Ten easy knitting tricks to make any project better

Now that the weather is colder, it’s time to return to one of my all time favorite past times: Knitting! Since finishing my summer project and first sweater I made for myself (and not a gift), I love it but now I really want to knit lots of quick small things, using tips and tricks rather than long lengthy patterns. 2013-09-10 20.53.13

I thought I’d pull together a list of my favorite tricks of the trade, because sometimes little things can make all the difference! However, many of these tricks involve a slight marriage between knitting and crochet, a historically tense rivalry. Each person has their preference, I like to mix and match!

  1. To get a nice vertical edge, because sometimes they can look messy, slip the first stitch of every row, knit-wise or purl-wise (to correlate whether you are knitting or purling that stitch). This will tighten up the edge and make it look professional. This works for just about anything: for example I did this along the edges of my sweaters collar.
  2. Don’t have a cable needle? Use a double pointed needle as a cable needle of approximate size: One to one-half size smaller makes cables easy without spending the extra money on a short needle I’m more likely to lose.
  3. Use safety pins as stitch holders. They’re cheap and come in all different shapes and sizes! 2013-10-12 13.17.54
  4. Use a crochet hook when having to pick up stitches along an edge, to pull through the loops you can transfer to your knitting needle. Not only is this much easier than forcing your knitting needle through a stitch that doesn’t exist yet, it’s much cleaner looking too.
  5. Create a neater edge to your project without sewing by using a crochet hook of approximate size to your knitting needle (you can estimate by eye) and doing a slip-stitch crochet or single crochet along the edge. Can also be used to join two sides (instead of sewing or grafting) and it’s great for adding pops of color. I sometimes like to leave a long tail after casting off, then switch to a crochet hook to use this tail to slip-stitch crochet all the way along my edge. If you’re a good crocheter, you can do all kinds of fancy edges to your projects this way.

    2012-11-11 10.25.58

    Slip-Stitch crochet was used to create the contrasting color edge on this cabled e-reader case.

  6. Need project inspiration? Browse Ravelry’s project page, where you can sort by knit or crochet, and find thousands of free patterns available on the spot. Although I also pay to subscribe to many knitting magazines, I still find this website the best place to get ideas.
  7. Have a bag handles that stretch out way too much when you put anything remotely heavy in the bag? Sew a cute fabric to the underside to stabilize the stretch. A little fabric can make any project look cute and modern, like these cute knit clutches: 2013-10-12 14.01.26
  8. Have an old long knit scarf that you never wear because it looks dowdy? Sew the ends together to modernize it by creating an infinity scarf!
  9. If you feel like knitting is slow for you, try holding your yarn in the Continental knitting style, rather than the more common English knitting style which is slower and more cumbersome. To knit continental style, stick out your left pointer finger and allow the yarn from your ball to settle on top, allowing your right needle to pull the yarn from over your pointer finger.
  10. Use the leftovers from old projects to knit small accessories, like headbands, phone or card cases, coffee cup insulators, baby hats or booties, even pieces of jewelry, like this gingko leaf:

2013-10-07 22.11.37

2013-10-12 17.19.50

After making this braided cowl, I used the leftover yarn to knit a matching earwarmer

  • Sweater from Interweave Knits Summer 2013
  • Kindle case, my own creation
  • Clutches modified from Sundance Makeup Bag tutorial on Ravelry
  • Gingko Necklace adapted from Interweave Knits Gingko Lariat pattern in the Summer 2012 issue
  • Red Cowl adopted from the reversable drop stitch mobius wrap in A Knitting Wrapsody by Kristin Omdahl, also featured in Interweave Knits Spring 2011
  • Earwarmer pattern modified from Transient Expressions Cable Knit Headband tutorial
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