The Importance of Gauge

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Most avid knitters have seen countless articles on gauge. I know I certainly have. One thing not often mentioned is the probability of the gauge changing from the time pieces are knitted to when they are blocked, assembled and worn. As a yarn shop owner, time and again I’ve heard, “But I checked my gauge, and it was right while I was knitting it!” This article is not about how to measure gauge. Instead, I’ll explore the factors that can unexpectedly change the gauge during the course of a project.

The Many Factors that can Effect Gauge

Fiber Content

Gauge with Cellulose Yarns

Photo 1

Wool is by far the most predictable fiber. Stitches worked in wool and more elastic yarns are more likely to stay true. However, softer animal fibers such as alpaca and many of the cellulose yarns such as cotton, bamboo and silk are notorious for spreading when washed (Photo 1). This can be devastating when you follow a garment pattern in which you remain true to gauge the entire garment only to find it 25 percent wider after you wash and block it.

Fabric or Stitch Patterns

Cables and ribs do not change dramatically from the time you knit them to the time you wash them. Usually these design elements do not present the problems that other fabrics or stitch patterns do. Lace knitting, however, can change dramatically from the needles and can block out 25 to 30 percent (Photo 2). Other stitch patterns, such as the garter stitch, will stretch vertically also.

Photo 2

Photo 2

Weight

So many times you will be right on gauge throughout a knitted piece, only to find drastic changes when you put the garment on. The weight of the garment now becomes relevant. It’s gravity.

We all know that gauge is important.

What I am stressing here is the importance of measuring your swatch as it is hanging, and as it will be worn later. Too often disappointment comes when the swatch is measured flat, on the needles or even blocked.

Gauge can change with wear.

It’s extremely important to launder and dry your swatch in the same way the finished garment will be treated. This essential factor is often overlooked by knitters, resulting in knitting disasters. When you wear your knitted garment, it will naturally be affected by it’s weight.

My preferred method to avoid a disappointing result.

Here is what I would do. Make a generous swatch (6–8 inches). Launder it as you would the garment you are going to make. Lay it flat to dry. Steam it if the fiber allows it. Hang the swatch up, and leave it for a day. A skirt hanger works well for some. I pin my swatches to a dress form or blocking board. You can thread a thin knitting needle through the top and bottom edges and hang the swatch from the top needle. Weight it by hanging a 50g skein of yarn from the bottom edge to simulate the added weight of a garment (Photo 3). This is sometimes referred to as “dressing” the swatch. After letting your swatch hang for at least a day, measure your swatch while it hangs.

Photo 3

Photo 3

Check Gauge!

“To save time, take time to check gauge.” That’s a familiar expression on knitting patterns, and now you know the best way to achieve success!

By Kennita Tully

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Cast-On, Knit, Purl Stitches

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The following stitch techniques can be used with a variety of patterns from baby blankets to scarves.

Long-Tail Cast-On

Leaving an end about an inch long for each stitch to be cast on, make a slip knot on the right needle. Place the thumb and index finger of your left hand between the yarn ends with the long yarn end over your thumb, and the strand from the skein over your index finger. Close your other fingers over the strands to hold them against your palm. Spread your thumb and index fingers apart and draw the yarn into a “V.” Place the needle in front of the strand around your thumb and bring it underneath this strand. Carry the needle over and under the strand on your index finger. Draw through loop on thumb. Drop the loop from your thumb and draw up the strand to form a stitch on the needle. Repeat until you have cast on the number of stitches indicated in the pattern. Remember to count the beginning slip knot as a stitch.

long-tail cast-onFKP

Cable Cast-On

This type of cast-on is used when adding stitches in the middle or at the end of a row. Make a slip knot on the left needle. Knit a stitch in this knot and place it on the left needle. Insert the right needle between the last two stitches on the left needle. Knit a stitch and place it on the left needle. Repeat for each stitch needed.

Cast-onFKP

Knit Stitches(k)

Insert tip of right needle from front to back in next stitch on left needle. Bring yarn under and over the tip of the right needle. Pull yarn loop through the stitch with right needle point. Slide the stitch off the left needle. The new stitch is on the right needle.

knit

Purl (p)

With yarn in front, insert tip of right needle from back to front through next stitch on the left needle. Bring yarn around the right needle counterclockwise. With right needle, draw yarn back through the stitch.   Slide the stitch off the left needle. The new stitch is on the right needle.

purl

Bind-Off (knit)

Knit first two stitches on left needle. Insert tip of left needle into first stitch worked on right needle and pull it over the second stitch and completely off the needle. Knit the next stitch and repeat. When one stitch remains on right needle, cut yarn and draw tail through last stitch to fasten off.

Binding-Off (purl)

Purl first two stitches on left needle. Insert tip of left needle into first stitch worked on right needle and pull it over the second stitch and completely off the needle. Purl the next stitch and repeat. When one stitch remains on right needle, cut yarn and draw tail through last stitch to fasten off.

bind-off

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Stash & Knit Patterns Storage Solutions

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If you’re a serious knitter, your supplies can really start to pile up. Between yarn, knitting notions, needles, and patterns, if you get disorganized, you can easily misplace the items you need for your projects. These knit patterns storage solutions can help you tame clutter and keep the essentials easily on-hand.

Rainbow Tote

Yarn Storage

Yarn is the most complicated knitting supply to store, because it can take up so much room. If you have a large stash of yarn, plastic or canvas bins are a must-have. Sort your yarn by weight, color, or type, so you can find the right yarn for your projects without having to dig. You can also use large Ziplock bags to keep skeins of yarn grouped by project.

There are also Home Decor Knitting Patterns and Purse and Bag Knitting Patterns you can use to manage your yarn stash. For example, a knit tote works as storage or to carry around the project you’re working on. The Rainbow Tote above features vibrant colors and a roomy 19” x 11” interior.

Knitting Tool Storage

Knitting tools are the opposite of yarn when it comes to storage. They’re small and easy to store, but that also means they’re easy to lose. Keep your knitting needles with their mates by storing them in a felt needle roll or using an elastic band to hold them together. Ziplock snack bags or Tic Tac containers are great for storing stitch markers or other small notions. Plus, you can knit small pouches or bins for holding your knitting tools. The Colorspun Boudoir Set includes a knit basket that can stash knitting notions such as tapestry needles, stitch markers, and stitch holders.

Pattern Storage

Knitting patterns are easy to store, but they can also pile up. When you print out patterns from Free-KnitPatterns.com, back them up to your computer, too, organizing your patterns by category. If you save the pattern to your cloud, you can also access it on your phone or tablet when you’re on the go. For physical pattern storage, consider marking a separate file folder for finished patterns, patterns in progress, and future projects. Slip the folders into your yarn totes or incorporate them into your home filing system.

What are your favorite knitting storage techniques? How do you keep your knitting supplies organized and easy to find?

Colorspun Boudoir Set

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Budget Knit Patterns: Knits that Save Money

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Want a new accessory or to freshen up your home décor? Look at knitting as your opportunity to get the look for less! There are plenty of ways you can use your knitting skills to DIY stylish accessories and home décor. Using these free budget knitting patterns, you can make a project for just the cost of supplies.

Aqua Octagon Rug

Home Decor

Updating your home décor can cost a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to. These budget knitting patterns for home décor feature classic and trendy styles for your space. Get the look of expensive knit toss pillows using this Chunky Checks Pillow Pattern. Knit the pillows in a neutral white or beige for a classic style or choose yarn to contrast with your couch for a pop of color. The pillows will give your living room a polished look and cost you hardly anything.

There are plenty of other budget houseware knitting patterns, too. Add some warmth to your kitchen floors or add a colorful rug to your living room using one of these Free Rug Patterns. At the department store, an area rug can be really expensive, but you can create a rug for much less using a free knitting pattern.

Knit Accessories
You can also save on your clothing budget by knitting your own accessories. Make trendy Mary Jane Slippers to keep your feet warm during the cold winter months. They make great gifts too, and don’t take much yarn to make. Other budget Knit Accessories include stylish hats, scarves, and purses. There are plenty of options for free knitting patterns, so you can find an accessory to fit your style and save your money.

Keep Warm on a Budget
Good winter coats are expensive. Make up for that cost by saving money on other cold water accessories. Use free Winter Clothing Knitting Patterns to knit hats, scarves, and gloves to match your family’s new coats. You can knit warm gloves with pretty snowflake motifs or classic cables.

Making your own clothing, accessories, and home décor is not only budget-friendly, it’s also fun. Use free knitting patterns to save even more or to leave more money in your knitting budget for yarn.

Mary Jane Slippers

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Trendy Free Knit Patterns for Stylish Knitters

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Some people associate handknit clothing with dowdy shawls and lumpy sweaters. That image couldn’t be further from the truth! There are plenty of trendy patterns you can knit to make to show off your sense of style. Use these trendy free knit patterns to update your wardrobe and show off your knitting skills.

Drop Stitch Dazzle

Sweater Dresses

Sweater dresses are trendy for fall and winter. You can knit a sweater dress that flatters your figure using your favorite color yarn. The Drop Stitch Dazzle Pattern (shown above) features a pretty draped style with a unique drop stitch texture. It looks chic paired with tights or leggings. You could also wear the sweater dress with skinny jeans and your favorite fall boots.

Color Blocking

Color blocking is still big this fall. Knit a color blocked sweater using a free long sleeve sweater pattern. The Daisy Pullover puts a fun spin on the color blocking trend by adding a bright flower to the colorful sections. You can knit the sweater in a light yarn for spring or use a warm wool for winter. Choose red and winter white for your colors and your sweater will work for Christmas and beyond.

Lace Collars

Lace collars and Peter Pan collars are on-trend this season. The sweet collars add feminine flair to your outfits whether you’re wearing a silk blouse or a simple t-shirt. Use the Blue Ribbon Collar Pattern to knit a lace collar quickly. You can customize the collar with colors to coordinate with your favorite tops.

There are plenty of other trendy knitting patterns to choose from. The free Calypso Capelet Pattern adds a stylish layer of warmth to your outfit while the Winter Sophistication Set keeps you warm in beautiful cables and fashionable winter neutrals. What are your favorite trends? With free knitting patterns you can find plenty of ways to customize your wardrobe to your sense of style.

Winter Sophistication

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The Most Useful Knitting Tools for Gifts to Knitters

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Do you have a knitter on your holiday gift list? You may think that the obvious present for them is yarn or pattern books, but there are actually plenty of helpful knitting tools for gifts they might love to have. Many knitters invest their money in yarn and needles, making tools a special treat that you can give to them. These useful knitting tools make wonderful gifts for knitters of all skill-levels.

knitting tools for gifts

Yarn Ball Winder

A yarn ball winder takes those long skeins of yarn and winds them into convenient balls, which are easier to work with. A yarn ball winder is not essential, because yarn balls can be wound from hand, so this useful knitting gift is a true luxury item your favorite knitter will love.

Stitch Counter

A stitch counter can be used to count individual stitches or keep track of rows in a pattern. It’s a handy and inexpensive device that makes a great stocking stuffer for a knitter. The brand Kacha-Kacha makes a red and gold stitch counter that’s a classic must-have for any knitter.

Stitch Markers

Stitch markers also make great stocking stuffers or simple just-because gifts. You can find basic plastic stitch markers or fancy novelty stitch counters that reflect the recipient’s other interests. Either option works well to keep track of where repeats or decreases begin. Find some pretty stitch markers and your friend or loved one will enjoy looking at them as they keep working on their project.

Point Protectors

Point protectors attach to the end of knitting needles to protect the needle and keep the stitches from sliding off. They’re a great gift for a knitter who likes to take her projects on the go. You can find simple point protectors or cute novelty point protectors in hearts, flowers, or other designs.

Interchangeable Needle Kit

Another luxury gift is a set of interchangeable needles. Giving this gift is like giving every needle your knitter will ever need. Denise makes a set of interchangeable needles that come with an excellent warranty and a convenient carrying case.

Create a gift basket for a knitter by including a ball of yarn a free knitting pattern, and an assortment of the tools above. You can also throw in some tapestry needles for weaving in loose ends or a pair of handy scissors.

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How to Get Started with Knitting

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Knitting is a timeless hobby. If you learn how to knit, you’ll be able to make clothes, accessories, and home décor for years to come. If you’ve never done a needlecraft before, however, you might not know how to begin. First, you’ll need the essential supplies: yarn, knitting needles (big acrylic or metal needles are great for beginners), scissors, and patterns. Next, one of the best things you can do is seek out a local knitting club or class. You’ll get tips from more advanced knitters and you can make new friends, too. From the comfort of your own home, you can find a variety of knitting tutorials on the internet with videos to show you the basic stitches. Once you learn how to cast-on and do a knit and a purl stitch, you can get started on these knitting projects for beginners.

Textured Blocks Scarf

Practice The Basics

As you get comfortable with knitting basics, there are many Free Beginner Knitting Patterns you can use for practice. Many knitters start with a basic scarf, such as the Textured Blocks Scarf, because scarves do not require any shaping. You just knit back and forth in a straight line. To learn basic shaping, however, you can try out socks or Classy Ankle Warmers.

Rip Out Your Mistakes

In an effort to get the hang of their knits and purls, many knitters just keep knitting when they drop a stitch or make another mistake. One of the best ways you can help yourself master the craft faster is not to overlook those errors. When you make a mistake, go back and fix it. Taking care of your little mistakes as you make them will help you get a feel for how stitches work and how to fix problems at the beginning. Check out these Quick Fixes for Common Problems to learn how.

Practice New Stitches

When you get the hang of the basics, challenge yourself with new stitches. Choose a simple lace chart to test more complicated combinations of stitches or learn how to knit cables. Sock patterns, such as the Leaf Lace Socks, are good for practicing new techniques on small projects. These new skills can help you give simple projects an extra-special touch. You’ll be ready to move on to advanced projects before you know it.

As you knit, keep this Knit Glossary handy, so you can look up any terms and techniques that have you stumped.

Lace Leaf Socks

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Knit Patterns for Animal Lovers

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If you love animals as much as you love to knit, there are plenty of ways you can combine those passions using these free knitting patterns. You can knit sweaters or toys for your furry friends or create knitting projects that celebrate your favorite animals.

Slip-Stitch Style Dog Sweater

Knit Dog Sweaters and Supplies

It may seem silly to put a sweater on a dog, but as the weather gets colder, your companion might appreciate the extra layer. Small dogs and naturally thin dogs, such as greyhounds and whippets, may be especially sensitive to the cold. There are plenty of patterns for dog sweaters in fun styles, so your dog can keep it simple or sport a trendy outfit.

The Tuxedo and Tails Free Dog Sweater Pattern is an adorable project you can use to make your pet some formal wear. The sweater is especially dapper for holiday parties or weddings. Your best friend can be your “Dog of Honor” when you dress him or her in a cute little tux.

For everyday wear, the Slip-Stitch Dog Sweater Pattern provides extra warmth with a lower profile. Your dog will love wearing the sweater on walks around the neighborhood or for snuggling on the couch. Plus, he or she will look so cute!

You can also knit your dog or cat a cozy pillow or rug. Use a Free Knit Rug Pattern to create a mat for your pet to nap on in the living room or to protect your car seat from fur and dirty paws. A free pillow pattern can provide your pet some extra comfort, too.

Knit Animal Toy Patterns

It’s fun to knit stuffed animals, whether you’re making them for a cat, dog, or human. These Free Knit Toy Patterns feature a range of adorable knit animals. Giles the Giraffe is a more complex project, perfect for you to show off your knitting skills. The Happy Critters patterns are based on children’s sock toys, making them a classic, retro choice. You an also knit a ball perfect for games of catch or fetch! Use your yarn stash and a spare afternoon and you can make plenty of animal toys, saving you money on expensive dog toys Fido will just chew up anyway.

Tuxedo and Tails Dog Sweater

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Free Winter Knitting Patterns for De-Stashing

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When it comes to de-stashing, there are a couple of approaches you can take. On one hand, you can knit small projects to use up single skeins and scraps; on the other hand, you can knit bigger projects that can use multiple yarns for a varied color and texture. These winter knitting patterns for de-stashing provide you with options for both methods. You can use your stock pile of yarn to create a cozy home or wardrobe this winter.

free winter knitting patterns

Small Winter De-Stashing Projects

Use your stash of yarns to knit small gifts for friends and neighbors. These Gift Knitting Patterns feature small projects such as heart pillows, pumpkins, ornaments, and bookmarks that you can knit and hang onto for surprise presents.

You can also use stashed yarn to knit Table Treatments for your home. Knit placemats and tablerunners in holiday colors or in neutral colors to go with your dishes any time of year. If you have a lot of scrap yarn, you can knit a striped tablerunner or placemats and use it up quickly. Dishcloths are also a classic stash busting project.

Knit pairs of socks or warm slippers to use up extra skeins of yarn. These adorable Mary Jane Slippers can be knit in solid colors or stripes. Many Winter Accessory Knitting Patterns are great projects for using stashed yarn, too. Knit simple hats or long, striped scarves to use your stash and keep your family warm.

Big Winter De-Stashing Projects

Perhaps the best big stash buster is a knit afghan. If you have a lot of different yarns that knit at about the same guage, you can use them to knit a unique scrap blanket. These blankets or afghans are a favorite for a reason. You can reminisce about the other projects you used your leftover yarn for while you knit the afghan. The project will also show off your taste in yarn and your favorite colors. These Classic Afghan Knitting Patterns provide a range of options for you to choose from.

For other large de-stashing projects, you can knit shawls, kitchen rugs, and whole tablecloths. There are plenty of options. De-stashing projects allow you to get creative with your colors while clearing up more storage space. Once you use your stash, you have a perfect excuse to buy more yarn!

free winter knitting patterns

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One Skein or Less- Free Pattern Christmas Gift Ideas

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If you’re in a time crunch or on a budget, small Christmas gift knit patterns can be a real solution. These free knitting patterns take up about one skein or less, which means they come together quickly and affordably. Use these patterns to create gifts for your friends and family or little presents to stash away for those holiday surprises.

Skating Fun Pins or Ornaments

Free Small Christmas Gift Knit Patterns

Holiday decorations are a great gift for neighbors or teachers. You can knit pretty holiday ornaments to give as presents or to decorate your own tree. Knit a heavenly choir or angel ornaments with a skein of white yarn (a white yarn with gold metallic accents would be especially festive). The Skating Fun Pins or Ornaments are another fun choice. You can add blades or wheels using safety pins or beads, too!

For an avid reader, use the Free Book Cover Knitting Pattern to create a book cover in their favorite colors. The project comes together quickly and you can even add a new paperback to it for an extra surprise.

There are also plenty of Free Toy Knitting Patterns that make quick knitting projects. Knit balls, stuffed animals, and blocks for the children on your holiday gift list. You can even knit sweaters and dresses to accessorize a new doll. Small knit toys make great stocking stuffers!

Quick Winter Knitting Projects

If you’re looking for a practical present idea, warm winter accessories also make great small Christmas gift knit patterns. Many Winter Accessory Knitting Patterns, such as hats, headbands, and mittens, can be knit using just one skein of yarn. Plus, you know your gift will come in handy during the holiday season—sometimes it takes more than love to keep you warm.

The Brightly Beaded Moccasins are a bit more than a skein—one skein per foot—but the beautiful moccasins would make a wonderful gift for your mother or sister. You might want to keep them yourself, though.

No matter how long a project takes, or how much yarn you use, a handknit project is a wonderful gift for you to give to anyone on your Christmas list.

Under the Covers for Romance

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