Summer Troubleshoots and Hacks

By Kay Gardiner
August 21, 2018
One little book to put in your knitting bag this summer: Field Guide No. 7: Ease, with supremely ease-filled patterns by Julia Farwell-Clay.

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  • Kay, did you have the needle end inserted in the hole in the foam thing or? And did it come undone? Asking as I have two sleeves tucked away on a pair of these right now and would like to avoid a similar catastrophe.

    • UM NO! I guess this is a classic case of operator error. I had no idea I was supposed to do that.

      • Oh, girl, the foam stopper thingie with the extra hole! That was my very first question! And, if it helps, from someone who recently re-did a top-down 4X due to reading and comprehension issue (I am blaming the TV).

  • So disappointing to learn that tool did not perform as expected. I would have enjoyed it for the same reason you hoped to. Well, there’s always brisket. That sounds good!

    • See comment above. OPERATOR ERROR.

  • I used all manner of stitch holders and generally found they always distorted in some ways the live stitches. I switched to a sturdy length of scrap yarn and will never go back! Cocoknits leather stitch holder is the only thing i mght consider…

  • Yum, brisket tacos! What a fabulous idea Kay.
    I use a cable from any of my interchangeable sets to hold stitches. They all come with some sort of end caps which I swap out for a needle when I’m ready to work them off.

    • I do the same and it works very well.

  • But … but .. the stitch holder tool has a second hole! You loop the needle end back around and put the tip in the second hole. It should act like a giant coil less safety pin.

    Slow cooked brisket on the grill sounds perfect!

    • I’M AN IDIOT because I didn’t realize that the second hole was there.

  • I must know IMMEDIATELY how the tacos were. Before my husband was super into biking, he used to smoke meats on the grill. When we moved into our house, not knowing anything, we bought a small grill that was a complete fail and the first attempt at smoking was not great. Then we got a new charcoal grill and there was an issue of temperature regulation and I remember it being 9pm and I was starving and the meat was still not done. He finally got the hang of it, and there were some good meats to be had, but now that he spends most of the weekend biking, and I am not great with a grill, we haven’t had much smoked meats. So your summer of grilled meats sounds awesome. And clearly I have digressed.

    I use extra yarn to hold live stitches, or if I am using an interchangeable needle set, I use a spare set of cords and use the end stoppers – that is what I did for my Carbeth Cardigans. I typically prefer using extra yarn if I know I am going to block the pieces before joining/seaming, which is what I typically do.

    • The tacos were super yum. Could have cooked them a little bit less compared to the real slow-cooker method. Grill would not go below 300 degrees F and that is a bit hot. But I am not complaining; it was very good and the easiest meal ever for 7 people.

  • That’s such a shame on your sweater. But as my dear friend always says “now your piece has a story” 🙂 I have 3 of those exact same stitch holders and love them!! I use them all the time from sweaters to fingerless gloves.

  • My solution to hot kitchens is a two front attack. One, eat out until you can’t stand it anymore. Two use an instant pot to cook when you must. Three, ok, I have three – hummus and veggies is a totally decent dinner.

    • My husband and I occasionally make the executive decision to have ice cream for dinner. Especially when we’ve had a run of 105+ degree days here in SoCal. It’s one of the perks of being adults.

  • Kay, what kind of string do you use for holding your stitches? I I decided to buy a ball of crochet cotton, which is a pretty good firm kind of “string”, for holding stitches and for using as a life line when needed. However, I have since lost the ball so I’m generally reduced to using dental floss till I find it.

    Also, your brisket tacos bring to mind a delicious sandwich I had onece from a White Plains restaurant called “Melt”. I joined a group of people from my job who were having take out from there. I ordered a brisket sandwich with melted cheese on top. It was fabulous! I always thought that if we ordered again I would get it without the cheese and just a brisket because the brisket was really delicious. Sadly I’ve never had the chance to try my “meltless” Melt brisket sandwich since. I am sure that you will have much better luck with your tacos.

    • I use any stray length of yarn available.

  • KnitPicks interchangeable circulars are perfect for holding stitches. They have the large round flat knobs to attach to both ends of the cord. When it’s time to knit the stitches, just reattach the needle point on one end.

    • I do the same, with my Knitters Pride interchangeable set. I detest boingy cords. Sooo frustrating

  • I currently have 4 tiny baby dress shoulders (2 front, 2 back), 4 toddler vest shoulders (same) and 9 mitten thumb gussets on string. (And possibly a few other things but let’s not get too carried away with the full disclosure. A knitter’s gotta have some secrets!) String can be tied in a nice bow (or knot) to prevent stitch spillage and free up a needle for that quick cowl, hat, headband… And what else are you going to do with all of those bright Peaches n Cream scraps from your latest warsh rag knitting/ crocheting marathon? String for the win!!

  • Have you seen these? They are amazingly helpful for keeping stitches on needles. I hold extra stitches for joining (also a 3-needle bo fan as a first go to) on an extra circular needle and have adopted these as the no-fail option, even when they sit for a while because of some other shiny yarn that catches my attention.

  • Why not crock pot your brisket? Put it on low, you could ad a small rack or crunched up aluminum fold to keep the brisket from the liquid, a plastic liner and you have an easy clean up.

  • 1/8” or even 1/4” ribbon makes an excellent stitch holder. Easier than string to slide stitches on and off. Comes on those little round spools.

  • Soak sproingy cables in steaming water (use a pot on the stove – needs to be almost boiling). After they soften take out of the water and hold onto each end keeping the sproingy cable straight until it cools off. Works for everything that doesn’t have wire in it.

    • I came here to say this about the unboingable cable. My method is a bit different, but I suspect the end result is comparable. When I have new circular needles with a plastic cable, I heat a kettle of water to boiling, and then pull the cable taut and move it back and forth in the path of the steam several times. (Be careful of your fingers!) It doesn’t hurt the needles or the cable, and it makes the cable much softer and easier to work with.

      My mother defaulted to tuna salads when the weather made it too hot to cook with heat. Her salads featured iceberg lettuce, of course, but any greens are acceptable!

  • Putting a cordlock onto a circular needle/stitch holder is an easy way to “herd” stitches to just one end of the needle and keep them from sliding back to the left when knitting or binding off.

    Picture of a round cordlock:

    Can’t take credit for this idea. Read it on a blog sometime ago.

  • Love the abandon and confidence in your hacking. Also happy to see I’m not the only idiot. LOL

    • I second Leslie’s suggestion of silky ribbon. I got the tip from Song Palmese, a knitting instructor. With the 14 inch silky ribbon the needle slides against it or actuallly it become a tube and the needle slides through it – easy peasy. Just make sure to tie a tight knot in the end of the ribon. This method, and the crochet thread method are soft and more packable and aren’t irritatingly clunky on your lap when knitting. Your sweater is lovely!

  • One advantage of using yarn to hold live stitches is that you can leave the yarn in the stitches until you’re sure that you caught all of them. Last night, working on a granddaughter sweater on size 2 needles, I was able to do this. Had to go back twice to catch itsy bitsy stitches that I hadn’t caught the first time. This was picking up from where I left the sleeves as I closed the body under the arms. The yarn’s still there in the event I have to take the whole sleeve back.

  • I usually do the cable & black round thingies. The only problem I’ve had there is remembering what size needle I was using! Now I know I also have some other thingies that have the size on them. Maybe I’ll remember to use them next time. One can only hope…

  • It’s looking so gorgeous tho

  • In this stitch holder tools defense, I love them. Other comments mention how you are supposed to stick the needle end in the green stopper at the other end, in a loop. It’s a thin sort of needle to be knitting off of, but that can be done. Alternatively, you can easily transfer stitches from it to a working needle. Perhaps we should say nothing about people not reading packages. It is pretty small print!

  • I have an interchangeable needle set. I use the two shortest cables with the ends firmly screwed on to hold stitches for these situations. You can attach a needle and knit them when it is time, I have only had an end come undone once and it makes the whole business of the string obsolete. No fancy gadgets required. I use them for holding sleeve stitches on top down sweaters too.

  • I, too, find myself impatient getting held stitches off a yarn holder. For my current project, I decided to try the shorter cables with the nice, large end stoppers from my interchangeable needle set (Lykkes, which I adore). When I was ready to do the sleeves, I just attached the needles. It was so smooth! BTW, the yarn is a linen chainette.

  • I carry spools of narrow ribbon (garage sales are good places to find these) and hand it out to students all the time. Best stitch holder. The ribbon holds the stitches open and then slides right out. Re. cooking in the heat – I set up my toaster oven outside. I got an Instant pot to use for this summer but have not even tried to use it.

  • My favorite method of “un-boinging” long, tightly coiled plastic things is to hold the coil in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds and then stretch the coil out straight. Repeat as needed. I landed on this bit of lunacy when I used weed eater string as boning for a doll’s hoop skirt. I have used this technique on a lot of other plastic string things, including circular knitting needles, since then. I hope this helps somebody. Your sweater is lovely in any case!

  • You can hold stitches on an extra interchangeable cable and place regular safety pins through the lifeline holes to prevent stitches from sliding off. You can even bring the two cable ends together and thread just one safety pin through both. Chiaogoo red cords are good about not curling.

  • I’ve happily used the Clover stitch holders for years with no problems…but you do have to secure your stitches, which is easily done by sliding the attached foam disk over the needle tip as intended.

  • I too am drawn to the bright shiny new gadgets abc also have the stitch holder in question( I actually bought two!)
    Sorry to hear they do not w
    Irk. They will now reside in the very bottom of my knitting bag.

    • Betty, I think you should give it a try. I learned from some of the comments above that this thing works a lot better if you use it properly. (OY!) I didn’t realize that you were supposed to stick the needle tip into the hole in the green stopper thingie. That keeps the stitches from slipping off! I still find the thing a little too boingy for comfort but I will keep it around for when I have a whole bunch of stitches to hold securely.

  • My favorite use for my sproingy stitch holder is the in-progress try-on, since I am too lazy to find another matching circular needle to knit half my project onto. I do find it difficult to knit off the tiny needle.

  • I have friends who stick a cast iron fry pan on their barbecue & use it to fry up bean burgers (would work for falafel too), so you can have a nice light summery meal. They also make pita right on the grill, because it actually gets hot enough (unlike your oven). I don’t have a barbecue, so I just run the slow cooker at night, by an open window. (This is more effective if the window you blow the air out is one you can set the slow cooker up by, rather than the in window.)

  • Just a thought here a few days late. To hold many stitches (more than is good for a metal stitch holder), I use the flexible plastic string used for beading. It comes in bright colors and fairly long lengths that can be trimmed. And it is much easier to get the stitches back on the needles than it is with yarn or string. I don’t own interchangeable needles, so don’t have any extra cables. Works every time.

  • ❤️❣️ Your log cabin relax! I bet that brisket was YUMmie!

  • Hope all is well. You HAVE to let us know how the brisket tacos went… Sounds delicious!! Thanks for sharing.