Knitting efficiencies surpass shortcuts as a strategy because they really work! Your efficiencies might differ from mine, but let me walk you through a pattern, then see if you see ways to make your process more efficient in ways that work for you.
I don’t know, but I love thinking about what I’m going to do with yarn, or a stitch pattern, or a design idea. The process of mulling things over is probably one of my favorite part of the entire creative process. So I’m not really looking for ways to be more efficient there. Where I want knitting efficiencies is when I’m making something.
Knitting Unicorns Are Not Knitting Efficiencies
- Ball band gauge is not real, so if you get it great, but it has no role other than to tell you approximately what gauge you might get. It also provides guidance on needle size, but since we all have individual tensions, you need to do a gauge for the stitch pattern you plan to use (even if it is stockinette).
- Yarn weights are categories. All worsted-weight, or yarn in any other yarn category are not the same. They are plied, spun, twisted, and composed of varying fibers. They are the same weight. Again, this is guidance. Do not assume you will get the same result if you change yarn unless you are making an educated substitution.
- The needle you use can have an impact on your gauge, so use a needle that is of the same material (and size! and brand!) for your swatch and your project. If you struggle with the needle, it will impact your tension, which will impact your gauge. I also suggest taking a photo of your needle and yarn for later reference (ball band too!).
- Knitted gauge is not the same as blocked gauge, so measuring on your needles is not a good practice. It doesn’t matter if you measure up to the needle or over it. It is not your final gauge. When you have your row gauge you then calculate the number of rows needed to achieve length and knit to an appropriate pattern row. You will need to wash that project and it would be best to have that result be what you wanted.
Easy Knitting Efficiencies
I’ve chosen my NEW Go High hat pattern (because it is free!) to use as reference here, but it isn’t a real pattern. If you have downloaded it before, you may wish to download it again as I am adding some new comments based on this post.
Read your Pattern.
The whole thing. It isn’t so important that you understand all the details before you get started, but you need to have the gist of what lies ahead. Many knitters go through and mark the size they are going to make. Since there is a lot left to you to decide in the Go High Hat, you may want to mark places requiring information or input from you. Are there techniques you need to figure out? Do you need to find the right needles, yarn, etc. This will help you to just knit when you get going! This may be be the greatest efficiency you can find. It can help avert that moment when you have no idea what to do next and another project becomes a UFO!
Look at the Sample Yarn.
Try to match the fiber content, and ply. If you are going to try something new, are you familiar with how the original yarn knits up? Look at photos on Ravelry. I’m often surprised at outcomes (good and bad!). If you don’t get gauge, maybe you should try another yarn.
Mitch once said that he observed you never have the right yarn in your stash when you go there. I think he is right and I quit buying yarn “on spec” (that is, stash yarn) because it is rarely what I want when I want it. It can end up being a burden having yarn you don’t know what to do with.
Get Out Your Tape Measure!
Measure yourself or whomever you are knitting for. No else one needs to know the numbers, but they are pretty valuable. While you are pursuing the numbers, ask yourself or other how they like things to feel to get a sense of needed ease, and what is comfortable to them or you. Not sure? Measure existing pieces of the same weight and see how much ease they have. Ease should vary depending on the weight of the yarn and the type of stitch.
I will add more in the next post. I’m on vacation and doing this on my phone is a pain!