Sep 6, 2015

10 Simple Knitting Tips & Tricks

Every pattern I publish includes a handful of tips and tricks. The purpose, of course, is to try to ensure your project goes as smoothly as possible and help you dodge some of the bumps in the road we all encounter on occasion. 

Not long ago, I shared one of these tips on Ravelry and got a reply from a very experienced knitter who'd never heard of it, which prompted this post. While the suggestions offered in patterns are often project specific, some suit almost any knitting endeavor. Here are a few you might find handy.

10 Simple Tips & Tricks

1. Front/Back v. Top/Bottom. For any pieced or modular project, place a distinctive marker in the front lower border to make it easy to distinguish front from back and top from bottom. At some point almost all of us have inserted the wrong sleeve into an armhole or joined a piece upside down or wrong-side out. Markers make assembly easier and almost foolproof.

2. Increases & Decreases. Use clips to mark increase/decrease rows to make it easier to track the changes, count rows/repeats and match increases/decreases in complementary pieces (shawl shapingsleeves, sweater panels, etc.).

3. Live Stitches. For any modular project, knit each piece to the target length and place live stitches on a holder. Once all the pieces are worked, confirm stitch counts, row counts and length, then bind off.

     Swatching for Dojeling

4. Mitered Shapes. To produce a crisper point in any reverse mitered shape, use slightly smaller needles for the CO and first row or two.

5. Practice. Swatching is about more than getting gauge or testing color combinations. Learn new stitches. Practice different seaming methods by joining two project swatchesTest any planned edging technique by adding the trim to your project swatch.

6. Pooling. To prevent pooling with variegated and printed yarns, pair the yarn with a solid and work a series of alternating two-row stripes.

     Twegen with solid and variegated yarns

7. Row Counts. Place markers every few rows or every repeat to make it easy to track progress and avoid recounting. With afghan strips, for example, place markers every 5 or 10 repeats as you work and then as the strip grows, mark a key benchmark (25, 50, 100 repeats, etc.), remove the interim markers and start the process over. The markers make it easy to quickly confirm length.

8. Seaming. Lightly steam or wet block modules or project components before seaming to minimize any curling and make assembly easier.

9. Swatches. Knit and block an over-sized swatch. Measure it precisely then suspend it from its top edge.  (Some knitters like to weight the bottom edge.) Wait at least 24 hours and see how much it grows. Blocking and gravity can cause many yarns to stretch, which radically affects fit and appearance. This is especially important for garments, wall hangings and items where size matters. 

10. Three-Needle Bind-Off. The three-needle bind-off is a wonderful seaming method. To prevent puckers and preserve drape, try using a larger needle in your RH. Do a bit of experimentation, because you may need to move up two to three needle sizes based on the yarn and your tension.

     Three-needle bind-off for Drumlin

Experienced knitters are likely to find most of these tips obvious and old-hat, but hopefully they'll be helpful to new or occasional ones. When I first started knitting, for example, I knew very few knitters, so most were learned the hard way while others were gleaned through extensive reading.

Whether you've been practicing this craft for decades or days, it's likely you've discovered your own simple tricks that help reduce frustration, prevent rework, improve results and save your sanity.

Feel free to share: What's your all-time favorite knitting tip?


  1. My favorite tip? I used to be an extremely tight knitter, When someone recommended using a larger needle for casting on and binding off, it made a world of difference.

  2. If you have to join a new color in ribbing, always knit every stitch of the first row for a clean transition. The knit row disappears into the ribbing, and you don't get those little bumps of color that you would around the purl stitches

  3. Good set of tips :)

    My tip is for when you're doing a long tail cast on and you don't know how much of a tail of yarn to pull out. If you wrap the yarn round the needle once for each stitch you're casting on then that will give you the right length tail. I cheat and use multiples so if I'm casting on 200 stitches I'll only wrap 50 times and then multiply that length by 4, add a little bit to spare and ta dah :-)

  4. Great tips! Thanks for sharing them on the Knitting Love Link Party.

  5. Oh great tips! My favourite is more of a trick than a tip but learning to cable without a cable needle made me enjoy cable patterns so much more!!

  6. Great tips & tricks, thank you all for sharing! We may need to do another tip roundup soon ; )


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