You should knit how you like, but one of the secrets about the knitting journey is details do matter, if what you desire is a project that looks like it was knit in a skillful manner.
From my experience this list includes my top secrets to better knitting:
- Gauge is key. If you want a project to look like the one in the pattern book, you must obtain the same gauge as stated in the instructions. Making a test swatch is well worth the effort. Keep your swatches as a reminder of what does and doesn’t work.
- Needles make a difference. Needles are personal, but the various materials used and the tips of the needles affect your knitting. As an example, wood and plastic used with cotton slow you down, as the stitches don’t slip easily. Too blunt tips make the needles difficult to insert into the stitches; too sharp and the yarn splits.
- Count rows, either with a paper, pen, or a row counter. For complex patterns, I often use paper/pen, as well as a row counter. You won’t forget which pattern row to knit, and garment pieces will match row for row.
- Work increases and decreases inside the edges (1-3 stitches in from the edge), rather than working the last edge stitches. The side edges will be even and easier to seam, as well as looking professional.
- Slip the first stitch on sequential bind offs for shoulder and armhole shaping, creating an even slope that is easier to sew and reduces a bulky seam.
- Block your pieces! I even block my tension swatches for ease in measuring. Block each piece as you finish. Blocking should be done prior to sewing the garment pieces together. For scarves, and other items that don’t require much in the way of seaming, weave in all ends, then give a quick hand wash, and lay flat to dry.
- Don’t put your knitting away until you complete a row. It is possible to stretch your knitting if you leave it part way into a row, particularly if you don’t resume knitting for awhile.
- Make the right yarn choices for your projects. Choose cotton in place of the recommended wool in a pattern, and your sweater will sag and not wear as well.
- Bind off too tightly and that turtleneck will be a struggle to put on. If this is a problem, try binding off with a larger needle. However, some edges like a scarf are better bound off the same tension as the rest of the scarf.
- When knitting baby garments, remember they have big heads in proportion to their bodies. They need large neck openings or buttoned shoulders if the garment slips over the head.
- You won’t learn technique all at once. I even come across new ways of doing things.
Learning anything is a process and requires lots of practice. Don’t ever be afraid to try something new. Remember “knitting is forgiving”; the beauty of this craft is the ease with which one can start over. And that’s okay.