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FAQs

To get answers to your questions about knitting and crochet:

  • Try using Google with a few keywords about your question or problem. Often the best site answering your question will be on the first page of search results.
  • YouTube is also a popular source for help because people provide answers and show knit and crochet techniques via video. You can search YouTube using keywords just as if you were using Google.
  • Remember that most patterns are not written for the convenience of the user.  Reputable yarn companies and knitwear designers will have sources for corrections to their patterns.
  • Don’t forget your Local Yarn Shop!  Any yarn retailer worth their salt will be happy to answer your questions and help you with your projects.  While I respect yarns shops that make the choice to only assist customers who have purchased from them, I fundamentally disagree.  Helping someone is creating an opportunity for a repeat customer.
  • Find a local knitting guild.  Check your local libraries, places of worship, and rec centers for knitting classes.
  • For all things knitting and crochet, you cannot beat Ravelry.com. You will find it most useful when you become a member, and it’s free. Here is how the organizers describe the site: “Ravelry is a place for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, weavers and dyers to keep track of their yarn, tools, project and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration.” It has thousands of members and offers forums where you can search and post inquiries.

 

  • Teach yourself. Often people are able to learn by working with a beginner’s book (visit my Recommended Knitting Books page) or by watching free videos online at YouTube.com or knitting-related sites.

    Find an experienced knitter who is willing to get you started. This may be a family member or friend or neighbor.

    Take a beginner class. Many are offered through local libraries, community centers, and yarn shops at low cost. You will need to buy your own yarn and needles, and possibly the pattern, if one is required.

    As you move from making practice swatches and simple projects like scarves, I usually recommend working with a teacher to reduce frustration and speed up your learning. Besides, knitting with others is a lot of fun!

  • It depends on what you are making and what it will be used for when finished.

    Knitting Needles

    • If you are just getting started, larger knitting needles such as size 7 or above will be easier to handle while you are learning. Pick a pattern that calls for one of those sizes.
    • Needles are made using wood, bamboo, metal, and plastic. Mostly it’s a matter of your preference. Wood and bamboo needles are a bit better at preventing your knitting from accidentally sliding off the needles because of their texture. If you have arthritis in your hands, you might find wood or bamboo needles better than metal because they do not draw heat from your fingers.

    Yarn

    Yarn has long been available in cotton and wool varieties. In recent years, bamboo yarns have become popular as well as a wide variety of yarn blends.

    Another factor to consider is yarn thickness. Some items can be made well using almost any size yarn.

    The quantity needed will vary depending on what you are making. I always recommend buying one more skein than the pattern calls for to allow for yarns, gauge, and tension you use that could be quite different from the person who made the original pattern. It’s often a small price to pay for peace of mind in knowing you won’t run out.

    More info: The Five Types of Yarn Every Knitter Needs to Know

    Follow the Pattern Designer’s Choices

    If you are working with a pattern, you will get the best results if you follow the designer’s recommendations for yarn and needles as closely as you can. If you decide to use a different size of yarn (such as sock yarn versus worsted weight), a different type of yarn (cotton instead of wool), or different size needles, make a swatch to see if you will like the results you get.

  • YO, K2TOG, SSK, SC, HDC — it can be very confusing to decode a knitting or crocheting pattern. Even experienced crafters can run into trouble. Pattern designers and publishers use them to (hopefully) make the pattern more easily understood and to fit the pattern into the space allotted in the publication. The challenge is there is no one standard for abbreviations that everyone in the industry agrees to use.

    Every pattern contains a list of abbreviations used and a brief explanation, either in the pattern itself or in the magazine or book or web site in which it is published. Below are two lists that can also be helpful.

    Knitting Abbreviations Master List

    Crochet Abbreviations Master List

  • Yes, and it depends.  I have only met a few people who enjoy swatching.

    Swatching is important if:

    a) You are making something to fit you or another person.

    b) If you wish your project to look EXACTLY like a magazine or book picture, or

    c) You change the fiber content and/or size of yarn called for in the pattern.  

    In general, swatching is never a waste of time.  It is not the “fun” part of knitting a project; still, and especially if this is a large project or uses an expensive yarn, swatching will help avoid disappointment with your completed project.  If you are having trouble with your swatch, visit your local yarn shop.

     

  • Tension refers to how tightly you are pulling the yarn when manipulating it with needles. It’s the third factor that affects the gauge, or number of stitches per inch (cm) and number of rows per inch (cm). (See knitting gauge and crochet gauge.)

    It is relevant in both knitting and crocheting, and how much it matters depends on what you are making.

    A tighter tension may result in a smaller item; a looser tension may result in a larger items and more noticeable gaps between stitches.

  • Probably the most useful source is purchasing a good knitting reference book to keep in your project bag. (Visit my Recommended Knitting Books page.) There are several good ones that provide pictures and clear instructions for fixing dropped, twisted, or incomplete stitches.

    For more difficult problems, you might find the solution on YouTube.com

    Many knitting shops offer free “sit and knit” classes where others are very likely to be willing to help you.

    If you are taking a class, bring your project to the instructor, who will be happy to help you.

  • One of the best tools for knitting or crocheting is sticky notes, also known as Post-Its. Place a sticky note on your pattern immediately below the instructions for the current row you are working to keep your place. Move it along as you complete each row.

    Row counters are often used in knitting (though there is no reason why you couldn’t use them in crochet as well). 

    In knitting, it’s also common to use stitch markers. These are small plastic circles wide enough to slip onto a knitting needle. They can be quite fancy, embellished with beads and other decorations. They can be found at craft stores like JoAnn’s and at your favorite yarn shop.

    Patterns will often incorporate the use of stitch markers, using the term “PM,” meaning “place marker,” when you are expected to put one on your needle.

    While the small plastic circle markers work best, in a pinch you can also use whatever you have on hand such as twist ties.

  • If your pattern calls for using more than one yarn, it can be challenging to keep them from becoming tangled as you work with the item you are making.

    The best method involves putting each skein into a separate container. These 7 creative yarn holders use glass, metal or plastic household containers to good use. Plastic bags that zip closed (e.g., “Zip-Loc” bags) are also an inexpensive and useful option.

    If you are working with a more complicated pattern such as fair isle, there are yarn bobbins and other tools designed for this purpose.

  • There are probably millions of free knitting and crocheting patterns out there. You can always start by searching Google for “free knitting patterns” (or crochet) without the quotes.

    Other good places to look:

    • Ravelry.com (mentioned above).
    • Web sites of knitting and crocheting magazines.
    • Web sites of pattern designers.

    However, be aware that though the pattern is free, the pattern owner may not allow you to make items from it that you intend to sell. Check with the source first before doing so.

  • Absolutely! One option is a friend or family member who is an experienced, left-handed knitter and is willing to teach you.

    While you may be able to figure it out on your own using online videos (search YouTube.com), often a teacher can help you learn faster and with less frustration. For example, even though I am right-handed, I have successfully taught many left-handed people to knit.

    Ask your local yarn shops for teacher recommendations, or take a beginner’s class at one of the shops.