Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. This is part 5 in her 6-part series for us on the topic of yarncraft health. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
We have discussed a lot of ideas for using crafts to improve your mental and physical health. But what about the reverse – improving your health so that you can be a better crafter? It turns out that one can help the other in a cycle of ongoing self-improvement.
One of the main complaints that knitters and crocheters have is that their crafts can cause them hand pain. This includes carpal tunnel and other repetitive strain injury. You can reduce that by doing regular hand exercises. Keeping your hands limber will allow you to yarncraft for longer periods of time.
It’s a case of one hand washing the other because as you do needlecrafting, you loosen certain parts of your hands. Many people have reported that crochet helps them reduce symptoms of arthritis for example. So you can do hand and finger exercises in order to crochet better and then the more you crochet, the less your hands are likely to hurt.
Here are 9 hand exercises for crafters’ fingers, thumbs and wrists.
You may see patterns that talk about selvage stitches (sometimes spelled “selvedge”) and wonder what they could be referring to. All fabric has selvages; they are simply the left and right edges of the piece, or the first and last stitch of each row.
Some patterns specify to work a selvage stitch; you may notice that directions tell you to always knit the first and last stitch of the row or to slip the last stitch of each row. In these cases, the designer has factored in the selvage as part of the design to make it easier for you. However, if you’re creating your own design from a stitch dictionary or just winging it, understanding how to work those selvage stitches (or identify them, if you’re modifying a pattern), will be very helpful.
When you have pieces you are going to seam together, such as the front to the back of a sweater, you will use these edge stitches for seaming. They won’t be visible after the project is seamed. This is particularly useful when you’re creating your own design for a sweater or shrug, which may otherwise end up with yarn-overs and decreases on the edges of the design. Regardless of the pattern stitch used, if you work a stockinette selvage it will make seaming much easier. To do so, simply knit the first and last stitch of every row on the right side and purl them on the wrong side. If a stitch pattern is used, you might check and be sure that the pattern has allowed two extra stitches for seaming so you have a full repeat across after seaming.
Ahhh, finally done with your latest knitting project. Now you can’t wait to finish so, in a final flurry, you bind off all your stitches and…oh no. The sweater won’t fit over your head or the bound off edge of the blanket is narrower than the cast on edge.
What have you done? You bound off too tightly.
I’ve done it myself. You might not notice if it’s a scarf because a scarf is narrow. The bound off edge does not have as much “give” as the rest of the knitting. That’s why it’s difficult to get the neckline of that sweater to stretch enough to fit over your head.
Always, always, always bind off loosely. This includes the stitches that you are knitting or purling during the process as well as when you pass a stitch over and off. Don’t tug, pull, or yank the yarn as you work each stitch. I know that it seems so loose that it’s tempting. But don’t. If you find you are binding off too tightly and can’t manage to do it more loosely, use needles one or two sizes larger than the size you used to knit the piece.
Binding off, sometimes called casting off, actually creates a final row of fabric, so what stitches you work as you bind off does make a difference. You can simply knit across as you bind off as many people do; but upon close inspection you’ll see the difference in the details.
Here is the latest installment of Lola, from its creator Todd Clark.
Want to knit the Chic Cabled Bag seen in this week’s Lola comic? Get the free pattern here and below.
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The research is in and there’s no denying it: people who knit and crochet have a much better chance at staying healthy, being happy and getting organized.
In the past few years, reports from authoritative sources such as CNN, the Huffington Post and Oxford University, cite evidence to support the fact that knitting and crochet can change your life in many ways … and for the better.
Health is a serious matter for all of us, so we took some time to compile our favorite writings on the matter; articles from Lion Brand bloggers such as Kathryn Vercillo and investigative reports from mainstream media outlets such as the Washington Post.
We hope that you find this round-up useful and that you’ll include knitting and crochet as part of your personal health and wellness plan. It works!
:: Treat yourself! Here’s a pattern for our Aromatherapy Eye Pillows (pattern available in knit and crochet) ::
Slip stitch patterns are an easy way to add color to your knitting; unlike Fair Isle and Intarsia, you knit with only one color per row so they are less complicated. When knitting slip stitch patterns, some stitches from a previous row are slipped and others are knit or purled with a new color.
When a row is completed, you will have stitches that are slipped which are a different color from the stitches that you just knit with the new color. The slipped stitches will be elongated; this will cause the stitch pattern to pull in, so check your gauge carefully if you substitute one in a pattern that calls for Stockinette or another less dense stitch pattern.
As you work on shaping a project, a pattern may ask you to increase or decrease a specific number of stitches evenly across a row or round. But it won’t tell you how often to do this…just to do it evenly.
You don’t want the increases or decrease bunched up together at one point because it would make your piece lopsided. To avoid this, you want them spaced as evenly as possible across the row or round.
So you’ll need to do some simple math in order to determine how often to increase or decrease so they are spread out evenly.
Example: Let’s say you have 100 stitches and the pattern calls for 10 increases. Dividing 100 by 10 equals 10, so you would increase once every 10th stitch.
Example: Suppose you have 110 stitches and you’re to increase 10 stitches. Adding 1 to 10 equals 11. Dividing 110 by 11 equals 10, so you would increase one stitch every 10th stitch.
Knitting in the round can seem daunting, but with a bit of practice, it’s no more difficult than knitting on straight needles. Here are some tips that I hope will make it a bit easier!
The appropriate circular needle length is the same size or slightly shorter than the circumference of the piece you are knitting. If it’s too short you’ll have trouble keeping all the stitches on the needle; if it’s too long, the fabric will be stretched too taut (this is why you need to switch to double points when decreasing the crown of a hat).
For some people, the usual way of knitting the first stitch of the round can be loose and therefore sloppy. You can tighten it up with the tail when weaving in the end later.
A better way to join it the round can be to cast on one extra stitch. Slip this stitch to the left (the first needle if casting on to double points); this is the beginning of the round and next to the first stitch you cast on. Then knit the two stitches together.
Still better, slip the first stitch you cast on to the right, next to the last cast on stitch. Pass the last cast on stitch (which is now the second stitch on the right) over the slipped stitch, give the yarn a tug and begin your round.
Aluminum needles can be slippery and your stitches will always want to slide off. Try bamboo or plastic.
Double points come in different lengths. Longer ones can be a bit more awkward but for larger number of stitches, you’ll need them so your stitches don’t fall off.
They come in sets of 4 or 5. If you have the option, always buy 5; then you’ll have it if you need it (and if one disappears you’ll have a spare!).
An increase adds stitches and creates shaping as a general rule. Lace patterns will use increases to balance decreases and you usually end the row with the same number of stitches you started with.
Many times, the pattern will tell you which specific increase to use; this is especially true with lace patterns. If the pattern tells you to simply increase, use the default increase: knit in the front and back of the same stitch (usually abbreviated kfb).
When working an increase in shaping, such as making sleeves wider, work them at least one stitch in from the edge. This makes seaming much easier.
Let’s take a look at some various ways to increase (click on any highlighted text to see diagrams:
As mentioned earlier, this is the default increase. It’s sometimes called a bar increase as it leaves a noticeable “bar” of yarn from the original stitch as it’s manipulated twice. It does not distort and it’s a perfectly fine increase except for the bar. If you don’t look closely, it will not be noticed.
Although there are many lovely scarf patterns available, a scarf is relatively simple to design, and it’s a great way to venture into your very first custom design. By understanding a five simple concepts, you’ll be able to design and knit or crochet beautiful scarves on your own.
While most basic crochet fabrics are relatively flat, many knitters venture into their own scarf pattern by simply working in stockinette stitch, and then they see it rolls and have knit what amounts to a big tube. Stockinette rolls. You can’t stop it. It’s the nature of the fabric that is produced when you knit one row and purl the next. What you can do is work the first and last 3 or 4 rows in garter stitch or seed stitch as well as the first and last 3 or 4 stitches in each row. This will usually keep a stockinette scarf from rolling.
Rainbow Ridge Scarf
Angora Lace Scarf