That’s it! Watch the video for tips on how to read your knitting so that you can go “off pattern” and pick up wherever you left off.
Abbreviations k: knit k2tog: knit 2 sts together p: purl rep: repeat ssk (slip, slip, knit): slip the next 2 sts one at a time knitwise, insert left needle into the fronts of these two sts, then knit them together through the back loops st(s): stitch(es) WS: wrong side yo: yarn over
When it comes to those ugly bumps at the cast-on edge, my skin crawls. Those bumps are a common knitting problem — dare I call them an “error”? However, it’s easy to avoid them once you understand that your cast-on has a right side and a wrong side.
The following explanations and video apply to right-handed knitters. Left-handed knitters, you may be casting on and knitting differently, but you should read and watch the video to understand the concept. Adapt it as necessary to fit your knitting technique.
Long-Tail Cast On
When you cast on stitches using the long-tail method, the stitches are on the right needle at the completion of the cast on. You are looking at what is generally considered the “right side” of the cast on.
When you turn needle to put it in your left hand in preparation to work the first row, the purl side of the cast on is facing you. It’s usually considered the “wrong side” of the cast on.
If you knit that first row, you are knitting a wrong side row. This is perfectly fine if you are working garter stitch or reverse stockinette stitch, but stockinette stitch is “knit right side rows, purl wrong side rows”.
If you knit the first row after a long-tail cast-on, you’ll get a series of purl bumps on the right side (the knit side).
Instead of knitting the first row, simply purl the first row (a wrong side row), and continue with stockinette stitch.
Cable Cast On
When you cast on stitches with the cable cast on method, the stitches are on the left needle at the completion of the cast on. The right side of the cast on is facing you, and you don’t have to turn the needle around to start the first row. Therefore, knit the first row to avoid the bumps.
Knitted Cast On
The knitted cast on works the same way as the cable cast on. The cast on stitches are on the left needle, so just knit the first row and there won’t be any bumps.
No matter which cast on you use — and there are many more than these to choose from — pay attention to whether it has a smooth side and a bumpy side. In most cases, choose the smooth side as your right side and work the first row accordingly. You’ll avoid those bumps on your cast-on edge, and the State Fair knitter in you can be proud.
A standing crochet stitch allows you to join a new yarn or a new color invisibly. The technique is easy as pie, even for beginners. Once you see it, you’ll never go back to “join with slip stitch, chain” again!
Read on for more information and how to work standing single crochet, standing double crochet, and standing half double crochet. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the video tutorials.
What is a standing crochet stitch?
A standing crochet stitch is just a term for any stitch that has started “in the air” rather than from a previous stitch. You simply begin with a slip knot on the hook, then make the stitch called for in the pattern.
You can use standing stitches anytime you would otherwise join the yarn with a slip stitch, then do a turning chain or build-up chain to reach the level of the current (or new) row of stitches.
While the technique itself has been around for a long time, a lot of crocheters don’t know about it. In patterns, the instructions would be “Join (yarn) with sc in first st,”, or “Join (yarn) with dc in first st.” They were just telling you to do this standing stitch technique.
When I was writing Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs, my research didn’t turn up a a generally accepted term for the technique, so I called them standing stitches because they stand on their own without relying on a turning or build-up chain to connect them to the piece in progress.
I think that, by labeling the technique and having it become commonly used, we can help spread the information to crocheters everywhere.
Standing Single Crochet
To work a standing single crochet, begin with a slip knot on the hook, then work a single crochet into the stitch or space indicated in the pattern, as follows:
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Tower Stitch Swatch Stitch Diagram
How to Crochet Tower Stitches
Begin with a row of single crochet stitches with a multiple of 3 stitches + 2.
Step 1. Chain 3 (counts as dc), skip 1 stitch, work an extended dc into the next stitch.
Extended 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.
Step 2. Double crochet into chain at base of extended double crochet, as follows:
Yarn 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.
Step 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!
You can see Tower Stitches used in the Summer Sorbet Cap and Wrap on the cover of Chemo Caps & Wraps.
The Molly Hat is a joyous combination of pattern and color. Watch cheerful zig-zags appear when you pair bold variegated yarn with a ripple stitch knitting pattern. It uses several easy-to-master knitting techniques and is well within the reach of beginning knitters willing to try something new. You can’t help but be happy with your cheery chevrons!
One Skein Love
I love love love one-skein projects, especially ones that use one-of-a-kind yarns or colorways. This design was a happy coincidence. I was preparing a new knitting class, Re-Imagining Ripples, and needed to make some class samples. I had just been gifted a “Crazy Hat Skein” of MollyGirl yarn in bright blues and greens: colorway Stutter. It really worked, and as you can see in the photos, it looks great on my friend Sarah.
Learn (or Teach) a New Skill
Knit the hat in the round on circular and double-point needles, or use your choice of alternative in-the-round methods like two circulars or Magic Loop.
For beginners who are comfortable with the knit stitch, this is the perfect next-step project. You’ll learn to knit in the round—a vital skill—and you’ll learn 3 types of decreases and two types of increases. Intermediate and advanced knitters will love the rhythm of the stitching and the portability of the project.
Knitting teachers, this one’s for you, too. Incorporate all those techniques into a class for your students. They’ll master those skills in just a couple of weeks, and you’ll all be proud!
The Crazy Hat Skein I used is less than a full skein of MollyGirl Rock Star worsted weight yarn, but I call for a full skein in the pattern because I’m not sure that the Crazy Hat Skeins are readily available. It took me all of the 150 yards [137 m] I had available, so be sure to check your gauge carefully.
You could use any worsted weight yarn with good results. The pattern is available from Ravelry.
What will your Molly Hat look like? Share your photos on my Facebook page.