Tips and Favorite Techniques 

Alice Hutchinson shared that she uses hem rods her DH made for her. They were made from 1/4" steel rods that he rounded on the ends. Similar rods can be purchased at Wal-Mart. Just look for the cadmium plated 1/4" rods. They are 3 feet long and can be cut to the length you desire. In areas of high humidity put fingernail polish on the cut ends to keep them from rusting. The ends don't have to be rounded, just smooth. She believes they sell for two dollars or less.

To use the rods: Knit and hang the hem. Then insert the rod in the casing made ~ the hem. It adds a nice even weight as you knit the remainder of the garment. When you finish knitting the garment, before taking the rod out of the hem casing, pull down on the knitting to lock the stitches in place.

Gwen Connolly gcomp@POWERUP.COM.AU sent a tip for making a V neck. On the front of the vest cast on an UNEVEN number of stitch. When dividing for the V neck, put the ODD stitch in the centre onto a Safety Pin. This spare stitch will provide a central point for joining the neckband on. Also, do no decrease or increase on the edge stitch when knitting the V neck.

Gwen also sent another idea on creating a reversible garment ~ using the tuck and slip levers/buttons. On the Singer/Studio machines, put one Russell Lever forward and the opposite lever back. On Brother/Knitking, put one tuck button in and the other tuck button out. Both sides are attractive. Sewing up these style garments with a "flat" seam and careful attachments of bands will give you a reversible garment.

Rita Mitchell RitaofLA@AOL.COM gave us a tip to make sure you get a large enough opening for a neckline. Measure the head circumference and hold your tape measure on top of your knitting bed. Make sure that your neckline ribbing or stockinette band is no less in length than that measurement. This is especially useful for children's neckline openings as we tend to think their heads are smaller than they really measure.

Rita also sent a good idea concerning the ribber cast-on comb. She starts everything ~ hanging the ribber cast on comb into the zig-zag row which she does with a string or ravel cord which will be pulled out when the garment piece is finished. After the ribber comb in hung, she separates the ribber carriage from the main bed carriage and runs it across and back, dropping all stitches off the ribber bed needles only. The comb now hangs from the main bed ~ the zig-zag string. Next, she starts her single or double bed garment as usual ~ e-wrapping or using any of several permanent cast-on methods. The comb will give it even weight even for the first few rows. Double bed garments can be started with the zig-zag row and 2 rows of circular knitting. Your ribbing will be much tighter and will not flare with this method. When the comb is removed, the string is pulled out and you should have no open stitches.

Bev Hoban mhoban@WOLF.CO.NET told those of us who are really impatient and hate waiting for a garment to dry after steaming to keep a hair dryer next to your blocking board and blow dry the piece.

Joan Alsop shared a tip to help us see stitches. Knit one row with sewing or serger thread in a contrasting colour in between the last row of main knitting and the first row of waste yarn. It is now easy to see the stitches you are going to be back stitching.

Jan Burch added to this tip ~ telling us to cast on the neckband with waste yarn, then 1 row of serger thread, then knit the band, knit 1 row of serger thread, then waste yarn off the band. She hangs the bottom row of her neckband onto the Hague Linker and then hang the garment neck (after joining 1 shoulder) on the same prongs. Then she folds down the other side of the band which sandwiches the neck band and then she links the band in place. ~ using the serger thread, it makes it easier to stretch out the stitch and to see the knit stitch on the band that you want to push on to the Linker prong.

Jane Lee jlee@VIP.NET also shared a note about picking up stitches that she learned at the Seattle Seminar a few years ago. When making a neckband of the type that is backstitches in place on the front of the sweater, don't remove the waste-yarn until after the stitching is done. That way you can see the stitches, and you also have something to pin and hold on to to make sure the band is evenly stitches. All the magazines or patterns I had read always said "Remove waste yarn a few stitches at a time as you backstitch" and UI never could do a neat job of backstitching that way.

Marge Foster mfoster@USOL.COM shared a good way to attach wax to the Passap. She buys the blocks of canning wax and cuts a block into 4 pieces. Then using a pumpkin carving knife, she makes a hole in the center. The hole from this knife is the perfect size to push onto the Passap eyelet where the yarn pulls through. For the Studio/Knitking she has the Holowax device. She uses the same wax but she cuts it in half and puts the hole in the center.

Bev Hoban mhoban@WOLF.CO.NET added another way to attach wax to the tension mast. She bought a small votive candle (about 4-5 inches in circumference and 2 inches long). She peeled the sticker off the bottom to reveal the small metal disk where the wick is attached. With just a bit of effort, she pulled off the disk and, of course, the wick came with it, leaving a fairly large hole in the candle. She rubber bands the candle to the arm of the mast with the hole running parallel to the arm. She sticks a small crochet hook through the hold to catch the yarn, then finishes threading the last eyelet, then the tension spring. She buys scented candles (vanilla this time) and that gives off a wonderful aroma while you're knitting.

Evvie Williams ewilliam@KNOX.NET shared an automatic picot edge. Instead of transferring stitches for a hem with a picot edge, cast on every other needle and knit hem facing. Then bring all needles into work and knit length of hem. Hang hem and continue knitting.

Sandy from Kidoodles kidooles@SBINET.COM designs patterns for manufacturing, and her tip dealt with doing the garment quickly. Since decreasing takes a little time, she makes it a little faster ~ decreasing twice as many stitches as the pattern calls for and then knitting twice as many plain rows between decreases. If the pattern says to decrease 1 stitch each side every 4th row 20 times, this would mean she would have to decrease4 1 stitch on each side, then knit 4 plain rows, repeating this 20 times. Instead she would decrease 2 stitches ~ using the 3-prong tool to work a full fashion decrease. Then she would knit 8 rows before the next decrease, repeating a total of 10 times. Half as many decrease steps, saving time.

Marcia Brown also shared some time-saving advice. A big time saver for her is using the linker that fits on the bed of the machine for joining sleeves, cardigan facings, neckbands or anything else she can find to "link" off rather than bind off.

She also saves time when knitting pullovers ~ knitting the neck band while I still have the front or back on the machine. I knit the front first, then the shoulder stitches are bound off. The neck stitches are the only ones left in the center of the machine. Pick up along the straight edge, then knit whatever neckband you want. Then knit the back and take it off on a garter bar. Rehang the front shoulder stitches that have been bound off (right side facing) and make sure the work is behind the latch hooks. Rehang back stitches on needle hooks and pull the stitches through the front. Latch off shoulder stitches. You are left with the back neck stitches. Pick up 1 to 3 extra stitches on each side and knit your back neckband. You save time as you don't have to a)join 1 shoulder b)then knit the neckband c)then join the other shoulder d)then connect the neckband. ~ knitting the neckband on each piece, you do have 2 seams in the neckband instead of one, but no waste yarn and it definitely saves times. This really works well for "rollneck" pullovers.

Shirl told us all how to make a cone winder. Her DH made this one for her about 8 years ago and it is still going strong. He bought a 12-inch length of 1/4" screw and a 2-inch long chuck that the 12-inch screw fit into. He then took an old variable speed drill and positioned it in one end of his Black and Decker Workmate. He cut 2 four-inch round pieces out of hardboard and put a hole in the centre just large enough to put the long screw through. So I put a couple of nuts on one end of the long screw adjusted for the length of the empty cone, a metal washer, the 4-inch hardboard, the empty yarn cone, the 2nd round piece of hard board, a metal washer, and then screwed all this into the chuck which has already been attached to the drill. Then start winding, moving the yarn back and forth. She said she used it for ripping out knitted things, steaming it as she was doing so to take out the kinks. It's also good for winding yarn that comes in hanks.

Mary Walton sent us a tip on underarm shaping. When doing underarm shaping, after she binds off a set of stitches, she wraps the yarn around the last stitch before rethreading the carriage. This prevents a hole, much like wrapping during short-rowing.

Donna Lamb gave us a good idea for long garments done with a ribber. When the knitting starts hitting the floor and she still needs weight, she removes the regular weights, folds the fabric nearer the machine, and clamps on a pants hanger (upside down). She can then hang ribber weights in the hooks of the hanger. This evenly distributes the weight and helps me to continue to knit smoothly.

David Larson shared a garter carriage tip. When he does cables in a garter carriage pattern, he lets the garter carriage knit the entire row in which the cables were supposed to have been knit. Then he unknits just the stitches where the cables go, turns the cable in the row below, and reknits the stitches manually. This way there is no extra yarn needed, the cable is in the right place, you don't stress out the yarn or the garter carriage, and it goes faster than stopping for the cable.

Mary Teague marynray@MAIL.CONXNET.COM suggests that if you're having problems with wound yarn coming undone, a simple answer is to use your old hosiery to hold the errant yarn. Simply cut the old hosiery the length of the cone plus some extra for a knot on the underneath side. She usually leaves a small bit of the yarn outside to be able to see the true color. Then wrap the yarn with the hosiery piece ready for storage.

Bette Abdallah sends some ways to keep organized. She uses a hanging shoe holder to put her tools and things in and hangs it on the wall behind the knitting machine. She has a piece of peg board and puts hooks in it (the kind that K-Mart or that type of store uses). She put a piece of yarn on her combs and hangs them on it. She also uses hardcover notebooks to put her patterns and books in, arranged ~ author.

Alessandrina Costa Sandrina@WEBTV.NET uses red nail polish to mark the centers on her ribber cast on combs and also every 10 needles on the Hague linker. Bright red nail polish is also favored ~ Ester Kelly ekelley@TODAYS-TECH.COM The Wilsons marked the middle of the cast-on comb with permanent ink. ~ lining up the ink with the 0 on the needle strip, the comb is easy to hang evenly. Mrs. Paul Rosemary rearep@BREMNER.UCT.AC.ZA uses White-Out or Tippex on the two middle teeth of her cast-on comb. The white shows up nicely between the two beds and her comb is always centered. Ann Wilson marks the exact middle of her cast on comb with permanent ink so the mark lines up with 0 on the needle strip.

Margaret McCall mccall@ICONZ.CO.NZ tells us when she is cleaning her machines, she finds men's hankies marvelous as they are nice and soft and hemmed and so don't shed strands of cotton. They are also cheap. She bought a bundle of 12 for about $2.00 at a warehouse type shop. She has a couple for cleaning and a couple for oiling. When they get too dirty, she throws them out and gets a couple of new ones. For the fiddly bits she wraps the hanky over the top of one of her tools and uses that.

Rita Mitchell RitaofLA@AOL.COM has some suggestions for knitting chenille. She has seen chenille knit as a fairisle pattern using woolray for pattern and the background or main color was the chenille. Since chenille is heavy, it helps to have another yarn with it to keep the weight down. Another good idea she has seen is to knit one row of a rayon yarn thinner but of the same color as the chenille and one row of the chenille throughout the garment. It was very nice and had a good weight. To help eliminate "worming," which is what the loops are that come when chenille is knit with too loose a tension or sometimes just happens anyway, she suggests knitting the chenille with a matching sewing machine thread. It also helps to maintain the garment shape better and controls the ribbing better.

Rita also sent a great idea for drying sweaters. She has several tension rods that she had used in the past for shower curtains. She set the tension pole up in the bathroom with a sweater on it. She threads the sweater on it from one sleeve to the other, then gives it a good tug to set the bottom hem straight. The sweater has always been dry the next day and comes out so nice! There are no lines going down the sleeve like when dried flat. She would never dry a sweater laid out on towels on the floor again. Ever notice if the carpet isn't new, your sweater picks up odors from it!

Linda Jo Park dljpark@NIDLINK.COM gives us a good explanation of "growing" garments. Whenever you're going to make something long, like a bathrobe, skirt, long jacket or coat, dress, curtains, etc., you must factor in what most people call "drop." Knits, ~ nature, are stretchy. That's what makes them so wonderfully forgiving on our imperfect bodies. It's also what causes them to "drop." Gravity grabs hold of the garment, and the weight of itself causes it to stretch toward the floor. So you actually have to plan for that drop. In other words, make your garment shorter than desired measurement to make room for the stretch.
She takes into account 3 factors when planning for this. First is the yarn content. The more give a yarn has, the more it'll drop. Cotton doesn't have much elasticity, so it tends not to stretch as much as wool or acrylic. Second is the length of the garment. The longer a garment is, the more weight and the more there is to stretch. She usually factors about 2 inches of drop for a skirt, which is the standard most people use. Since she likes her skirts to be 25 inches long, she knits them 23 inches long. They are the correct length, then, when worn. Third is the stitch pattern. Some stitch patterns will drop more than others. It's been her observation, from personal experience, that slip and knitweave does not drop as much as stockinette or fairisle. But tuck, especially double bed tuck, will drop through the floor and all the way to China given half a chance. In her opinion, double bed tuck is the stretchiest of all patterns. She suggests thinking about which direction that stitch pattern is going, too. Are you knitting something sideways? Some stitch patterns will stretch more sideways than vertically.
Lace tends to drop a lot. A couple of years ago she make a dress with a lace yoke, using Tamm's Diamante. She didn't do so well figuring the drop factor on that one. The lace yoke was supposed to end just above her bust. The first time she wore it, ~ the end of the day, it had dropped below her bust. The weight of all the stockinette below it going down to her shins was more than it could take. She was horribly embarrassed and glad that she'd made a matching jacket!
She made some lace curtains for her knitting studio that were 54 inches long. She factored 4 inches of drop in them, since they were twice as long as a skirt. On this one, she guess right and the curtains were a perfect fit.

Mrs. Paul Rosemary rearep@BREMNER.UCT.AC.ZA tells us that her husband heard her say she needed more weights, and he dived into his fishing tackle box and came out with 6 BIG lead weights, the ones with a hole in the top into which he screwed a cup hook. They made wonderful, extra weights for next to nothing. The cup hooks were plastic coated, too, so no problem with rust, either.

Alessandrina Costa Sandrina@WEBTV.NET adds these weights may also be used in weaving. She also suggests that, since some people have an environmental concern about lead, paint and hardware stores sell a vinyl paint that may be used to cover handles on tools to provide extra grip. In this case, the vinyl paint could also be used to cover things such as lead objects if one is concerned about the implications of the lead content on health.

Julie Tamura Julie.Tamura@UNISYS.COM reports that there are other interesting goodies in the fishing section of the sporting goods stores. She knows of ladies who use rifle cases for their ribbers. She uses pistol cases for her beading supplies and a flower-shaped watercolor palette to separate the different colors. Instead of being bored when going through a "men's" store, she thinks about what those gadgets might do for her. Since she's not often burdened ~ knowing what they're really for, she can let her imagination run wild!

Shelia West gives a great tip on knowing which needles to take out of work when working with a tuck-lace patterns. She sets up as many needles as are required to B position. then she sets the carriage to KCII. She takes the carriage across the bed and then looks at the needles. The pattern needles are forward and other needles remain in B position. Then she looks at the stitch graph and identifies which of the needles that are in B position correspond with the o (for out of work) needles in the diagram. The pattern is centered on the bed, and it is easy to mark the bed with a chinagraph pencil to show the out of work needles. Then the knitter can cast on over all needles and transfer the unwanted stitches to their adjacent needles before starting the tuck lace, or the knitter can do a singlebed cast on over only the wanted needles.

Kathy Pauser awaego@IBM.NET uses garter bars when the directions call for the knitted piece to be taken off on scrap yarn. She purchased a total of three garter bars over the years and had one of them cut into various lengths and then sanded smooth. So now she has a whole range of garter bars to use for whatever she's making.

Janet Rehfeldt sends us a tip on controlling your yarn skein while you do the hand finishing on your project. The new Yarn Bras available at craft stores or through mail order are wonder for keeping that skein of yarn in place. They are a plastic net that expands to fit your skein and then collapses down as you use the yarn. They run about $3.50 to $4.00 a package. Make your own yarn bras ~ taking a knee high stocking and placing it on the skein. She uses old ones that have runs and that she's washed well. Making sure the pull strand is at the top of the stocking, pull the stocking up onto the skein. These little guys work wonderfully because of the elastic band at the top. Best of all, it doesn't cost much. Think of it as a great recycling tip.

Janet also comments about using wax for those yarns that tangle and and wrap around themselves. She was told to use small votive candles, but she likes the flat candles better. She uses the small round flat candles than come in an aluminum base used for warming trays or fondue pots. Pull the candle out of the base, take the wick out, and they'll fit right on the feeding eyelet on the mast. She also uses an old knee high stocking over cones of yarn that are troublesome. She cuts a hole in the toe and then rolls the stocking back over the cone. The yarn feeds smoothly through the hole in the stocking and doesn't get all tangled up back onto the yarn on the cone.

Yvette Hart yhart@HGEA.ORG says she likes to use dress yarns such as Velveen. On her Passap, I like the look that I get from the double strand, but she usually doesn't want to buy 2 cones to knit from. She found that after using the yarn winder and taking my newly wound ball off the cone holder, the ball would collapse and start filling in. She likes to do this before she starts any knitting, so when the bought cone weights about half of whatever it was in the beginning, she stops. So, at this point, she may have four or five balls. They may sit around for awhile, put in plastic bags or on shelves. In other words, they get messy. So her solution: she saves the cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls and slits them with old scissors from end to end. After winding on the yarn winder, she holds the tp tube tightly, reducing its diameter, and slips the newly wound ball from the plastic cone holder onto the tp tube. When she lets go of the tube, it enlarges back to its original size and holds the wound yarn nicely. You can even slide the end down into the slit you made to keep them neat. She's put several of these in plastic bags and they have kept nicely through moving, being stashed, and when she looks frantically through said stash for inspiration. Toilet paper tubes can be replaced ~ gift paper tubes cut down to the proper size.

Barbara White pulls a couple of thick socks over her steamer head on the Jiffy steamer. That way she doesn't get steam streaks.

Ann Greer sends us a method of making buttons to match the sweater. Purchase the required number of plastic rings in the proper size, e.g. 5/8" or 7/8". Using a double strand of yarn, single chain (crochet) around a ring and then weave the center to fill in. Sew on the garment and Viola! She recalls she once used plumbing washers in order to achieve the required large size.

Jennie Merritt thinks one of the most important procedures for beginner and advanced knitters is to remember to make the swatch in the proper fashion and treat it as you would the finished product. She has known "shortcut" knitters who want to hold a ruler up to the swatch and count the stitches and rows within a one-inch area. Make the swatch, recording the number of stitches and rows, and process it as you would the garment. Measure the width and divide ~ the number of stitches for spi. Then measure the length and divide ~ the number of rows for rpi.

Jan Burch gives us a good tip for those who use the portable machines with no gateposts. To bind off, pull the empty needle next to the stitch you are binding off our to E or Hold position. Put the yarn between the empty needle and the one next to it, bind off the stitch and move on to the next one. Repeat, using all the now-empty needle for the gatepeg until all stitches have been knit off.


Each of these generous people shared with the hope of helping someone else. Why not take a minute and send an email to the person whose tip you used. I know they'd appreciate it!---Northtipton

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