Hot Tip: Show your work

Hot Tip: Show your work

This is not the most obscure of tips — and I don’t recall where I first picked it up — but it’s an immensely useful one: To keep track of how many increases (or decreases) you’ve done in a sequence, simply pin a marker in each increase round. (Obviously I’m partial to these.) That way you can see at a glance exactly what you’ve done, and you’re infinitely less likely to have this all-too-familiar conversation with yourself: “Uh oh, did I forget to increase? Or … did I increase but then forget to mark it off in my notebook?” (Or check a box, or advance the counter, or whatever the method may be.) And sure, if you’re good at reading your work, you can always hunt down the increases, and count your stitches, and figure out what you’ve done. But being able to glance at it is a whole lot faster.

It’s also a great way of making notes to yourself when you’re not working from a pattern. For instance, this is the second of Bob’s sleeves. The first one was starting out a little too small, so with this one I’m increasing more rapidly. When it’s done, I’ll be able to clearly see that I increased four stitches in the first round after the ribbing (I pinned two markers in that round to indicate twice the normal increase), that I started my regular increases two rounds later, and that I increased every inch thereafter. And I’ll know how many times I increased in total. So I’ll have no trouble replicating that for a matching sleeve. Of course, once all is said and done — before I take the pins out — I’ll write down what I wound up doing, in case I should want to do it again in the future.

Anna Maltz (of this week’s Our Tools, Ourselves) happened to post about this very thing a few days ago, and she had a bonus tip: If she’s doing, say, 12 increases, she pins 12 markers along the bottom edge of the work. Their presence keeps her mindful of the need to increase, and once they’ve all been transferred to their respective increase points, she knows she’s done increasing. Clever!


SHOP NOTES! Speaking of my beloved antiqued brass stitch markers, I’m pleased to report that they’re finally back in their lovely brown kraft envelopes — now with resealable flaps! (A day I’ve been dreaming of.) And: POM POM 9 IS HERE! (And this one includes a sewing pattern!) AND: I’ve got another stack of copies of Cable Fashion Drama, in case there’s anyone out there who still doesn’t have one. Plus the exquisite bone DPNs have been restocked in almost all sizes.

Hoorah, hooray and happy weekend, everyone! What will you be working on?


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23 thoughts on “Hot Tip: Show your work

  1. Ooh, I’m going to use this one. I have the “did I increase?” conversation with myself almost on a weekly basis. I’m feeling silly right now for not thinking of this before.

  2. I have just finished a Strokkur sweater and I feel a bit bereft! Need a new project ASAP. Will keep your increase method in mind for my next thing, whatever that may be.

  3. After years and years of losing track of increases and decreases, I’ve trained myself to tick them off (with a pencil on paper, not make them mad :-). It helps that I mostly knit in my studio where everything is arranged to support this way of working. These cool brass pins would be a whole lot easier, and Anna’s suggestion is just so simply brilliant.

  4. thank you ! just place my order for those lovely markers. can’t wait to keep track of my sleeve’s increases ;o)

  5. Brilliant tip. Thank you so much. I always learn something when I come to your site.

  6. Great tip! I have to finish the first sleeve of my guy’s Timberline and keep at the back of his Redford. Marking increases would have helped me a ton on both!

  7. Each knitter finds a way to keep track, don’t we? It seems that this “pin method” would slow the knitting, though it is a good visual tracking system.


  8. That’s exactly what I do with those exact stitch markers as well!

    I discovered them when the (now defunct) store Martin & Osa used them to attach hang tags to their clothing. I saved and hoarded them off my purchases and any stray pins in the store dressing rooms so I was saddened when they went out of business (in general but also since they were my source for the best/free stitch markers). Thankfully I soon found and bought my beloved lightbulb stitch markers from a bulk seller (in so many finishes too!). This was 10 years ago or so and I’ve still got plenty of them even though I lose/lend them constantly. And they are still my favorite, in that exact finish.

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