Measuring Yarn Length

Knowing how to measure yarn length is pretty important to spinners. It’s not a bad skill to have for a knitter either.

Of course, this is just one way of doing it.  Big companies have machines that measure yarn length, we at home can do it using the grist method.  Here are two excellent posts by lovely women who GET IT. Jillian Moreno  and Rachel Welford totally understand it and make it sound almost easy on their blogs.  I tried to explain in myself a few years ago to my Spinzilla team and I muffed it big time.  In fact it kind of scarred me. So I am staying away from it. Good luck to those who delve in and love math.

Why do I care?

Spinners need to know how much yarn they have created so they know what they can do with it.  If I only end up with 200 yards of DK then I can make a hat, or mitts, or a cowl, but when it gets to 400 yards then we are talking a shawl, or a number of hat/mitt sets…more yarn means more options.

This can also be useful to knitters.  Every knitter worth their salt ends up with yarn ends.  And sometimes, depending on the knitter and/or the project, they can end up with LOTS of length left over.  Knowing how much, again, gives them options on what to do with the scraps.

What do I need?

In a perfect world you need a niddy noddy, some scrap yarn, a measuring tape, and a calculator.  But not everyone has a niddy noddy, so there are other options.  The back of a chair works,  or even your forearm and your thumb.

The point is you want to create a skein of yarn.  Skeins are basically just yarn coiled up into a big loop and secured together with yarn or string.  The purpose of a skein is to keep the yarn from tangling.

Please, people, say this word correctly.  I know if you have been brought up in the south you might pronounce it skeeeen (rhymes with bean)  but I promise you it’s skAYn (rhymes with plane).  Pronouncing it like it rhymes with bean is not a cultural or regional difference, it’s just inaccurate.  It’s one of those things that puts my teeth on edge, I beg of you, please say it correctly.  AND for extra points did you know that in addition to being used with yarn it also means a flock of wild geese or swans in flight, typically in a V-shaped formation? I know, cool right? You’re welcome.

There are obviously other ways to keep yarn from tangling but this is the easiest way to wash, dye, or dry out yarn so it’s the most often used.

How do I start?

Once you figure out whether you are going to use a niddy noddy, a chair or your forearm/thumb you wrap the yarn until it’s all used up.  Then you need to secure the yarn by tying the two ends of the yarn together and cutting off the excess yarn.  Now I know, if you are a spinner, you are going to cavil because if you tie the two ends together it is quite likely that you will lose some of the yarn you have so carefully spun.

And it’s a class A tragedy. I totally agree.

But harness a little perspective.  It’s going to average less than a yard.  It’s going to be either the beginning or the end where your yarn is going to be a little less than perfect anyway!  And if you are playing yarn chicken so close to the vest that 1 yard is going to make a difference then you are wild and crazy enough to work around running out. Go for it!  I admit that it took me some time to get pas this.  I HATE wasting yarn, let along handspun.

Now, cut that end off and let’s keep going. But when you cut off those ends cut them off with about 2 or 3 inches left.  It’s much easier to find the ends after you wash the yarn if the ends are longer.

Tie it up

Now you need to tie that yarn together in such a way that it won’t “escape.”  The classic way to do this is to create a figure eight tie.  Take a look at a professionally make skein of yarn sometime and you will see that figure eights are pretty easy, and very secure.  Keeping the yarn ON THE NIDDY NODDY (I sometimes get excited at this stage and yank the yarn off the niddy noddy without the ties. You don’t even want to know how ugly that is.) I divide the yarn in my fingers into roughly three equal bunches then weave a piece of yarn in and out, around the end and back in and out then tie it together on the side I started. (If that makes no sense look here or here.) To be honest, now that I look at those pages I realize that I do a figure eight and a half…it’s the way I was taught. I don’t think it matters much. Either one works.

I do this four times per skein. Once for each side of the niddy noddy. Less than that opens up the door for tangles, more than that is overkill, in my opinion.  Using a contrasting color yarn will help.  I use crochet cotton in either white or purple.  Also, you can cut the ends on these ties pretty tight like 1/4 inch.

So now you have a bit loop of tied up yarn. That’s a skein.  Well done!

Measure the Skein

SPinzilla Math

Counting the total number of strands in the skein.

To measure yarn length in the skein you need two numbers.

First, count the number of strands of yarn that have gone around the niddy noddy.  You can do this on the niddy noddy or off, it doesn’t matter.  You can see in the picture the white yarn that I tied the skein together with, and counting each strand of yarn.

Just pick a point somewhere along the skein and count how many strands pass that point. (Thanks to my lovely Mum for playing Vanna for me!) I write this number down.


Spinzilla Math

Measuring the length of the skein.

To get the next number  you need to hold up the skein and measure how long it is.   Do this from about the middle of the skein to the middle of the skein.  By middle I mean this: you have a lot of strands of yarn in that skein, hold it as a unit and count from the middle of the bunch at the top to the middle of the bunch at the bottom.  Remember, this is spinning, not rocket science, it doesn’t have to be correct to the millimeter.  I write this number down.

Confession Time:

So I write ALL these numbers down because I am a bear of VERY little brain.  I can’t hold numbers in my head for very long.  I use the brains I do have for WORDS not NUMBERS.  So I write it down.  Every.   Time.   I recommend you do the same.  There is nothing more annoying than having to recount. Results may vary in your world.

Do the Math

Hold onto your hat, this where the real “math” part starts.  Take the length of the skein as it hangs and multiply it by 2 – this gives you the total “length” of one strand as it goes all the way around the skein.

 Let’s call this number L in our equation. Don’t assume.  Even if your niddy noddy calls itself a “2 yard niddy noddy” you still need to measure.  (more on that later)

Now find that number you wrote down that tells you how many strands you counted that go around the skein. Call that number S in our equation.

Finally, multiply that the number of strands (S) by the length of the skein (L) and divide by 36 if you want your answer to be in yards, which is what TNNA is looking for.  This is the length of the yarn in your skein.


Here is a quick example. When I count the strands in that green skein I get 235 so that is S.Then I measure the length at 32, which when multiplied by 2 gets me 64, which would be L in our equation.

(S x L) / 36


(235 x 64 =15,040) divided by 36 =417.777778

So the total length of my skein of yarn is 417 yards



You should always do your measuring on  finished yarn.  If you have yarn straight off the niddy noddy then finish it and THEN measure it. When we talk about finishing yarn we mean yarn that has had it’s twist “set.”  To set the yarn twist the easiest and most effective thing to do it to get it wet.  You can wash it if you like, but you don’t have to.  I usually do because by the time I have spun it and skeined it and messed with it, I feel like it has a lot of dirt and grease in it from my hands, my equipment, and just from life!  I also want to wash out any oil left from the mill when it was processed, or any lanolin left if I processed it.

Using water as HOT as you can stand let the yarn soak a bit until it’s totally saturated.  Then take it out.  You do NOT want to scrub it, wring it, or agitate it any way.  I do, in actuality wring my skeins out but I do it very gently, so if you can’t do it gently, don’t do it!

Then I snap it.  I grab one end of the yarn I snap it like a whip.  This tends to shock the fibers into settling into their places. Then I hang it to dry.  After one day I take if off the hanger and rehang it the other way up. This helps it dry faster.

That being said, there is no reason why you can’t measure your yarn any time you want.  But, if you want an accurate measurement of the length of your skein, measuring a finished skein it the way to go.

Niddy Noddys

Another caveat is to not assume about the size of your niddy noddy.  Students often ask me “I have a two-yard niddy noddy. Can’t I just multiply the number of strands by 2 yards and leave it at that?”

No. You can’t.

Here is the answer I got from Nancy Shroyer of Nancy’s Knit Knacks when I asked her that very question. (Nancy is the purveyor of the most excellent niddy noddy that I use on a weekly basis and have for over 20 years!  I trust Nancy’s information!  She said:

“When you take a tape measure and wrap it correctly around all 4 sides it will measure 72 inches. When you wrap your handspun that has been under tension on the bobbin around the 4 sides it is also under tension. While it is on the niddy noddy it measures 72 inches. As soon as you release it from the noddy noddy it relaxes and shrinks. Depending on the amount of “bounce” or elasticity of your fiber that could be a lot or a bit. Then you wash it and depending on how long it was on the bobbin (under tension and stretched) there will be more shrinkage.

It is a 2 yard niddy noddy but the total number of finished yards in any skein will vary. The more you put on will also affect the final outcome because as the subsequent layers pile up the last wraps will be longer than the first. Also some people wrap very tightly and they will have more shrinkage than those who wrap loosely.

There is no way for a Niddy Noddy manufacturer to design in a factor that would allow the spinner to wind enough yarn to end up with a 72″ skein after they release the skein from the Niddy and after washing the yarn. There are just too many other factors that we are not in control of.”

So, no matter what length your niddy noddy is you MUST measure the hanging length of your skein of yarn in order to get accurate numbers.

Knitting in the Round – Using a circular needle

sock circularWe have talked about knitting in the round using dpns.  But there is another , more modern way to knit in the round that is very common now.

Question: Knitting with four needle seems hard because there are so many needles to deal with, it overwhelms me.  Knitting with a circular needle seems almost as overwhelming, there are only two points, but it seems like it’s easy to go wrong…How do you do it?

There are a couple of different ways to knit in the round using circular needles.  It is a good idea to be familiar with all the methods because once you have learned how to knit in the round, AND mastered knitting in the round using the magic loop you can knit ANYTHING you want, using only rather long circular needles.

Knitting in the Round with Circular Needles

When you knit in the round using four needles you are only really using two needles at any one given moment.  When you use a circular needle you are doing the exact same thing – you have one needle that holds the stitches from last row, and one needle that creates and hold the new stitches.  But the crazy and wonderful thing is that those two needles are ATTACHED, so it’s just one needle.

Knitting with a circular needle has a few benefits.

  • Remember those pesky angles that sometimes created a weird and annoying enlargement of the stitches at the beginning of a new needle? GONE.  There is no “end” or “beginning” of the needle, it’s just round, and round, and round…
  • You can’t drop one of your needles and have to go scrounging around on the floor looking for them.  If you drop anything you drop the whole project, which hopefully will be easy to find!
  • You can’t loose a needle.  Well, you can loose the whole needle, of course, but you won’t lose ONE needle in the middle of a project and not be able to continue until you get to a store and buy more, they are attached – just like mittens on a child that are attached by string through the arms of a jacket!

The only real downside to circular needles is that you have to have the right size needle AND the right length cable for your project.  Circular needles come in every size needle, but they also come in different lengths of cable.  That means that if you are knitting socks you have to have a very small (in length) circular needle, like the one pictured above.  The length of the needle must be shorter than the total circumference of the item you are knitting.  If the needle cable is too long then the stitches won’t fit around the length of the needle and you won’t be able to knit.  Well, until 2002 you couldn’t anyway!

Spinfoolish Tips:

1. The best thing to get yourself if you really like to knit in the round is a set of circular needles with interchangable points and cables of multiple lengths.  That way you can pick the size of the needle and the length of the cable to fit your project.  It makes life a lot more fun! There are lots of different types so check around to find out your options.  Remember to ensure that the join (between needle and cable) is SMOOTH!

2. Just because you have discovered circular needles doesn’t mean you don’t need your dpns anymore.  They will always come in handy, don’t just dump them for circulars – every type of needle has a use!

3. When buying circular needles be aware of your personal preferences for: material (wood, plastic, metal), points (very fine point, mid range, very blunt point), cable joins (metal, plastic, smooth bumpy). If you aren’t sure what you want borrow a friend’s or try some out at a yarn tasting. Buying needles that you then hate because of one small thing is really annoying!

Knitting in the Round with Magic Loop

FAIR WARNING: This is one of those things that it is much easier to just do it than to explain it.  I am going to try, obviously, but  I strongly recommend that if you find this explanation more confusing than helpful get a friend or your LYS to show you how to do this.  After you have had an in-person lesson then feel free to roam YouTube.  Watching a video is great once you have some idea of what you are doing but an in-person lesson is the best and only correct way to START the learning process.  They have yet to develop a video that will correct your errors as you knit. Until then find a real human to start you off.

41i0NMGfPPLSarah Hauschka is credited with introducing us to, or “unventing” (clearly she read and appreciated Elizabeth Zimmermann!) magic loop knitting. Then in 2002 Bev Galeskas wrote a little booklet titled “The Magic Loop” published by her company Fiber Trends. This small booklet (20 pages) walks you through casting on and knitting one sock with the magic loop.  It caught on like wildfire!

The concept behind magic loop knitting is that instead of using a needle that is the appropriate length for your project, you use one that is intentionally much longer than you need, then you pull out LOOPS of the cable and bingo, it become the right length.  Knitting with the magic loop is NOT hard to do, but like knitting with four needles it often intimidates people from the way it looks.

I teach a beginner class on sock knitting at my LYS and we do a toe up, after-thought heel sock pattern (find it here) using magic loop.  I can’t tell you how many times my students tell me they can’t do it before they even pick up the needles! But in the end they are always so overjoyed by the socks they create!

Note to students: If you have decided that there is something you want to learn, then you spend the money to take the class, then purchase your materials, and finally show up for class DO NOT ruin a good thing by immediately telling me you can’t do it or that I can’t teach it to you.  If you got up, dressed yourself, and drove over here in your car then I can teach you how to knit, or knit in the round with a magic loop.  The ONLY thing standing between you and learning what you want to learn is your attitude.  And there isn’t always something I can do about that, although, goodness knows I will try!!

The best way I can describe knitting in the round with a magic loop is like this:

When you knit something flat you knit back and forth.  If you imagine the actual path of the yarn up the knitting piece it would look like this:

straight needles

You start at the bottom you knit cross, you turn, you purl back.  Right?

Now say you wanted that flat piece of fabric to be a sleeve, or a hat – something where the fabric was a tube.  In order to create a tube-like structure with your knitting you would have to sew two of the sides together.

OK, so when you knit with a magic loop you take that same FLAT piece of knitting but instead of knitting back and fourth, you work the stitches in a tube – going around and around without end like a slinky.  The path of the yarn in the sleeve will look like this:

Spring 2

When you knit magic loop style you do just the same thing – you work around and around and around like a coil, rather than back and forth.  But, you do it with circular needles that are much, much longer than you need.  Obviously if you are knitting a sock (which maybe has a circumference of 8 or 9 inches) you don’t want to use a 32 inch circular needle when you knit in the round!  But when you knit in the round with magic loop you DO want a much longer needle.  This means that there is a lot more cable than you need to hold the stitches so the extra cable must hand out the end.

Sleeve 01Here is a sleeve I am knitting in the round.  Here it is before I begin a round.

The needles are sticking out one end of the tube of the sleeve and one loop is sticking out the back end (which is actually the middle of the round.)

When you knit circular you don’t have “rows” you have “rounds.” When you go all the way around from where you start to where you end (the stitch next to where you started) that is called one round.


Sleeve 02Here is the sleeve about three quarters of the way around.  you can see I have the two needles that I am working with but now there are TWO loops (one off the left, and one off to the right in the picture) – one marking the beginning/end of the round (You can tell that is the one to the left cause there is a marker hanging out on the loop) and the other sticking out the middle of the round.

Because you can tell where the end of my round is (because of the stitch marker) you know that I have completed about 75% of this round and am just coming in the end.

When you knit using magic loop the actual knitting part is not hard. The trick is to learn how to manipulate the cables so you don’t lose the loops.  I think of my tubes as two pieces, one piece on the first needle, the second piece on the second needle. Really, of course, its two sides of the same tube just like it’s two sides of the same needle.  When I finish knitting the first part (on the first needle) I pull the loop (there is only one when I get to the end of a “piece”) so that the needle I was just putting the stitches onto is now pulled out long and is ready to receive stitches from the second piece.  Which means the second needle has now been pushed so that it holds the second part of the stitches near the top so I can knit them.  (Did I mention this is easier to DO than it is to EXPLAIN? Seriously, find a local knitter to show you, it will take two minutes and save you a world of confusion.)

Once you get Magic Loop knitting under control you will want to learn how to cast on for knitting two at a time using the magic loop method, I do all my socks, mittens, and sleeves this way – so much fun!

Spinfoolish Tips:

1.  When you knit in the round arrange your knitting so you can see the outside of the tube on the outside.  This will enable you to see mistakes in order to correct them and easily see where you are in your stitch pattern.  It’s not wrong to knit with the tube inside out, it just doesn’t provide any benefits and makes your life more difficult than it has to be, so it’s a habit to avoid.

2.  It is possible to knit in the round with 24 inch needles, but it’s harder than it has to be.  I think 36 inches is the shortest you should get if you intend to use them for magic loop.

3. Do not try to attempt magic loop with the plastic needles made before 2002 (or 2006 to be safe!!) because the cable will be very inflexible and trying to use them for magic loop will make you think or say many bad words.

Knitting in the Round with Two Circular Needles

Another way to knit in the round is by using two circular needles.  You will want them to be the same size needle (of course!!) and it’s usually easier if they are about the same cable length.  Sometimes that isn’t possible, so don’t worry about it, it’s not that important, it just makes it less fussy.

This type of circular knitting is sometimes easier for people because they don’t have any loops to worry about.  Of course, this way also means you have A LOT more ends to worry about so I think it’s a bit harder.  I think magic loop is easier, but if magic loop doesn’t work for you give this a try.

Here are the same sleeves, this is how I am actually knitting them: two at a time, on two circular needles.  If I had a #7 needle that was 42 inches long I would do them magic loop but I don’t, so I am doing them on two 24 inch needles.  One needle goes across ONE side of BOTH sleeves.  The other needle goes across the SECOND side of BOTH sleeves.

Sleeve 03

The big secret here is to knit with the two ends of the SAME NEEDLE.  I know that sounds ridiculously obvious, but when you get started if you don’t pay attention you will end up knitting all four “sides” onto one needle.  It’s no big deal, just bring in the other needle at the appropriate time and you are all fixed again.  But it’s most annoying, so try not to do that.

You don’t need to do both sleeves at the same time so you could even knit this way using a much smaller needle length, like 16 inches!

Spinfoolish Tips:

1. Consider working with two very different needles, one metal one wooden for example, to make it easier to avoid knitting with the wrong ends.

2. Work with needles that are close to the same length.

3.  This is a great use for those old circular needles that aren’t very flexible, they still need to be a bit flexible but not nearly as much as they do when you are working with magic loop.

What else?

What else do you like or dislike about knitting in the round? Do you prefer dpns or magic loop or somewhere in between?  Is there something you aren’t sure how to do or want to learn more about?  Let me know, I am just sitting here spinning, foolishly!

How Big is That Stitch?

This is part of a sometime series called Anatomy of a Knitted Stitch. This part is How Big Is That Stitch. 

When someone talks about the size of a stitch they are generally talking about what size the stitch is in relation to the size of the needles you use.  Are you casting on with a 10.5 US or  a 00 US?  If you are making a sweater it’s more likely to be the 10.5 cause a big sweater usually demands a big stitch.  If you are making an advent ornament then a size 00 US makes the most sense.

But what I want to talk about right now is not needle size but actual stitch size…how big is your knit in relation to your purl? This can be one of the most annoying and contradictory and annoyingly contradictory thing about knitting once you stop being a complete beginner and try doing some knitting without (gasp!!) a pattern. Don’t be scared! You can do it, but there are TWO things you will need to know/consider/learn about stitch size in order to avoid really screwing up your knitting.

Number One: Your stitches may not be even.

You know I teach people to knit.   Not long ago I was working with a new knitter (not really a student of mine, just a friend) and she was having trouble with some pattern stitches. She coudln’t get them to look the way they did in the picture.  We talked about blocking (to open the stitches) but no, that wasn’t the issue.  I asked her about her tension.  She wasn’t sure what I meant by “tension” in knitting, so we talked about how you could ensure an even tension while you knit so all your stitches are even – and no she felt like she was on top of that, her knitted stitches were all the same size as her other knitted stitches, and her purls were all about the size size as her other purls.  I was flummoxed, cause there was definitely an unevenness to her knitting – so I went to my last ditch troubleshooting trick and I asked her to knit a swatch for me, while I watched.

This opened a whole can of worms cause she said “Oh, pfft, I don’t knit swatches!  Those are so old fashioned.”  (That’s a quote, though it may make her blush to read it!

We will pause for a moment now, while I count to ten and say in a calm reasonable tone of voice that is not abusive, condescending or in any other way demeaning: “No, swatches are not old fashioned, any more than using knitting needles to knit things is old fashioned.  Perhaps you aren’t fully informed on the purpose and value of a swatch”

Let’s just breeze over the next few minutes (that’s a whole ‘nother topic right there!!) and jump ahead to the part where she, albeit a bit grudgingly, agreed to knit a small swatch for me.  She knit 15 stitches, then purled back – stockinette stitch for about 10 rows.  I knew what her problem was by the end of the second row, but I listened to her grumble, and I am glad I did – it was very educational.

This is what I learned.  She has been knitting for about two years.  She has made cowls, hats, mittens, and an infinity scarf.  She can read a pattern, and she is very comfortable with a circular needle, both for circular knitting and for magic loop.  She really is a competent knitter.  But it was the first minute of her flat knitting that told me what her problem was.

This is the problem:

Every time she has knit something she has used a circular needle.  She is a modern young lady, and a modern knitter – so she has never knit on straight needles (I am assuming because she considers that to be old fashioned as well).  Because everything she had done was circular, she has never had to do the simple thing I did when I first learned to knit: knit a row, then purl back.  She had worked in stockinette stitch, but it was circular, so every stitch of the stockinette was knitted.  She had even done a bit of reverse stockinette stitch, but again, only from one side (because it was circular) – so every row was purled.

What I realized as soon as she started to purl back was that her purls were much much looser than her knits.  In most of the simple patterns she had been using the difference between the size of her knits and purls didn’t matter much , they had been jumbled together, and any size difference just blended into the pattern when it was blocked.  But when she started making this shawl, it was flat, so she had to knit across and purl back, rather than around and around.  It was the first time that she had worked stockinette stitch by actually knitting one row, then purling the next – and boy did it ever show!! Her knits where fine, and so were her purls on their own, but her purls were about 1/3 bigger than they should be, when compared to the knits!!  So when you looked at her stockinette it was lumpy and uneven.

Moral of the story is this: If you look at your knitting and sometimes you like the way it looks and other times it seems uneven or lumpy-bumpy to you just knit your self an old fashioned swatch on old fashioned straight needles and see what you get.  If you don’t like the way it looks, you might have a problem.

Solutions to the problem:

IF you know your purls are looser than your knits there are a few things you can do to solve that problem.  You can work on your tension, see how other people hold their yarn to tension it and find a way that works for you.  This seems to be a problem for both continental and English knitters,  it’s not about what style you use, it’s about what style of tension you employ.  Awareness of the problem and intentionality while knit should solve the problem pretty quickly.  If you find that when you do a stitch pattern (like moss, or ribbing, or lace) you can’t really see the problem but if you do stockinette in the flat it looks awful (and you can’t or won’t lick the issue with practice) consider using two different sized needles.  If you know you purl bigger than you knit then arrange you needles so that when you knit you are using the size you are supposed to, and when you purl you use a size smaller  (to compensate for your loose knitting).  Obviously this only works on pieces that are all stockinette.

FYI: Learning how to lick the problem is really the best way to go.

Now that I have said that: that your knits and purls should be the same size – hang onto your hats for other thing you should know/consider/learn about stitch size.

Number Two: Your stitches will never be even.

That sounds like fightin’ words doesn’t it?  Let me go a step further: Your purl is is not the same size as your knit.  You know that a knit and a purl are two sides of the same thing, right? The purl is the back of the knit, and the knit is the back of the purl.  Well, just like the Tardis (it’s inside is bigger that it’s outside) knits are purls are not the same size.  Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say they are not the same shape.  Let’s take the two stitches one at a time.

Knit stitches are wider than purl stitches.  

It doesn’t matter if you have been knitting for ten minutes or ten years – if you cast on 30 stitches and knit in stockinette stitch for about 12 inches the fabric of your knitting is going to curl, with the knit stitches on the outside, into a 12 inch long tube of knitting (except near the needle, which keeps it stretched out straight).  It’s annoying, but it’s inherent in the fabric – when you put all the knits on one side they will take up more room SIDEWAYS and so will roll in from the sides.

That’s why when you knit dish clothes, or afghan squares, or shawls: at the edge we do a seed stitch, or a rib, or a garter, even if it’s just for a few stitches, to keep the edge straight.  By mixing knits and purls we create a fabric that is the width on both sides, so no curling.  Knit stitches will always be wider than purls, it’s the way they are built.

Purl stitches and longer than knit stitches.

It doesn’t matter if you are knitting with that 10.5 US needle or the 00 US needle – it’s not your knitting,  its’not the type of yarn.  It’s not because you didn’t slip the first stitch – purl side of a stitch takes up more room vertically than the knit side.  This is why when you start knitting in stockinette stitch (all the purls on one side) the bottom will curl out with the purls on the outside.  This used to be a bit of a no-no, but fashion got a hold of knitting a few years ago and decided it was cool to have sweater necks that curled out, or cuffs that curled up at the bottom of your sleeves.  I was brought up to use ribbing or seed stitch to stop the curl – but as I believe we have already discussed, I tend to be a bit old fashioned.

Bottom line: not matter how much you work at making your knitting EVEN the actual stitches are working against you to a certain extent.  I understand this intellectually, but emotionally I just don’t get it.  If knits and purls are like a coin, two sides of the same thing, then how can they be so differently shaped?  Well, I promise that it’s completely explainable how one side can be wider and the other side can be longer and they can still be the same stitch…but that’s when it gets really technical and I am frankly not nearly as interested in WHY it happens as I am in knowing that it does.

techknitterSo at this point you might be saying “wait, hold on! I really, really want to understand the detailed explanation of how a knit is wider and a purl is longer!  Well, first, I am sorry for you.  All the time you are going to take to learn, figure out, and inwardly digest this piece of technical knitting trivia could be better spent knitting, in my opinion.  But that being said, I recommend that you visit TECHknitter’s explanation.  This is just one of a huge number of very clear explanations for all things techy and knitty… also strongly recommend her index of past posts.

Knowing what will happen to edges of fabric that doesn’t have a relatively even number of knits and purls – and knowing how to use it or avoid it as I see fit, arms me with that knowledge I to to move forward and create lovely knitted creations…

As long as my tension doesn’t mess me up!!

Knitting Contradictions

Know any other knitting contradictions that bug, annoy, or titillate you? Tell me about them, I am ready to sympathize and make you feel heard.  We old fashioned knitters have to stick together!

Click here to learn more about the Anatomy of Knitted Stitches!