Knitting and Crocheting
  1. Knitting dates very early in the history of man. Actual fragments can only be traced to 200 AD, but these fragments show great sophistication and understanding of the craft, causing historians to believe that the craft originated much earlier.

  2. Knitting has undergone a gender change. It started out as a craft mainly pursued by men. Sailors and traders from Arabia were instrumental in passing on this knowledge to the rest of the world. It remained predominately a man's craft for centuries. Today, although many men are now accomplished knitters, a greater number of women then men knit.

  3. A yarn winder is a funky, two-piece contraption that enables you to easily wind skeins of yarn into balls. You secure one piece to one end of a table; secure a second piece to the other end of the table; fit the skein onto the first piece; crank the handle; and wind the yarn from one piece to the other. Sound complex? For now, use a doorknob.

  4. Superwash wool is wool specially treated to be machine washed and dried without incident. Superwash is a wonderful choice for knitting baby clothes: You get the warmth and comfort of wool without troubling a new mother with time-consuming fabric care.

  5. If you're a fairly inexperienced knitter working with cotton, use wooden needles. The needles hold onto slick cotton yarn more easily than do metal ones.

  6. Dye lot is an indicator of the time the yarn was dyed. Different dye lots—even in the same color yarn—have slight variations in tone. Always check the dye lot (which appears right below the color name and number) and be sure you purchase enough skeins or hanks of yarn in the same dye lot to complete your project.

  7. Find some yarn in your grandma's workbasket, and you're not sure whether it's wool or synthetic? Try this simple test: Use a match to light the end of the yarn. If it melts together, it's synthetic. If it burns and flakes off, it's wool.

  8. Always read the yarn label and follow the manufacturer's advice before you wash or dry clean your finished product. Your time and effort is going into your project, you want the results to last.

  9. If a pattern includes only the weight (number of ounces) of the yarn but not the yardage, call a local yarn shop and explain that you need the yardage of a specific skein of yarn. Generally, these shops have published resources they can use to track yardage.

  10. If you have true budgetary concerns, buy thin yarn. Four ounces of fingering-weight wool can keep you happily knitting for weeks. If price is no object and you love seeing fast results, buy thicket yarn.

  11. A yarn stash is the inevitable and seemingly spontaneous ferreting away of pounds and pounds of yarn you don't need but think you might use later. So long as the kids are fed and the bills are paid, never feel guilty about a yarn stash; half the pleasure of knitting and crocheting is enjoying the variety of available fibers.

  12. Gauge is the number of stitches you need to complete to finish a specified length of knitted fabric. Gauge is typically measured by the inch, such a 5 stitches per inch or 7 stitches per inch.

  13. A swatch is a sample you knit or crochet to determine whether your gauge is where it should be.

  14. If you have a number of stitches you want to hold for working later, you can make your own stitch holder. Thread a strand of contrasting yarn into a yarn needle, and then thread the needle through the stitches you want to hold. Tie the yarn ends together to secure the stitch holder. When you want to use the stitches, cut the contrasting thread and place the stitches back on your needle.

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