Monday, July 23, 2012

10 Ways to Knit Faster

There are dozens of articles in magazines and websites about knitting faster, and in general they all tell you the same thing: Knit continental style, use big needles and big yarn, and knit uncomplicated patterns.  Yes, all of those things will help you knit faster.  But I'm thinking you probably knew that already.  What about knitting the stuff you want to knit, complex or small needle, or English style?  Can we knit those things faster?

Yes.  Here's how.

1. Learn to cable without a needle.  This works for smaller cables, but is less successful on cables that are 4 over 4 and larger.  If you have any trouble with too-tight tension, this will not be successful, so be forewarned.  Slip your right needle into the stitches that need to change position from the back or front, whichever way the pattern dictates.  Slip the first stitches destined to be a cable off the needle, and carefully transfer the unknit stitches from the right needle onto the left needle.  Carefully slip the left needle back into the remaining stitches of the cable.  Now knit!  It's pretty easy, and saves time. 

2. Use slippery needles.  The "action" on needles is a reference to how quickly and smoothly the yarn will move across the needles as you work.  Metal needles are usually have the quickest action, and nickel tend to be the fastest among metal.  If you're using circs, look for circs with a very smooth joint between the cable and the needle.  It makes a huge difference.

3. Limit distractions.  It's much easier to knit quickly when you're not dividing your attention in any significant way.  Listening to a book on tape or to the radio allows your eyes to stay on your knitting - not too distracting.  Helping the children with their math homework usually means shifting your visual focus to the book or worksheet, and concentrating on problem-solving and teaching - very distracting!  Try to keep your eyes on your work!

4. Commit to a schedule.  Commit to a certain number of rows per knitting session.  It's enough to keep you moving along when your project or schedule is throwing up roadblocks.  If you usually manage 6 rows at a sitting, commit to 7.  If you pass 7 and want to keep going, you'll still own yourself 7 more rows at your next sitting.

5. Swatch.   Swatches are knitting scrap paper.  Learn new skills on a simple narrow swatch.  You won't waste time ripping back rows of your project because your design element "looks funny".  Swatch it once or twice until you like it, then work it into your project.

6. Use stitch markers.  Any of these uses will speed up your process: Mark the edges of a design element so you don't have to count.  Place a stitch marker at the beginning of rounds.  Place a stitch marker every 10 stitches on wider projects.

7. Knit in the round.   Knitting in the round speeds your work in several ways.  It eliminates a certain amount of seaming.  It eliminates the need to turn and adjust your work.  And since most patterns have more knit stitches than purl stitches, and most people knit faster than they purl, knitting in the round has you spend more time knitting the fast stitches.

8. Use fast yarn.  What makes a yarn slow?  Anything that makes it hang up on itself.  Most novelty yarns are slower to knit, as are mohairs and other yarns with a halo.  Boucle yarns are notorious for hanging up.  Lower quality yarns that split and pill also create unnecessary obstacles to navigate.  Use high quality high twist yarns whenever possible to help maintain a smooth rhythm.

9. Read through the entire pattern first.  I know, it's not very sexy, but it really helps. The whole pattern, line by line.  If something is unclear, figure it out before you start knitting.  Swatch if you need to.  The farther into the pattern you are when you get stuck, the less likely you are to finish your project.

10. Take good care of your hands.  Dry hands, hang nails, and rough nails and cuticles are uncomfortable, cause the yarn to snag, and slow you down.  Thoroughly wash your hands and moisturize with a deep moisturizer at bedtime every day.  (Don't moisturize right before you knit!  Moisturizer gets transferred onto the yarn, making dirt cling to the yarn.)  File your nails regularly to maintain smooth edges.  When you have to wash dishes or do some house cleaning, wear rubber gloves.  Gently stretch your fingers and wrists several times per day to maintain flexibility and good blood flow.  Not only will your skin on your hands be healthier and more supple, they will do a better job with your knitting.

1 comment:

Elaine Petrowski said...

Great ideas Liz...Glad to hear what I thought of as a bad cable habit just makes sense for speed.
See you in October at North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival.