Knit Bits & Tips

From Joyknits

Hints and tips accumulated in 50+ years of knitting, of which over 25 have been spent knitting and writing for publication. I hope you'll find this section helpful!


Binding off in purl
Chained edge on garter stitch
Double decreases
Getting started on double-pointed needles
Grafting (weaving) in pattern
Recycling previously knitted yarn
Sweater repair
Twisted cord
Winding a center pull ball of yarn
Yarn in a bottle
  • Binding off in purl: When finishing a piece of garter stitch knitting, such as a border or buttonband, binding off in purl from the right side makes a very tidy finish. An easy way to do this is as follows: purl the first st, place it back on the left needle, *p2tog, place resulting stitch back on left needle, rep from * until all sts have been worked, fasten off.

  • Chained edge on garter stitch: For a neat edge in garter stitch, complete row, turn work, leaving yarn in front; slip first st purlwise, then take yarn to back between the tips of the needles, knit across row. Repeat for every row.

  • Double Decreases:

  • K3tog (knit 3 sts together): Insert the tip of the right hand needle through the fronts of 3 stitches at once (knitwise) and pull the yarn through them. You may need to adjust the new stitch to keep it from being sloppy. This decrease slants toward the right, with the lefthand stitch on top.
    Sl 1, k2tog, psso: Slip 1 stitch, knit the next 2 stitches together, pass or lift the slipped stitch over the stitch resulting from the k2tog. This decrease slants toward the left, with the righthand stitch on top.
    Cdd (central double decrease): Slip the next 2 stitches as if you're going to knit them together (but don't work them), knit the next stitch, then pass the 2 slipped stitches over the k1. This decrease doesn't slant, as the center stitch ends up on top.
  • Getting started on double-pointed needles: If you're having trouble getting started on double-pointed needles without getting in a tangle, here are some different methods you can try.

  • 1. Cast on all the stitches on 1 needle, then divide them among the remaining needles–be sure you don't let the strands between the needles get twisted.
    2. Cast on 1/3 of the total stitches (1/4 if you're using 5 needles) on the first needle; *put the next needle in your hand in front of the previous needle and cast on 1/3(1/4) of the total stitches, repeat from * until all stitches are cast on. Now move the needles into a triangle(square), with the last stitch cast on next to the first stitch cast on, holding the needles so they can't flop. I find this easier to do with 3 needles because a triangle (3 sides) is more rigid than a rectangle (4 sides). If you prefer to use 5 needles, you can always divide the stitches onto 4 needles after the first couple of rounds.
    3. If neither of these methods works well for you, cast on the total number of stitches and work back and forth for a couple of rows, ending with a right side row. At the end of the row, instead of turning and working a wrong side row, divide the stitches on 3 or 4 needles, join and keep on going. You will have a tiny seam to join at the end, but probably no one but you will even know it's there!
  • Grafting (weaving) in pattern: If you need to graft in pattern, and are having trouble following the path of the yarn, try working a swatch in pattern. When you come to the row to be grafted, work it with a strongly contrasting color, then work a few more rows in the main color. Use the swatch as a guide for grafting your project. This is particularly useful when you need to lengthen or shorten something, or correct a mistake without having to rip back to it.

  • Recycling previously knitted yarn: After the yarn has been ripped out and wound into skeins (you can wind it around a box, or a chairback if you don't have a niddy noddy), tie the skeins in 3 or 4 places to keep it from tangling. Wash and rinse the skeins. If you're not sure of the fiber content, it's best to treat them gently, keeping agitation and temperature changes to a minimum. Spin or blot out as much excess moisture as possible, then hang the skeins in an area with good air circulation. If you want to add a little weight to help straighten the yarn, a plastic hanger (no need to worry about rust!) is often enough weight for a small skein, or hang a bit more weight on the hanger. Too much weight will overstretch the yarn, which can throw your gauge off later. When the skeins are dry, see below to wind it into center pull balls!

  • Sweater repair: When you're making a sweater, be sure to save some of the yarn for possible repairs. One way to keep it with the sweater, and more likely to match if it's needed is to weave it into a seam, so that it's washed along with the sweater. If you can't find a close match to the color in knitting yarn, try needlepoint yarn, which comes in a wide range of shades. While it's thinner and usually more firmly spun, you can use several strands to match the weight, and the texture difference is less likely to show than a poor color match. If the sweater gets washed, it's a good idea to wash the yarn before using it.

  • Twisted cord: Recently when I needed to make a length of twisted cord for a project, I put a screw-in hook in my little hand drill instead of a drill bit. Guesstimate the amount of yarn you'll need (each strand should be approximately 1½ times the finished length) and fasten the ends so you have a loop at each end; hook the far end to something solid, and slip the near end over the hook in the drill. Crank until you have enough twist [test by letting a short length twist back on itself to see if you like the results - keep on cranking if it's not enough], keeping tension on the yarn. Grab the middle of the yarn - this is the point where it's nice to have help, especially if halfway is farther than you can reach - fold in half, bring both ends together and let it twist back on itself. Even up the twist, knot and trim the ends.

  • Winding a center pull ball of yarn: First wind about a dozen or so wraps around widely spread fingers. Use this as the foundation for your ball, always keeping the end of the tuft sticking out of the ball. Hold the tuft between your thumb and index finger and wind around the thumb and finger for several wraps, then turn and wind across the first wraps, keeping the tuft inside your fingers. Continue to wrap and turn, wrapping over more fingers as the ball grows. When you come to the end of the skein, either tuck the loose end under the last few wraps or tie it around them in a single knot. This method gives you a ball that won't roll away and unwind if you drop it - it's also easier to pull from when it's in a knitting bag.

  • Yarn in a bottle: Years ago, at a church supper, one of the ladies was crocheting. Her skein of yarn was in a 2-liter plastic soda bottle. She recalled, "One time at the airport, I was crocheting while I was waiting for a plane. A group of women kept watching me and whispering to one another. Finally one of them became sufficiently curious to ask me where I had gotten yarn in a bottle." Her yarn holder was a simple recycling trick: remove the bottom cap, then cut a hole in the bottle. Insert the skein in the bottle with the working end coming out the top, and replace to base. The bottle holds the skein while you work, and keeps it clean at the same time.



    I'll be adding to this page from time to time, so please check back. Also, if you have a suggestion for topics, send me a note, and I'll try to help!

    ©1997-2003 E. J. Slayton – You're welcome to print this information for your own use; please retain the copyright notice on any copies. It may not otherwise be reprinted or used in any commercial manner without written permission from the author.

    Updated 8/30/2003

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