Knit Tips & Tricks


Hi, Knitters! :muah:

Although I’ve just gotten reacquainted with knitting over the last year or so, I’m picking up lots of hints, tips and tricks for making the work easier or more fun. I have a feeling most knitters experience the same thing, so I thought it would be a great deal if we have a specific thread just for tips, tricks, etc.

If you agree, please write in with your favorites. And don’t overlook the “obvious” ones. One person’s “obvious” can often be another person’s lightning bolt of inspiration! (been there, done that!!!)

To get us started -


I was knitting a sock the other evening and needed stitch markers. But my little bag of clover markers must have grown feet and left the area.

I remembered something I’d heard/read about using drinking straws to make temporary, disposable stitch markers - cutting thin bands from drinking straws and slipping them over the needles to use as stitch markers.

The regular straws will work on needles to about size 7 and the fatter “slurpy-type” ones can be used on the larger needles. To change from one needle to the other, just slide the little plastic circle up to the tapered end of the left needle and lift it off with the right.

:woohoo: Saved the day for me! Also, when you no longer need the markers, just snip them off! One drinking straw has a LOT of mileage in it for stitch markers!

OK, folks - hope to hear from you all soon!

Ruthie :knitting:


Off the top of my head these are the first to come to mind…

  1. Use a lifeline especially when doing lace, but it’s handy for any large project you don’t want to have to frog back to the beginning.

  2. [I]Learn what the stitches look like[/I]. I can’t emphasize this enough! Once you learn it’s so much easier to ‘read’ your knitting and know where you are in a pattern or see mistakes.


I use bits of yarn left over as stitch markers.

I’ve learned that if you are knitting in Magic Loop and you separate the stitches with the working yarn on the back needle, you’ll always know when you are at the beginning of a round because the working yarn will end up at the beginning of each round!



One thing I cannot do without is a pencil and a shorthand notebook - OK then, two.

Even if I’m working ordinary stocking stitch, I write lines of numbers from 1- 10; 2 - 20, for the rows and tick (check|)them off as I work. It helps alot of I’m knitting the fronts of cardigans and want to be certain I’ve knitted the same number of rows on each side, say, when I get to the decreases for under arms and necklines.

If I’m working with a pattern that has just a few rows, and is just a few repeat stitches wide, I write out each pattern row on a separate line and use a different coloured pen to mark off the pattern, like this, using a tick mark or cross

Row 1 - Pattern Stitches [B][COLOR=Red]X [COLOR=RoyalBlue]X [/COLOR][/COLOR][COLOR=Red][COLOR=RoyalBlue][COLOR=Orange]X[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR][/B]

Row 2 - Pattern Stitches[B][COLOR=Red] X [COLOR=RoyalBlue]X [/COLOR][/COLOR][COLOR=Red][COLOR=RoyalBlue][COLOR=Orange]X[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR][/B]

Row 3 - [COLOR=Red][COLOR=Black]Pattern Stitches[/COLOR] [/COLOR][B][COLOR=Red]X [COLOR=RoyalBlue]X
[COLOR=Black]Row 4 [/COLOR]-[/COLOR] Pattern Stitches [B][COLOR=Red]X [COLOR=RoyalBlue]X[/COLOR][/COLOR][/B]

[COLOR=Black]Looking at that, I know that I’ve just finished row or round 2 of the pattern and how many rows or rounds I’ve knitted so far (10).

Using different coloured pens means there’s less chance of mis-reading how many rows I’ve worked; writing out the pattern helps to get it into my head and saves me having to battle with sometimes very small print.



I use earrings as stitch markers. :slight_smile: My favorite one is a continuous hoop but I’ll use anything hoopy. I don’t wear earrings anymore so it’s nice to get some use out of them!


Okay, here’s my 2 cents worth, and maybe not worth much more, but here goes anyway…

When working a pattern repeat, I always use a clicker counter, or row counter of some sort. So I will always know where I left off, whenever I end a row I click the counter to the row I should start on next, when I return to my work.

With four kids, I always put my work away when I put it down for even a minute. I do this as a pro-active way to keep accidental damage and lost needles, etc, to a minimum. My DM who of course has no kids to bother her is always losing needles because she justs sets her project down assuming it won’t go anywhere, lol. Somehow things happen anyway! So my advice is to always put your work in a basket, bag, or whatever, to keep it together while you’re not working at it. Oh, and pick it up so it doesn’t get stepped/sat on,thus avoiding broken needles (and un-necessary pain!! :shock:)

I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself :teehee:


Kinda along the lines of what Hilary was saying: I put each project in it’s own giant Ziploc with a paper copy of the pattern (marked where I left off), the project itself and the needles. On the front of the Ziploc, I write the name of the pattern, the yarn name, colorway, and Dye #, where I purchased the yarn, and the date I cast on. I keep them all on a shelf and when I go somewhere to knit, I grab my ziplock bag and throw it in my knitting bag.


1-NEVER be any where near Limey when she is knitting with DPNs:roflhard::roflhard:

2-Get a magnet board to hold your pattern,the magnet keeps your place for you.
3-Always keep a crochet hook with you to pickup dropped stitches or to fix a mistake 4 rows down
4-I use a fishing tackle box to keep my knitting accessories in
5-I use a bamboo needle for a cable needle because they are not slippery.I always use a needle 4 sizes smaller so it is easier to grab the cable sts off the smaller needle


I love the idea of writing info of the front of the bag. I think if I had to look at the date I started a project every time I picked it up I might work a little harder on it. LOL.:rofl:
Seriously, I think it is a good way to keep that info handy.
My tip is: I always make a working copy of my pattern so I can mark on it or whatever. The original stays in a plastic sleeve in my notebook of patterns. I’m only a little organized though. I don’t even have them in Alphabetical order.:wink:


Hi, Jax! Your advice is worth a LOT more than 2 cents! I have no little ones to disturb my knitting, but I manage to “disturb” it all the time! So just yesterday I bought a large rectangular lined straw bag to tuck things away in when I’m not knitting. I’ve been forever having to get my DH to move the sofa so I can retrieve needles, stitch markers, etc. Not any more! Thanks.

Ruthie :o)


Momwolf-ROFLOL about the DPns and Limey :teehee:; and I use a fishing tackle box too.

And the crochet hook is a great idea-I need to do that! I try to, but I often find myself without one anyway.

Alyce, great idea writing the date on the bag! I have a feeling that might motivate me a bit :shock: lol!

I’m glad my two cents is a help to you Ruthie! :slight_smile:


[quote=momwolf;1131291]1-NEVER be any where near Limey when she is knitting with DPNs:roflhard::roflhard:

Cheeky Hound!!!, Momwolf

You keep your knitting tackle in a fishing basket? - what did ya catch? Moby Dick?

I’ve seen trawlers with fishing baskets smaller than yours!!! - in fact, I think the entire UK fishing fleet would have trouble finding enough space to stash your stash!:roflhard::roflhard:

I think this is a brilliant thread and everyone’s coming up with some great ideas.

I should get something decent to house my projects, Hilary, keep on using carrier bags, which is ok for small stuff but anything knitted for an adult keeps spilling :doh:out.

I find it handy too, to have a crochet hook at the ready and where I can, have a duplicate set of needles to the ones I’m using, for when my hands get clammy in warm weather (fat chance!) - I just keep the duplicate set in the fridge, so that they’re lovely and cool.


My tip is I use a three ring binder for my dpn’s and odd size circulars. I put them in a sleeve and now I can put it on my shelf next to my sofa. I also keep my crochet hooks in a old plastic spice container. It is just the right size for them. I keep the shaker top on it and the different sizes fit just right.
So this is my two cents worth. I also did cover the three ring binder the way we used to cover our books for school. :teehee:
I don’t think the kids do that anymore. My mom could use just about anything around the house. So of course I just did learn do it also. I don’t sew but boy give me paper and I could cover anything.:roflhard::roflhard:
I used paper and glue to cover the binder. Tape is just to tacky.



Hi, Teri! Great idea about the 3-ring binder with sleeves! I’ve GOT to get out to Staples or Office Depot soon!

You all are a hoot, and the ideas you’re writing up are super! Here’s a new one from me.

TIP: Easy pattern reading

When I first started knitting again, I was back to square one. Of course, the patterns that appealed to me most were pretty complex with stuff like 8 row pattern repeats, etc., but I was game and I’d found KH!

I was making afgans and baby blankets for the family. I was afraid I’d go blind trying to read and follow those tiny little lines of type in the pattern books, to say nothing of the confusion! So the first thing I did with a pattern was to re-write each row on an individual 5x7 index card.

I used symbols for the stitches such as a box for knit stitches and an x for purls, trying to make it more visual.

If I had several knit stitches I’d draw the box and write the appropriate type and amount of stitches (example: K 6 inside a box or X-6 written like that). I broke the pattern for that row down into what looked like logical sequences and wrote each on a different line of the card, using every other line. (I used a gel pen so the ink was darker and easier to read.)

Then I’d stack my index cards on the sofa next to me and just move the current card to the back when I was finished the row.

I always knew where I was in the pattern (once I got in the habit of turning the card as soon as I was finished the row!) Also, as I wrote the pattern out on the cards I was getting familiar with it. Once it was written out with the symbols I could lay the cards out and actually see how the pattern was formed.

It’s been well worth the time so far to write up my little “cheat sheets”!
And an added plus is that I can file the cards in a file box to use if I want to do the pattern again, or to repair one I’ve done if it’s damaged.

Hope this helps!



Wow, great tips everyone! I have a few comments/ideas…

I hate stitch and row counters. It’s too easy for someone (old or young) to come up and say ‘what’s this?’ and then fiddle with the dial. :doh: I keep pencil and notepad next to me while knitting patterns I need to keep track on. If the pattern has a 4 row repeat I make hashmarks for each row then move down a line for the next repeat. I also circle the row that has the lifeline on it so if I have to frog I know exactly where I was in the pattern.

I second the crochet hook, too. Very handy for those dropped stitches!

adding to my previous list -

  1. Keep coilless safety pins in your bag. They are great if you have to mark something below the row you’re one or whatever. You can get them in the beading section of stores.


I am still new to some of this stuff. Can someone please explain to me what a “lifeline” is?



A ‘lifeline’ is a piece of thin yarn or something like dental floss that you put through the stitches on your needle to mark a row that is error free. You can use a yarn needle to go through the stitches or if you use circular needles some of them have a hole at the base where you can tie something like the floss and then knit normally. However you do it when it is in the while row you pull it through so you have two ends. I tie them in a knot then knit normally. Now if you have to frog/rip back you don’t have to go all the way to the beginning of the project. Move them up or add more as you go up the project. For things like lace especially they are indispensable. I am using one on my sweater though, too.


Thanks Jan. That is a great idea!! I’ll have to remember that!


You can put patterns in (certain) page protectors and use dry-erase markers to mark on the page protector. Then take dry-erase cleaning solution and wipe the protector free.


Hiya Folks

I’ve found out that it pays to be careful which way you point a stitch holder if you’re using it to hold stitches at the back of a cardigan.

It’s all well and good the pattern saying place so many stitches on a holder - what it doesn’t tell you is to watch which end of the holder you place them on.

I’ve recently picked up some stitches on the right front and neck of a child’s cardigan and had my stitch holder with the point going to the right as well - that means that I’ve gone up the side of the cardigan and now the stitch holder is facing the wrong way - have to put the held stitches on something else so that I can transfer them to the working needle.

In other words, if you usually start picking up stitches on a [B]right[/B] front or neckline, make sure that the pointed end of the stitch holder is facing [B]left[/B] (from inside the garment) when you place the stitches on the holder.

If you don’t, you’ll have the wrong end of the holder facing you and if you used a knitting needle as a holder, you’ll end up with the blunt end at the wrong end for you to pick up.

Hope this makes sense.