usually have rulers and cutouts for each needle size for ease in determining the size of double-pointed or circular needles that no longer have a label attached.

Retractable tape measure: small size easily fits in your project bag and makes measuring easier.

No comments:

Post a Comment