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Tips, Instruction, etc (recycle yarn, knit on 1 or 2 circulars, socks)

Websites/helpful links




Knitting Resources


Thrift stores are a great place to buy needles, yarn, and knitting books. Most of the yarn there is junk so it's certainly wise to be picky, but I've found some lovely 100% wool with the paper bands intact. Bags of yarn usually run $2-5/bag and needles are around 50-75 cents/pair. I once found five pairs of circular Inox needles bagged together for $1.99 at the Goodwill. All 5 were still in their original Inox packaging. (These needles cost $6.00/ea in the stores.) There was a full box of stitch markers and a tape measurer in the bag too. All that for $1.99! The stitch markers alone can cost over $2 at a yarn shop.

You can recycle yarn from thrift store sweaters, I wrote up some tips on how I do it and put the info on its own page -- click here.

Don't forget your friendly local library. Peruse their stock of knitting books and videos before spending money in a store. My library has Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Knitting Workshop" video set, which is $100.00 retail.

Sore fingers: If you push the left needle tip with a finger on your right hand you might be experiencing pain, especially when you work with the size 0,1,2 needles, as they tend to have sharper tips. An inexpensive solution is to build up a small pad (approx 1 cm x 1 cm) using a few layers of masking or scotch tape or Dr. Scholl's moleskin and stick this on your finger, covering the spot you use to push the needle. I prefer this over a bulky leather quilter's thimble.

You don't need to use double-pointed needles to knit small circumferences like sleeves, gloves, socks, and the top of hats. Instead you can use two circulars or one super long circular needle, which cuts the number of joins down to only two. This is especially handy for colorwork on small items such as mittens and gloves. It sure makes portable knitting easier too, I no longer worry about stitches falling off the dpns in my knitting bag.

Most knitting reference books assume that people are born with the knowledge of how to knit in the round on a circular needle. I almost never see a photo or illustration that actually shows how to join the round at the very beginning and this question pops up a lot on message boards, so here's a page that contains information on circular needles.

I've created a page with some sock knitting tips on it, including the basic idea of how to knit a sock on two circulars.

Seeking Circular Storage? I saw an ad for "The Circular Solution" in a magazine, noted the price, and decided to make my own circular needle holder. Here's a photo and instructions, it's pretty easy. I consider myself a lousy sewer so this is the sort of thing anybody can make.

WEBSITES/helpful links

KNITTING on about.com -- Instructions, free patterns, a message forum if you need help, plus a ton more knitting links

Knitting Help videos -- Online videos of basic stitches and techniques
Note: I hold the yarn in my left hand and it looks nothing like these videos. Do whatever feels right to you, the videos show only one way of doing it.

Knitting at Knoon -- Online videos of even more knitting stitches and techniques

Knitty -- Online magazine that features helpful articles and free patterns

Wiseneedle -- Hundreds of yarns reviewed by knitters (submit a review!)

Wool Festival -- Your festival fix at home

BOOKS, my recommendations

Knitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti

This is the first knitting book I purchased when I decided to teach myself how to knit. Since then I've acquired several more, and checked dozens out of the library, but this is my comfort book. It's what I first turn to when I have a question and while it doesn't answer everything it's still thorough and the writing is a pleasure to read.

Any book by Elizabeth Zimmermann (Knitting Without Tears, Knitter's Workshop, Knitter's Almanac, Knitting Around, The Opinionated Knitter)

What can I say about EZ that hasn't already been said? She's a legend. Read her books, watch her videos, you will be a better knitter for it. (Note: her last name is spelled Zimmermann, not Zimmerman.)

Knitter's Handbook by Montse Stanley

This reference book is crammed with information and it can be picked up used for a song. A feature worth noting is the chapter devoted to numerous cast ons and cast offs. Most knitting books show you 1-3 ways to cast on/cast off, this book has dozens. Good stuff.

Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt

It took five years of searching but I finally found Principles of Knitting in a used book shop at a sane used book price. There are rumors of a new updated edition in the works but don't expect to see it until 2007 or later, maybe never. POK annoys some knitters because Hiatt has very firm opinions on the best way to knit but that's fine with me. I don't believe everything I read and I find the strong expression of opinions rather refreshing, even when I completely disagree (a reason why I also like Elizabeth Zimmermann). If a second edition is ever published it'll be interesting to see if those negative opinions on continental knitting and working in the round are toned down. I don't recommend you pay the regular asking price so look for it at your library ... and keep checking the used book shops, ya never know.


"Knitter's Workshop" by Elizabeth Zimmermann (3 video set)

"Knitting Glossary" by Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen (2 video set)

EZ knits continental style, with the yarn held over the left forefinger, and these videos are the main reason I do as well. (Most North American videos will show you how to knit with the yarn held in the right hand, which just feels wrong to me. YMMV.) If you're a beginner just starting out please check your library for these videos, they are a huge help. Ask a librarian about interlibrary loan if they don't have the videos available.

"Spinning Wool -- Basics and Beyond" by Patsy Zawistoski

This video is ideal for a beginning spinner or even someone more advanced who would like to see an expert at work. Being able to watch someone do a Navajo three-ply using one bobbin is worth the cost of the video.

Knitting Help videos -- Online videos of basic stitches and techniques
Note: I hold the yarn in my left hand and it looks nothing like these videos. Do whatever feels right to you, the videos show only one way of doing it.

Knitting at Knoon -- Online videos of even more knitting stitches and techniques

Contact me: andrade [at] az [dot] com -- Please put something like 'knitting' in the subject so I don't mistake your e-mail for spam, thanks!

If you have knitting questions please refer to the message forums on Knitter's Review or knitting.about.com or the Livejournal Knitting community. All three sites offer free accounts. If you sign up for a Livejournal account you can start your own personal knitting journal there too.

[My knitting projects]