Category Archives: Good things

CO left or right handed?

Should you cast on (CO) with the knitting needle in your right or left hand? Does it matter?

If you care to know the answers, read on.

It all started with the Long Tail (LT) CO method. I learned this all-purpose CO from my late Aunt Iris when I was little (and it always brings back fond memory of learning it with my two sisters). Aunt Iris was right-handed; and I’m, well, mostly right-handed. We did the LT CO with the needle in the left hand. Eventually I discovered that the usual way to do this CO is with the needle in the right hand. So I determined to try the norm, it was easier than I expected and in no time I was able to CO with the other hand. Naturally, I started wondering — “Does it matter”?

The answer is: Yes, it matters because you’ll get different result. This applies to other COs with the CO edge looking different for front and back. When you’re working flat and if you want to have the “pretty” side or a specific side of your CO edge on the right side (public side) of your project, it will be handy to be able to CO with either hand. For me, the pretty edge of the LT CO is the edge that faces me as I CO. Compare the two in the photos below.

LT CO with needle in right hand – the usual way. Notice the “pretty” edge is facing you as you CO, but you need to flip to the other side to work the first row.

LT CO with needle in left hand. Notice the “pretty” edge is also facing you as you CO, but you don’t need to flip to the other side to work the first row.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I’m knitting flat, if my first row is a right-side (RS) row, I CO with needle in my left hand. If my first row is a wrong-side (WS) row, I CO with the needle in my right hand. Try it out and see. Simply CO few stitches with either method and see which edge is facing you when you begin to knit the first row.

What about working in the round? There’s no dilemma, I CO with the needle in my right hand as usual. Unless for some reason, I want the “pretty” edge on the WS, then I CO with the needle in my left hand.

Finally, here’s my trick to remember which hand to hold the needle: RS with right hand. When working in the round, which is always worked from the RS, hold the needle with right hand. When working flat, just do the opposite, hold the needle with left hand.

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My Favorite Little Gadget

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I am fond of these little versatile Clover Locking Stitch Markers.  They make my crochet and knit projects even more enjoyable.  They are easy to clip on and to remove, and my yarn does not get caught in them.  The pointy end is just right and does not pierce the yarn or my fingers. The more I use them, the more I love them.  They are particularly good for crochet projects, I use them:

  • to mark my stitches, keep track of stitch increases and decreases
  • to mark buttonhole placement
  • as stitch holder when I want to take a break or try on the wip (work-in-progress) piece — no more accidental unravelling  for me
  • as a “frog stopper” —  clip it to where I want to stop ripping, and rip back without worrying about frogging past where I shouldn’t

If you’re still using safety pins and paper clips like I did, it’s time to say goodbye to them and buy a pack of these little cuties.

 

ZERO effort Simple DIY Light Box

I was planning to make a DIY cardboard photography lightbox after some online research.  The DIY part is rather easy, though required a bit of time and patience (which I unfortunately lack). Ultimately, the most difficult part is to come across a good cardboard box.  In the end, I managed to retrieve a 60-Qt toy storage box from my grown-up kids.  And I’m all set, after finding few more items readily at home :

  • a piece of white light-weight fabric for draping over the box to diffuse the light
  • a white cardboard for “infinity” background
  • a couple of halogen lamps for lighting

No handy/crafty-woman work involved, zero, zip, nada.

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Large clear storage box + white light-weight fabric

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Drape fabric over box, put white cardboard in box for background, turn on the lamps, and presto! Lights, camera, action!

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End result photo — scarf project using 12mm needles and super bulky yarn, taken in a basement room without windows (i.e. no natural light at all).

Magic of Blocking

Blocking is my favorite step of finishing a knit/crochet garment.  A finished project, especially with lace pattern stitches, will benefit from this final finishing step.  The photos below show the before and after. The result is a cardigan with the lace and stitch pattern opened up and smoothed out, looking polished and professional.

unblocked

before blocking

blocked

after blocking

Blocking can be quite simple:
– soak garment in lukewarm water for 1/2 to 1 hour
– gently squeeze out  water
– roll garment in towel to absorb water, repeat with another towel if necessary
– lay garment on blocking mat, gently stretch or push into shape as per the specified dimensions according to size schematic
– pin where necessary (usually the button bands require some pinning) using rust-proof pins

And that’s all there is to it!

blocking

blocking on mat