How-to Video Tutorial: Slip, Knit, PSSO

I made this video for a student to show the proper way to work the Slip, Knit, PSSO (Pass Slipped Stitch Over) decrease. This left-leaning decrease is useful for knitting hats, socks, lace and much more.

Here's how it works: 

1. Slip the stitch from the left needle to the right needle without working it.

2. Knit the next stitch.

3. Pass the slipped stitch over the stitch you just knit. Ta-da! A left-leaning decrease!

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Simple Knitting Tips: The Slip Knot

I like to cut corners and save time whenever possible, so when I started knitting and was shown how to cast on using the long-tail method WITHOUT a slip knot, I knew that was tailor made for me.  In fact, I avoided making slip knots for YEARS. It's a little weird now that I think about it, but there it is: Slip Knot Avoidance. Perhaps it stemmed from doing so wretchedly on my knot tying badge in Girl Scouts as a child...(ha! and now look at me, a knitting instructor. Irony!)

Fast forward to teaching classes where slip knots are necessary, and all I could think was, "How on earth can I do this as simply and easily as possible, since I want to make sure my students truly get this...and not become People Who Avoid Slip Knots??" I experimented with a few different ways to walk someone through the steps and tried them out in my classes until we had light bulbs coming on over every head (Eureka!).

Why include this super basic, not that hard skill in my Simple Knitting Tips series? Every time I teach someone how to make a slip knot, even knitters who think they sort of know how to do it, I hear the cry of their hearts, the relief in their voices and the satisfaction of finally getting it. And that my friends, is music to my ears.

How to make a slip knot

Step 1: Pick up the yarn. Left or right hand--you decide.

Step 2: Place the tail end of the yarn across your palm, with the working end of the yarn looped over your fingers, palm facing you.

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Step. 3: Pick the working yarn up and loop it toward you over your palm. At this point, hold down the tail yarn (against your palm) with your thumb. The tail will be on your palm and the working yarn that you just looped will be on your fingers. Or if you prefer-->the tail end will be closest to your heart ♥︎ . The yarn is completely encircling your hand, but only once.

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Step 4: On the back of your hand, cross the working end over the tail end. Tuck the working end under the tail yarn, bringing that loop through the loop that encircles your hand.

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Step 5. Holding the new loop you just made, remove your fingers from the first loop you made around your hand. With the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, you'll be holding the tail end of the yarn. With the thumb and forefinger of your right hand, you'll be holding the new loop. (If you're making the slip knot on your right hand, using your left to work the yarn, just reverse it all. It works either way!)

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Step 6: To tighten your slip knot, pull the tail end with one thumb and finger while keep your other hand in the loop.

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You should now have a slip knot that can be loosened or tightened with the working end of the yarn.

From here you can cast on stitches for something wonderful!

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Top 10 Reasons to Keep Knitting This Summer

I know it's hot, and where I am, it's so muggy you tend to feel like you've been hit by a warm wet cotton bath towel, right in the face, when leaving an air conditioned building and walking outside.

Ah, Summer. Since I live in the South, Summer can end up being quite the endurance contest. About mid-July we begin counting down to that magical time when the Weather Changes....only 14 more Saturdays until the end of October! (Also, Fall Classes!)

A lot of people stop knitting during the Summer and I get that. It's hard to keep anything going when you just want to sit under the ceiling fan and drink iced tea. However, since I think it's worth doing, here are my Top 10 Reasons to Keep Knitting This Summer.

10. You're no quitter. Seriously, think about it. You made it through school, you have held down boring jobs, you've hit redial repeatedly for an hour to win concert tickets. You're no quitter--so don't quit knitting.

9. Knitting will help with Summer travel. Stuck in an airport? Facing a long car ride? Take your knitting.

8. Keep up your proficiency. This is especially key if you're a relatively new knitter. Your hands gain the muscle memory for knitting by practice and if you take the summer off, you'll get flabby. Your muscle memory will get flabby, that is.

7. Get a jump start on holiday gifts. Don't be like me and wait until November to realize you want to knit big gifts for your immediate family and not only have you not cast on, you don't even have the yarn yet. Pick a holiday gift to work on for each of the draining, mind-melting Summer months.

6. Knitting is fun. Just thought I'd remind you of that, in case you'd forgotten.

5. Learn new techniques. Pick a new technique you've always wanted to learn and make it a summer project. I know several knitters who wanted to train themselves to knit Continental instead of English so they made it a project to master it. Summer is a great time for that.

4. Knitting will help with uncomfortable visits. Have guests coming? Having to go visit someone else? Not entirely comfortable with these individuals? (hey, it happens)  Pull out your knitting and give yourself something to focus on that is positive and soothing.

3. Knit for those in need. Don't wait until the weather turns cold to start knitting warm hats for the homeless. Or until the Red Scarf Project deadline to cast on a scarf for foster kids heading off to college.

2. Beat the heat with an indoor activity. Yes, knitting is highly portable and you can take it with you to the park and the beach and all, but if you're in the middle of a heat wave with honest-to-goodness heat advisories being issued, you do not want to be outside. Also, drink lots of water.

1. Being a knitter is worth it. Even though it's hot and you're busy and the humidity makes your head hurt and you feel sluggish, it's worth it to pick up those needles. Being a knitter is what helps us stay sane and grounded and calm and engaged during the rest of the year. It connects us to our ancestors, to our community and to people on the other side of the world. Being a knitter has given us a reason to get out of bed in the morning when times are hard. It keeps our brains young, our hands limber and our creative juices flowing, no matter our chronological age. Knitting isn't just something we do in our spare time, when the weather suits us. We are knitters.

So keep on knitting, despite the heat. Stay hydrated, stay focused and we'll make it to Fall, I promise. It's only 14 more Saturdays, remember?

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Simple Knitting Tips: Take a Nap

Surely I'm not the only one that hoards articles written showing the importance of proper rest. When my children were small I fell in love with the elusive idea of "adequate rest." Now that my kids are older, getting enough sleep isn't magically easier. While it is true that the better care I take of myself (good nutrition, regular exercise) the more energy I have, sometimes due to a change in schedule or stress or illness or snoring spouse, I find my sleep has been compromised. This fact alone tends to make me stress even more. I really really like getting enough sleep! 

With enough rest, my thoughts are more easily organized, my to-do list is more easily tackled and my creativity is more easily summoned to the knitwear design or knitting class lesson at hand. Without it, well..... NOT. 

So today's Simple Knitting Tip is this: to add some pep to your step and a clear head to your knitting work, take a nap. Either occasionally or on a more regular basis, studies show that a short nap can refresh you and make you better able to tackle tasks at hand.  

Those of you with pets or small children know how much better it is for naps to happen, as well as how much worse it is when they don't.  I have literally stopped in the middle of a tricky knitting issue before and realized that I was just too tired to think it through. Fortunately, that day it worked out for me to take a quick nap and then approach the issue from a fresh perspective.

A recent article ( http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2015/03/23/A-short-nap-may-make-memory-five-times-better/9181427162911/) made the claim that you can improve memory by taking a short nap. I was going to say something about the importance of good memory when knitting, but I've forgotten what it was. Time for my nap, apparently.

 

Some articles on sleep for further reading:

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