Archive for August, 2015

Top Ten Knitting Tricks

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

Who said you can’t teach an experienced knitter a few new tricks?  It seems the more we knit, the more we have to learn about timesaving tips, the best finishing methods and helpful stitch techniques to make our favorite craft so much more enjoyable.  Plus they can be really fun to pass on to your knitting friends.

Here are our Top Ten Knitting Tricks-

1.  Slip Stitch Join: Working in the round should be easy breezy, shouldn’t it?  No messy edges, no seams to sew, yet there is that inevitable opening that occurs between the first and last cast on stitch.  Sure, we can sew in the tail end while slipping it through the opposite edge to help smooth it out but this trick is so quick and effortless-

Cast on one extra stitch. Before joining in the round, slip the first stitch from left needle onto right needle, pass the extra stitch over this first stitch and slip it back to left needle. Tighten both yarn ends and proceed to knit.

2. Tightening Up Ladders: Aaargh! A pet peeve for sock knitters who use double point needles, ladders are enlarged spaces that can form in the fabric as one needle switches over to the next.  Pulling the yarn extra tight when making the transition to the next needle actually widens the gap.

To correct this issue, after knitting the first stitch on the next needle, do not tighten, leave it a little loose and tighten only the second stitch.  

3. Rounding Off Step Shaping: Those jagged little cast off edges that take place along the underarm, neck or shoulder shaping area can make it tricky to sew a smooth seam.

When a pattern calls for a certain number of stitches to be cast off at the beginning of a series of rows, simply knit or purl the first two stitches together. 

4. Casting Off Too Tightly:  When casting off the last row on a project, the tendency is to knit firmly to ensure a neat edge.  This can cause a problem on the neckband of a child’s pullover or across the front border of a cardigan when there is no allowance for stretch.

When in doubt always cast off with a larger needle.

5. Long Tail Cast On: How many times have you attempted to cast on using the long tail method and either overestimated or underestimated the length of yarn required to achieve the total number of stitches?  Its a frustrating way to start a new project and a time waster.

Instead of playing ‘yarn chicken’ try the two ball approach.  Pull a length of yarn from each ball and hold together (or use the center pull and outside end of one ball), make a slip knot four to six inches in from the end.  Now separate the two lengths to position one around the finger and one around the thumb.  This way you can cast on to your heart’s content and simply cut off the extra yarn as you begin the first row.  See video tutorial here.  

6. Jogless Stripes: The problem with knitting stripes in the round is the unsightly step where the two colours meet.  No matter how tightly you knit across this transition point, the jog remains.

This is a simple issue to resolve by first knitting one round in the new colour.  Before starting the next round, lift the righthand side of the stitch directly below the first stitch onto the left needle.  Knit this loop together with the first stitchSee video tutorial here.

7. The Final Hurrah:  You have reached the finish line!  Casting off the last stitch is always a reason to celebrate.  At the end of the row, do you make a slip knot from the last stitch to secure the tail?  This creates an unnecessary knot that can be difficult to hide in the seam especially if your chosen yarn is thick and bulky. 

A more polished way to finish off  the final stitch is to cut the yarn leaving a lengthy end and pull the loop upwards until the end comes through creating just a single tail. 

8. Lifelines:  Making a mistake in a knitting pattern is not the end of the world but having to rip out row after row can seem like a real setback.  A lifeline may easily become your new best friend.  Its just a contrast yarn worked into the knitting in order to save the stitches directly below the mistake which will make them easier to pick up on the needle. 

See tutorial here.  

9. Colour Coded Cables: Following a charted pattern with many different cables and twists can be daunting to say the least.  Each symbol so closely resembles the next and precious knitting time is lost trying to decipher each one at a glance.

This is where highlighters come in handy, buy a pack with as many assorted colours as you can find.  Enlarging the chart is the first step, and then simply colour code each symbol with the corresponding ones on the chart.  Not only will you have an attractive looking pattern, just watch how quickly your eyes recognize the difference between each cable. 

10. Hiding The Purl Wraps: Wrapping and turning has become standard practice in today’s knitting patterns, especially when it comes to creating shaping in collars or shawls.  Learning the w&t technique is quite simple and well-explained in most patterns however there is still the process of hiding the wraps on the purl row that has many mystified. 

See video tutorial here.   

Fall Bliss

Monday, August 24th, 2015

While summer woos us with one final hurrah, Debbie Bliss sweeps us away into the plush cosy warmth of the coming season with her latest knitting magazine, and lets us in on what’s trending in fall knitwear.  Issue Fifteen gives us a firsthand look at three new irresistibly thick yarns that will be filling the store shelves plus twenty eight projects to make our needles click with delight.

This issue also introduces us to Conway & Bliss, the dynamic design duo who have honed their craft under the skillful eye of mentor, Debbie Bliss.  The hip style of this team brings a fresh vibe to the pages of this magazine, and offers a collection of fun projects geared towards brand new knitters.

Available this week at your lys-



In this issue, tartans and plaid break a few old school rules to show their softer side, boucle and mohair stand out in the crowd, and little boy knits get top billing.  Noro makes an appearance with four stylish patterns included plus the chance to win a copy of the latest book, Noro Lace: 30 Exquisite Knits.


Its a plaid, plaid world out there and this issue features styles that are far from the classic prep school uniform.  Debbie’s Check Sweater is designed for easy comfort, with two opposing yarns worked together to create a stunning combination of softness and substance.  Fine Donegal in Fuschia and Angel in Hot Pink (shown above).


Conway & Bliss are creating plenty of sparks with the launch of their bulky mohair yarn- Elektra, available in a dozen self-striping shades this season.  This Chunky Garter Stitch Sweater is designed with the beginner knitter in mind, and works up quickly with two strands of complimentary colours held together on 10 mm needles.  Motown and Soul (shown above).


Soak in the dreamy snow-covered enchantment of the epic romance, Doctor Zhivago, the inspiration behind this cosy boucle sleeveless top, a ‘curl up on the sofa’ weekend project.  Its knit in Lara, a super thick wool and alpaca blend that knits up on 12 mm needles.  Yuri (shown above).


Deep, dark and mysterious, that is the allure of Boheme, the latest offering from the Debbie Bliss Collection, a bulky chainette yarn with jewel-flecked colouring that exudes elegance.  Puccini (shown above).

Sirdar Sylvan

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

It starts out something like this, an inconspicuous flyer in the local paper advertising back to school gear, then out of the blue, the first scattering of fallen leaves appear on the sidewalk, next, the CNE is ready to roll open its stately gates.  Yes….this is when the wistful realization occurs, summer is quickly reaching its expiration date.

All it takes to bring knitters back into the fold is a few crisp, cool mornings and the anticipated arrival of new yarns.  Sirdar is at the head of the line with Sylvan, also known as ‘spirit of the woods’.  This lightweight chunky yarn is gently tri-shaded in earthy tones with a silky slub that slides effortlessly across the needles.

Here is a sampling of Sirdar’s newest rustic look in stores now-

Sirdar Leaflet #7482

Sirdar Leaflet #7482

Crossing over into early fall, this rugged-looking pullover trimmed with a handsome shawl collar is just one of three striking designs for men featured in the Sylvan Collection. Burley (shown above).

Sirdar Leaflet #7485

Sirdar Leaflet #7485

Topping off the woodsy look, four transitional accessories that require 1, 2 or 3 balls of Sylvan and will knit up in a flash before the cool weather arrives.

Sirdar Leaflet #7486

Sirdar Leaflet #7486

Wanted: A cosy charmer with deep ribbed pockets to warm up exceptionally cold fingertips.  This design features raglan sleeves and a turnback collar for a classic look.  Balsam (shown above).

Sirdar Leaflet #7487

Sirdar Leaflet #7487

Making the grade this fall, a deep v neck vest with dual travelling cables that veer off in opposite directions to create a soft subtle edging.  Instructions for ribbed wrist warmers also included.  Hocklety (shown above).

Sirdar Leaflet #7489

Sirdar Leaflet #7489

Longer in the back and shorter in the front, this trendy design features simple texture, a polo neck, and we give it a three star rating as an ideal project for a new knitter.  Arbour (shown above).

Knitting Lingo

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

Is there a secret code in the world of knitting?  In order to fully relate to other knitters, who knew we had to learn not only the written pattern abbreviations but also the hidden meanings of acronyms currently winging their way around online knit n chat groups, ravelry forums, and any other chicks with sticks get-togethers.  Is it just a matter of convenience?  Or is this new-fangled lingo designed to create a close-knit society who can essentially communicate in a secret language?


Here are sixteen of the most common knitting acronyms decoded-

FO – Finished Object (newly finished project).

FOTN – Fresh Off The Needles (the needles are still warm to the touch).

ISO In Search Of (a term often used on ravelry to signify a yarn search between knitters).

KAL – Knit A Long (a project worked on at the same time by a group of knitters).

KIP Knit in Public (taking a project to the streets).

LYS – Local Yarn Shop (better than any ice cream or candy shop).

LYSO – Local Yarn Shop Owner (that special someone who gets to rule the yarn castle).

MKAL Mystery Knit A Long (an organized group project especially popular on ravelry with a series of clues posted over a designated time period).

OTN On The Needles (current project).

SABLE Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy (never enough yarn!).

SIP – Sock In Progress (most current sock project).

SSS – Second Sock Syndrome (just like a virus, it hits every sock knitter at some point).

TINK (KNIT spelled backwards, refers to using both needles to un-knit a project one stitch at a time in order to repair a mistake.  Not to be confused with FROGGING, the rip-it, rip-it method of unraveling stitches row-by-row).

TU – Toe Up (a specific type of sock pattern).

UFO – UnFinished Object (the ‘never speak of it again’ project that hides in the shadows).

WIP Work in Progress (a current project).