Knitting Know-How – Issue #1

Hello and welcome to this first issue of the Knitting Know-How Newsletter.

In this edition:

How to Tink – Video demonstrating how to unknit (tink) one stitch at a time.

Intarsia Knitting DVD – learn how to do picture knitting.

Submit your questions

And remember, if you have any knitting related questions, drop me an email and I’ll not only try to answer them for you, but I’ll also choose one or two to answer in the next Knitting Know-How.

How To Tink

I received an email from a subscriber a few days ago saying that she was starting to knit but was having difficulty trying to tink. I didn’t know what she meant! I hadn’t heard the term before so I emailed her back and asked her to clarify – I’d help if I could. That’s when she explained that if you spell ‘Knit’ backwards it makes ‘Tink’. So to tink is to knit in reverse – or to unknit. Taking back the work one stitch at a time.

Sometimes you notice a mistake very soon after you’ve made it and then you just need to take the work back a few stitches. Now if you try to pull the stitches off the needle, pull them out and pick up what’s below you can often find it’s dropped down another row too. Not what you want!

So it’s important to insert your needle into the stitch below before pulling the stitch to be tinked off the needle. And it’s important to put your needle in to the stitch below from the right direction otherwise the stitch will be twisted when you come to knit it back up.

This is not easy to explain in words so I’ve put together a short video demonstration for you.

Intarsia Knitting DVD

Just to let you know about my new DVD – Intarsia101.
This is a step by step DVD course that takes you by the hand and teaches you intarsia knitting. In this DVD you’ll discover all the basics you need to knit wonderful intarsia designs – or even create your own:

Intarsia101 DVD

  • Create your own designs
  • Create designs from pictures
  • Work out how much yarn you need
  • Winding butterfly bobbins
  • Joining in new colors with no holes
  • Crossing over colors at joins
  • Finishing off the ends
  • Repairing holes if necessary

To order your copy just click here: Intarsia101 DVD

Send in your Questions

Just a reminder – I would love to answer your questions in future Knitting Know-How Newsletters so please, add your comments and questions below.

Knitting Know-How – Issue #1

48 thoughts on “Knitting Know-How – Issue #1

  1. Hello, I have a question about a gage swatch I have just made. The pattern calls for 24 sts & 32 rows = 4” in StSt using 3.5MM needles. The test swatch I made came out with 19 stitches over the 4″ and the 32 rows came out to be almost 5″. My question is what must I do to get the correct gage?

    1. Hi Martin

      That sounds like you’re knitting very loosely. You could try using smaller needles which would give you more stitches and rows to the inch. But that’s a big difference – are you using the right weight of yarn? And are you pulling each stitch up properly after you’ve made it?

      I’ll certainly consider doing a video on knitting tension problems and how to resolve them. Thanks.

  2. Question: How difficult is it to switch your style of knitting to the “Portugese” style? Does it take a lot to get used to this new way of knitting and will I be confused? I have been knitting for about six years now, any advice? Thank you


    1. Hi Iris

      By ‘Portugese’ do you mean continental knitting with the yarn in the left hand? Switching will always feel odd to start with but it’s well worth persevering. When I first started to knit I was painfully slow with the yarn in my right hand, dropping the needle in order to make each stitch. I found continental knitting much easier, and I didn’t have to drop the needle each time. I’d suggest you give it a try for a few weeks – if you don’t get on with it you can always go back to your usual way of knitting.

      1. Portuguese knitting is a completely different way to knit. It involves tensioning the yarn around the neck and using the thumb to flick the yarn around the needle. There are videos on the web to show how to do it–btw–purling is much easier than knitting when using this method (at least for me).

  3. I have the worst time trying to do cables. I can’t seem to keep the number of rows between crosses straight, so my cables are always rather, erm, *unique*. I really want to do a cabled sweater for my adult daughter for Christmas, so figured I’d better mend my cable ways now. Any help? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Kris

      I know just what you mean – is it 6 rows, or 8 between twist, and when did I do the last one?

      That’s definitely a subject to address in a coming issue.

      Thanks for the question.

  4. Especially since I prefer to knit circularly, when I’m cabling I put a split marker in on the row that has been cabled. Then it’s easy to be sure when to do it again.

  5. Thank you for the very clear “tinking” video. Been doing it backwards for years and contending with twisted stitches. Ahhhhh the little things……..

  6. does it matter in intarsia which way the stitches run weither it is up and down or side to side. example a flag

    1. Hi Robin

      With intarsia you knit from a chart. If you have a design you want to knit up, then chart it first. Then you follow the chart – you’ll always be knitting from the bottom up and side to side like with plain knitting.

      The important thing about creating the chart is to use knitting graph paper so that the proportions knit up correctly. You can download free knitting graph paper from here to create your own charts.

      On the Intarsia101 DVD I demonstrate how to create your own charts from a picture you might want to knit up – such as a flag. And then demonstrate how to knit that design up so that there are no holes and the color changes happen at the right places. See the page at

      Happy knitting

    1. Hi Joan

      I think you might have to design your own for that. I can see problems too – if you have a zip up the back then the hood will need to be split too which will look a little odd.

      Why do you want the zip at the back? If you don’t want the two year old undoing it then I’d make a sweater. You should be able to find patterns for children’s sweaters with hoods either online or at your local yarn store.

  7. Hi Penny

    I was wondering if you could help. I am just starting to knit a hat, and I’ve cast on. The first instruction on the first row is ‘(RS) K1 yf’. Please can you explain what this means?

    Thanks so much

    1. Hi Sarah

      (RS) Means right side. That is, the first row you knit becomes the right side of the hat. K1 is knit 1, then yf is yarn forward, that is you bring the yarn to the front of the work between the needles and then back over the needle so you’ve made a loop. yf is normally paired with k2tog which is knit 2 together. So the yarn forward makes an extra stitch and the knit 2 together takes it away again giving a decorative hole and keeping the same number of stitches.

      Hope that helps

  8. Hi – I’m left-handed but was taught to knit right-handed (continental I think). I have always had a problem picking up stitches around the neck etc because I can’t pick up and knit from the right. I need to pick up from the left and always seem to get in a muddle with patterns as they always count from the right with RS facing. I wonder if you have any suggestions.

    1. Hi Betty

      I always had trouble picking up round necklines too until I read somewhere to use safety pins to mark intervals. So before trying to pick up any stitches put a safety pin in after so many stitches. Divide up any large expanse in half and half again. For example: if you have to pick up forty stitches and you’ve marked each quarter you know you have to pick up 10 stitches between each marker.

      If you knit right-handed continental style then I’m surprised you have difficulty picking up from the right. You would have the knitting held in your left hand with the working yarn over your left finger then just poke the right needle through the work and make a stitch, then move to the left to pick up the next stitch.

      I’m currently knitting a round necked jumper so when I get to that stage I’ll make a video to show you what I mean.

  9. Hi, I’ve only just joined, my main craft is card making,but as I have craft stalls at local flower festivals at nursing homes and churches I’m after knitting patterns for small bazaar type items. I was thinking of knitting fingerless gloves with an attached cover and perhaps bedsocks( with 2 needles) any ideas or downloadable patterns would be greatly appreciated .Thankyou,Marilyn.

  10. Thank you so much for your free download of graph paper. Would it be possible for you to advice me how I could get hold of a software that would allow me to construct my own designs via my laptop? to a proffesional finish, enabling to get a book out there, I am quite amazed how far I have got friends advise me to do it. Pat

    1. Hi Pat

      I’ve recently discovered Intwined Pattern Studio at which is software for designing knitting patterns. Unfortunately he uses square grids but it will enable you to create your designs, add text and create a document.

      It looks very useful and very easy to use. I’m hoping to do a full review shortly when I’ve had a chance to try it out for myself.

  11. Help please. I am trying to knit a Teddy bear. Have just got to end of body and pattern reads ‘sl sts onto a thread, draw up and secure’. How do I do this please. Many thanks.

    1. My apologies Sylvia, your question got lost in the system. I’m sure you’ve solved the problem by now but I’ll answer it anyway!

      When you’ve finished the body piece break off the yarn leaving a length long enough to work with (12 inches should be fine). Thread a darning needle with the end and then put the needle through the stitches that are left on your knitting needle taking them off the knitting needle as you go. Pull the needle right through and you will find you’ve closed up the top of the body. Then fasten it off so it’s secure and doesn’t pull back apart when you stuff the teddy bear.

  12. I have a very old family circle dress pattrn it calls for 6 ply Shepherd 6 ply wool needle sizes 3.75mm and 3mm needles i would like to know if i can knit this is a 8 ply wool (double knit wendy peter pan wool) and what size needles i would use. I
    was thinking of using 3.75mm and 4.00mm needles.
    Looking forward to a reply hopefully this is where you ask, Thankyou Robin

    1. Hi Robin, I just found your question abandoned in my system.

      If you use larger needles and thicker yarn you’ll end up with a larger, thicker garment so you might need to knit up a smaller size or adjust in other ways. It could be worth sketching out the pieces and then calculating how many stitches and rows you would need for each part working from your new 8ply tension swatch.


  13. Hi Marilyn,
    i want to knit a baby sweater for my 6 month old grand daughter. I just started doing the back part and i am confused in shaping the shoulder.Can you guide me to complete the same?

    1. Hi Vidya
      Can you tell me what the pattern says, then I may be able to help you interpret it.

  14. o knit left handed how would i knit your letters and numbers from your page thanks as other sites and books i have tried them and letters and numbers come out backwards

    1. Hi Pat

      I think the answer is to read the chart backwards. So instead of reading from right to left on the first row, you read from left to right, and then right to left on the second row, and so on.

      Not being left-handed I’m not 100% sure about that. How about trying it out on a test piece of knitting just to see what happens?

      1. I am just learning left handed knitting, but yes, the Boye book that I am using says that if you are left handed, you read left to right on first row and odd rows, and right to left on second and even rows. As a left handed knitter, how are you using the two colors at once and carrying the color not in use?

  15. I have taken up knitting again after years of doing nothing, and have found that all the needle sizes have changed, and one needs a degree in maths to try to convert. Please please can you clarify . I’m stck just knitting scarves on number 8 old Uk needles. (My favourite).
    Thank you for your knitting tips.

  16. I am teaching myself knitting and could not learn right handed or continental. I have been doing well until now, trying to learn how to carry colors up the side of my work, or how to strand left handed. Do you have anything that explains how to work with two colors at once, without having to do it continental or right handed? I would be willing to pay for this information. Thanks.

    1. I’m sorry Michelle but I’m not left-handed so I’m not the best person to help you.
      I would imagine you would work in a similar way to right-handed two-color work. That is knit with one color, then the other, making sure to carry the non-working color across the back of the work, twisting it in with the working yarn if it’s going to span more than about 4 stitches.

      Hope that helps

      1. As far as reading charts with two-color work you need to read from left to right on the front side and right to left on the wrong side which is the reverse of the right-handed way of reading a chart.

  17. Hi Penny
    I have recently returned to the joys of knitting after many years absence and just discovered the ‘The Knitting Site’. Love it!
    My current project is a pair of booties from a pattern I bought from the US. The first row I was fine- it was knit to end. The second row I am having all sorts of problems. I wonder if you will please explain stitch by stitch for me. I have 60 stitches after the 1st row

    2nd row – k1, M1L, PM, k28, PM, M1L, k2, M1L, PM, k28, PM, M1l, k1 (64stitches).

    does PM mean mark the stitch (I only have tiny safety pins at the moment) i’m about to knit?? Or knitted already, or neither?
    Also I’ve not encountered the term M1L before.

    Thank you for all your tips

    1. Hi Margaret

      On the second row M1L means Make One by picking up the loop between the needles onto the left hand needle and then knitting thru the back of the loop you’ve just picked up. That makes for a virtually invisible increase.
      PM means mark that point on the row. My guess is you’re marking it because you’ll be increasing again at those points and it’s simpler to mark the places than tell you how many stitches to count each time.

      Happy knitting

  18. I am a 68 year old grandma and just now learning to knit. Your instructional videos have been an enormous help from “cast on” to “bind off”. And, that you sound so much like my Aunt Helen in New Zealand, that I get such a warm cozy feeling that she is sitting right here with me, being ever so patient with my mistakes, or as she says the new stitches I’ve invented! Would you please tell me how to Pick Up a Stitch on the outside edges of a shawl, which started as 20 stitches and increased by 1 stitch until I have used 2 balls of yarn and is now a triangle. I’m having a difficult time distinguishing where to insert the needle. Thank you so much!

    1. I’m sorry Maxine, I don’t think I can help. Without being able to see the knitting it’s impossible for me to try to explain.

      But I’ll try anyway!

      Have you dropped a stitch on the previous row? If so then you need to go back to the previous row and remake it. Or is it that you can’t discern what the stitch is supposed to look like so you can’t tell where to insert the needle? If it’s a knit stitch then imagine it’s someone astride a horse – the stitch is the legs, the needle the horse. The ‘leg’ nearest you should be in front of the leg at the other side of the needle. If it’s not then knit into the back of that stitch to turn it around.

      1. They are the “outside” sides of the shawl that I build on to create a ruffled look. The instructions say to “pick up and knit each stitch”, then increase every other stitch. I think your analogy of the legs and horse will help.
        I ordered your dvd. I hope that helps.


  19. I’m lefty and when CHARTING your own simple design like a flower and then a name above it how would you read the chart and instructions you wrote up
    DESIGN is coming out but not the letters as flower is right but not name
    And I wrote out the chart and directions just like a right hand person
    But reading the directions backwards which the flower is coming out right but not the name I believe I’m a continental knitter I have my STITCHES on the left needle
    Hope ya can help and don’t tell me to KNIT right handed
    Please email me thanks

  20. the knitted projects I make-mostly scarves and easy stuff-don’t look very professional because one end, where I have cast on the stitches doesn’t look like the cast off stitches at the other end. I’ve tried changing the tension but still not the same.

    1. Hi Patty

      I’ve found if you cast on with the chain cast on then it looks most like the cast off edge. The chain cast on is with two needles making the new stitches by putting the needle through between the stitches. You can see a video of the method here:

      The other thing you can do with scarves is add tassles so no-one would notice the cast on or cast off edges.

  21. 30 years ago I was a very competent knitter but I just decided to knit again. I could not figure out how to cast on! After trying several other sources I found yours. The video was wonderful and very detailed. Thanks so much.

  22. I was able to get a graph of an image worked awesome! now my question is each square a stitch?

    1. No, knitting stitches are rectangular not square. The exact ratio will depend on your tension but is normally around 4:5 – that is 4 units wide, 5 units high.

    2. Just reread your comment – yes, each ‘square’ is a stitch if you are using my graph paper or the KnitProPlus program to create the pattern.

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