Pooling happens when a variegated, semi-solid or even speckled yarn falls into sync with itself and sections of colors start to line up. Some knitters/crocheters love the way that this looks but for others (like me) it is maddening. Here are my top 5 ways that I escape the pooling vortex.
Add Another Strand
You can add a strand of contrasting colored yarn to the yarn you already working! It will creating a fun marling effect which will break up any color pools that form while you are crafting. If you don’t want a marled look you can add in a second strand of the same yarn you are already working with. Just be sure that the colors aren’t lined up on both strands. If you don’t have a second ball of yarn lying around you can pull from the middle of the ball.
Change Up Your Needle Size
Altering how many stitches you get per inch will change how the yarn can sync up with its self. Depending on your personal gauge this may take a little experimentation but that extra .5mm may make all the difference. Although be careful changing your needle size since it won’t work for every project. You can use online tools like this planned pooling tool to play around with the gauge to see what may or may not work.
Pivot! (to another project)
Sometimes you just need to try the yarn in a completely different project. Different project means a different stitch count and normally a different gauge. Maybe what your yarn needs is to just go from being worked in the round to being worked flat. Maybe you need to try a non traditional construction for the thing you are making. Try coming at the project from a totally different direction. The socks pictured were knit in one long strip in order to avoid pooling.
Try Another Stitch Pattern
Look for a stitch pattern that has floats, dropped or slipped stitches. You need something that will move the yarn around to places it doesn’t expect to be. Sometimes just switching the type of ribbing you are using can help.
Divide your skein in half (or if you have multiple balls) and alternate which ball you are using every other row. If you are knitting your project flat, work two rows at a time using the first skein. Then, switch to the other skein and knit the next two rows. Repeat this, carrying your yarn at the side of your work, until you have completed your project. If you are working in the round it’s the same idea except that you are transitioning at the beginning of the round instead of at the end of a row. To transition from one skein to the next, drop the yarn you were working with and pick up the next. In the round just be sure to cross the old strand over the new strand to avoid any holes.
It may just have become summer but we are in the peaks of yarn advent/countdown calendar season. I love countdown calendars and it feels like every time I scroll through instagram I am being tempted by a new dyer offering one. To help inticise you into signing future you up for yarn presents I have collected patterns in various categories to show you what the calendars can become. I tried to avoid listing designers multiple times but most of the designers have multiple patterns that would work so I recommend clicking in and checking them out. The yarn weights of the patterns also vary but most of the patterns have instructions to alter the pattern or are easy to alter on your own.
These patterns would also be great for stash/scrap busting or just using mini skeins!
Note: I have tried to find links to all patterns that don’t connect to ravelry but if the pattern isn’t available anywhere else the link will be marked as (R). Also the photos used are from the pattern pages except the Pixel Rise socks.
Any time I look at my stash I am confronted with the sheer amount of self striping yarn that has managed to make its way home with me. There are times where a plain pair of vanilla socks is perfection but sometimes you want to get a bit fancy. After scouring the internet and asking instagram I have collected ones that I think are the most fun to give you some inspiration next time you are staring down your stash and wanna get a little fancy.
Note: I have tried to find links to all patterns that don’t connect to ravelry but if the pattern isn’t available anywhere else the link will be marked as (R). Also the photos used are from the pattern pages unless I have knit a version of the pattern in self-striping yarn.
Being more productive as a crafter is something that I am always aiming to do. There are always more things to make and more yarn to use and I just want to do it all! Productivity isn’t the end all be all of crafting, it is supposed to be something that brings you joy in the long run. But if being more productive is something you want to do here are some tips that have really helped me get more done!
Make Use of the Pomodoro Technique and/or Time Blocking
The pomodoro technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks Time blocking is a similar way of scheduling where you break your day into time chunks that are designated for certain types of activities. Depending on the day I need to have I will use these two techniques to plan out where I can find knitting time and what I am going to work on. If there is a more free form crafting day I will use the pomodoro timer to time myself working on a project for 55 min. When the timer goes off I will stretch, check my phone etc for the 5 min break and then I will either jump back into the project for another 55 minutes or grab something new to work on.
Analyze your knitting/crochet style.
Are you using extra movements that are slowing you down? Can you change your tension or how you hold your hook/needles that would make you more efficient? Can you learn a new style that will make things faster?
Two of the easiest changes to make is to keep your work close to the tip of your needles/hook and to keep your yarn closer to your work. You don’t necessarily need to learn a new way to knit but just take an objective look at what your hands are doing. I found that filming my hands while I work helped a lot with this.
Set small goals.
Working on a big project is super daunting. Break your big project into smaller bite sized pieces to keep you motivated and keep the feeling of accomplishment going. Just finish that one step and then move on to something new.
Rotate your projects
This ties super well with time blocking/using a pomodoro timer. Have a few projects going and in various stages keeps things fresh and helps you from getting bored. It also helps to have more than one thing to work on in case something goes wrong.
ABC-Always Be Crafting
The most important thing for crafting productivity is finding the time to craft. I know that this is something that is easier said than done but take a look at your routine and see if there is something you do where crafting can be added. Even if it’s just as simple as keeping knitting/crochet in your purse or car for an extra 5 minutes here or there that time will add up! The game changer for me was waking up early to find that space before my household woke up and I had to start my work day. Being able to walk and knit is also a fun way to scare muggles while you are out and about.
Listen to audiobooks and/or podcasts.
If you are working on something that requires your whole visual attention now is the perfect time to multitask with podcasts or audiobooks. Not only will it will keep your brain engaged it helps you make the most of your time! Most knitting/crocheting podcast on Youtube can be listened to but podcast and
Have the tools you need on hand.
Have a notions pouch or basket filled with all the things you need on hand when you are crafting. There is nothing worse than needing scissors or a measuring tape and having to waste time looking for them! If you are taking your crafting out into the world keep a seperate little kit with your project.
Avoid purling if it slows you down.
This is more of a knitting specific issue but depending on how you knit purling could be something that takes your time down to almost half. Knitting mainly in the round, learning to Portuguese knit or learning to knit backwards instead of purling can help you avoid it entirely.
Try to knit/crochet without looking at your work.
You will be able to add crafting to so many more events if you don’t have to look at your hands.
As someone who has just returned to their wheel I remember what it was like to start the journey at all and how overwhelmed I was. There is a lot to sort through and I wanted to make it a little easier to get going. I am not a spinning expert but here are some resources and tips and tricks that really helped me along my spinning journey.
Wheel or Spindle?
Spinning is a very very personal experience and what worked for me could be totally wrong for another person. My spinning journey started with a spindle spinning classe and I couldn’t get the hang of it for the life of me. Spindle spinning can be a great place to start because the price of a spindle is a lot more accessible (heck you can make one yourself) but if you have access to a spinning wheel that to me is a much easier way to start. If you are in the Vancouver, BC area Baaad Annas has a rental program where you can rent a spinning wheel to give it a go before you make an investment in a wheel. If aren’t in the Vancouver area check to see if a LYS near you that sells spinning wheels has a rental program or some way for you to try out a wheel.
There are normally spinning wheels of some kind on Craigslist to purchase but if you are just starting out I wouldn’t suggest that as a way to go. Most of those wheels haven’t been well maintained and may need a lot of work. It’s possible to restore old wheels and get them up and running but if you are just starting out it’s harder for you to tell what can and can not be repaired.
To this day I still can’t seem to get the hang of a spindle but thats no reason for you to not give it a go if you just want to dip your toe in. Just know that struggling with one doesn’t mean that you will struggle in the same way with the other.
Top 10 Starter Tips
Start with a light single colored roving/top. Something like a corriedale, perrindale or polworth will be perfect, I wouldn’t recommend Merino because it has a short staple length and can be tricky when figuring out the motions. Having some beautiful hand dyed soft merino to work towards though can be very motivational so if you are being called by a braid no reason to not save it for later.
Fiber doesn’t store as well as yarn does. Fiber over time can compress and become more difficult to spin so although we want to have pretty fiber to work towards I don’t recommend building up a fiber stash that rivals your yarn stash.
Pre-draft your fiber! This is essentially where you are pulling the fiber apart a bit before you start spinning to make the spinning experience a little easier. Here is a link to a video that will show you more in depth how to do it!
Oil your spinning wheel. It sounds silly but it really does make the whole experience way easier. Where your spinning wheel needs to be oiled and how often can vary but I tend to oil mine every time I sit down to spin around the mother-of-all,where my footmen attach and under the bobbin when i put it on the flyer.
Check your spinning posture. Once you have your wheel try out a few chairs to make sure you have the right one. You want your legs to be at a 90 degree angle and to be able to sit comfortably up right and not slouching forward (essential normal muggle good posture).
Hang on to your first finished yarn and put it in a clear christmas ornament. Your first yarn will not be the smoothest thing but you want to be able to see where you started and this way the memory is a practical piece of decor.
Wear bottoms that will contrast with the color of the fibre. So if you are spinning white or light grey fibre black bottoms, black/dark fibre lighter bottoms (or a white drop cloth on your lap). The contrast will make it easier to see the fibre as you are working. Also make sure you have good lighting but that is best practice for any crafting activity that you have to look at.
Keep Practicing and Be Kind to Yourself! Even if it’s just for 15 min a day try and fit it in as much as possible. Remember that everyone started somewhere and has their own journey. I’m sure rumplestiltskin’s first yarn was bobbly and weird too, just take it one bobbin at a time.
Experiment! There is no right way to spin and the best way to learn is to do. Try holding your fiber different ways or switching drafting hands. Try a spindle if a wheel isn’t working or vise versa or maybe a different style of wheel. Your spinning should work for you regardless of what that looks like.
Once you have gotten into the groove of things, try to treadle and draft to a certain rhythm. Keeping all the movements synchronized will help your yarn be more consistent.
Tutorials and Resources
School of Sweet Georgia is a paid service that has classes from fiber experts on spinning on a wheel, with a spindle and almost anything in between. They also have lots of other fabulous fibery courses on knitting, dyeing, weaving and colour theory.
Jillian Eve has a fantastic video tutorial and channel dedicated to spinning and how to get started. She also has a video walking you through how to pick a wheel for the first time if you need guidance from an expert.
If you are a fiber nerd and want to know more about why certain sheep wool is good for certain things or how long the staple of a certain sheep’s wool is I can’t recommend the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook enough. Even as a knitter this book has been invaluable in learning about certain sheep breeds and why their wool creates the type of yarn it does.
The Sheepspot Podcast is a podcast for handspinners by handspinners. They offer tips about spinning, talk about spinning journeys and some BTS dyeing content. They also sell and dye a diverse amount of sheep breeds if you need a little fiber enabling.
Paradise Fibers and the Woolery are amazing resources on both their blogs and Youtube.
Always check to see if fibre fairs and LYSs have any digital classes you can take. Things are slowly going back to real life but as long as you can take classes from anyone anywhere take advantage and learn as much as you can. I have gone to Knit City and Vogue Knitting Live classes but there are almost an endless amount of digital festivals/classes. Once classes in real life are a thing again check in with your local fiber hubs to see what might be happening.
Choosing a set of interchangeable needles is a big step in a knitters career and with so many on the market how do you choose? Well today I am going to be comparing 3 of Knit Picks interchangeable needle sets to help narrow things down. Knit Picks interchangeables are some of the most affordable options on the market and are a great first set or a great way to grow your collection. All Knit Picks sets use the same cable/needle joining system so you can mix and match. The system is also the same as Knit Pro/Knitters Pride so any of their accessories/needles tips can also be intermixed. All needle sets reviewed are longer tips (4.75 inches) and come with US Sizes: 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,10.5 and 11 (3.50mm, 3.75mm, 4.00mm, 4.50mm, 5.00mm, 5.50mm, 6.00mm, 6.50mm, and 8mm) and 2 each of 24″ and 32″ cables. The sets are also shipped in a vinyl pouch which can be used to store the sets in the long run.
Knit Picks has mastered making beautiful wooden needles. This set is their Caspian Options Interchangeable Set and it was the first ever interchangeable set I owned as a baby knitter. Wooden needles have more grip to them which is perfect for slippery yarns (eg silk) or if you are just starting out and need a little extra help. I also found that the bright color of the needles made it easier to see my stitches. They warm up in your hands and are a bit flexible so are great if you have any kind of joint issues or tend to go on marathon knitting sessions. The wood of the needles is a laminated birch and for the most part is super smooth. In the life of this set I have had issues with a set of needles splitting but working with customer service to get it replaced was no issue. The tips of the needles aren’t very sharp which can be either a blessing or a curse. If you are knitting lace it might not be the best thing but if you are knitting miles of stockinette with a splitty yarn it is a life saver. My main complaint with this set is the fear that they may break at some point but that is a general wooden needle fear with me. I have accidentally snapped a few needles over time because of me being an over enthusiastic hand talker.
This beautiful set is Knit Pick’s New Prism Aluminum Options Interchangeable Set. Because of the color alone I may have stalked these a little till they came back into stock last year. This was my first metal interchangeable set and I love them. The picture is missing a few of the sizes because they are currently in projects. The color coding of the sizes not only makes finding the right size easier but it also adds an extra pop to any project. The points on the needles are sharper than the Nickel interchangeables but aren’t Hiya Hiya levels of sharp. They do have a finish on the needle itself that adds a little bit of grip. I think it’s from the process of making the needles but it is noticeable and can make a noise depending on how you knit. I don’t mind it at all but it’s something to keep in mind. The needles also being aluminum and not nickel means that they are lighter weight and will also not aggravate anyone with a nickel allergy.
Last but certainly not least is the classic Nickel Option Interchangeable Set. This set was sent to me by Knit Picks a few months ago and I have loved getting to try them out. They have the advantages of any classic metal knitting needle; slick and strong. Metal needles are much stronger than wood and even though they may bend over time depending on your knitting style they shouldn’t break. The tips are sharper than the tips on the wood interchangeables. The website describes them as sharp but they seem like average pointed knitting needles to me. Unless you know you love a good stiletto point on your needle these will be great for most knitting projects. Being metal though they can be less forgiving for more sensitive hands and if you are allergic to Nickel this set won’t work for you.
If all of this has just added to your needle confusion or if it has peaked your curiosity Knit Picks luckily sell a Try It Out Kit for the nickel and caspian tips! This way you can try both out before getting a whole set to see which one works best for you and your style of knitting. There isn’t a Try it Out set for the Prism needles yet but knitting with the nickel needles should give you and idea about whether you would like the aluminum option.
Holding yarn doubled is one of my favourite knitting techniques. It allows you to work with yarn you already have or something that fits your budget better to create a completely unique piece. It also creates an extra squishy fabric since there is a double layer of fabric.
I fell in love with this technique when I started working on my first scrappy blankets. I had zero desire to knit/crochet a fingering weight blanket so what was a sock knitter to do? Holding the fingering weight double to make a DK/Worsted weight was the logical move. It allowed me to use my sock scraps along with my heavier scraps and make 2 beautiful molly weasley esc blankets, one in crochet (The Weekender Blanket) and one knit (Coziest Memories). Now all my blankets are knit with fingering weight held at least doubled, including my recent advent calendar blanket. The blankets have the perfect weight to them and work up at twice the speed!
I also love using this techinique when I want to knit an extra chunky blanket but don’t want to spend a crazy amount of money on super chunky or jumbo yarn. I held a jumbo ball of Loops and Threads Impeccables with a few caron cakes to create a bulky lazy Marly Blanket. This pattern was designed to walk you through using multiple strands of yarn together so it was the perfect place to use this technique. Another blanket where I used multiple strands was my jumbo garter blanket. I fell in love with a Knit Picks Mighty Stitch Sampler and just wanted a quick and dirty way to use the yarns together. The kit had 6 colors in it so I held all 6 strands together, used a US 36 cast on 70 sts and knit my way through the kit.
Holding strands together is also a perfect way to prevent pooling. I know that pooling makes the hearts of some knitters sing but it’s just not my thing. I had this sock yarn in my stash that would pool regardless of how I knit it so I held it doubled with a plain white sock yarn to create some extra squishy, marled house socks. Also by using 2 strands of sock yarn to make worsted weight socks I get the added bonus of having the right fibre content to help the socks wear better (aka a wool nylon blend). I used this project as an inspiration to create some crazy neon “work socks” recently and marling two socks yarns together is becoming my favorite thing.
I have even gotten my cats in on the fun by holding many strands of chunky yarn together to crochet them a bed. I used The Big Little Cat Bed pattern by Toni of TL Yarn Crafts but went way off book with my gauge. I was holding 3-4 strands of at least bulky weight scraps together and using a 19mm hook to make so much yarn disappear. My kitten loved it so much she tried to eat the bed on multiple occasions which lead to me having to felt it a little but you can still see all the marley multi strand goodness.
If you wanna give this technique a go I made a little graphic to help you figure out where your double stranded yarn would land weight wise. Dive into your stash and see what yarns sing to you,wWhat do they want to be?