Advanced Knitting: Exactly How to Get Started Creating the Projects of Your Dreams

In the Tree of Techniques (my visual guide to becoming a better knitter, below) the top of the tree represents advanced knitting.

In the wrong spot? Read my posts on Beginner Knitting and Intermediate Knitting.

tree-of-techniques-advanced

These projects are what most KnitFreedom readers say that they would like to be able to knit within the next 1-3 years.

Are You Holding Yourself Back?

Once you can knit in the round, fix mistakes, and read intermediate patterns, you’re ready to tackle any of these areas.

Could it be that you already know these techniques and yet are still holding yourself back? Think about that as you read through this post.

Trick: Combine Two Techniques You Already Know

Just because a project is “advanced” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s hard -– it might just be a combination of two intermediate skills.

Look back over the projects you’ve made and find areas where you could combine two skills that you already have. For example:

  • Felting + color knitting = felted Fair-Isle bag
  • Two-at-a-time + mittens = two-at-a-time mittens
  • Lace + hat = lace hat
  • How about stripes and socks?

Advanced Knitting Topics Covered In This Post

By the way, I have video classes on some of these topics but not all of them. If I do have a video class available, I’ll provide links to it. Many of these topics are on the waiting list, as I add new tutorials over time.

Sweaters and Custom Garments

A lot of knitters responded to my first post on how to choose projects and said they wanted to be able to knit sweaters, and this is a great goal.

advanced-knitting-01-basic-sweaterStart with the most basic kind of sweater there is: a stockinette-stitch pullover knitted in the round that has drop sleeves (left). A plain stockinette or ribbed collar and cuffs are perfect.

A sweater with drop sleeves just means that the body is a big rectangle and the sleeves are just tubes — no shaping.

Next try a fitted sweater, but still following a pattern. I recommend learning a new kind of sleeve with each sweater: top-down sweaters often have raglan sleeves– a more fitted but still very easy way to make sleeves. Set-in sleeves are the trickiest of all. Of course, you can always knit your sleeves two-at-a-time!

advanced-knitting-02-custom-sweaterMost sweater patterns have some shape to them — a smaller waist, flared sleeves… You will learn how to do all of this just by following the pattern.

When I learned to knit sweaters I didn’t stop at what other designers made.

I devoured the book Custom Knits and learned how to make sweaters completely to my measurements (right). Fun and very rewarding!

Lace Knitting

advanced-knitting-04-lace-hatIf you’ve already done an easy lace project, try a lace hat next. These are done with medium-thick yarn and are therefore still pretty easy. One of my favorites to knit and teach is the Foliage hat.

You will learn a lot about fixing mistakes and reading your work when you do lace– so if (when) you mess up, remember to celebrate — you are learning!

Please make sure to attempt patterns that are written from charts. Charts are an uncluttered, visual way of showing what stitches you need to do, so you don’t have to wade through lines and lines of written instructions (potentially losing your place often).

advanced-knitting-08-lace-shawlProjects like this Haruni shawl (right) are the most challenging of all because they’re big, usually have complex charts, and are knitted with thin yarn.

I never have the patience for projects like these, but I have known knitters who swear it’s all they knit!

Felting

advanced-knitting-22-felted-slippers-23Felting is so easy that it hardly belongs in the advanced section, but I’m including it because if you haven’t tried it yet, you should.

To do felting, use pure wool and larger needles than normal to knit any regular old thing — it will come out huge. Then you put it in the wash with hot water with soap, And voilà! Felt.

advanced-knitting-06-easy-felted-bagThey are very easy felted patterns out there. One of my favorites is a pair of felted slippers (above).

I also recommend felted purses and market bags.

Embellishments

advanced-knitting-11-customizationAnother way to increase the difficulty is to start embellishing things onto your projects.advanced-knitting-10-ears

Try adding crocheted flowers, fringes, duplicate stitch embroidery, or buckles and handles — anything to personalize your knitting.

You’ll see that you don’t always have to follow the pattern exactly. These fun advanced-knitting-24-needle-felting-24animal mittens (above left) and scary rabbit slippers (above right) are my favorite example of that – just click the images to compare them to the actual patterns!

One super easy and free-form way to embellish your projects is by doing needle felting (right).

Needle felting uses a felting needle to attach pieces of yarn to your knitted fabric in any design you like. You can get an inexpensive needle-felting kit and instructions at any yarn store.

Stuffed Animals and Toys

advanced-knitting-13-elefanteThree-dimensional projects like teddy bears are a great way to step up your skills because you have to follow a lot of steps and then carefully sew the pieces together at the end.

You can always add buttons, embroidery, ears– whatever it is– realizing that you can add shapes and change your choices based on what you know.

advanced-knitting-14-octopusAs you continue to get better, you can use tiny yarn to do tinier and more intricate projects that have a lot of steps and a lot of sewing – like this little octopus (right). These are quite challenging indeed!

Color Knitting

There are 4 common kinds of color knitting and they are all useful for different types of designs and effects. Tip: Whenever you are knitting with two yarns, make sure to watch your tension and not pull either yarn too tight, or else the fabric will pucker and not lay flat.

Fair-Isle Knitting

advanced-knitting-03-fair-isle-bagApart from mosaic knitting, which I discuss in my knitting for beginners post, the easiest way of making color designs is called Fair-Isle knitting.

Fair-Isle is good for repeating geometric patterns like in the two photos you see here. To do it, you have to hold two strands of yarn in your hands at the same time (Continental Knitting comes in handy for this).

advanced-knitting-05-fair-isle-mittensAs you get more comfortable, try Fair-Isle mitts (right) or a Fair-Isle hat. Just make sure to watch your tension – not too tight!

Intarsia Knitting

advanced-knitting-19-intarsiaIntarsia knitting requires you to make little bobbins of different colors of yarn. You then switch from one color to the next as you go across your work.

Intarsia is used for flat projects that have big, non-repeating designs, like this skull pillow (left).

You’ll definitely be working from a chart if you’re doing Intarsia. This is my favorite kind of color knitting to do.

Double Knitting

advanced-knitting-16-double-knittingDouble Knitting is an advanced technique that lets you make true two-sided color designs. There are some really gorgeous patterns out there.

My double knitting class starts you off with a very simple chart and pattern to help you get used to knitting two sides of a fabric at once.

Brioche Knitting

advanced-knitting-17-briocheAn even more advanced color technique that a lot of knitters really get addicted to is two- or even three-color brioche knitting.

Brioche knitting creates a deep and cushy double-sided, multicolor rib.

Start with scarves and cowls and then, as you improve, progress to hats and even sweaters.

Entrelac Knitting

advanced-knitting-22-entrelacEntrelac knitting looks very hard but it isn’t.

As long as you can wrap and turn and pick up stitches (two techniques that you learn on socks), you can make gorgeous scarves like this Entrelac scarf (left).

Choosing a self-striping yarn like the one in this picture makes it look even more impressive. This scarf actually only uses one color of yarn!

Moebius Knitting

advanced-knitting-21-moebiusMoebius knitting is a really popular trend. Whole books are devoted to the garments and accessories you can make when you learn to create an “infinity loop” by putting twists in your knitting on purpose.

This popular advanced moebius project (left) actually has five twists.

It is a set of fun felted bowls for putting your keys and pocket stuff in which combines advanced Magic Loop plus the Moebius knitting skill.

Perfect Cast Ons and Bind Offs

italian tubularAt this stage you will definitely want to make sure that you have the perfect cast on and bind-off for every project that you do, whether it be stretchy, ribbed, decorative, invisible, moebius, or two-at-a-time…

As your projects improve, make sure that you are upping the quality and selection of your cast-ons and bind-offs as well.

Knitting With Challenging Materials

advanced-knitting-18-knitting-with-wireAs you approach the top of the challenges tree, try knitting with more challenging materials, like raw silk and linens. You can also add beads to your knitting, or even knit with wire!

Making this wire votive holder (left) was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me – literally! Knitting with wire once was enough for me, but I’m really glad I tried it. It’s definitely a challenge for the hands.

Making up your own patterns

advanced-knitting-20-custom-patternsAt the top of the tree, represented by this fingerless mitten, is the ability to make improvised patterns.

The goal is to be able to buy yarn at the yarn store, come home, and make your own pattern out of it to fit your custom measurements based on what you – all by yourself.

The ultimate expression of this would then be to write up the pattern and publish it on Ravelry for other knitters to enjoy.

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And that’s it! Once you are making custom garments, writing up patterns that you’ve invented or modified, and — the telltale sign — teaching others how to read patterns and fix their mistakes, you are truly an advanced knitter.

You’re ready to not only go wild with the projects you attempt, but also to pay it forward!

The knitting tips and tricks that you’ve gained through your experience of knitting all the way up the tree can save someone else a lot of time and frustration, so share the wealth!

If you’re ready to tackle these skills now, here’s how I can help

advanced-video-knitting-coursesMy email fills up with amazing messages from students who can’t believe what they were able to accomplish when they have the right instruction. They love being able to make intricate scarves and patterned hats and sweaters and look forward to new knitting challenges.

If you’re ready to double knit, do Fair-Isle, or try Brioche knitting, my library of advanced video knitting courses is where I suggest you start.

But DON’T BUY THEM NOW – just look them over to see if they’re right for you, because in a few days I’ll have a special surprise for you that you won’t want to miss.

Pattern Links and Free Downloads

Download the Tree of Techniques PDF – now with links to all patterns and ebooks.

Patterns that I’ve mentioned in today’s post:

Leave a Comment

I’d love to know – has this post been helpful to you?

I know this is a lot of information, but I wanted to make sure I gave enough detail so that knitters at all stages in their knitting can get what they need. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

The Tree of Techniques
Posted in Being A Knitter, Knitting Basics | 5 Comments

Intermediate Knitting: How to Go From Knitting Basic Scarves to Making Beautiful Hats and Socks

tree-of-techniques-topIn my last post I talked to you about the Tree of Techniques – specifically the trunk of the tree which contains the foundations of knitting for beginners.

tree-of-techniques-bottomToday I want to talk to you about the sweet spot at the middle of the tree which I think is the key to becoming a knitting superstar. ————>

So let’s jump in and I’ll share with you what it takes to make your intermediate knitting spectacular.

Stage 2: Intermediate Knitting

There are only 3 skills that you need to learn as an intermediate knitter, with a few extra options.

  1. Knitting in the Round/Magic Loop
  2. Toe-Up Socks
  3. Top-Down Socks
  4. Continental Knitting (optional)
  5. Cable Knitting (optional)

Continue reading

Posted in Being A Knitter, Knitting Basics, Magic Loop | 6 Comments

Knitting for Beginners: Your Step-by-Step Roadmap to Knitting Success

If you’ve been following along with my most recent blog posts, you’ll know we’ve been talking about how to choose the path that’s right for you so you can improve your knitting on your own.

One of the tools I gave you for that was my 3-Challenges Model, which is a way of making sure that you don’t pick something that challenges all areas of your abilities at once.

A Roadmap For Knitting Success

Tree of TechniquesTo map out your options in a visual way, I created the Tree of Techniques – a unique visual aid (click for a bigger view or to download).

I put together this tree of techniques when I realized that not everyone knows the full roadmap that is open to them when they begin to knit — but they should.

Take a look at the graphic (leave it small or click the image for a full-size view).

Starting from the bottom of the trunk you can see that the projects go in a certain order without a whole lot of branching out– that’s because you must master the basic foundations of knitting before you can move on.

The projects on the trunk of the tree comprise the foundations of knitting. That’s the area I’m going to guide you through today. Continue reading

Posted in Being A Knitter, Knitting Basics | 16 Comments

The 3 Decisions You Have When Choosing a New Project

Woman thinking of knitting patternsIn yesterday’s post I asked you to think about where you would like to be with your knitting one year from today.

If you struggled to answer, or if you couldn’t quite come up with the right kind of project for you to knit next, I have just the thing to help.

It is a way of thinking called the 3-Challenges Model that I created to help my students knit what is most rewarding for them.

The goal: pick something that is just a tiny bit more challenging than what you feel comfortable doing right now.

This puts you in a state of what psychologists call FLOW, which means you can get totally absorbed in the project and be learning happily while you knit, and you don’t get overwhelmed because the project is too hard or bored because it’s too easy. Continue reading

Posted in Reading Patterns | 2 Comments

Webinar Replay – 3 Tips All Knitting Superstars Need to Know, Plus Brand New Tips and Content This Week

Graphics from the webinar 3 Tips Every Knitting Superstar Needs to KnowIt all started innocently enough, as most good stories do.

I wanted to connect more with my readers and share some helpful new tips so I decided to do a webinar and start a podcast. To tell you the truth, I was a little nervous (in a good way!) to be sharing this new content in a brand new format.

And then, something unbelievable happened.

There were so many students attending the webinars and learning about Knitting Superstar (my flagship course) that it crashed knitfreedom.com — multiple times!

Each webinar I’ve held has completely filled up, and I’m aflutter with the positive comments and emails we’ve gotten.

It quickly became clear that we needed to share this cool content out to ALL KnitFreedom readers.

So over the next week I’ll be posting my favorite tips from the webinar here on the blog for you to enjoy.

I’ll also be going more in-depth with detailed tips and techniques, plus downloadable resources you’ll want to keep at your fingertips… plus, there will be a very special surprise just for you, so stay tuned!

For now I’ll leave you with a question to consider:

If you and I were having a conversation a year from today, and you were looking back over the past year, what has to have happened in your knitting for you to feel happy with your progress? Continue reading

Posted in Announcements | 21 Comments