The Top 10 Mistakes that Slow You Down
Are you making one of these classic mistakes? Don’t worry, almost everybody does. That’s why they made this top-ten list! These are the most common mistakes I’ve seen my knitting students make that cause them to knit slower (and work harder!).
Just read through and watch the videos to see if you are making your knitting experience slower than it should be – and what to do about it.
So, counting down from #10, your top mistakes and how to fix them are:
#10 – Not Pushing Your Needle-Tips Far Enough Through Your Stitches
Problem: I see so many knitters doing this – they just barely push the tips of their needles through the stitches, and as a consequence, have to go really slowly and carefully to make sure that the stitches don’t fall off.
Fix: Easy! Push your needles all the way into your stitches, like I show in the video. Pair this fix with #6, Using Your Fingers To Help You, and you should be golden.
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#9 – Scrunching Up Stitches on Right-Hand Needle
Problem: If you do this, you may notice 10-20 new stitches stacking up on the tip of your right-hand needle, in front of your fingers. This can slow you down, as your fingers are nowhere near the tips of your needles, helping you knit. Knitters who do this also tend to slow down for fear of losing stitches off the tips of the needles.
Fix: Every time you notice this happening, simply move your right hand up the needle, massaging your new stitches evenly down along the length of the needle, and place your fingers over the stitches.
#8 – Letting Stitches Lag on the Left-Hand Needle
Problem: Not advancing the stitches on your left-hand needle makes you work harder and harder to get into those stitches. Yet many people do it, because they are afraid their stitches will pop off if they get too close to the edge.
Fix: Get in the habit of pushing the stitches up onto the tip of your left-hand needle as you knit. Also see the video for #6, Using Your Fingers to Help You, to solve this problem.
#7 – Not Using the Right Tools for the Job
Problem: If you are using regular Addi Turbos or Clover bamboo needles to do lacework, or any pattern requiring many increases and decreases, the blunt-tipped needles are probably slowing you down and making you work hard for those stitches!
Regular Addi Turbos are fast for plain knitting but too blunt to easily do lace[/caption]
Fix: Pointier needles like Addi Lace, KnitPicks Harmony, or Signature Needle Arts’ stiletto-tipped needles will make the job so much easier and faster.
Problem: Bamboo needles may give you a feeling of security on silky, slippery yarns, but will slow you way down on “grabby” yarns.
Fix: For yarns with mohair, angora, or homespun wool, try a polished needle like Lantern Moon or Addi Turbo.
#6 – Not Using Your Fingers to Help You
Problem: Scientists have found that there are more nerve connections between the fingers and the brain than between any other parts of the body. These are the most delicate instruments available to you, yet so many knitters avoid touching their knitting at all costs! Because of this, they don’t have nearly enough control over their stitches.
Fix: Use your fingers to help put your stitches where they need to be and to stop them from falling off your needles, as I show in the video.
#5 – Not Tensioning Your Yarn (At All)
Problem: I see about one in five American-style knitters using this technique. If you do this, you might be in the habit of pinching the yarn between your right forefinger and thumb, which forces you to let go of the right needle every time you go to wrap the yarn, and to let go of the yarn every time you need your fingers to adjust the needle. It can also give you a finger cramp!
Fix: Try tensioning the yarn as shown in the video, or wrap the yarn around the palm and/or little fingers to hold it taut while letting the yarn “feed” with every stitch. Having the yarn go from the needle over the first joint of the pointer finger can take some getting used to, but, with practice, can speed up and even out your knitting tremendously.
#4 – Not Knowing How To Fix Your Mistakes
Problem: I love this one because it’s so obvious, I overlooked it. My friend Jillian pointed out that this was her biggest slow-down – messing up! I can agree that having to get someone else to fix your mistakes can be a big frustration and a time-waster… until now!
Fix: Navigate to the bonus section on Top Ten Knitting Mistakes and How to Fix Them to learn how to pick up dropped stitches, get turned back around, and undo wrong stitches.
For a preview, here’s the #1 most common knitting mistake and its fix:
Fixing a Dropped Knit Stitch
#3 – Knitting Too Tight
Problem: Knitting too tight is a common habit for new knitters, but this habit becomes more and more ingrained the longer we knit. Many knitters come up with “workarounds” to adjust for the fact that they knit really tightly, but going up a needle size doesn’t do anything for the sore hands and tense shoulders that result from forcing your needle into too-tight stitches, and it doesn’t help the fact that is takes longer to knit tightly.
Fix: Stop this habit before it becomes permanent! Watch the video and learn how to tension the yarn so that it feeds correctly, and how to adjust your stitches as you knit so they are just right.
#2 – Not Knowing How To Read Your Work
Problem: Knitters who don’t know how to read their work, that is, knitters who don’t know what they just did or where they are, spend longer re-reading their patterns and counting their stitches than knitters who know how to keep track of and recognize where they are.
Fix: Invest in some stitch-markers and a highlighter, and use them to keep track of your knitting and your progress through a pattern or chart. Highlighting each row as you finish it helps you see that you’ve done it, but it doesn’t cover it up completely in case you still need to refer to it. Using a stitch marker can easily help you count and keep track of rows and rounds. Watch the video to learn how to recognize where you are, and what you just did.
...And, thanks to Brittany Tyler of Tangled Online Magazine for pointing out the NUMBER ONE KNITTING SLOW-DOWN OF ALL TIME...
#1 – Taking Out Your Work Over and Over
Problem: I think this is more of a pathology than a knitting mistake. There is a certain kind of knitter that takes her work out over and over when she comes to a rough spot, and you’ll know it if this is you.
During a class, when you mess up, before the teacher notices, you hurry and take out all your work and start over. Or when someone looks at your knitting to help you with a mistake, you cheerfully volunteer, “I can take it out!” Unfortunately, starting over doesn’t address whatever problem you ran into. Let’s face it – you already know how to start – that’s how you go this far. What you don’t know how to do is go forward and fix your mistake.
Now some of you may be saying, “But I like to learn what I did wrong, so I can understand!” That’s okay – that’s different than repeatedly undoing your work and starting over before anyone has a chance to help. Ladies and gents, this habit is holding you back and slowing you down! Imagine how much knitting you could accomplish if you didn’t knit everything six times.
Fix: I challenge you: don’t take out your knitting unless the employee at your LYS, your best knitting friend, or your class instructor says with a sigh, “I think you need to take this out and start over.” Barring that (very rare) event, find out what you did wrong, take out a few rows, fix it with supervised help, and go forward.
Double challenge: When you make a mistake that you normally would take out rows and rows of knitting to fix, ask said employee at LYS, best knitting friend, or class instructor, “Would it be noticeable if I kept going without fixing that?” Scary! But good practice. You can do it! I always say, if you can’t see it from a galloping horse…