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Skein Lane Know How

In our past email newsletters and our blog we offer readers lots of tips - Skein Lane Know How. Our knitters and customers are some of the best sources of helpful tips, so we encourage you to share with others your favorite helpful knit, crochet, stitch or fiber tip. If your tip is chosen, we'll mention you in the newsletter with many thanks.

Please make your submissions by email. Skein Lane staff will choose a winning tip from the entries and it will be published here and in the next newsletter.

Bella guarding the yarn Bella at her best...trying to help with the yarn! This was at Debbie's school.

How a basting thread can help position a pocket
Basting line for positioning pocket for stitching As I was stitching the pocket on my almost complete Oregon Vest, I found that my pocket wanted to "travel" at an angle. I undid what I had stitched and then put in a basting thread of contrasting color....and then used that as my guide from the inside of the garment to be sure that my pocket was laying "squared". The basting thread saved my patience and sanity!
Newsletter April 2007
Submitted by: Carolyn Pugh

A reason for several projects

My tip for the month! There really is a reason to have several knitting projects going on. It allows you change needle size and thus reduce knitting stress on your hands. I find that I can only knit on size 2 needles for so long before I feel stress and strain in my hands and my shoulders. Thus, I knit socks for awhile and then I move on to one my projects that is a size 6 or larger needle. And then I can go back to my socks. It really does help! Happy knitting to all.

Newsletter March 2007
Submitted by: Carolyn Pugh

Knitting Markers - Clover 353
Clover 353 Sometime ago Anne inspired me to use my favorite knitting marker, Clover 353, for more than marking stitches on my needle. The markers are extremely helpful in acting as a knitting journal. In my photo example, you can see five markers pinned to the side of the armhole and one is pinned away from that shaping. Here's what that "journal" is telling me. I have decreased five times on every other row and I have one decrease yet to do. Before I began the shaping I pinned on six pins and then used them to mark where I decreased. No more trying to read the stitches to determine how many times I've decreased.
Newsletter February 2007
Submitted by: Carolyn Pugh and Anne Poley

One-Row Buttonhole

As I have been working on my Einstein Coat I knew that I wanted to do one -row buttonholes.  The best instructions that I have seen for this comes from Sally Melville's The Knit Stitch and The Knitter's Guide to Sweater Design by Carment Michelson and Mary-Ann Davis.  I am going to quote directly from the The Knitter's Guide to Sweater Design which was published in 1989.

"This single-row buttonhole is firm and strong.  A major advantae it has over other horizontal buttonholes is that it requires no finishing work.  It looks best if worked on the wrong side of the fabric.  Plan the buttonhole to begin at least three sttiches in from an edge. All the slip stitches are slipped purlwise."

1. Knit to the stitches for the buttonhole. Bring the yarn to the front and slip a stitch,  Put the yarn to the back and slip a second stitch.  Drop the yarn, which will not be used again until Step 4.

2. Pass the first slipped stitch over the second slipped stitch to bind off the first stitch of the buttonhole Continue to slip a stitch and pass the previous slipped stitch over it until all of the buttonhole stitches are bound off.

3. Pass the last slipped stitch back to the left needle. Turn the work.

4. Pick up the yarn and put it to the back of the work. Working the Cable Cast-On, cast on the number of stitches bound off.

5. Cast on one extra stitch, but bring the yarn to the front between this extra stitch and the last buttonhole stitch before placing the extra stitch on the left needle.  This extra stitch does not need to be twisted when it is placed on the left needle. Turn the work.

6. Slip a stitch from the left needle, pass the extra stitch over the slipped stitch and tighten the extra stitch firmly.  Finish the row.

Newsletter July 2006
Submitted by Skein Lane Staff - Carolyn Pugh

Nothing to do but rip down those rows!

A tip from PJ. It happens to all of us. Sometimes there is nothing to do but rip down several rows of knitting in order to get back on track. When this happens, use a needle at least 2 sizes smaller than the one you are using for your project to put the stitches back on a needle. This puts less strain on the row of stitches you are picking up, eliminating dropped stitches. Just remember - when you have finished picking up the row of stitches, begin knitting with the needles you were using for your project. 

Newsletter March2006
Submitted by: Skein Lane Staff - PJ Rosenthal

Zip It up!

Zip It Up!
In last month's Hot Project, our Dressed Up Vest design features a fabulous rhinestone zipper for the closure.  If you have never added a zipper to your knitting, this is a great project to learn on.  

Get Ready
Zippers must be hand-sewn using a sharp needle - do not machine sew for this.  But don't be intimidated by this - the sewing is very simple and Skein Lane staff can walk you through it. 

Use regular sewing thread for this: you'll need thread that matches your knitting yarn very closely and some contrasting thread for basting.  The opening on your knitting should be the same length as the zipper, so that the seam does not stretch or pucker.

Get Set
The edges that will have the zipper attached need to be smooth and lay flat. There are several ways to accomplish this. Vogue Knitting recommends including a two-stitch garter selvedge edge for attaching the zipper. If you have not knit this in, don't despair, you can create a "zipper band". Pick up and knit stitches along the edge for the zipper - pick up & knit 3 stitches for every 4 so you don't create too much fabric. Knit 2 rows and bind off using purl 2 together bind-off.  You can also do a simple slip stitch crochet edge on each side where the zipper will go.  The goal is simply to create a nice flat edge with a groove where you will later work backstitch to attach your zipper.

Should you need a demonstration of basting, whip-stitching or backstitch, please ask us at the shop.

1.  Working on the right side of the work and with the zipper closed, pin the zipper into place (pinning at about every inch). The edges of the knit fabric pieces should cover the teeth of the zipper and meet at the center. If they do not and are a little off, you can baste the fronts of your sweater together with contrasting knitting yarn before pinning the zipper in.

2. On the right side, baste the zipper using the contrasting thread. Remove the pins.

3. Turn the work to the wrong side and using the matching thread, whip stitch the zipper in place.

4. Turn the work to the right side and backstitch in place.  Do the stitching in the groove between the first and second stitches from the edge of the fabric. Or, if you have done a garter stitch "zipper band" as described in Get Set, stitch in the groove between the garter ridges.

5. Repeat for the other side of the piece.

6. Enjoy your zippered knitwear!

lNewsletter February 2006
Submitted by: Skein Lane staff - PJ Rosenthal

Hand Wash Doesn't Mean Hard Work!

Don't avoid the hand wash symbol when making fiber choices for your projects. (Click here to see what all those symbols on the yarn label mean.) You can hand wash in a basin or sink, and if you have a washing machine whose cycles you can manually control, cleaning your handmade items is almost as easy as doing your other laundry.

Use no-rinse wool wash products, such as Eucalan or Wool Mix, which allow you to gently wash wools and most other types of fibers with ease. Please note: Woolite is not recommended for any hand-knits or crochet items; it was really designed for nylons and other lingerie items. 

When you hand wash animal fibers such as wool, just take care not to use very hot or very cold water and do not  agitate. Tepid water is best for hand washing.

Here's how:
- Gently fold knit/crochet items and put them into a zippered mesh washing bag.
- Fill machine with plenty of water to cover and wool wash (follow the product's instructions)
- Load the washables, hold them under the water to allow them to soak up water.
- Leave the items to soak for half an hour to 45 minutes.
- BYPASS AGITATION THE RINSE CYCLE AND MACHINE SPIN THE WATER OUT. Do not allow water to pour directly onto the items.
- Place garments flat to dry and gently shape them. Never hang wet knits.

Aren't the items you've stitched worth it? You put your time and effort into making them, so you will want to enjoy them for years to come. If you read your yarn label, use the right washing products and wash carefully, your hand knit and crochet items will last longer and always look beautiful.

Newsletter February 2006
Submitted by: Skein Lane Staff - PJ Rosenthal

Knitting Encouragement for All

This month, our tip is in the form of a knitting encouragement for all….

“Lessons can be learned from all mistakes…so no effort is in vain.”

Alice Starmore from Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting.

“For most knitting problems, there is a cure.”

Lee Anderson from You Knit Unique.

“One is in this knitting pastime for pleasure, not for toil, anxiety, and doubt, so don’t  WORRY.”

Elizabeth Zimmerman from Knitting Without Tears.

Submitted by Skein Lane Staff
Newsletter December 2005

Yarn cutter for the knitting basket
If you are always fumbling scissors or something to cut your yarn with, try dropping a nail trimmer into your knitting bag. It's a small thing you can just pop in your bag and find easily. Plus it won't poke you when you reach in, and you can give yourself a nail trim!
Newsletter November 2005
Submitted by Annie

One way to help survivors of the hurricanes

Want to know a way you can help out survivors of the recent hurricanes? Rather than our usual helpful newsletter tip, we thought we would highlight just one of the many ways you can help those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Skein Lane learned about an effort led by a woman in Texas to collect 5,000 handmade blankets to be distributed to survivors during the holdiays.

Blankets for the Gulf recognizes that many people who lost everything may now live in cities that are much colder than the Gulf States.  A warm blanket, afghan or quilt would be a welcome touch of warmth and caring we could all give. Knit, crochet and quilted items are accepted.

Please help spread the word at your church, knitting group, girl scout troop or other organization. Visit for all the details. Also, please visit our Very Useful Links page for additional links to other charitable organizations, many of whom have expanded their efforts to help hurricane survivors.

Newsletter October 2005

Taking care of your stitching hands, wrists & arms

Try the following additional suggestions to help you knit comfortably.

Newsletter September 2005
Submitted by Skein Lane - Carolyn Pugh

Blending Yarns of Different Dyelots

Have you ever wanted to purchase yarn for a project, but the dyelots didn't match? Don't despair!  There's an easy way to make use of all the yarn and blend the colors of each dyelot in a way that is undetectable to the eye. It works well with both solid color and variegated yarns.

Work with two balls of yarn of different dyelots, alternating two rows of one dyelot, and two rows of another dyelot. When you've worked two rows, you'll be in position to start using the next dyelot.  Drop the strand you were knitting with, wrap it around the strand from the next dyelot and start knitting with the new dyelot. Repeat this procedure every two rows on each piece of garment. 

It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't and the results are worth it. It is basically the same as doing stripes or starting a new ball of yarn. You can also use this technique to prevent zig-zag stripes and color "pooling" - which can happen with variegated yarns even with all yarn of the same dyelot. It will give you a way to use the yarn you have and know that your piece will turn out beautifully. If you would like a demonstration of this technique, just stop by the shop - we're happy to help.

Newsletter August 2005
Submitted by Skein Lane Staff

Three Needle Bind Off Tips
The Three Needle Bind Off is a way to join the front and back pieces of a sweater at the shoulder using "live" or non-bound off stitches.  Skein Lane recommends it because it produces a really smooth, less-visible join. Basically, you are binding off two stitches at once: one from the front piece of the sweater and one from the back simultaneously. And as the name implies, you need a third needle to do the bind off. Stop in the shop and we can teach it to you - it's surprisingly easy!

Having said all that, if you are familiar with this bind off, but find it a little awkward to do knitting the stitches together, there is a simple modification that makes it easier. Turn your work inside out (wrong sides facing) and do the three needle bind off, purling the stitches together. Working the stitches in front by purling, makes it is a little easier than knitting them, but produces the same smooth join on the right side of the work.

This tip was learned by one of our staff members in a class with designer and instructor, Judy Pascale.  
Newsletter July 2005
Submitted by Skein Lane Staff

Purl 2 Together Bind Off

Most of us have, at one time or another, had difficulty getting the right tension on a bind-off. Many books recommend using larger needles for the cast on and bind off rows, but we have found a bind off that can really help.  The “Purl 2 Together" bind off is a neat, elastic bind off whose stitches lay on the edge and match the look of the cable cast on. It works especially well with a lengthwise scarf.  Try it out! Here’s how:

  • Purl 2 together
  • Place resulting stitch back on the left-hand needle

  • Purl 2 together (the stitch returned to the left-hand needle, along with the one directly next to it.)

  • Continue until you have only 1 stitch left, draw yarn through as with traditional

Newsletter June 2005
Submitted by Skein Lane Staff

The Russian Join

Recently, several customers and staff member Jeremy have shared a neat little trick for joining your plied yarns together when you change to a new ball.  Known as the Russian Join, it makes a strong, nearly undetectable join of two ends of yarn AND it removes the need to weave in those 6-inch tails we all hate to deal with.

Visit for easy step-by-step instructions with clear photographs. This technique is best used with a solid-colored plied yarn (two or more strands twisted together) that is wool or other animal fibers. You could also test it with plied cotton yarns. It is not recommended for novelties, however.

Newsletter May 2005
Submitted by Jeremy Bredeson & others

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