knitting lifelines

Knitting lifelines: The Ordinary Knitter – extra 2

Knitting lifelines: Extra 2

Welcome to the second in an occasional series of short podcasts focussing on specific techniques or projects. This time: inserting knitting lifelines, a length of yarn that marks a point in your project that is safe to rip back to and holds the stitches so that you can put them back on your needle as live stitches and rescue your knitting.

Ft knitting patterns:

Ft knitting videos:

Knitting lifelines:

A lifeline is such a geniusly simple idea, particularly as you can either be a cautious duck and put them in as you go along, just in case you need to rip back, or you can insert them once you’ve spotted a mistake. The point of a lifeline is to prevent stitches unravelling, so that you can frog with abandon and know that not only will you not accidentally unravel stitches you wanted, but that when you’re all frogged out you can just slip the stitches back on the needle as live stitches and have another shot at the section you slipped up on.

I’ve deliberately set out not to be an instructional podcast because so many people already do that so well, but if you’re not familiar with a lifeline here’s the basic idea:

knitting lifelinesProactive lifeline

This is one you put in at a certain point – you know you’ve made no mistakes to that point and you want to preserve everything you’ve already done. You might insert it just before or just after a tricky bit. The image shows a proactive lifeline going in after a few succesful rows of pattern. This is the preferable form of lifeline as nothing complicated is required; all you have to do is thread yarn through the stitches on the needle. I do a few at a time, pull the yarn through, then do a few more, just to make sure I don’t nick the stitches as I go along.

You can see too a lifeline I had put in previously. I’d completed my six rows of seed stitch then a few rows of stocking stitch and wanted to preserve that in case I bodged the pattern.

Once the piece is finished, just pull out the lifeline (I know, I struggle with it slightly in the video but that’s just me being a bit crap).

Reactive lifeline

This is a lifeline that goes in once you’ve realised something’s gone wrong and you need to frog. We’ve all frogged back further than we intended, and if you have a cabled item or rib or anything more complicated than straight stocking stitch, it’s a nightmare trying to rip out then put the stitches back on the needle succesfully. Nowadays I’d put in a proactive lifeline every few rows of a cabled jumper, for instance.

A reactive lifeline goes in through the right leg of each knit stitch V. For rib, ignore the purls, flip the piece over and pick up the right leg of each knit V again with separate yarn. It’s tricky – the worst bit I find is keeping to the same row, as I tend to wobble up or down a row here and there. It’s good to know the reactive lifeline is there, but do yourself a favour and stick in a proactive one every so often and I would say without fail before any shaping sections.



Knitting technique: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 8

Episode 8: Knitting technique

Welcome to episode 8 of The Ordinary Knitter. This week: changing your knitting technique, bodging Clangers, solving pattern problems and use of the word ‘raglan’.

Ft knitting patterns:

Knitting technique:

I have no idea where my knitting technique comes from. Until I looked it up recently I couldn’t even have told you that I do ‘English’ knitting (I’m half Scottish so hate describing anything about myself as English!).

In the pod I describe the terribly cumbersome ‘technique’ I used to have, not a way anyone could ever have taught me it was so awkward. I changed to a form of English knitting but harbour a secret desire to master continental knitting. It strikes me that ‘proper’ knitters (this is an entirely subjective term) use continental.

The problem I’ve had before when I’ve tried continental is that my tension goes to pot, and I can’t get the hang of doing it for rib. So now I’ve reached a compromise: English knitting for rib, continental for plain knit! And of course my odd third technique for long stretches of purl. Perhaps this makes my technique of knitting European?

knitting technique
Fight Club
Rude Clanger
Rude Clanger

Here we are at Knit & Knatter, or Fight Club as it’s known at home. Everyone was rather camera shy but you can see the yarn haul I’d picked up at the supermarket on the way, the socks I’m knitting for DH, Major Clanger before he achieved structural integrity, the finished baby items I’d brought along for Show & Tell, and the two baby jackets that were causing head scratching. See dodgy photo of dodgy Clanger left after he’d been sewn up.

sock knitting

Sock knitting: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 7

Episode 7: Sock knitting

Welcome to episode 7 of The Ordinary Knitter. This week: the joy of weaving-in ends, sock knitting, Ravelry pattern comments, good habits and fighting with technology.

Ft knitting patterns:

Ft knitting videos:

Knitting socks:

sock knittingAs promised in the podcast, here is the outline of how I make my socks. I won’t call it a pattern as that implies some ingenuity and originality in designing an item, and all I’ve done is combine others’ techniques. My School Run Socks (so named as I get a lot of knitting done as I wait at school in the afternoon) go something like this:

CO 16st per sock per needle(for wide feet), total 32st per sock, using Judy’s Magic Cast-on.

Increase 1st each end of row top and bottom of sock every other row (inc 4st per sock each time) til total 80st per sock. At this point begin patterning the top of the foot however you choose. My current pair is rib as that’s what my husband asked for.

When the sock reaches the front of the ankle bones, begin increasing for the heel. Err on the side of generosity as a sock that’s too short is impossible to wear, but don’t get carried away as you don’t want it baggy on the ankle either.

Turn the heel using the Fleegle heel.

Knit up the leg taking the pattern all the way round the leg. Where it suits you, begin a minimum of 2″ 1×1 rib. I usually do about 3″ as that’s my husband’s preference.


weaving in ends

Weaving in ends: The Ordinary Knitter – extra 1

Weaving in ends: Extra 1

Welcome to the first of an occasional series of short podcasts focussing on specific techniques or projects. I might come up with a snazzy name eventually, but for now I’m too excited about the ‘proper’ technique I’ve discovered for weaving in ends. Once again Staci Perry of VeryPink has ridden to the rescue and the difference to my knitting is just astonishing. Really no-one should get this excited about a different way to weave in ends, but there you have it.

Ft knitting patterns:

Ft knitting videos:

Knitting Help – Weaving in Ends

Here’s a before and after of woven-in ends on the back of the sleep pod:

For someone who harbours ambitions to be a neat and tidy knitter this represents huge progress! It’s satisfying to do and pleasing to look at and makes weaving in ends less of a guessing exercise. Still, I have to leave slightly longer yarn tails when cutting yarn in the first place, and then after weaving in I have to leave a slightly longer end as otherwise I found tufts were poking through the piece. How do you weave in ends – like this, another recognised technique or just hope for the best?

Kitchener stitch: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 6

Episode 6: Kitchener stitch

Welcome to episode 6 of The Ordinary Knitter. This week: raglan seams – kitchener stitch or bind off and seam?, LYS, blocking, dropping Clangers and buying new needles.

Ft knitting patterns:

Ft knitting videos:

Ft knitting kit suppliers:

Kitchener stitch:

kitchener stitch UnderarmSeamedCan you tell which is the Kitchener stitched underarm? Sadly it’s the lumpy one on the left. I said in the pod that I wasn’t sure which was better, Kitchener st or binding off and seaming, and looking at this I’d say binding off and seaming every time.

Rolled Edge Baby Raglan Sweater
Rolled Edge Baby Raglan Sweater

I’m going to be knitting at least four jumpers for this coming winter so plenty of opportunity to hone my raglan seaming skills! Overall though I’m pleased with this little jumper and would happily do something perhaps in a simple stripe or with a block design in the middle (a star or tractor or something).

Knitting stripes: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 5

Episode 5: Knitting stripes

Welcome to episode 5 of The Ordinary Knitter. This week: the pros and cons of knitting stripes flat or in the round, changing a nice simple pattern into an intarsia nightmare, finding good YouTube knitting videos and eating my words on blocking.

Ft knitting patterns:

Ft knitting videos:

Knitting stripes:

knitting stripes

This is a sneak peek at the next baby sleep pod I have on the go. I absolutely LOVE the colours in this. After knitting the last baby sleep pod carrying the pending stripe colours along vertically and having floppy yarn loop nightmares, then knitting the wee hat flat and having stripe-matching seaming nightmares, I’m doing this one properly. I’m knitting it in the round, cutting the yarn after each stripe is over. I’m trying the technique to avoid the colour jog but I’m not sure if I’m causing myself other problems. I’ll report back.

knitting stripes

PurpleLinda Crafts, where I placed my latest yarn order. Great customer service, good choice of yarns in a range of colours, good prices and reasonable delivery. I’ll definitely be using PurpleLinda Crafts again.



Btw I have a new computer – woot! – but listening to the recording it’s slightly hissy so please bear with me while I get used to the sensitivities of this new machine. I think I might call it Marvin.

Baby knitting: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 4

Episode 4: Baby knitting

Welcome to episode 4 of  The Ordinary Knitter. In this episode: baby knitting, larger projects, King Cole Recycled Cotton Aran and a pattern holder that weighs a ton. Not knitting babies, though I’m sure some people do that. There’s a pattern for everything on Ravelry (did you know there’s a filter for ‘explicit’?!).

Ft knitting patterns:

Ft knitting needles:

These were all knitted with interchangeable circulars from my KnitPro set – I often knit flat on circs too. I don’t know where they were bought as they were a present.

Baby knitting
Two washcloths drying after steam blocking

This is a glimpse of the various baby items on my ironing board being BLOCKED! Yes, I blocked them, and after everything I said! It was worth it as they turned out really well. Another case of learning as I go along.

Knitting disasters: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 3

Episode 3: Knitting disasters

Welcome to episode 3 of The Ordinary Knitter. In this episode: knitting disasters, modifying patterns (these two things can be related) and how to avoid thumbholes. I went to ridiculous lengths to avoid thumbholes and achieved complete success!

Ft knitting patterns:

Ft knitting needles:

The HiyaHiya needles I bought from Brownberry Yarns (not ‘browberry’ as I mistakenly said) can be found here: HiyaHiya needles at Brownberry Yarns.

Knitting disasters:

Just for a laugh, here’s the To the Sea jumper after its mishap:

DH's 'jumper' after its trip through the tumble dryer - knitting disasters
DH’s ‘jumper’ after its trip through the tumble dryer

What did I learn? Don’t tumble acrylic. One reason I made that mistake is that I’d researched aran for a jumper for DS and had found one that could be tumbled, so I just assumed they all could – wrong! Now I pay very close attention to laundry care labels, both when choosing yarn and when the garment is made and I’ve forgotten what the label said. Sometimes I use a magnet to stick them on the washing machine!

Punk Rock knitting

Punk Rock knitting: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 2

Welcome back to The Ordinary Knitter knitting podcast – this week featuring improved sound quality (and punk rock knitting).

With the podcast so new I’m going to post several together to kick things off, and then settle down to one a week. Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me via the email address on the left bar.

I’ll link to all the patterns, yarns and videos that come up in the podcast, as well as any other sites I mention, such as equipment purchases and yarn outlets. In fact definitely yarn outlets.

Episode 2: Punk Rock knitting

Welcome to episode 2 of my new podcast. In this episode: the Punk Rock back pack and why collaborations are an excellent idea, being the Incredible Hulk of needles, and a yarn I have completely fallen for.

Ft knitting patterns:

Ft yarn:

The yarn I bought from Wool4Less can be found here: Recycled Cotton aran on the Wool4Less website

Punk Rock knitting

Punk Rock knitting
Punk Rock Backpack designed by Heather Barnes

Here’s a quick peek at the finished Punk Rock Backpack, all made up by my and lined and zippered by my very skillful mother. That colourwork heart will always bug me (listen to the podcast to find out what I did, in my laziness) but otherwise I’m really pleased with it. My daughter even uses it occasionally.

Knitting podcast: The Ordinary Knitter – episode 1

knitting podcastWelcome to The Ordinary Knitter, a new knitting podcast. I aim to release at least one 20 minute podcast every week. I use everyday, affordable yarns and more often than not free patterns from Ravelry or somewhere else on the internet.

Warning – deeply dodgy broadcast quality! Please bear with me as I learn how to do this properly. I’m falling over myself with enthusiasm at the moment and just want to get this on the go.

Episode 1: Knitting podcast

Welcome to episode 1 of my new knitting podcast. In this episode: introducing myself, talking about current projects and associated issues (ie disasters), and looking at ideas for the future of the podcast.

I started this podcast as the knitting podcasts I’ve listened to, while enjoyable, don’t focus on the things that interest me most. I like to talk about why I settle on the patterns I knit, why I chose the yarns and what happened as the project progressed. The podcasts I’ve listened to have tended to be about yarns more than actual knitting, so I hope there’s a place for a podcast that rather iconoclastically doesn’t put yarn centre stage.

Please leave me a comment, let me know what you think, and find me on Instagram @theordinaryknitter and on Ravelry as OrdinaryKnitting.

Ft knitting patterns:

  • Shawl Collar Vest by Jennifer Miller (link to my Ravelry page). I’ve nicknamed this the Seaside Shrug as the colours are my mother’s favourite sea colours and I think of this garment type as a shrug rather than a shawl.
  • Ribbed Socks for Kids by Susan B Anderson (link to my Ravelry project page)

Ribbed socks for kids - knitting podcastAn early pair of socks for my daughter, too thick to wear under normal shoes and with a lovely tight cuff cast on! When I made these I didn’t even know there were different ways of casting on and bindng off (listen to episode 5 for a discussion of the terms cast off/bind off). Generally I learn the hard way but I’m getting better!