Friday, July 27, 2007

Knit Smarter Not Harder

Let me share a few secrets to knitting that will make things 'go faster and smoother'.

Get your fingers out of the way.
I see so many people either cover the stitches they are making with their fingers, or hold their hands in such a way that they have to wrap the yarn around their own finger. (!) It is an amazing thing to watch. Look down. Can you see what you are doing? Pull your fingers out of the way so that you can see the stitches. You will make less mistakes. And when you do make a mistake, you'll see it sooner.
Use smaller motions
I swear to you I have seen people with less bodily motion in a golf swing.
Get your hands comfortable, whether you pick or throw, and just make little motions. There is no reason for someone to confuse knitting with stirring a pot of stew on the stove.
Adjust the yarn and needles in smaller motions
Really, you don't need to go "organize" and "untangle" after every other stitch. If you move less, so will the balls of yarn. Get yourself set up and comfortable. Then when you are knitting, without really letting go of the knitting yarn, just pull a few stitches up, and slide the last few down. You can knit precariously close to the tip of the left hand needle. But be sure to knit all the way onto the right hand needle. Remember, if you knit onto the 'tip' where the needle is still tapered, it will not be the right gauge. It will be tight, and you will not have fun on the next row.
Don't knit tight
That is a really easy one. The tighter you knit, the harder the next row will be. This will lead to stress, and premature aging. As you clench your jaw, and grind your teeth, and stick out your tongue, you will develop wrinkles faster. You will age prematurely, and not be the sexy knitter we know that you are. Loosen up. If you like a tighter stitch, go to a smaller needle. Don't make the stitch tighter ON the needle. In the perfect situation, the stitches should slide easily along your needle, but not fall completely off without help.
I see a lot of beginners who knit super tight. It is a rookie mistake. They are confusing "tight" and consistent. You do not have to knit tight to be consistent. You'll find your tension. I have faith. If you think knitting is hard, or you think it should go faster, you may be knitting too tight.
Get your yarn organized.
The time we have spent untangling at the store is obscene. No really. The big messed up piles of yarn are heart breaking. Why, oh, why would you buy beautiful yarn, and then let it fall into a heap? There are lots of strateegeries to help with this issue. You can use a zip lock bag, you can use a tupperware, you can buy a 'yarn bra' or a 'clam'. All of these will work. Just don't let your yarn get into a knot. You may also try talking nicely to it, like you would to a plant, or even a small child. I find this very effective. Your yarn will respond to your tone of voice.
Don’t pull mohair from the center of the ball. (It will just stick to the strands near by and create a knot), so while I know that a 'center pull' is fun, and all-the-rage, some yarns do not respond as well to that treatment. Silk too, is very hard to keep in the 'ball winder' ball. This is better if it is just hand-wound. It seems a little less apt to knot on itself.
And here is a no-brainer: keep your projects in a cat-proof, dog-proof, toddler-proof container.

If you have any questions about your knitting style, and you'd like a consultation, just come on in for a visit.
I'll be happy to have a look.

I am, your knitting stylist.


Lightning said...

Hmmm Methinks I am a newbie tight knitter!

Unfortunately I've already knit 6" of scarf, do I have to frog it and start again looser or will it look ok if I start easing up on the stitches?

yarndancer said...

Excellent advice! I wish I'd read this page before I made many of the mistakes I've made in knitting. I've been knitting for 20 odd years, and I still find myself making some of these mistakes - not the tangled heap of yarn one though. Yarn is too pretty for that! :)

Knitting Spastic said...

I'm not a knitter, but I nominate Susi as the Plato of Purling. As I travel through life, I will adhere to the Tao of Knitting: "Get out of your own way, expend only the energy needed, loosen up and get organized." Sound advice indeed!