Tip #1: Reuse and Reknit
If you’ve ever started a sweater (front or back) and for some reason abandoned it to a closet, you can give it new life. Make a hat out of it by working a crown shaping! Some of my most successful hats were born this way. A sweater front or back is usually between 20″ and 24″ wide, and the size of an average head is around 22″, so you’ve got the makings of a great hat. Sweaters that have a rib knit are particularly good because of their elasticity. With the yarn you have left over from the original purchase, you can make at least three more hats!
Tip #2: Waste Not, Want Not
Always keep your extra yarn in case you need it for re-sewing seams or adding an edging to update the sweater. Or, if it is a child’s sweater, you can add length to the body and/or sleeves as the child grows.
Tip #3: Update With Embellishments
Make knitted flowers, leaves, tassels, balls, pom-poms or corkscrews to add interest to pieces that you have already made, such as baby sweaters, hats, bags, socks and slippers—or you can even add them to purchased items such as handbags, shoes, scarves, socks or sweaters. Also, you can use them on gift-wrappings or as a luggage identification.
Tip #4: Felt For a New Feel
Take wool garments you are no longer wearing (out-of-date, moth holes, stains); felt them, and cut them up to make Christmas stockings, toys, bags, flowers, etc.
Tip #5: Get Creative With Closures
For special interest, or if you cannot find buttons to match your piece, use a knit I-cord to make the buttons, ties or a frog closure to match your sweater.
Tip #6: Top it Off
Instead of wrapped pom-poms, use a knitted ball, tassels or corkscrews to top a hat.
Tip #7: A Pointer on Pillows
When making a pillow, you can use a purchased pillow with corresponding colors and just stitch a knitted front to the pillow (this saves knitting the back). Knit some tassels and attach them to the corners for added interest.
Tip #8: Keep Your Count
When working lace, always place a marker between each repeat to assure the stitch count and help you find possible mistakes.
Tip #9: Simple Storage Solutions
Use an empty “Altoids” (or any candy or cigar) tin for storing T-pins, stitch markers and any other knitting paraphernalia that will fit in the tin.
Tip #10: Cast On With Confidence
When using the long-tail cast-on, pull off the extra yarn for the tail to prevent running out of yarn and having to start over. This extra yarn can be tied up and used for sewing seams later. Also, place a marker every 25 stitches in case you lose count of the cast-on stitches.
Tip #11: Choosing the Right Needle
Curved, pointed darning needles are great for sewing knitted or crocheted pieces together as they prevent splitting the yarn strands.
Tip #12: Ziploc to the Rescue
Zippered plastic bags can be used to keep a light-colored yarn clean, or to keep angora and mohair from shedding, while working with it.
Tip #13: Yarn Tracking
When rolling yarn from a hank, cut a piece of the yarn and tape it to the label. You can keep the label for reference in case you need more of the yarn, or you need to match buttons, or you want to keep a record of yarns you’ve used and your opinion of the yarn. Also, mark the label with the size needle you used.
Tip #14: Duplicate Stitch Done Right
When you plan to duplicate stitch motifs on your project, knit loosely to allow the duplicate stitches to settle into the fabric easier. Or, if the garment is knit on the tight side, split or pull out a strand of the yarn to make it thinner, or just use a thinner yarn to work the duplicate stitch.
Tip #15: Color Correction
When working Intarisia, I often find it is better to stop along the way and work your ends in so that at the completion of the piece, you are not overwhelmed with working in ends. I work mine in while watching a good old movie. Also, a little trick for the holes that may occur: Using a threaded tapestry needle, loop the needle around the back of the loosened stitch a few times and pull the yarn through to tighten the stitch using a nearby thread that hasn’t been woven in yet (in some cases you may need to use a new strand of yarn).
Tip #16: Salvage Your Sweaters
If you have a favorite sweater, unwearable due to a hole or a stubborn stain, there are a variety of things you can do to cover it: appliqués work nicely. If the spot is in an awkward place where a flower or appliqué wouldn’t look good, place the flower or appliqué above or below the spot and place a cord stem or swirl strategically to cover the hole. If it is only a spot and not a hole, you can embroider motifs using various embroidery stitches to cover the spots. Keep in good taste at all times. For instance, if there is a hole in the breast area, I don’t suggest a tassel! Or, if you decide to use a tassel, you should make two. Symmetry counts!
Tip #17: Borrow From Baby
If you have purchased or handmade baby sweaters that no longer fit your child, you can use them to clothe their stuffed animals. You can also make a tea cozy or adult hat by tying the sleeves together at the top.
Tip #18: The Perfect Present
Cover glass vases with knitted fabric for unique Holiday gifts. Read Nicky’s tutorial “Vase of Grace” from Vogue Knitting Holiday 2008 here.
Tip #19: Color Your Own World
Colors are a personal choice, so don’t be afraid to experiment with colors that you prefer, as opposed to those shown in magazines or books. Also, you can easily update a favorite old pattern by choosing a new color and a newer yarn.
Tip #20: A Family That Knits Together…
If you are knitting from a complicated stitch pattern or color chart, and a family member wants something from you, bribe them into reading the stitch pattern rows or charts to you while you are knitting. It will cut your knitting time in half. It can also be considered “spending quality time with your loved one!”
Tip #21: Strategic Placement
It seems like the happiest knitters I know have at least five projects going at once. Place your knitting strategically: have one project in the car (can be something complicated); a project by the phone (a simpler one) and one in your bag to take to the doctor’s office, ballgame or on long train, bus or plane rides.
Tip #22: A Valuable Lesson
Learn the 3-Needle Joining method: It is great for seaming shoulders and also for layering edges to create show-stopping pieces.
Tip #23: Stash Your Stash
In the case of having to hide yarn purchases from your Significant Other: Carry your yarn in bags from the local grocery store right past your SO; if traveling and you come across a great yarn shop, buy all the yarn you want and have it sent to your mother or a close friend that won’t squeal on you; use cash so there is no paper trail; store your purchases in an old freezer that is kept in the garage or basement; have an extra clothes hamper for storage (if your SO is like mine, he is neither going to put his clothes in the laundry nor do the laundry); if you are lucky enough to have a baby, use empty throw-away diaper bags to store yarn; or stack a box in the closet, hiding it cleverly with feminine products. You get the idea.
Tip #24: Share the Love
Teach your significant other to knit, so he or she can enjoy and appreciate the art of knitting and how wonderfully addictive it is!
Tip #25: Catch Up On Your Reading
Just about everything mentioned in these tips can be found in my books!