How to Avoid Twisted Stitches in Knitting

Twisted stitches closeup
Four twisted stitches surrounded by non-twisted stitches

What causes twisted stitches in knitting, and how can you avoid them?

Beginning knitters often end up twisting their stitches, either single stitches or entire rows of stitches, but they don’t know why it happens. Even long-time knitters may be twisting stitches and not even know they are doing it!

The key is in understanding stitch orientation: how the stitches are mounted on the needle. Read on for an explanation of how to avoid twisted stitches in knitting, then scroll down to watch an in-depth video demonstration.

Understanding Stitch Orientation

Stitch orientation diagram

While they may not even be aware of it, most knitters I know expect their stitches to be sitting on the left needle with the leading edge of the stitches in the front of the needle.  By “leading edge”, I mean the side of the stitch that needs to end up as the right leg of the stitch as it lies flat.

That way, when you knit into the front loop of the stitch, the leading edge comes off the left needle first and the stitch ends up with the yarn at the base of the stitch uncrossed. I’m demonstrating on stockinette stitch, but it’s true for garter stitch and other pattern stitches as well.

Knitting Through the Back Loop

Knitting through the back loop illustration with twisted stitches
Knitting through the back loop

If the stitches on your left needle are oriented with the leading edge in front and you knit into the back loop of the stitch, you are knitting into the trailing edge. The resulting stitch will be twisted.

Sometimes a pattern instruction tells you to “knit through back loop” (tbl). This is what they mean; it’s how you intentionally twist a stitch.

Dropping & Ripping Out Stitches

Mixed stitch mount illustration
Mixed stitch mount: with leading edge in front and in back of needle

When you’ve dropped a stitch or ripped out a row of stitches, you just want to get the stitches back on the needle however you can before you lose them. That’s fine, but they may end up back on that needle every which way, with some sitting backwards on the needle.

When you knit the recovered stitch(es), be sure to knit into the leading edge. If the stitch is oriented normally, that will be the front loop. If it’s mounted backward on the needle, you’ll need to knit into the back loop (the leading edge) to avoid a twisted stitch.

Purling Backwards

This next “method” of unintentionally twisting a stitch happens more often with continental knitters—those who hold the yarn in the left hand. However, it can happen to anyone.

The stitches on the left needle were created when you wrapped your yarn around the needle on the previous row. The direction that you wrapped the yarn determines the stitch orientation. When you purl, wrapping the yarn counter-clockwise creates a stitch that sits with the leading edge in front.

Reverse stitch mount illustration
Reverse stitch mount: with leading edge in back of needle

However, if you wrap your yarn clockwise on the purl row, when you turn—ready to knit—you’ll notice that all the stitches are mounted backwards. In other words, with the leading edge in back. To avoid creating an entire row of twisted stitches, you’ll have to knit into the back loop (leading edge).

This method of wrapping clockwise on purl rows and knitting into the back loop on knit rows is called “combination knitting”. If you choose to do this (instead of wrapping your yarn counterclockwise), be aware that it has some side effects. You may have to make other adjustments in your knitting, especially in regard to shaping and creating certain stitch patterns.

The Simple Solution to Twisted Stitches

There’s an easy solution to the problem of accidentally twisted stitches: Understand how your stitches are sitting on the left needle, and always knit into the leading edge of the next stitch, whether it is the front loop or the back loop.

For other knitting techniques, check out Knit: Basics & Beyond.

 

 

How to Crochet Tower Stitches

First complete Tower Stitch

Tower Stitch Granny Square Tower Stitches are combination of extended double crochet stitches and regular double crochet stitches. Together, they present as a nicely pointed triangle of stitches, as you can see on this Tower Stitch Granny Square. I’ll show you how to crochet tower stitches on a swatch and give you a couple of ideas of how to use them.

I’m using American crochet terminology throughout. Follow the step-by-step instructions here, or scroll on down to the video.

This post contains affiliate links.

Tower Stitch Swatch Stitch Diagram

How to Crochet Tower Stitches

Single crochet rowBegin with a row of single crochet stitches with a multiple of 3 stitches + 2.

Location of first stitchStep 1. Chain 3 (counts as dc), skip 1 stitch, work an extended dc into the next stitch.

Extended double crochet, pulling through 1 loopExtended dc (Edc) : Yarn over, insert hook into stitch indicated, yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over and pull through one loop (this creates a chain at the base of the stitch), [yarn over and pull through 2 loops] two times. 
Extended double crochet with arrow showing location of hook

Step 2. Double crochet into chain at base of extended double crochet, as follows:

Inserting hook into chain at base of EdcYarn over, insert hook straight through the chain from front to back (you’ll be inserting the hook under two loops), yarn over and pull up a loop, [yarn over and pull through 2 loops] two times.

First complete Tower StitchStep 3. Double crochet into same chain at the base of the extended double crochet.

Continue to follow the chart or watch the video to complete your swatch.

Designing with Tower Stitches

Tower Stitches can be used in crochet blankets, scarves, and even granny squares—just about anywhere!

Chemo Caps & Wraps cover imageYou can see Tower Stitches used in the Summer Sorbet Cap and Wrap on the cover of Chemo Caps & Wraps.

Mod Retro Afghan from "Unexpected Afghans"
(c)Joe Hancock

I used the Tower Stitch in my Mod Retro Afghan which appears in Unexpected Afghans: Innovative Crochet Designs with Traditional Techniques.

Now that you know how to crochet them, where will you use Tower Stitches?

Want to learn more interesting stitches? Take my in-person class “(You Want Me to) Put My Hook WHERE?”

Check out my Workshop Schedule for where I’ll be teaching next.


How to Graft Garter Stitch

Are you a knitter who runs away as fast as you can from a pattern that requires grafting on garter stitch? I’ll show you how to graft garter stitch. Never fear, it’s easier than you think! (And I think it’s easier than grafting stockinette stitch.)

Grafting, also known as Kitchener Stitch, uses a yarn needle to join two pieces of knitting invisibly. The short and sweet written version of how to graft garter stitch follows, but scroll on down for the more in-depth video description.

The Set-Up

How to Graft Garter Stitch-two pieces of garter stitch

Because you’ll be creating a row of “knitting” , one of your garter stitch pieces needs to be one row shorter than the other. If you have ended one piece with a right side row, you’ll need to end the other piece with a wrong side row. (See the video to help you recognize which piece is which.)

Hold pieces with knitting needles parallel, with wrong sides together and with the shorter piece in back.

Grafting Step-by-Step

Cut a yarn tail at least 3 times the length of the pieces you are joining.  In my example my working yarn is the yarn tail from the blue swatch.

Thread a blunt-tip yarn needle (tapestry needle).

How to Graft Garter Stitch Step 1Step 1. On the front needle: Insert the needle purlwise (as if to purl) through the first stitch and pull the yarn through.
How to Graft Garter Stitch Step 3

Step 2. On the back needle: Insert the needle purlwise through the first stitch and pull the yarn through.

How to Graft Garter Stitch Step 3A

Step 3. On the front needle: Insert the needle knitwise through the first stitch and drop that stitch off the needle;
How to Graft Garter Stitch Step 3Binsert the needle purlwise through the next stitch and pull the yarn through.

How to Graft Garter Stitch Step 4BStep 4.  On the back needle: Insert the needle knitwise through the first stitch and drop that stitch off the needle;
insert the needle purlwise through the next stitch and pull the yarn through. Note that this is the exact same thing you did on the front needle!

How to Graft Garter Stitch adjusting stitchesRepeat Steps 3 and 4 across. Every few stitches, stop and adjust the tension of your stitches so that they match the size of the surrounding stitches. 

On the last two stitches (one front and one back), insert the needle knitwise through the last stitch on the front needle and pull the yarn through, then insert the needle knitwise through the last stitch on the back needle and pull the yarn through.

How to Graft Garter Stitch completedTake one more look at your grafted stitches and adjust them to size. If you know how to graft garter stitch carefully, no one will be able to tell that the stitches were grafted and not knit!


To see grafting in action, watch the video:

Looking for more knitting resources? Check out Knit: Basics & Beyond.

 

How to Crochet Y-Stitch

Y-stitchThere are more crochet stitch combinations than you can imagine, and clever crocheters keep coming up more all the time! Y-stitch is a versatile combination stitch that can be used in many ways. In the video below, I show you how to crochet Y-stitch.

Keep in mind that there are variations on this basic Y-stitch, so you may see it described a different way elsewhere—even in books that I have written! Always use the instructions given with a particular pattern, and make the stitch according to those instructions, for best results.

In my in-person workshop (You Want Me to) Put My Hook WHERE? we do this and many other interesting stitches that involve putting your hook in all kinds of odd places. Check out my Workshop Schedule to see if I’m teaching near you, or ask me to come teach to your group!

Here’s how to crochet Y-stitch.

How to Measure Gauge in Knitted Garter Stitch

knitted garter stitch closeupThe first knitting stitch you learned was the “knit” stitch, and the first stitch pattern you learned was probably Garter Stitch. Measuring gauge in knitted garter stitch is pretty straightforward, but if you are unfamiliar with the concept of measuring gauge or counting stitches and rows, a few tips are in order.

To create garter stitch, you knit every row (or purl every row) when knitting back and forth. When you work in the round, of course, you have to knit one round, then purl one round to make the same stitch pattern.

Watch this video that covers the basics of measuring gauge in garter stitch.  In future posts, I’ll talk you through what to do when you run into problems like uneven stitches or varying stitch counts.

Do you have questions about measuring gauge in knitted garter stitch? Or questions about gauge in general? Let me know in the comments.

Interview & Giveaway With Marie Segares: Design It, Promote It, Sell It

Design It Promote It Sell It Online Marketing for Your Crochet and Knit Patterns by Marie Segares

As a teacher and designer mentor, one of the most frequently-asked questions I get is: How do I sell my designs? Crafts blogger Marie Segares, of Underground Crafter and the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show fame, offers targeted tips to knit and crochet designers in her newest book: Design It, Promote It, Sell It.

Read on to see what she has to say about promoting your patterns, and to see how you can get your own copy.

Marie Segares provided a copy of Design It, Promote It, Sell It for this article. This post contains affiliate links.

What’s Special About Design It, Promote It, Sell It?

Online Marketing graphic

Edie:  You offer a crash course in marketing and introduce a number of important concepts. For  those designers whose eyes glaze over when you start using marketing terms, can you give us a one sentence explanation of why Design It, Promote It, Sell It is worth a look?

Marie: If you struggle with getting more eyes on your patterns, or have lots of people looking but not buying, this book has some actionable ideas to help you change that situation.

Edie: How is your book different from all the other marketing books on the market?

Marie: Most marketing books are very general. This one is specifically about marketing crochet and knitting patterns online. It’s shorter than many marketing books and it’s more focused on the specific challenges of crochet and knitting pattern designers.

For New Designers

First Steps for Newbies

Edie: I’m often asked “What do you have to do to become a designer?” My answer is, “Design something,” but the deeper question being asked is really “How do I get my designs discovered?” Would you agree?

Marie: Designing isn’t a career that most people know about from their everyday life experiences, like being a teacher or doctor, so often people are just trying to uncover what is involved. I agree that designers do need to design, though!

Edie: For a brand-new designer with only a design or two in the bag, the amount of promotional work you set forth is pretty overwhelming. What are the first two steps they should take?

Marie: I think new designers should add their patterns to the Ravelry pattern database and find one other online place that their ideal customer is likely to be hanging out to start establishing a presence there.

(Edie has collected some knit & crochet design resources.)

What About the Money?

Edie: One thing I didn’t really see discussed in the book is realistic expectations. What advice would you give knit and crochet designers about what the level of sales and revenue they can expect?

Marie:  Are you asking if I think folks can “live off designing alone”? I personally don’t know anyone who earns a full time living ONLY as a crochet or knitting designer. I discuss this more in my other book, Make Money Teaching Crochet, but most everyone I know in the industry blends several income streams. You can listen to my podcast episode about this (or read the show notes) at 6 Income Streams for Your Yarn-Related Business.

About Doing It All

Edie: ‘Fess up, do really do all these things for every pattern you release? In other words, do you practice what you preach?

Marie: I definitely don’t, and I mention that in the introduction. I’m also not saying that everyone SHOULD do all of the things I list in the book with every pattern release. If your audience isn’t on Facebook, for example, what benefit is there in posting each pattern there and doing Facebook Lives for each pattern release? This is why I wrote a book instead of selling a checklist for marketing patterns. It’s really important for each designer to customize the checklist based on their audience AND on their own capacity.

As an example, I don’t rely on my crochet and knitting business for my full income because I have a full time job. However, it is a growing and significant part of my household income, and I do need it. If I didn’t have this income, I’d be working part time somewhere to earn the money. I have more time constraints than some designers who do this for a full time living, but in exchange, I have more financial security. Some designers have more time and can “do more” to promote their businesses, while others are balancing jobs, family life, or other responsibilities, too.

About Analytics

Edie: You talk about measuring your marketing efforts to understand what tactics are working. If you have things set up right, it’s pretty easy to get the numbers on impressions and engagement. It’s harder to measure conversions to sales, especially when the marketing is taking place on Facebook or Instagram but the actual sale may happen on Ravelry or somewhere other than your own website. How do you analyze that?

Marie: It’s definitely a challenge. Etsy gives you a pretty good idea where your sales are coming from, but other sites like Ravelry and Craftsy don’t have as many analytic tools. Some designers use tracking links, like the ones from bit.ly or by using a plugin on your WordPress site like Pretty Links. If you went this route, you would set up different links for each place where you promote your patterns, but you’d still probably be estimating the percentage of sales come through the the clicks to that link. Another way to track is to offer different discount codes on different sites. As an example, many designers offer patterns at a discounted rate for the first days or week after the pattern is released. Offer the same discount, but use different codes through your various social media outlets. You can track how many sales were made using that code.

Working with a Virtual Assistant

Edie: The Online Profile Audit Checklist and Pattern Promotion Checklist are very useful. Some of those tasks seem ideally suited to be delegated a virtual assistant (VA) or other helper. VAs can save you time and effort, especially with streamlined tasks like uploading patterns and  tagging and notifying collaborators. Have you worked with a VA, and do you recommend them?

Marie: I haven’t worked with a VA, though I know many designers do. I’ve tried to build my business organically, which means I don’t take on any expenses that the business can’t already pay for. While, in theory, a VA could free up time for me to produce more patterns, I don’t currently earn enough of a profit to feel comfortable hiring someone else. I also don’t have the time to train anyone else to do it “my way.”

I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable assigning a VA the role of writing my social media posts or tagging my collaborators until I had worked with them for a long time. I have seen many designers with VAs that don’t “sound” like them, and that impacts your brand in a negative way. I would be more comfortable delegating tasks that don’t relate to my (potential) customers, like submitting patterns to craft directories or uploading patterns to secondary marketplaces.

In any case, I would never recommend  allowing a VA (or any other delegate) to set your marketing strategy. Instead, allow them to perform your marketing tactics. This is an important distinction and I’ve seen many designers who are uncomfortable with marketing hoping that some other person can magically solve their “marketing problem.” It’s like allowing someone else to design all the patterns and you will just make type up their ideas or make the samples. The concepts and the intellectual property should come from the designer, not the VA.

About Design It,  Promote It, Sell It

Design It,  Promote It, Sell It is available in three editions so you can choose the format that suits you best. It’s available as a 69-page PDF e-book that includes 3 printable questionnaires and 3 printable checklists. You can get it as a Kindle ebook, or as a paperback print edition (coming soon).

Thanks to the generosity of the author, I’m able to give away one copy of the PDF e-book.

The giveaway period has ended.

About Marie Segares

Marie SegaresMarie Segares is a crochet and knitting designer, crafts blogger, teacher, podcaster, college professor, and small business consultant. She hosted the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show, a podcast for yarn industry indies, for two years and 71 episodes. She is also the author of ​Make Money Teaching Crochet: Launch Your Business, Increase Your Side Income, Reach More Students​.

Marie shares crochet and knitting patterns, crafts projects and tutorials, and recipes on her blog, Underground Crafter​. Marie’s patterns, tutorials, and articles have been published in a number of publications.

In addition to teaching crochet and knitting classes locally, Marie has also taught or presented at BlogHer, Creativation, and other professional blogging conferences. Marie is a graduate of Barnard College. She earned her MPH at Columbia University and her MBA at New York University. She is currently enrolled in the EdD program in Organizational Leadership Studies at Northeastern University.