3: 12 Tips for New (and not so new) Knitters

Tips for Beginning Knitters

  1. Circular Needles can be used for flat knitting
  2. Short projects are good for learning new things
  3. Hats make great swatches when you use the same type of needle
  4. Check your work and count your stitches often the faster you find your mistakes the better
  5. YouTube is your friend, you can learn a lot there and if one video doesn’t help look for another one.  When that fails, reach out to your LYS for a class, they are worth the cost.
  6. Keep your stitches moving along your needle when you don’t keep the stitches you are working on moving up, you can get uneven stitches.
  7. Practice knitting without looking
  8. Learn to read your knitting
  9. Learn to fix mistakes without ripping everything out
  10. Paid patterns are often worth the price
  11. Like with other things, you get what you pay for with yarn.
  12. If you can’t get a ball winder and a swift, get a swift first.  Don’t use a mixer to wind your yarn!


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2: My New Exclusive Yarn

sparkle yarn

Here are some pictures of Mermaid’s Hair Fingering

Indie dyed yarn
Mermaid’s Hair Fingering

Here are some pictures of Mermaid’s Hair DK

Knitting Alpaca yarn
Mermaid’s Hair DK

Here are the patterns I talked about


Fingering weight:

Lollypop Vest by Lynette Meek
Mesa Sweater Wrap by Rosemary Hill

DK weight:

Funicular Vest by Stitch Party
Coastal Breezes by Michelle Stead of Crafty Flutterby Creations


Fingering Weight:

Aquamarine Vest by Mary Dickerson
Suavest Dragon by Michelle Stead of Crafty Flutterby Creations

DK Weight:

Simple Vest by Copper Llama Studio
Joni Topper by Ashleigh Kiser


If you want to be one of the first to have this yarn, ask your local yarn shop to carry Fairy Tale Knits yarn! I’d also love to hear what shops you’d most want to see Fairy Tale Knits yarn in!

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Inner Zimmerman: 3 Bits of Knitting Wisdom

I was fortunate to learn some important things early on when I picked knitting back up.  I learned to knit from my grandmother (Maw) when I was 9.  She helped me knit my baby brother a blanket (though I’m thinking she knit a lot of it) and started knitting something else that I never finished.  I only learned the knit stitch.  After she died I often wished I had learned more from her.  I loved the idea of creating something for someone else.


Then about 15 years ago I saw a learn to knit DVD that came with yarn and straight needles.  I watched it over and over and got casting on, knitting and purling, and casting off down.  I LOVED it!  But finding patterns then was still difficult.  I joined an online knitting group called KnittingHelp.com.  This is where I learned about Elizabeth Zimmerman (aka EZ).  Many of the other knitters highly recommended her Knitting Workshop DVD.  So for Christmas, I asked for the DVD set.  I was so excited when I got it.

I watched it over and over.  I’d watch it while I was cooking even.  It really made what she was teaching stick and her voice just has such a calming effect.  I learned a lot watching her.  I’m going to share 3 of those things with you today


Confidence and Perseverance

First was I learned that I can learn to do any knitting technique if I put my mind to it.  I’ve often heard people say they don’t have the patience to learn to knit and I always tell them, it doesn’t really take patience, it takes perseverance.  You have to be determined to learn and willing to practice just like any other new thing you want to learn.  Part of what helped me learn this was she starts off teaching how to knit a stranded colorwork hat.  She teaches it like it’s not hard, just how to do it.  She also teaches how to make your own colorwork pattern.  This was so much fun and when I showed everyone what I had made everyone was so surprised I made it that I realized knitting really isn’t hard, just takes time to learn.

Sweater Construction

She teaches how a sweater is made.  How to use measurements and a gauge swatch (which is actually a hat) to make a sweater.  She teaches the proportions to use and gives a base for a basic sweater, in fact for a bunch of different sweaters with different construction.  This lead me to learn how to make a top-down sweater too.

To Ignore Naysayers

Lastly, she taught me if you are creating stitches and enjoying it, there is no wrong way to knit.  It doesn’t matter if you knit English or Continental, it doesn’t matter if you hate one cast on and never use it, what matters is that you are making something.  Many knitters mostly make items for other people because they value that person and want to express that with their knitting.  We should value that in ourselves and in each other.

I was lucky to find her DVD early on in learning to knit.  The positive influence it’s had on me allowed me to grow as a knitter in ways I wouldn’t have without it.


Knitting Hacks, Making Your Stitching More Enjoyable

We can all use tips and tricks to make knitting and crocheting more enjoyable so here’s some I’ve found.

Safety Pin

A safety pin attached inside each of your project bags can keep stitch marker handy whenever you need them.

Weaving in Ends as you Knit or Crochet

I’m an odd knitter and don’t mind weaving in ends so I don’t usually use this one, but I know most knitters and crocheters don’t so here’s a tip to help with that.



Felted Join

This is another way to not have to weave in ends.  It only works with feltable yarns.  No plant fibers, no manmade fibers, and no superwash, these will NOT felt.

With Hot Water

With Spit

Bread Tie Yarn Spools

This is great for intarsia knitting especially if you have a small picture you are adding to your work and for crochet when you have small sections of color.

Copyright Webs

Long Tail Cast On Help

To help you estimate how much yarn you need for the long tail cast on, simply wrap the yarn around the needle for however many stitches you need.  Be sure you leave a long enough tail to weave in ends.

I hope these help to make knitting and crocheting more enjoyable for you.  To be sure to never miss a blog post be sure to add Fairy Tale Knits blog to your favorite blog reader.  Here is my the url for my RSS feed.

10 Fingerless Mitt Patterns Perfect for Indie Dyed Yarn

We all have gone to a show or been online and fallen in love with a hank of yarn because the colors are just PERFECT and of course we HAVE to buy it even if we have no idea what to make with it.  Well here’s some ideas!  I’ll have future blog posts with other pattern ideas.  For today I’m going to focus on fingerless mitts.  These are perfect because you can wear them for a lot of the year so you get to show off your awesome color choices and your handy work more! 

Fingerless Mitt Indie Dyed Yarn

Knitting Patterns

Here are some of my favorite fingerless mitt knitting patterns.

Stitch Up Mitts

by Sunshine Stewart

Stitch Up Mitts
© Sunshine Stewart

I love the fun slip stitch pattern on these! They are just enough to break up any pooling that might happen yet not so much that they would compete with colors.

Circle Mitts

by Sybil R

Circle Mitts
© sybilra

These have such a fun, unique construction!  They would like great with a gradient, self striping or any indie dyed yarn even a variegated one.  The circles won’t be as noticeable with a variegated but they won’t really compete with the colors, more work with them.  I think these are going on my list to make myself.

Hidden Gusset

by Mone Dräger

Hidden Gusset Fingerless Mitts
© GuapaM

These mitts have just enough pattern to them to keep your interested but not so much that they won’t work with variegated yarn.  Also as their name suggests they hide the thumb gusset.  I think they would be perfect for my daughter!



by tincanknits

Maize Mitt Pattern
© Tin Can Knits

Tin Can Knits patterns are so well written they are great for all level knitters.  If you are a beginner and not sure which pattern to choose, you can’t go wrong with this one.

A River Runs Through Mitt

by Aimee Pelletier

A River Runs Through Mitt
© Darn Knit Anyway

If you love cables but also love variegated indie dyed yarn then this pattern is for you!  The traveling stitches still let the colors of the yarn shine through and give just enough variation to be fun to knit and to wear.

Long Flap Fingerless Mitts

by Lisa Dove

Long Flap Fingerless Mitts
© Lisa Dove

This is the simplest pattern I’ve included but it’s perfect if you want more coverage on your fingers but need to sometimes be able to use them.  The flap easily folds back so you can type or whatever work you you need to do with your fingers.  Then when you are done you can unfold it and keep those fingers toasty warm.

Crochet Patterns

That’s right, I didn’t forget you crocheters out there!

Crocodile Fingerless Gloves

by Meladoras Creations

Crocodile Fingerless Gloves
© Meladoras Creations

I love this stitch pattern!  Love it!  It reminds me of dragon scales and I so love dragons!  It works great with so much yarn too.  


Easy Wrist Warmers

by Danyel Pink

Easy Wrist Warmers
© jennmomto4

When you want something simple to crochet these are a great choice.  They will also let the great colors in your yarn be the spotlight.  They are worked sideways too to give a different look and nice lines.



by Yarn-Madness

© cec79

I’m not very good at crocheting, but these are calling my name!  I love the simplicity and that it doesn’t have a thumb because I think I might be able to knit wearing these.


Idony Fingerless Gloves

by Sarah Francis

Idony Fingerless Gloves
by lowenek

And we come to my last pattern.  This one caught my eye because of the detail near the wrist and the beads.  Beads can be the perfect addition to your favorite yarn.  And remember you don’t have to choose a color in your yarn.  Something in the same color family or something neutral always looks great.

So that’s my list.  Which was your favorite?


Mojo’s Gone? Here’s What I Do!

It’s rough when you love something but don’t have the desire to do it, but this happens to everyone from time to time.  I’ve found a few things that help.


When it goes I’ve found it better to just let it.  Don’t try to force yourself to work on projects. Knitting should be enjoyable and not something you are forced to do.  I’ve found trying to force it just make my mojo run farther away.  Often times a break is just what I need.


Browse knitting patterns and projects.  Go clean up your queue and favorites.  Add new ones that you’d like to do.  Flip through your pattern books and magazines.  Sometimes this is what I need, that inspiration hits when I see what others have made.  Don’t forget to look on places like Instagram and check out the projects tab on the pattern page on Ravelry.


Find some pretty yarn.  This could be you pet it in your stash or look online or go visit your Local Yarn Shop. You can buy new yarn or not.  All the colors and textures of the yarn can help that mojo come right back!


Find other knitters.  That could be in a local group or on a podcast or blog.  When you see more personally what others are making can get your mojo fired right back up!


Most of all just give yourself a break.  Your mojo will come back, I promise.

What’s in My Bag?

I don’t know about you all but my purse and my knitting bag are the same thing.  I love this bag. It’s by Tom Bihn and it’s the first time I’ve ever gotten an expensive bag and I’m glad I did.  I’ve been using it everyday for over 4 years and it’s still in great shape.  So now what’s in my bag…

What’s in my bag?

What's in my bag Pin Blog

I like to carry the items I use a lot in knitting and just day to day in my bag, rather than having to remember them for specific trips or projects.

So here’s my bag


And here is inside of it



Project bags

I shared why I love Star Knits bags with you before so it no surprise that I have one of her project bags in my knitting bag.  I love keeping my projects in these bags.  They are fun and they do an awesome job protecting my work.  The plastic bags just didn’t hold up well for me at all and this is a better solution.


Knitting Necessities

So I like to keep things I know I’m going to need in my bag all the time.  The red tin is where I hold my stitch markers, darning needles, row counters, tightening pins and gripper pad, and needle tips when I don’t have my needle roll with me.  This tin was what a wallet I got my husband for Christmas at least 9 years ago.  The tin has out lasted the wallet at this point.  It’s quite beat up but I love it, it’s perfect.  I do need to get another one though because the bottom is looking like it’s not going to hold up much longer.

The zipper pouch is also from Star Knits and I have a project bag in this print because I love it.  I usually holds my scissors (which have disappeared), but also one of those little crochet hooks for correcting mistakes, a lucet (the wooden U shaped thing with the hole, these make great drawsting cords!), ruler, tape measure, and chap stick.  Now this zipper pouch is cleaned out.  It usually has a lot more stuff in it.  The silver tin holds my lotion bar, which is important for knitting so my skin feels nice while I’m knitting.  And ok the wallet really isn’t a knitting necessity, but it’s really cool.



Side Pockets

I love the side pockets because they are clear and so deep they hold a lot.  Being clear makes every quick and easy to find.  Some of these are knitting related and some aren’t.  I’ll start at the top.  Wooden heart needle gauge that my daughter bought me for Christmas, Sock ruler because they are awesome.  There’s also a pink tape measure, my battery back up, one of my Nostepinnes, another tube of chap stick, another rubber gripper on top of a plastic container.  The container holds my Pyure sweetener packets, some tea bags, and my daughter’s dairy pills.  Then there’s some toy cars for my sons at restaurants and such,  more stitch markers, needle size ID tags, some My Little Ponies, and a purple tape measure.


So there you have it!  That’s what I carry in my bag.  I don’t always have this many tape measures, usually one or 2 or sometimes all 3 are lost.

So what do you carry in your bag?

What is Rambouillet?

This is the most common question I get from customers.

What is Rambouillet?


Simply put it’s a breed of sheep.  It’s a short hair breed and if a fine wool (same category as and actually related to merino).  The fiber has more of a matte look than merino and it takes dye beautifully.  It has more bounce than merino and the fiber tend to hold more air so it’s usually warmer.  It’s elasticity makes it great for blending with luxury fibers.  The sheep are very hardy and have a strong herd instinct, preferring to sleep together than apart.


Rambouillet is one of the most durable wools I have ever used.  It was my favorite yarn I used when I cloth diapered my son because of this.  I knitted pants, called longies, that were a diaper cover. They never felted at his diaper or knees (from all the crawling and climbing toddlers do) and looked new years later.


Rambouillet is next to skin soft.  The soft feel is different than merino, where merino has a slippery, almost silky feel, rambouillet has a cottony, buttery feel.  I love how it feels to knit and crochet with and how it feels to wear.


The fibers of a Rambouillet are a bit disorganized giving it a wonderful loft.  The extra air in the fiber makes it warmer than other fine wools.


This breed was started in France and was a gift to American after the Revolution.  Since then this sheep have flourished in western American where it’s a favorite because it’s very hardy and it’s strong herd instinct helps protect it from predators.  This was one of the first sheep heavily developed in the US and thanks to the dedication of the ranchers that have worked with this sheep we now have this wonderful wool.


6 Ways of Joining in the Round

If you always have to neaten your joins then this tutorial is for you.

Joining in the Round

Joining in the Round Blog-Pin

Just Knit It

This one is just like it sounds.  You just knit.  It’s the fastest and the easiest but the hardest to get neat without work later.  It’s a perfectly good join though and I use it.  Here’s how you do it.  (Note:  all slipped stitches are slipped as if to purl.)

Joining in the Round
1 Just start knitting

With the last stitch on the right needle and the first on the left needle, knit the first stitch.

how to join in the round
2 I tend to like to pull it very snug
Circular knitting help
3 and keep it snug

Slip and Switch

With this one you are going to make the first and last stitches switch spaces.  This is a popular method because it creates a nice tight join.

  1. Slip the first stitch onto the right needle
Join in the round
1a Slip the first stitch onto the right needle
knitting in the round
1b Slip the first stitch onto the right needle

2 Slip the last stitch up and over the first and onto the right needle.  (Don’t drop it off like you are casting off)

circular knitting
2 Slip the last stitch over the first and onto the left needle

3 Knit

knitting tutorial



For this one you need to cast on one extra stitch.

1 Slip the last stitch from the right needle to the left.

circular knitting tutorial
1a Slip extra stitch onto left needle
1b Slip extra stitch onto left needle

2 Knit the first and last stitch together.

2a Knit the first and extra stitch tog
2b Knit the first and extra stitch tog

3 Pull snug if needed.

3 Pull snug if needed

Both Strands

1 With the last stitch on the right needle and first stitch on the left, knit the first stitch with both the working and tail yarn, continue with several more stitches.

circular knitting join
1 Knit the first few stitches with tail and working yarn

These stitches will be doubled when you come back to them so make sure you work the double strands together, not as 2 stitches.

Note: Remember these are each ONE stitch when you come back around

Tail through 1st Stitch

1 Using the tail yarn, knit into the first stitch.

1 Using the tail yarn
1b Knit into the first stitch

2 Leaving it on the left needle

2 Leaving it on left needle

3 Pull the tail yarn through the stitch and drop the tail yarn.  Tight until it’s secure.

3a pull tail yarn through the stitch
3b pull tail yarn through the stitch

4 The first stitch should still be on your left needle. With working yarn knit this stitch as usual.

4a knit the first stitch as usual

This makes a very tight invisible join and it might be my new favorite join!

4b knit the first stitch as usual
Might be my new favorite join

Slip Extra Stitch over First

For this join you need to cast on an extra stitch

1 Slip the first stitch from the left needle to the right.

1 Slip the first stitch onto right needle

2 Slip the extra stitch up and over the first stitch and off the needles.  Slip the first stitch back onto the left needle.

2 Slip the extra stitch over the first and off the needles

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