Pages

Winner + Getting the Crochet Results You Want

Yarn crafters know that the quickest path to a successful project is the right tools. With the Knitter’s Pride range of crochet hooks, there’s the right hook to meet the needs of any project you have in mind. Let’s take a look at the variety of materials and styles available.


Crochet Hook Style and Materials


Crochet hooks can be made of almost any material; the tinier sizes tend to be steel, with acrylic, aluminum, bamboo and wood being the most common choices for standard and larger sizes. The two major styles of crochet hooks are inline and tapered, illustrated in the photo below:
From L-R: Waves, Bamboo and Dreamz hooks.
The hook on the far left shows the inline style: the hook profile remains within the overall diameter of the entire tool, while the two hooks on the right show the tapered style, where the hook widens into the labeled hook size from a slender neck. The inline style also has a distinctly flat neck where the tapered style is always cylindrical. Style is a matter of individual preference, although some beginning crocheters find it easier to maintain uniform tension in their loops with an inline hook.


Knitter's Pride has hooks in both styles: Symfonie Dreamz offers inline style hooks for both the single ended and Tunisian styles; the Basix Birch and Jumbo Birch lines offer inline style single ended hooks, and Dreamz offers tapered style hooks for both the single ended and Tunisian styles, and Waves offer tapered single ended hooks which are color-coded by size.


But what hook do you choose for which project? Again, personal preference is always going to be the primary determination, but there are some guidelines to keep in mind.


Small-Diameter Crochet Hooks


The small mm diameter steel hooks are traditionally used for fine projects using crochet cotton like bedspreads, doilies and filet crochet. They are also fantastic tools for adding beads to either crochet or knitting projects as you can actually put the bead on the hooks and add it to a specific stitch, rather than pre-stringing them and sliding them up your yarn. Here’s a video that demonstrates this technique. They are also handy for all kinds of household repairs that involve threading something through a tiny opening!


Letter-Sized Crochet Hooks


Wooden crochet hooks, like the Basix and the Symfonie Dreamz are warm in the hand and somewhat flexible. Our popular Waves line offers a tapered aluminum hook on a soft-grip handle, color-coded for individual sizes. Our standard Aluminum hooks offer the soft-grip only in black, but the hooks in silver- or gold-tone, as well as traditional individual rigid Tunisian single-ended crochet hooks.
Waves Crochet Hooks


Interchangeable Crochet Hooks with Cords


Whether you’re new to crochet or a veteran, you will find the Knitter’s Pride Symfonie Dreamz Interchangeable Crochet Hook set a versatile addition to your yarn tools. Color-coded by size just like the Dreamz Interchangeable Knitting Needle Set, our Crochet Hook set includes our flexible cables which screw into a ferrule at the bottom of each hook, converting them into adjustable-length Tunisian (or afghan) crochet hooks. Our Bamboo line also offers individual interchangeable hooks that will fit any of our cords, too.


Traditionally, Tunisian crochet is worked on a long crochet hook, rather like a single knitting needle with a hook on one end. By replacing a fixed-length rigid tool with an adjustable-length flexible cable, the Knitter's Pride Dreamz Interchangeable Crochet Hook set eliminates the limitations of project width that were determined by the length of the crochet hook. Rather than seaming together panels of a specific width, the crocheter can make a project as wide as her longest cable.
The combination of a regular-sized crochet hook with the flexible cable is easier on the Tunisian crocheter’s hands and wrists, as the cable holds the weight of the project, just as circular knitting needles take the weight off knitters’ wrists. In addition, inventive crocheters have created techniques that take advantage of the flexible cable. Jennifer Hansen of Stitch Diva, for example, has introduced a way to work Tunisian crochet in the round, based on the Magic Loop knitting technique, that utilizes the Dreamz Interchangeable Crochet hook and cable combination. You can find her Craftsy tutorials for this technique here.


There's one more use for our Dreamz Interchangeable crochet hooks that is worthy of note: it is the perfect tool for one of the most-hated knitting tasks: picking up stitches! While most of us have finagled a way to use circular knitting needles to draw those loops of yarn through a bound-off edge to put a collar on a sweater, for example, it isn’t easy. But it can be with the right hook and cable combination. Drawing those loops through the knitted fabric is so much easier with a crochet hook, and you can keep on sliding them down the cable until you reach your proper stitch count.  


Unscrew the hook and the cap end from the cable, then screw on your knitting needle tips, and you’re ready to knit your collar with much less frustration!


Whether you’re a crocheter, a Tunisian crocheter or a knitter, our crochet hooks and accessories have what you need to make your projects perfect. You can find all of our crochet options here, under the Crochet menu. Happy hooking!

Winner

Congratulations to Raveler Jamestull, you've won this month's blog giveaway! We will get in touch with you shortly to arrange for the delivery of your prize, a set of Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers. Thanks to everyone who entered this month's contest!

Giveaway + Designer Spotlight: Susanna IC

August is a great time of year to give lace knitting a try! Our previous blog posts focused on lace knitting tools & techniques and blocking your finished project, and today we are excited to spotlight a fabulous knitwear designer who is known for stunning lace designs (and more): Susanna IC. 

After nine years in Europe, Susanna IC now lives deep in the heart of Texas with her husband, two sons, one guinea pig and countless balls of yarn. Besides a background in fashion design, she has a Master’s degree in art history and a Bachelors’s in studio arts, all of which continue to inspire her knitting. Her designs have appeared in numerous online and print publications, such as Interweave Knits, Jane Austen Knits, Twist Collective, Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People, and Knitty. You can view all of Susanna's designs here on Ravelry and keep up with her latest creations on her blog at artqualia.com.

When did you learn to knit/crochet?

My grandmother was a great knitter; she taught me how to crochet when I was five and she wanted to teach me how to knit as well, but she was left-handed, and I just could not figure out how to mirror her movements and make the stitches with my right hand. Fast forward to when my older son was six months old and I had a little extra time on my hands while he was sleeping. I thought that making adorable baby sweaters would be fun, so I decided to give knitting one more try. I picked up a how-to knit book and instantly fell in love.

How did you get started designing?


My first swatch was the back of my first baby sweater, which in a way was my first knitted design as well. Learning to knit alone from a book, I did not even realize that there were detailed knitting patterns to follow, so I just sort of made it all up as I went along. I have a background in fashion design and I’ve sewn all my life, so the designing part of knitting came naturally. Few years later, after I added some of my original projects to Ravelry, people asked about them and I wrote a few of them up as patterns. Next, I’ve sent out design submissions to several publications and they were accepted and everything just took off from there.

Pyropa shawl pattern, from Knitty First Fall 2016.
What are your favorite projects to design?

Looking at the majority of my designs I guess you would say that I live for shawls. Well, that’s true, I absolutely adore creating shawls of all sorts, but I really love all kinds of knitting - lace and cables and texture, accessories and garments, simple and complex. I absolutely love the moment of inspiration, which can come from anywhere - nature, books, movies, yarn color, etc. After that, watching the vision come to life on the needles is exhilarating and blocking lace is always a wonderful surprise. I even like the math of knit design. I guess I really do love the entire process, including ripping and reknitting.


What is your absolute favorite Knitter's Pride product, the one you would HAVE to have if you were stranded on a desert island?

I learned to knit on straight needles and for several years I did not use anything else because I did not realize how limiting the straight needles were. It was only after I decided to try colorwork in the round that I discovered interchangeable circular needles. I purchased the full set of the original nickel plated needles and I’ve never looked back. The needles are durable and very smooth with tapered tips that are perfect for intricate lace as well as cables and texture. I love how versatile and fast they are, and I use them for all types of yarn. Over the years, I’ve added many extra tips to my collection in the sizes I use most often because I usually have several design projects on the needles and I don’t want to wait for the correct needle size to free up.

Mina shawl, available on Ravelry

Many knitters might be intimidated by the thought of knitting lace. How would you convince someone to give it a try? 

I think that knitting lace is like any other knitting and anyone can do it; it’s really just knit and purl stitches combined with a few decreases and increases, which create interesting patterns depending on how they are placed. That said, any new technique can take some time to master and, as the saying goes, a little practice goes a long way. The first lace shawl I’ve ever made took me a while because I had to concentrate on every stitch; however, that same shawl would be a quick project now.


To get started, you’d want to choose a simple lace pattern with a short repeat, about ten to twelve stitches, so that the stitch sequence can be easily memorized. Look for a pattern with resting rows; this means that the right side patterned rows are separated by purled wrong side rows. If you’d rather not jump directly into a project, a small swatch of a few pattern repeats can help you learn the stitches and the sequence in which they are combined. Also, knitting lace does not necessarily mean lace weight yarn, so if you find lace weight yarns too fiddly to start with, you can use a fingering or sport weight yarn instead.

Rhodora shawl, from Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2016
What are some of your foolproof tips for success with lace projects?

When reading lace charts for the first few times, it can be helpful to color code the stitch symbols so that you can easily identify all those similar-looking symbols. Removable highlighter tape or sticky note placed on the chart can be great help in keeping track of the row you’re currently working on, and placing stitch markers on the needles to separate the pattern repeats will help you keep the stitch count correct. These are just a few ideas that helped me when I started knitting lace. Give it a try and in no time you will be creating masterpieces.

Belarra shawl, from Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2014



Giveaway
This month, one lucky blog reader will win a set of Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post sharing the name of your favorite Susanna IC pattern (click here to view them all on Ravelry). Be sure to also include your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win.

We will randomly select the winning comment to announce here on the Knitter's Pride blog on Friday, August 26. Good luck!

Tutorial: Wet Blocking A Lace Shawl

In our previous blog post, we shared tips, tricks and tools to successfully knit a lace project (click here if you missed it). On today's post, we'll share how to finish your project with professional results.

There are a few ways that you can finish your project - using steam, spray blocking or wet blocking. Most knitters and crocheters have a personal preference for one or the other, and today we'll focus on wet blocking a shawl project (though our instructions can be used to wet block just about any finished project). You can view a tutorial for spray blocking a lace project here on our blog archive.

First, assemble the supplies you'll need: a small basin or tub, no-rinse wool wash, a few fluffy towels, tape measure and Knitter's Pride Blocking Mats, T-Pins, Wires and Knit Blockers.

Fill the tub or basin with tepid water and a small amount of your wool wash. Gently add your finished project and immerse in the water for about 10-15 minutes.
Carefully remove your project: this is where a no-rinse product comes in handy, because you don't have to risk felting by washing out the soap. Instead, allow the water to drain out as you take care not to wring it. Lay it flat on a dry, fluffy towel and gently roll up to squeeze out excess water. Repeat, using a fresh towel, if necessary.

Most hand wash instructions say "lay flat to dry," but for a project which requires specific dimensions or features a stitch pattern that looks best once it has been blocked in a certain way, this is the most crucial step: your project will take whatever shape you dry it in, so if you toss it on your blocking mats and leave it be, it will dry - wrinkles and all.
Begin with a straight edge; for some shawls, it might be the top, or in the case of this tutorial, the midline. Secure this straight edge with Knit Blockers, using the tape measure to make sure that your shawl has the dimensions listed in the pattern.
From here, begin to secure the borders of the shawl with wires, T-Pins or Knit Blockers. You have a lot of options here, and what you choose to do will depend on the type of project you have made. In this case, we use Knit Blockers to secure the top edges, then show two options for securing the lace border: on the right, blocking wires are threaded through the points of the border and secured with Knit Blockers every so often, and T-pins are used on the lace border as well. On the left, the lace border has been secured using only T-Pins (each one is circled in yellow so that you can spot them a little easier:

Allow to dry, then enjoy wearing your creation!

Winner
Congratulations to patricialonnie, you have won this month's blog giveaway! We will get in touch with you shortly to arrange for the delivery of your Nova Platina Cubics Deluxe interchangeable set.

Be sure to add our blog to your reader for more great tutorials, designer interviews, and giveaways!

The Right Tools For Lace Knitting

Do you like to knit lace patterns? Are you a chart reader or do you prefer row-by-row written instructions to render your arrangements of negative and positive space in yarn? In this post, we’ll show how Knitter’s Pride interchangeable needles and other tools can make your lace knitting project even more enjoyable.


First, some clarification. There is a general consensus in the knitting world that “lace knitting” refers to patterns that employ yarnovers (yo) on one side only, with a rest row (usually purl) between pattern rows. However, “Knitted lace” employs yarnovers on every row, creating open areas with single, untwisted yarn between them. Both are more complex than knit and purl patterns or cable work because the number of stitches on the needle can vary row to row.





Keeping track of where you are in the pattern and keeping the work on your needles in pattern  are challenges for new and veteran lace knitters alike. Executing the pattern correctly can be yet another challenge. Having the right tools can make each of these challenges easier and your knitting more fun.


Choosing the right tips


Both lace knitting and knitted lace involve increasing stitch counts by adding yarnovers to create openwork effects in the finished piece, and then decreasing stitch counts by knitting or purling a number of stitches together. If you are creating nupps or bobbles, there may be as many as five stitches being worked in one maneuver, possibly through the back loop. To manipulate that many stitches, most knitters prefer a sharp tip on their needles with a long taper, the slope between the tip and where the needle’s full diameter is reached. Such a preference usually means that the knitter chooses a metal tip. On the other hand, lace patterning is often knit in luxury fibers like fine merino,  alpaca, silk, cashmere, qiviut or blends of these fibers. They can be much more slippery than a basic wool or wool-blend yarn. To compensate for this, some knitters will want the more “grabby” surface of wood or bamboo on their needles. Knitter’s Pride Karbonz interchangeable needle tips combine both of these desirable qualities. The carbon fiber tips are warm and flexible like wood or bamboo, but their nickel-plated brass tips provide that taper and sharpness for working many stitches at the same time.



Using a lifeline


The combinations of yarnovers and decreases in your knitted piece make correcting errors more difficult than just frogging back. If your pattern is lace knitting, taking it back to the “plain” row and checking your stitch count is often a good solution. If everything works out in terms of stitch counts, and both your horizontal and vertical pattern repeats are accurate, now is the time to run a lifeline through your work. In knitting, a “lifeline” is a thread that holds an entirely correct row of stitches. If the knitter should make subsequent errors in the piece, s/he can frog it back to the lifeline row, get it back on the needles and begin knitting again. A lifeline row at the end of every correct vertical repeat of a pattern is especially helpful in knitted lace since it has no “plain” rows to offer a visual guidepost to the knitter.
Make sure that your lifeline is a smooth fiber of different material and color than the yarn with which you are knitting. Believe it or not, dental floss is a good choice because it is sturdy and slick and most yarns will not cling to it. You can thread it through a darning needles and then run it through every stitch in your project currently on the cord of your interchangeable needles. Use the tightening holes in the ferrule of your tips to temporarily anchor your lifeline at either end.  You can stair-step lifelines through your project as it progresses. When you complete another vertical repeat of your pattern, run your next lifeline and remove the one from lower down in the project. It’s kind of fun, too, because a lifeline is a visual reminder that you actually are getting this project knit. You can finish anything 12 rows at a time.


Charts or Written Instructions?


A lot of knitters have firm opinions about what format they prefer to follow when knitting lace patterns. Some like line-by-line instructions that specify the actions to be performed on every stitch in a row. If they are well-written and don’t use confusing multiple sets of brackets and parentheses to indicate pattern repeats, written instructions can be fine. Other knitters, however, find that a charted pattern allows them to better visualize what the knitting should look like; it’s a more organic representation of how the stitches are being manipulated. In either case, keeping track of where you are in your pattern is essential to your success. If you are using a printed pattern, a holder like Knitter’s Pride Magma can help you follow where you are. The bar magnets can keep you focused on the right line of instructions in either a charted or written pattern, and you can prop it up at an easel-like angle to be able to monitor your pattern and your knitting at the same time.



Stitch markers are your friends


The last bit of advice we have for successful lace knitting is the liberal use of stitch markers. Using them to separate each repeat of a stitch pattern that appears multiple times across the width of a scarf is one of the easiest things a knitter can do to make lace success more likely. If you are working a project that has different lace patterns in different sections, you can color-code your knitting with different markers to keep yourself visually cued about which pattern you’re executing in any particular area. Between your stitch markers and your lifelines, you have created a gridwork that maps your knitting as you work on it.


The way stitch markers are used in lace knitting varies from how they are used in garment knitting. Rather than reminding the knitter where shaping needs to happen, markers in lace knitting are delineating stitch manipulations that are repeated to create patterns. Lace is often knit from very fine (laceweight) yarns in luxury fibers. It’s important that your stitch markers are close to your needle diameter; you don’t want stitches to be able to slip under or over your markers and mess up your stitch count. They should also be a material that slips easily along your chosen needles and a different color from the yarn in your project. Multiple colors can help with demarcating distinct stitch patterns within a larger project.
Lace knitting is a rewarding way to stretch your skills as a knitter. If you approach it with the right tools and a sense of adventure, learning to create beautiful patterns out of yarn satisfies the artistic impulse that lies within even the most practical knitter. Just as beautiful yarns give us a chance to play with color like a painter, knitting lace gives us a chance to play with negative and positive space like we are sculptors. Are you ready to give it a try?

Giveaway

Leave a comment on this blog post telling us your favorite Knitter's Pride tool for lace projects for your chance to win a Nova Cubics Platina interchangeable needle set! Be sure to also include your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win. We will announce the winner on our next blog post on Friday, July 22. Good luck! 

Winner + Designer Spotlight: Staci Perry of Very Pink Knits

First off, we'd like to congratulate Mariaeb, our winner for this month's blog giveaway. We'll be in touch shortly to arrange for the delivery of your prize, a Nova Platina Deluxe Interchangeable Set.

Knitter's Pride has joined forces with Staci Perry of VeryPink.com to bring you monthly project-based tutorials featuring fabulous free patterns and Knitter's Pride products! Earlier this month, Staci released a new free pattern called Color My Cowl, and along with it, a free tutorial which features our Nova Platina needles and demonstrates how to master fair isle techniques to knit her new design. We got a chance to interview Staci to learn more about knitting, her design process, and the early days of Very Pink Knits. Enjoy!


When did you learn to knit? Crochet?
I was five or six years old when I learned to crochet, and I learned to knit shortly after that. My Great-Great Aunt Ida taught me, it's kind of a normal thing for Scandinavian and Scandinavian-American families to teach kids fiber arts at a young age. I knit and designed stuff ALL THE TIME growing up, then stopped through college, then started up again, and haven't stopped since. It's crazy to think that I've been knitting for over 40 years.

VeryPink Knits was one of the first knitting-related channels we know of from the early days of YouTube. How did you get started, and what has changed in the years since your channel launched?
When I started making videos, I was teaching knitting classes here in Austin at a yarn shop. My idea was to make videos so that the students in my classes would have a video to reference after they took a class with me. The first videos I released started getting views from all over the place, not just my knitting class students, and that was my motivation to make videos for a wider audience. My mission and format is mostly unchanged since the early days - I still teach knitting in short technique videos and longer tutorials. But the years I spent building up my audience now allows me to work with sponsors and other designers, which gives a lot of new flavor to what I present in my videos. I'm also WAY more comfortable on camera than I was seven years ago!
Free Pattern: Color my Cowl
What was the design process like for the Color My Cowl pattern which launched earlier this month?
That's a good question - you're making me think! It started with the idea for a fair isle tutorial, because I've had a lot of requests for one recently. My first objective was to make it an easy introduction to fair isle, but also a pretty pattern that looks impressive when it's finished, and a very "wearable" item. I use Excel when I design colorwork...I change the cell shape to squares, and start coloring. I finished a rough idea for the color pattern, then I started knitting. I always put needles to yarn very early in a design, because I will inevitably change and add things once I see how a design is actually looking as it's knit up. Sure enough, I ended up trashing half of my first color design once I saw it spelled out in stitches. I made some changes, then started to plan out colors for the samples that I would eventually show in the video. While I was doing this in Excel, I thought, "This would be fun to do with colored pencils". And that's how I got the idea to turn the cowl stitch pattern into a coloring page for knitters.

I often get questions about what software I use to design. I keep it pretty simple! Like I said above, I use Excel for charting colorwork. I also use Excel for charting stitch patterns like lace and cables. Oh, and I use Excel (as an actual spreadsheet) when I'm grading patterns into different sizes. The only other software I use is Google Docs. I take notes for each design using Documents, and the notes page eventually becomes the final version of the pattern that I turn into a PDF. I like using Google Docs because all of my docs are available to me across all of my devices.


What is your absolute favorite Knitter's Pride product, the one you would HAVE to have if you were stranded on a desert island?
Love it! That's tough, because my favorite Knitter's Pride product changes from week to week. But my two all-time favorites have to be Platina and Platina Cubics needles. Right now, if I was being shipped off to a desert island, I'd grab my Platina 16" interchangeable set, because that's what I'm using now on a couple of designs. And if I could, I'd jam my Knit Blockers into my suitcase while no one was watching so I could have those, too.




Many knitters might be intimidated by Fair Isle knitting. How would you convince someone to give it a try?
Hopefully, I'd be able to convince them to give it a try by having them watch the video tutorial! I think people look at different styles of knitting, like lace or fair isle or cables, and they think NO WAY. That kind of knitting is for other people, people who are better at knitting than I am. But after I show them how it's done, and they see that it's still just the simple knit stitch they know and love, they get excited to give it a try. I hope people have come to know me as the knitting teacher they can trust to give them projects that they can actually do, and enjoy, and finish. So, I'll work on convincing someone to give new techniques (like fair isle) a try by showing them how it's done, giving them a simple pattern to give it a go, and asking them to trust me, they can do this!

A Colorful Summer: Fair Isle Inspiration (& Giveaway!)

Ravelry is filled with colorful projects featuring eye-catching motifs and pleasing patterns. The color work technique is commonly referred to as "Fair Isle" or sometimes called "stranded colorwork." Though the results look complex, Fair Isle can actually be mastered by any adventurous knitter! Staci Perry of VeryPink.com shows the step-by-step process of mastering Fair Isle techniques in her new tutorial video featuring Knitter's Pride needles and her new free pattern, Color my Cowl:


Once you have mastered the techniques above, it's time to put them to the test! We've collected some of our favorite trending patterns on Ravelry to inspire you to give Fair Isle knitting a try this summer. Click the links below to view more pattern information!
Color My Cowl by Staci Perry
Wildflowers Cap by Mary Jane Mucklestone
Crofthoose Yoke by Ella Gordon
Ambiguous by Michelle Hunter

KARREE by Susanne Reese

Giveaway
This month, we're giving 1 lucky blog reader the chance to win a Nova Cubics Platina Deluxe interchangeable set! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling us what Fair Isle project you most recently completed or are looking forward to casting on!

We will randomly select a comment as our lucky winner to announce here on our blog on Friday, June 25. Good luck!

Winners + Spring KAL Recap

Our Spring KAL with Angela Tong has drawn to a close, and it's time to announce our prize winners! But before we do that, we'd like to share all of the amazing projects which our fans completed in our Ravelry group as part of this KAL.

First, we saw 12 completed Hishigata hats in a parade of beautiful colors!


Since our KAL included any pattern from Angela Tong's Ravelry pattern store, we saw some other inspiring projects for spring, too. Four participants knit the lovely Kouyou Shawl:


And three more adventurous knitters shared their projects which included a few Shizuku scarves and a Tekstur hat to round out the mix:


Angela also shared an informative tutorial showing how she swatches for in-the-round projects using a clever time-saving trick - click here to check it out! Also, if you missed our previous blog post about Charitable organizations accepting handmade donations, click here to learn more.

Don't forget to block your swatch with our Knit Blockers!
Photo by Angela Tong; click here for the full tutorial on Angela's blog.
Of course, it wouldn't be a KAL without some fabulous prizes, and here are our lucky winners:

Knit Blockers: TinaSanders
Marblz Interchangeable Circular Needle Set: HelenHG69
Allure Fiber Wash: LaurenS

We also have one more prize to give out this month for our May blog giveaway; congratulations to quiltdabbler, who has won Nova Platina Cubics Deluxe Interchangeable Set! We will get in touch with you shortly to arrange for the delivery of your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered this month's blog giveaway and joined in our KAL!