October 16 2016 – Holly
Every knitter should have a few tricks up their sleeve, techniques that can be life savers or help you put the finishing touches on any project. We've compiled a list of 10 techniques that we think are essential for knitters of any skill level, and are sure to come in handy no matter what you have in your queue! 1) Long-tail Cast On: Though there are dozens of ways to begin your project, the long-tail cast on is a go-to for many knitters and pattern writers alike. It is versatile, flexible and neat, with the biggest perk being you get to skip row 1 and begin knitting immediately on row 2! Once you have some practice there's a rhythm to casting on each stitch that is easy to remember, and there are also variations for creating knit and purl cast on stitches which is great for ribbing. Video here. 2) Mattress Stitch: There are many ways to create a seam in knitting, and depending on the edges you're looking to bind together, the technique you should use will vary. But in the case of two side seams (where the knitting runs vertical on both sides) there is nothing better than mattress stitch. It is completely invisible and sturdy, excellent for finishing off the sides of a garment or joining multiple swatches for a blanket. It's easy to learn and all you need is a tapestry needle. Video here. 3) 1-Row Buttonhole: If you can cast on and bind off, you can do this buttonhole! You choose the size you want to make it by binding off as many or as few stitches as you need to create a snug hole for any size button. It works in stockinette as well as it does in garter, ribbing and most other knitted fabrics. Video here. 4) M1L and M1R Increases: Increasing stitches can be done many different ways, and while the pattern and stitches surrounding the increases will determine which method is best to use, in most cases you will find M1L and M1R is a good fit. They are perfectly mirrored and don't leave any gaping holes in your work. Video here. 5) Stretchy Bind Off: A tight bind off is a common problem for many knitters, as is matching your bind off to your cast on edge, especially in the case of ribbing where you'll want the most elastic edge possible. There is a very simple way of binding off for maximum stretch, which will create a tidy, finished edge for any project. Video here. 6) Correcting dropped stitches: Dropped stitches can happen to even the most careful knitter, which is why a crochet hook should always have a place in your knitting bag. A crochet hook is the best way to catch a stitch you've dropped, no matter how far down it's run, by bringing it up one row at a time. Video here. 7) Invisible join in the round: There is a very simple way to avoid the obvious bump that occurs when joining to knit in the round, this trick will make your first row transition into the second seamlessly! Video here. 8) Lifelines: Even the most seasoned knitters make mistakes, and when it comes to projects with lace or complicated stitch patterns, a lifeline is the best insurance policy! This simple trick will save you from scrapping your whole project when you've made a mistake, you can even do it after you've already noticed an error and need to go back. Video here. 9) Magic-Loop: If you learn how to do the magic loop, you can knit a project in any diameter in the round with just one extra long circular needle. From socks to sweaters, magic loop lets you knit any number of stitches in the round on the same length of cable. If you invest in a set of interchangeable circular needles, you won't need a set of straight or DPN needles ever again! Video here. 10) i-cord: There are many different uses for an i-cord, you can use them anywhere you need a sturdy strap, or a tidy, finished edge. They're simple enough to make and all you need is a double pointed needles (DPNs)! Video here. Have you mastered all of these essentials? What other technique would you add to the list?