Beautiful Basketweave (by Aubrey Mayes)

May 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Stitches

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One of my favorite stitch combos is the Basket-weave Stitch. I couldn’t believe that something so pretty was SO simple! The Basket-weave Stitch is a great stitch to add a little extra flair to some of the more commonly knit objects, like scarves, and adds great texture without adding extra thickness.

All there is to the Basket-weave is switching between Garter Stitch and Stockinette Stitch.

To start the Basket-weave, you’ll want to Cast On in a multiple of 8 stitches (I suggest against a variegated yarn, as it can look a bit too busy. Some variegated yarns that are different shades and values of a single color can work, but you have to be careful.).

Row 1: Knit all stitches.

Row 2: Knit 4, Purl 4, Repeat until end of row.

Row 3: Knit all stitches.

Rows 5 and 7: repeat row 2

Rows 4, 6, and 8: knit all stitches.

Row 9: Purl 4, Knit 4 Repeat until end of row.

Row 10: Knit all stitches.

Rows 11, 13, and 15: Repeat row 9.

Rows 12, 14: Knit all stitches.

Row 16: Repeat Row 2.

Continue the repetition until your project is complete! Yes- it is that easy!

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Seven Tips for Lace Knitting (by Ina Gilmore)

February 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Stitches


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The first time I knit lace, I didn’t know it was lace.  It was a big project for a beginner: a Feather and Fan striped afghan for a dear lady who minded the cold.

Back then I thought lace knitting was old-fashioned and impractical. Like doilies knit with very fine yarn and needles usually by an elderly aunt. Carefully kept in a drawer most of the year, only brought out for special occasions: like during her visits! So, had I known, I probably would have not made that afghan. And missed out on making an elderly friend very happy.

Today lace stitches are incorporated into knitted articles as small as dishcloths and baby booties, or as large as afghans and shawls.  The patterns can be simple for beginning knitters or complex for the most advanced knitter. You can choose a pattern with a small lace trim, or one that’s all lace.

So, if you’re thinking of knitting lace, what are some tips for the novice lace knitter? Whether you consider yourself a beginner or an advanced knitter, before you cast-on for your lace project consider:

    • Choosing your pattern wisely. I tend to divide lace patterns into two categories: those where the rows alternate between lace and straight knitting or purling — and those where every row is lace knitting. In general, the patterns with the alternate rows are less complex. If you’re starting a project with long rows like a shawl, consider how many stitches will be in the row. When you’re knitting long rows, you may want to choose a pattern with alternate rows. And if you prefer knitting to purling, when there are 500 stitches in a row even an experienced knitter may yearn for every other row to be knit rather than purled!


    • Knowing how to read your knitting stitches. Reading your knitting is a lot like reading a book. Initially, you learn the letters (individual stitches).  With practice you learn to read words (groups of stitches making a pattern such as a leaf). Because lace patterns — with frequent increases and decreases — more likely result in dropped stitches, checking your work by reading the stitches saves time while reducing the frustration of repeatedly ripping your work and re-knitting.


    • Counting early and often. Lace projects can be challenging. The pattern can be complex, or maybe it just takes more concentration than a non-lace project. And frequent interruptions can make even an experienced knitter consider an easy project difficult.  Double-checking your stitches by counting frequently can reduce the stress of a complex pattern, increasing your success.


    • Looking closely at the pattern to make sure you can knit all the stitches. Lace stitches incorporate various kinds of increases, decreases, and may even have you knit or purl in the back of a stitch.  Feeling comfortable with all the stitches involved can make your knitting easier.


    • Using a knitting lifeline allows you to partially unravel your knitting when needed without dropping stitches. Crochet cotton or embroidery floss are two favorites. You want a line that will easily slip onto your stitches without leaving fuzz behind. Two links you may find helpful:  a post on lace lifeline tips, and a video on using a lifeline (scroll down to the subsection Fixing Mistakes to find the video Using a “lifeline.”)  Bonus Knitter’s tips: Experienced knitters often choose white or natural (light beige or tan) thread or yarn as the lifeline. The lighter colors are less likely to bleed onto the lace fabric. And they avoid waxed dental floss because it can leave pieces of wax when it’s removed.


    • Choosing a pattern that has either written instructions only or both written directions and a chart if you’ve never knitted from a chart before.  Written instructions allow you to learn to read the chart while you work, and help decrease mistakes when those symbols are confusing.


  • Knitting a swatch first allows you to double-check your knitting gauge, and choice of yarn and needles.  Lace often has a three-dimensional aspect. You may or may not care for the way a particular yarn or size needle alters the pattern from the designer’s.  Knitting a swatch first can save you frustration because knitting a small swatch in the long run is easier than starting a pattern and deciding a few inches later it’s just not right.

Depending upon your situation one or more of these tips can increase your lace knitting success. ..and remember to Knit Lace Happy!

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Knitting MittenThumbs – The Debate (by Ina Gilmore)

September 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Advanced, Stitches

Where are you in the knitting mitten instructions for thumbs debate?

The other day, I was astonished at how passionately two knitters were debating.   Knowing both of them, it’s not surprising they were passionate.  What surprised me was the topic of their debate: knitted thumbs.  Each was absolutely convinced her favorite thumb was “the best,” and other ways of knitting thumbs just don’t fit right. It took the calming influence of another knitter to put the discussion in perspective.

She noted while she preferred one type of thumb, her husband another. Perhaps, she calmly asked, it depends upon our individual hand shapes?  Or even what we do with our hands when we use the mittens? Maybe this is a case of individual preference?  Since I’ve usually made only one type of thumb for myself, this discussion started me thinking:  Just how many different thumb types are there? And are there times one would be better than another?


So, what are the types of knitting mitten instructions for thumbs?


Peasant Thumb: Often considered the simplest thumb to knit. Knit without a gore, or wedge-shaped insert, this thumb is often preferred when a complex color pattern is used. The peasant thumb allows the pattern to continue without interruption. The thumb is knit slightly into the palm, so the mittens are either left-handed or right-handed. There’s no adjustment in mitten width for the thumb. The thumb tends to be flat.



Peasant Thumb

                      Gore Thumbs: Knit with a gore either in the side seam (side seam gore) or slightly into the palm (normal gore or normal thumb). The side seam gore thumb will not interrupt the knitting pattern, while the normal gore thumb interrupts it. The side seam thumb makes the mittens identical, so it’s often used for knitting young children’s mittens. If either is made in circular knitting (no side seam) and a stockinette stitch, the mitten will rotate so these two types of thumbs may be indistinguishable. This can give more flexibility to the mitten, because thumbs don’t grow out either of the sides of hands, or directly under the index fingers. The mitten body is narrower above the thumb than below it. For many folks, this feels like a more fitted mitten.  The thumb tends to be rounder than the Peasant Thumb.

Stiches for thumb gore

Stitches for thumb gore




Side seam gore thumb








Normal gore fingerless mitten

Normal gore fingerless mitten










Norwegian Gore Thumb: Knit with a gore and a peasant thumb, this thumb also interrupts the color pattern. In Norwegian mittens, though, this interruption is often incorporated into the color pattern. The mittens are either left-handed or right-handed.  While this mitten has a thumb gore, the mitten body continues above the thumb with the same number of stitches. This thumb also tends to be a flatter thumb.



Color pattern interruption for thumb gore


Norwegian thumb

Norwegian thumb






Many knitters view these as two types of thumbs (those with or without gores) or four types of thumbs.

Do you have a favorite?


About the Author: Ina Gilmore

Ina Gilmore learned to knit as a child.  She enjoys sharing her knitting adventures, tips and techniques. You can find her online at her knitting blog, The Knitting Yarn, on Twitter at, and on Ravelry as theknittingyarn.

What’s the best-kept secret of entrelac? (by Ina Gilmore)

August 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Stitches

Right side stockinette (entrelac)

Right side stockinette (entrelac)

The first time I saw a picture of entrelac, I knew I would try it. You see, baskets intrigue me.  Mostly I like to fill them with necessities: like my yarn stash.  I suspect I’ve always wanted to make some, but haven’t found the time or the space. So, I do the next best thing: I knit.

When I found the basket weave cable, I thought that was the best I could do. Little did I know entrelac was waiting for me to discover.


Wrong side stockinette (entrelac)

Basically, it’s knitting short rows on the diagonal to form tiers of rectangles and triangles that appear to weave in and out like a woven basket. This effect is strongest with stockinette stitch, although entrelac can also be made in garter stitch.


After making entrelac several times, what are some of my favorite secrets?

  1. With stockinette entrelac, the front and back are even more pronounced than regular stockinette stitch. This is true especially if you change colors.  If you’re like me, and like both sides of your scarf to look like a right side, you may not want to make a scarf by changing colors.
  2. On the other hand, garter entrelac is reversible. Which makes it nice for a first attempt. You may want to try knitting a small project like a dishcloth, as in this pattern called Garterlac.

    Garterlac Dishcloth


  3. Cast on loosely. There are a variety of ways to do this, and all seem about the same to many experts. My personal favorite is casting on with a crochet hook and adding an extra chain betwee n the stitches. Laura provides knitting instructions for her technique.
  4. Entrelac is great practice for short rows. So what? Well, short rows are needed for turning a heel, and can be inserted to customize a fit around a curve. You know, like for rounded shoulders or an ample bosom.
  5. Alternating between two colors on the tiers in stockinette entrelac really makes the three dimensional aspect of the pattern “pop.”
  6. After a while, the stitch becomes automatic. With this, you may find yourself forgetting whether you’re on the front or back, and may even knit a few stitches or blocks in the wrong direction.
  7. Entrelac is a great technique to practice knitting backwards also. Instead of turning each short row and purling. In stockinette entrelac, you can knit backwards the purl rows from the right side. This saves turning your work, which often is an advantage if your project is large. Or maybe you just want to practice knitting backwards.

And then there are the ultimate secrets of entrelac: It’s not as hard as it looks and it’s addicting!

Ina Gilmore learned to knit as a child.  She enjoys sharing her knitting adventures, tips and techniques. You can find her online at her knitting blog The Knitting Yarn.  You can follow her updates on Twitter at  You can also find her on Ravelry as theknittingyarn.

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