We will never be arrogant enough to assume we put EVERY abbreviation in the yarn crafting world in this chart, but dang it, I think we came pretty close.
If something important was missed, please contact email@example.com !
|**||repeat instructions following the asterisks as directed|
|bo (knit)||Bind off|
|BPdc||Back post double crochet|
|BPsc||Back post single crochet|
|BPtr||Back post treble crochet|
|ch-||Chain or space previously made|
|dc2tog||Double crochet 2 stitches together|
|dpn||Double pointed needles|
|FPdc||Front post double crochet|
|FPsc||Front post single crochet|
|FPtr||Front post treble crochet|
|hdc||Half double crochet|
|k2tog||Knit two together|
|m1||Make one stitch|
|p2tog||Purl two together|
|psso||Pass slipped stitch over|
|sc2tog||Single crochet 2 stitches together|
|sk2p||Slip 1, knit 2 together, pass slip stitch over the knit 2 together;
2 stitches have been decreased
|Skp||Slip, knit, pass stitch over—one stitch decreased|
|Sl st||Slip stitch|
|sl1k||slip 1 knitwise|
|sl1p||Slip 1 purlwise|
|ssk||Slip, slip, knit these 2 stiches together—a decrease|
|sssk||Slip, slip, slip, knit 3 stitches together|
|St st||Stockinette stitch|
|tbl||Through back loop|
|tbl||Through back loop|
|trtr||Triple treble crochet|
|wyib||With yarn in back|
|Wyif||With yarn in front|
|yoh||Yarn over hook|
|yon||Yarn over needle|
|yrn||Yarn around needle|
Since I knit (and crochet) in public a lot, I am often asked why I knit and crochet. The short answer is usually that, “It’s cheaper than therapy and I have socks (or whatever I am working on) when I’m done.” When asked about spinning (I will use a drop spindle in public), the answer is that, “It’s cheaper than therapy, and I have yarn when I’m done.”
In truth, though, I knit and crochet because it’s what I do. It’s what I’ve done ever since my parents taught me when I was a kid. And, yes, I said parents. My mother taught me to knit, but Pop taught me to crochet. (Pop also taught me the joys of geometrical design, but that’s another column.)
Like many craftspeople, I have my strengths and weaknesses. My strengths are my color sense, and my love of textural knitting. My weakness is designing, although I can claim one of the first toe-up sock patterns on the Web (“Deb’s Almost-Easy Toe-Up Sock),” at Socknitters.com.
Currently, my favorite things to knit are socks, shawls, and shawlettes. My favorite designers are many: Wendy Johnson, Cookie A, Vickie Howell, Ysolda, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Mary Ann Beattie, and many others. I have at least five projects going most of the time, and I switch back and forth depending on mood, event I will be at, and whether I can do the pattern from memory, or need a printout or proximity to a computer.
When I am not plying needles or hooks, I am either making beaded jewelry, writing (I’m a freelance writer by trade), reading, walking, or some combination of the above.
I live in Brooklyn, NY, with a roommate and two cats, and I love to show off my city, wander through parks and museums, and try most of the ethnic foods so readily available in New York (Indian and Hispanic are particular favorites).
I look forward to meeting many of you online, and possibly in person if you are ever in New York City.
I joined Twitter last year after swearing I would never, ever participate in something as silly as that service. Bear in mind, I also said the same thing about Facebook. There are several reasons that these types of services can be of great help to artisans.
First, say you are working on a pattern and you get stuck, don’t know what an abbreviation is, or are having a problem selecting a pattern. Head over to your “Tweeps” and ask! This is a great resource for finding new patterns, getting opinions on patterns or yarn that you are considering, etc. I found Cookie A’s Monkey socks pattern in exactly this way.
Second, as a stay at home mom, it is really nice to be able to “chat” with others when I’m sitting at home watching endless hours of kid’s movies and cartoons as I’m working on my various projects. It’s even nicer when these relationships that are developed online transition into the real world. I’ve met several of my knitty tweeps in real life for knit time at local yarn shops, and they are just as delightful in person!
Third, if you are a seller on Etsy, Artfire, or simply in craft shows, social media is a great way to promote your items and what you are doing! Pattern notifications, both for sale and that are listed for free… those postings run rampant on Twitter. Special sales, discounts, and promotions are consistently listed on social media. I’ve found out about huge sales from Lantern Moon and Blue Moon Fiber Arts through these channels and have saved a ton because of it!
Finally, it can result in great opportunities both for individuals and businesses. I have made enough connections that I will be working with a dyer and spinner in the future with her new business that she is starting up! I’ve always been computer savvy, but was late to the social media game. I am so excited to say that I have embraced it whole-heartedly, and I wish more crafty types would do the same! It really is a great networking tool, and can be used as much or as little as you like.
We have all had those times where we want to knit or crochet, but we just don’t know which project to work on. So many lovely patterns out there but sometimes it is hard to find one to start working on. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat down wanting to knit only to get frustrated because I just couldn’t find my knitting mojo.
It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. It wasn’t because I didn’t have patterns or yarn. It was just because I couldn’t find the inspiration that I needed. Where can someone who has lost their mojo turn to? There are many different places and resources available.
The most readily available resources most of us have are knitting books and magazines. There are so many to choose from. Most libraries have at least a few knitting books. Sometimes beautiful patterns can be found in the most unlikely books or magazines. As far as magazines are concerned though, don’t just flip through looking at the pictures. There are so many wonderfully written articles about all different aspects of crafts that it can really get those creative juices flowing.
As for those of us that are a little more comfortable with the wealth of information that is available online, there are many resources there as well. There is everything from craft related blogs, to different types of online communities. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the internet. If you have particular yarn you want to use, no doubt there is a website for that yarn that you could gain inspiration from. There are even podcasts to listen to.
You don’t have to have an iPod to listen, just download it to your computer! They are like little radio programs about all sorts of different topics. I put knit in the search bar and there were so many to choose from! I was hooked instantly. I now have more than I could possibly ever listen to in a normal amount of time, because I like to go back and listen to all of my favorite podcasters episodes.
Imagine, getting to listen to someone talk about their achievements, difficulties, and general yarn journeys! Plus I can listen to them when I can’t have yarn in my hands.
Besides books, and the internet, the biggest thing that I do to keep track of my inspiration is to keep a journal. I write down everything. I make lists and notes constantly. I write down websites that I enjoy, blogs that I read, patterns that I love, and sometimes even notes on patterns that I am working on. It is meant to be something that I can look at to spark creativity when I am not feeling so creative. Having a knitting journal can also be really helpful in keeping my thoughts somewhat organized, even though there when there is no rhyme or reason to the order in the notebook itself.
And I can take it with me anywhere I go so if inspiration hits me when I am out, I can write it down and save it for later! Everyone has things that inspire them more than others and surrounding yourself with those things can really help find your knitting mojo.
Also, check out the other Gypsy Knitterz column posts for more tips and tricks on keeping you fiber projects organized and finding your knitting mojo.
For the longest time, I had trouble knitting socks. I’d cast on and the cast-on row was much tighter than the rest of the leg. Which meant I either had socks that fit in the leg and were too tight at the top cuff or the top fit and the rest of the leg was too loose. Nothing worked. That is until I knit my first pair of toe-up socks and discovered this elastic bind-off. It was perfect! The leg fit me right and the bind-off was elastic enough. So of course I thought I’d just have to get used to knitting toe-up socks.
Almost immediately I found a traditional cuff down sock I really wanted to try. One I really needed to knit following the pattern before I tried it toe-up. I searched and could not find a cast-on that was elastic enough. In frustration, I put the pattern aside and started another project. A scarf. One with a lace pattern knit starting in the center, with a provisional cast-on and that’s when I had my “A-ha!” moment.
A provisional cast-on enabled me to knit the sock from the cuff down, remove the provisional row picking up the “live stitches” and use the elastic bind-off. It worked! And quickly became my favorite cast-on for traditional socks.
Provisional cast-ons are used for a variety of projects including:
- A toe-up sock cast-on.
- Knitting from the middle out to the ends. This works especially well with a one-way design such as a cable or some lace patterns as in the scarf I knit. It also works well for patterns closed at both ends, such as knitting a ball.
- If you start a project but want to decided how the end will look later. One example is knitting a pair of socks, but you’re not sure how you want the cuffs to look. Knit the socks, and decide at the end.
- If you’re not sure you have enough yarn for a project. If you start a pair of socks above the ankle and knit the feet, you can then go back and knit the legs deciding on length. Or even changing to another yarn at the same place.
Wondering how to cast-on provisionally? This video shows you three techniques. They all work and help you knit happy!
Picking up your first pair of double-pointed needles can be both incredibly scary and supremely exhilarating. To make something using them instantly makes one feel like an expert knitter but to charge forward and use them takes a fair amount of “yarn balls”!
While it can seem overwhelming – why did five of them come in the pack, how do I go from one to the other? – mastering them is much easier than you may think. All you need are a few helpful hints to get you pointed (HAH!) in the right direction. Here are five tips I’ve picked up along the path to mastering my DPNs.
Trick #1 – Be sure your stitches aren’t twisted before you join for working in the round! This same advice goes for knitting with circular needles – by twisting the stitches around the needles, you end up knitting a Mobius at best, and a hot mess at worst. Take a few extra minutes to be sure your stitches are situated properly before you begin, and you’ll have much fewer headaches as you knit along.
Trick #2 – To prevent the “jog” that happens when switching between needles, move your stitches from one needle to the other. Most first-time users of double-pointed needles will comment on looser stitches at the change point between their needles. To prevent this, simply knit the first stitch off each needle onto the last needle, rather than onto your new needle.
Trick #3 – Use three different colored needles so you always know where you’re at in your round (ex: red, then yellow, then blue, done. Yellow, then blue, then red, done!) One of the biggest mistakes I made when learning to use DPNs was losing track of which round I was on. By using different colored needles, I was able to track where I was at in the process and keep my rounds straight!
Trick #4 – When decreasing for a hat, the space between needles can count as a stitch marker! This equates to less stitch markers used, and an obvious point for decreases!
Trick #5 – If you have trouble joining for working in the round, cast on with two sizes larger of a DPN, and then switch all stitches to the right sized needles. You’d be amazed at how much more room you feel you have!
Test out these tips one at a time or employ them all at once and you’ll find your double-pointed knitting adventures becoming easier and easier!
I got a phone call the other day from my best friend. She asked if I could talk and that she needed help. I said sure and the first words out of her mouth were “my son has a giant head”. Naturally the first thing that goes through my mind is that this sweet little three year old has gotten his head stuck somewhere and she needs someone to calm her down while help arrives. Luckily this was not the case. It turns out she is knitting him a cute little hat and the pattern is too small for his giant head. My best friend has fairly recently begun to knit and has only done basic projects so she needs help modifying the hat. I whipped out the laptop, read through the pattern and told her exactly what she needed to do to make the hat larger. As I was reading through the pattern, I noticed that there was a pattern repeat. I explained that it would be wise to learn to use stitch markers for this pattern or she might just end up with a few gray hairs!
Stitch markers are a wonderful invention. They have kept me sane through a few projects, as well as made them fly by that much faster. Before the phone call from my best friend, I had never really thought about people not knowing what stitch markers were used for. I taught myself to knit from a book and they were discussed in there. I have taught several people to knit and I don’t believe I have ever once covered stitch markers in any of my lessons. Now I realize this was terrible of me!
Are all stitch markers created equal? No! There is the obvious difference between larger and smaller markers. Larger markers fit on larger needles. And yes you can use the larger markers on smaller needles, but be careful as big markers on small needles with small yarn can equal a big gap in the knitting. A friend of mine, who used to own a yarn shop, taught me something wonderful to use for stitch markers: baby hair bands. These look like those rubber bands that you use on braces. They are multicolored and I believe they can be found in the toddler area, with the rest of the little girl hair accessories. The bands that I bought came separated by color in a plastic container. They are not sticky feeling like regular rubber bands so they don’t get stuck in the yarn. These do not create holes at all. I do find though that when I am working with a heavier yarn, I like a thicker marker. There are also split markers which can be used like a regular marker but they can also be used to mark a stitch in the actual body of whatever you are knitting.
Stitch markers do not have to be used only when the pattern calls for them. You can use them any time you want to mark a stitch or a group of stitches. The times that I most commonly use them are:
- Any time there is a large number of stitches. You can break down that 400 stitch count into a smaller, more manageable number. This comes in handy when casting on or when you are KIPing and that wonderful friend of yours decides to count by tens while you are trying to double check your stitch count causing you to have to start over again and again.
- Pattern repeats. *K1, P4 , K1* Repeat across row. By marking each repeat, you don’t have to wait till the end of the row to realize that you are one stitch off at the very beginning of the row. Tink, tink, tink. When you get to the end of that particular repeat, you should know that you are off. I found this saved me from pulling my hair out when knitting lace.
- Places you want to keep an eye on. For me this is usually the borders. I am knitting a scarf for my mother right now that has a 4 stitch seed stitch border on each side. If I don’t mark the stitch, sometimes I will get going and not realize that the first stitch needs to be a purl instead of a knit. It may be only one little stitch, but it still takes time to tink and then correct.
- Measuring length. Knit 4 inches ST st, increasing on each side on even rows. Then knit another 4 rows of ST st with no increasing. Where do you measure from? Sometimes it is hard to tell which row to measure from. If you mark that with a split marker in the middle of the row, it will be much easier to measure from.
Ever decide you want to work your favorite texture pattern while you are working in the round? Well I did this past weekend. So off I go and cast on the necessary stitches and get started…first round looked great, second round, not-so-much. Now I knew in the back of my head that I should be converting something, I really hadn’t thought it through and the second row was all mucked up.
Rip and begin again. First row, fine. Second row, now what? Google!
Found a good website with detailed info on how to convert my pretty textured pattern to work in the round. Check it out on Knitting Daily.
The basics for converting to a knitting-in-the-round project:
- Don’t cast on the “extra” stitches your pattern might call for.
- You’ll only be working the stitches between the * and the semi-colon.
- If the pattern calls for a knit, then purl it. If it calls for a purl, then knit it.
So I grabbed my pattern and wrote out the instructions for the “wrong-side” rows.
Following the original pattern on right-side rows and my new conversions on the wrong-side rows, I jumped in again and my little knitting-in-the-round project is turning out beautifully!
Now I’m thinking of all the cute purses and sweater bodies and caps I could start creating!
Most advanced knitters carry around with them a bag, full to the brim with tools to help make their knitting time easier and more productive. But when you’re just starting out a trip down the knitting aisles of your local craft store (or a visit to the notions section of your LYS) can send you into a tizzy in a hurry – all those extras, many with little to no explanation!
Never fear, Robyn is here! With this handy list of my seven favorite items you’ll want to have in your notions bag from month one – along with what each item is used for and some possible substitutions! – you can be sure you’ve got everything you’ll need to make your knitting time just as productive as the pros!
Stitch markers. These bad boys can be bought in bunches of plastic, multi-colored packs, or you can purchase them from Etsy sellers and other knitters. I’ve had my plastic ringed stitch markers almost from day one, and have slowly acquired some pretty beaded ones that I whip out when knitting something extra special. Don’t feel like you need to spend a lot of money on these, though – especially at first. You can even substitute strands of contrasting colored yarn, safety pins, or hoop earrings in a pinch!
Yarn-only scissors. No matter how new you are to knitting, you’re going to need to cut your yarn ends off at some point. I recommend keeping a pair of “knitting-only” scissors in your knit-kit. This way your scissors won’t get dulled by cutting paper, hair, or anything else, and you always know where your scissors are! Mine came from the dollar bin at Target, although I know knitters who have spent up to $20 on their pairs.
Cable needle. You may not think you need this at first, especially if you’re not cabling quite yet. I’ve used my cable needle to pick up errant stitches, however – this is actually more often what I use it for! I got a three-pack at my local craft store, so I know I’ve got a cabling needle that will work for any size cable I want to make!
Darning needles. When weaving in ends, I’ve known knitters to use crochet hooks, but I prefer a plastic, blunt-tipped darning needle. Buy these in bulk, as you’ll find they are the item that most often goes missing!
Row counter. I’ve pretty well stopped using mine at this point, thanks to an app on my iTouch – if you’ve got an iPhone or iTouch, you can find knitting apps for free! Most knitters, however, slip this onto their circular needle so they never lose track of which row they’re on!
Tape measures. I buy mine at the local craft store when they’re on sale for $1 – they’re known to be stolen by my kitties for play toys, and can break pretty easily. I should probably buy a nice one that won’t break, I guess. This comes in handy for measuring gauge, for measuring length/width of your knitting, and for determining sizing.
Pencil. I keep a mechanical pencil in my knitting bag at all time – perfect for marking rows and notes onto my knitting patterns, and great in a pinch to write something down or even pick up a stitch!
While there may be dozens of other tools knitters will tell you to pick up, or tools you’ll come to love in your years as a knitter, this basic kit will keep you happily knitting from day one!
My fifth birthday was quickly approaching. He kept calling them “knitting needles.” Some were brown and tan. Others, gray, black and very long. But the only needles I knew were the ones from the Dr.’s office which hurt.
Ah, Grandpap was my hero! What fond memories I have. My family called me a toe-head who was energetic, highly motivated and self-driven. For several years, I had watched Grandpap sit by the hour and move those hands so fast using roving and yarn from the sheep he raised on the farm. Being the eager little kid who always was curious and wanting to learn new things, I begged him to teach me to knit. It was one of those eye opening moments. He looked at me and just smiled in delight.
He grew up in Germany where all the boys and girls in elementary school were taught to knit as part of the normal curriculum. “Well,” he said. “I learned to knit when I was a boy so there’s no reason you shouldn’t learn how to do it too. It’s something that’ll help you and that you can do for the rest of your life. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. So, let’s go do some whittling!”
At the time, I obviously didn’t get the full gist of what he was saying — five year olds aren’t fully aware of stereotypes. I just knew Grandpap could do no wrong in my eyes. If he taught me how to milk cows, ‘slop’ the pigs, herd sheep, gather eggs and pull weeds, then knitting was no different.
Whittling? It all started to make sense. Grandpap whittled a lot. But Grandma said I was too young to be playing with a knife. I have vague memories of watching him whittle but never paid too much attention to it. Wow! When he said, “Let’s go do some whittling,” it all clicked!!!! All that time he was making his own wooden knitting needles. Not from dowels, but from wood, sticks, branches, etc. I still have that vivid image of us going to look for some wood to make me my own pair of knitting needles. He said he would have to make them bigger than his so that I could learn better. Since, I wanted to have the same ones which he had, I threw a little temper tantrum…..yuk! He was so loving and patient. “You’ll understand some day but it’ll be harder for you to wrap that sheep hair around the needle if it is too small.” And right he was!
Initially, Grandpap taught me to knit using the “throw” or English technique with very large needles in order to learn the mechanics and physics of knitting. Shortly, thereafter, I switched to Continental knitting so I could go “as fast as he could.” I remember the thrill of staying up late night after night practicing the long tail cast on for hours. I now laugh whenever I think of how frayed that precious yarn became after unraveling for the 10th time.
Funny. I could relate to “sheep hair” as a kid. Roving and wool as more abstract terms came later. I had watched Grandma clean, card and spin the ‘sheep hair’ many times but it wasn’t all that exciting to me as a kid. Now I long for those peaceful, loving moments spent with two wonderful people. Working with nature. Watching the lambs grow to adulthood. Shearing. Preparing the wool. Then using it to complete a garment to wear.
Fifty six years later I am still passionately knitting every day. I’ve weathered through some of those awkward years of being teased as a young man knitting. That stopped rather quickly after the bullies learned that I could do other “guy” things. Eventually, some of them asked me to teach them. Be true to yourself!
I’ve gone through the gamut of knitting throughout the years. Except for lace. Over the past several months, I’ve finally decided to go for it. Now I’m addicted to it. I didn’t know any better when I learned to knit and ended up cutting my own hair and trying to spin it. Guess I just figured that if it can be done with sheep hair then any hair will do! Sadly, though, I must say that after repeated attempts at learning to spin, I have never been able to do it. And it bugs me trying to figure out why! It looks so simple and smooth. Grandpap used to say, “Now just don’t worry about it. God will give you other gifts down the road.” How right he was.
It feels like Elizabeth Zimmerman and I were brother and sister. Having said that, “Knit on!”