Category Archives: How To

Tips and Techniques

Oxford Punch Needles at The Knit Cafe

The Knit Café now carries all sizes of Amy Oxford’s Punch Needles!

These rug hooking needles are the best. They are made for comfortable punching thanks to the curvy, smooth, wooden handle and the sleek, surgical steel needle.  The Oxford Punch Needles come in a variety of sizes so you can switch the size of your yarn and also change the length of your pile for lots of interesting textural possibilities.

I have made a handy chart for The Knit Cafe to illustrate!

The Oxford Punch Needles come in sizes #14, #13, #10, #9 and #8. It breaks down like this:

#14 creates the shortest pile and only comes in “Fine” (which is for worsted or DK weight yarns. It makes 3mm tall pile
#13 is slightly taller with 4.75mm tall pile. Also only comes in “Fine”
#10 comes in both “Fine” and “Regular”. “Regular needles suit bulky yarns.
The #10 has 6.35mm high pile.
#9 also comes in both “Fine” and “Regular”. The pile is 9.5mm.
#8 comes in both “Fine” and “Regular”. the pile is 12.7mm high

So which one should you choose?

Choose the “Fine” size if you think you want more details in your pieces.
Choose the “Regular” size if speedy punching is important or if you plan to make less detailed more abstract work and like those fat stitches!

Choose a lower pile for details and a cleaner look. Choose taller piles for more texture! The chart shows the longest pile – the #8 twice. The first time in the grey is made with the standard punching technique and the maroon yarn shows the piles of the yarn cut to get a tufted effect. It’s shaggy!!! Another kind of texture for you to try. The centre of the chart that is not marked in the lilac colour has no pile length because it is punched on the other side. This is a great way to get a flat look and can be done with any size of punch needle.

Check out the Oxford Punch Needles at The Knit Café HERE

The next Punch Needle Class at The Knit Café
is Tuesday July 9, 2019, 6:30-9pm.
Register HERE

Craftily yours


Today I would like to highlight the final pattern in The Knit Cafe’s Wee Collection Fall 2014. It’s called Tee!

It’s a small size t-shirt, to fit baby and up to 3-years in size. Knit in organic cotton it is meant to be casual and comfortable, the polka dot embellishment is meant to be a whole lot of fun!

tee front cropThis is the front!

tee back cropThis is the back!

teeYou may add the polka dots where you will as they are added on after with a marvelous and easy technique called duplicate stitch.

Duplicate Stitch is a wonderful way to add coloured embellishments to your knitted garments.  It is more akin to an embroidery than a knitting technique and is so simple and fun to do. I will demonstrate in the form of a tutorial!


You will need: a darning needle, and contrast colour yarn in the same thickness as the yarn you used to knit your garment, and sharp scissors too.

Cut a piece of yarn. The length of which will depend on how large an area you intend to cover, tempered by how long a piece you can handle pulling up through your work repetitively without getting tangled up. It takes approximately 147cm length of yarn to make a polka dot but we made each polka dot with two separate lengths of yarn. We started with a piece of yarn about 80cm long.

duplicate st 1

Thread your yarn on your darning needle and thread it through your knit fabric just under the stitch you intend to cover. Duplicate stitch is always worked over stocking stitch so each stitch will resemble a V in shape.  The needle will come up at the base of the V, shown here with a  red dot!
Leave a length of yarn on the reverse side of the fabric which is long enough to darn into your work once you are finished the duplicate stitching.

duplicate st 2

Next, thread your yarn through the stitch above the stitch you intend to cover.  The needle goes under one arm of the V and through the other arm.  See illustration above.

duplicate st 3

Then insert your needle through the original spot where your yarn first appeared.  Pull just so that the yarn covers the stitch, not so tight that it puckers the fabric and shows the stitch underneath and not so loose that it looks untidy.

duplicate st 4

To place a duplicate stitch beside the one you just finished, bring your needle up under the base of the V beside the stitch you just covered (indicated with blue dot) and repeat the steps above.

duplicate st 5

Or you can place a stitch above the duplicate stitch you just completed by bringing your needle up under the base of the V above the completed duplicate stitch as shown by the blue dot in the diagram.

Repeat as necessary to finish your polka dot or whatever pattern you fancy.


We used Anzula’s Mini Skeins in For Better or Worsted yarn to make our polka dots. One skein in each of the 3 colours was plenty to make the polka dots we required. Hooray for mini skeins!

Other patterns in the Wee Collection Fall 2014 are Baby Harem.  and Tremblant Blanket and Bunting for Beginners too. You can see all The Knit Cafe’s Pattern on our Ravelry Page HERE.

Craftily yours



Old Dog – New Tricks

They say the best way to keep the old noggen tickityboo is to keep it active.
My carreer as a knitter should then keep mine sharp as a razor.  I never stop learning things. NEVER!

Well just the other day I learned a thing that I wished I’d learned when I was but a fledgling knitter.  A thing I wish that I had passed on to the oh-so-many students I have taught to knit.

-a simple thing, a useful thing, an easy thing.

I learnt it from Pinterest – as one does. The other day someone posted thisDo

It’s originated from Ysolda Teagues as part of her Technique Thursdays series.
By the way there are many gems in this series.  Ones brains could become very buff after a few hours brushing up on these knit technique.
I especially like this post on casting on and casting off as it takes two of the basics (usually the first and the third thing one learns when one takes up knitting) and adds a commonsense twist that makes these basics all the better.
Best yet they are, if not as easy, then possibly easier then ones regular cast on and cast off.

Cast on: This will only interest those who cast on with the Long Tail Cast On method, but if you do – you do not have to make a slip knot before you begin your cast on! It’s true!

Cast off: Instead of threading the yarn through the last stitch on the needle, simply pull on your last stitch till the yarn comes all the way through. This is a subtle distinction, but I think you’ll see the difference if you go to the post.

Why make these small changes? The answer is prettiness.  Many times I have been asked about bulgy beginnings and loosey goosey endings to knitting projects and I have had to reply that that’s just the way it goes. Darning will often fix up these misshapen stitches but what if they looked perfect from the get go.
They can!

Check out Ysolda’s post here.
After you’re through – check out the link for the Long Tail Cast On for 1×1 Ribbing.  It will blow your mind!

Craftily yours

PS – you can see what we’re posting to Pinterest here

Swatching in circles

To swatch or not to swatch, that is the question.
The answer in many many cases is “yes – you should”.
Don’t worry, I won’t spend this time trying to lure you over to the side of pro-swatchers. Today I want to talk about swatching in the round.
When you are knitting a project in the round it is imperative you test swatch in the round too.  I am sorry to say that this is something I did not learn, till later in my knit-life.  It seems that the difference in our tensions from flat knitting to circular knitting can be extreme! Extremely extreme!
So if you are about to knit a project that requires you to knit in rounds then follow these steps to make a swatch.

1.  Using the needles you would like to knit with (these will be either circular or double pointed needles) cast on stitches sufficient enough for a swatch.  It is desirable to have at least 10cm to measure, since most gauges are given over 10cm. If my swatch is for a stocking stitch fabric I like to do a little boarder of garter stitch so that the swatch won’t curl as much when I am trying to measure, but this is optional. Work your first row.


2.When you get to the end of the row drag your stitches to the other needle point. Don’t turn your piece to the other side!


3. Leaving a long stretch of yarn flopping across the back or the knitting, work into the stitch you have positioned near the tip of the needle (the first stitch in the previous row).


Repeat steps 2 and 3.  Eventually you will get something that looks like this on the back side.  You see how it is important to keep those runs at the back as long as possible so your swatch can lie flat for measuring.


Once the swatch is blocked many people, myself included, will snip the long runs at the back before measuring.  This is usually more accurate and you can get a better feel for the fabric you’ve created that way.


Now go ahead and measure.

Of course there are other ways to swatch in rounds.  Some folks prescribe knitting a hat first (when I say some people I mean Elizabeth Zimmerman).  Others will start a sleeve and and call it a swatch.

If you are joining us at the Sock Master Class, please make a swatch in the round before class.  Sock Masters will be making their socks using their gauge to calculate the size, so you will need a proper swatch.

Sock Master Class
Thurs June 6, 13, 20, 7-9pm

Call 416 533 5648 to register

If you are interested in swatching (and who isn’t?) I really like what Robin Hunter has to say on the matter in her blog How to become a Professional Knitter. I’ve only recently discovered her blog, but have since enjoyed very much reading about what fellow knitters do, and how they do it.  Perhaps you will too.

Craftily yours

I heart hearts and groundhogs!

There’s still time to make your sweetheart one of these guys for Valentines day.
heart jpeg 2heart
It’s an oldie, but a goodie.  A pattern of mine that was published in the wonderful online knit magazine Knitty.  You can find the pattern there for free too. If you are down with the double pointed knitting needles then this pattern is a breeze and fun to make too.  I have made plenty over the years.
heart x2The heart on the left is the only heart I kept from all the plenty. The heart on the right is a mini version of the heart (great for pinning on your sleeve or lapel). The mini heart pattern is found here.  The left heart is improvised.
I kept this heart partly for the very special yarn it was made from.  Leftovers from socks I made for my Dad, my last bit of fuzzy, neon, orange, angora, and hand dyed cashmere from Handmaiden yarns. Using bits and pieces from projects-past made this heart even more special to me.  The cable is a nice touch too.
Lots of other folks have made their own versions of the heart.  See them on Ravelry.  There are currently 710 to peruse.

If you decide to make your own heart here’s a tip!

Beginning the heart is the hardest part.  You must cast on 6 stitches and join in the round and immediately increase stitches.  Over the years many have cursed my name trying to accomplish this.  Over these same years I have learned some tricks to make lighter work of this tricky maneuver. This is how I do it.heart tutorial 1

1. Cast on your 6 stitches onto a double pointed needle




2. The next instruction is to increase the stitches with a (Kf&b, K1) repeated, but first you must join the round to start knitting in a circle. Instead of dividing the stitches onto the double pointed needles try joining the round like you would if you were making an I-cord. First move the stitches down to the other point on your double pointed needle.  Let the yarn drape over the back of your work as you insert your needle into the first stitch closest to the tip (the first stitch you cast on). Work your Kf&b into that first stitch making sure you give some tension to the stitch to close the circle.  Continue working the stitches on the needle making your increases as you go. heart tutorial 3

3. You will now have 9 stitches on your double pointed needle




heart tutorial 44. Reorganize your stitches on the double pointed needles, 3 stitches on each needle and join in a round.
If 9 stitches still seems too puny to start using all  your double pointed needles on, then use the I-cord technique to do your next row. This will increase your stitches to 12.  Now get out the rest of the needles and put 4 stitches on each.

Apply this I-cord technique to anything that requires you to cast on only a few stitches and then knit in rounds, like the Knit Cafe’s Tedster pattern or the Wee Owlie too.

Happy Groundhog Day, 2 out of 3 groundhogs say spring is coming early!
Craftily yours


With the Crochet Blanket Class close at hand (it starts on July 22) I thought I would share my version of the blanket.
I was inspired by Maurie Todd’s beautiful creation below.  In fact I outright copied her.  Noro Sock yarn for the middles: that ever-changing yarn that gives you all the colours in the rainbow in just one ball, and a solid coloured sock yarn for the outside.

But since the recipient of this blanket was still in diapers, I  picked some peppy colours.  Lorna’s Laces Firefly for the background.
I found making this blanket addictive, especially the happy little middles that I stacked up and admired. Then I unstacked them and ordered them, reordered them, puzzled and plotted, and restacked them.  Then I made more.  Attaching them all together was not so bad either.  They were crocheted together with NO SEW SEAMS! Something you will learn in class.

When it was all done – I was not!

The finished blanket had wavy edges thanks to the hexagons and all their angles. Those of you who have made the blanket will know what I mean.  To remedy this I made “half hexagons” and added them along the edges that needed them (2 of the 4). Necessity being the mother of invention – I taught myself how.  Others have gone before me and done the same but they were not around.

This is what I did…

Continue reading

the perfect blendship!

This weekend is the Friendship Bracelet Workshop

Embroidery floss is the traditional medium of the friendship bracelet!
I think we might get experimental with mini skeins too!

I look forward to this upcoming crafternoon.  Here are the details:

Friendship Bracelet Workshop
Sunday May 27, 1-3:30
$30, materials not included
children of all ages are welcome
call to register 416 533 5648
more on friendship bracelets here

All morning I’ve been “down the rabbit hole”.  This is how I describe the phenomena of being swept away from web link to link, with no visible end.  Eventually you take pause and wonder how you arrived at where you landed.  This time spent in the hole I have no regrets about.  I learned so much.
I think it started here ↓These instructions on how to make a garter stitch tab at the beginning of your shawl project may not interest everyone, but I urge you all to check out Tricksy. This site is replete with interesting things like this↓
It was just the other day, I was admiring the well-marked  paper pattern I was working from.  Decorated with chicken scratches, check marks, and circles, it was full of the history of my knitting adventures.  I wondered to myself how folks with iPads managed to follow a pattern, unable to draw pictures and make notes where necessary.  I mumbled to myself “I bet there’s an app for that”, and of course there is.  A PDF reader in fact.  Read about it here
I will never get the hours back I spent playing with this Chart Maker, but I don’t care!

I also found, in no particular order:

this very useful head/hat size chart

a tutorial on how to weave in ends which includes weaving into ribbing stitch!

a how-to decode decreases: how to make them, how they look, and when to use them.

There was more
but I think that is quite enough for today!
Apologies if you get trapped in the rabbit hole.

Craftily yours