Expert knitting hacks for better results

A massive list of knitting hacks, hints, tips, and tricks for neater, faster or better results.

Are you ready to change your knitting game forever? Are you sick and tired of the same old knitting hacks that get perpetuated all over the internet (like using a tea kettle as a yarn holder or rubber bands as needle stoppers) that may be mildly helpful but are no real game-changer either?

Well, I got you covered because this post is all about my favorite knitting hacks that really make a difference! Things that will not only help you save money short-term but will still be helpful later on in your knitting journey.

So, let’s dive right into it and show you my favorite knitting hacks.

Reading tip: This post focuses on tools, if you are looking for tips for faster or easier techniques, then read this post with 10 knitting tips that actually work.

#1 Create your own bookmark/viewfinder to keep track of your patterns

a simple diy knitting pattern view finder made out of blue cardboard

My number one knitting hack is almost too simple. Use a little bit of thin cardboard or even a spare sheet of paper, align it horizontally, and add two cuts. And already you have a super inexpensive yet incredibly practical viewfinder for your knitting pattern.

Just insert the instruction through the two gaps and move it along as you knit and you’ll never have to search for the current row.

a knitting pattern book with a diy bookmark viewfinder

Working with a book? No worries, you can adjust the viewfinder with a couple of more cuts and create a pattern bookmark with it. Below you will find the cutting schematics. Obviously, you will have to adjust the size according to the size of your pattern/book. If you use thin photo cardboard, you can re-use it very easily and add it to your project bag.

cutting instructions for paper knitting viewfinder

1.1 Add Clear sheet Protectors

a knitting pattern between clear sheet protects and a permanent marker

You can improve this even further by putting patterns in a clear sheet protector. That way, you can use a sharpie to cross out sections you already knitted or add your notes – without actually damaging the pattern itself.

1.2 Add Post-its

A similar thing can be achieved with post-its. You can use it to add notes or mark the current position. And here’s a further trick. Try to stick it to your pattern coming from the top. That way you can see the rows below. I find this makes it easier to read your knitting and navigate your pattern.

#2 Knit with a different needle size on each end

Have you noticed that when you are knitting in the round (either the normal way or doing the magic loop technique), the left needle only acts as a stitch holder? You never ever actually knit with it. And this brings up wonderful possibilities when working with an interchangeable knitting needle set (just another reason to own one):

2.1 Easier knitting

a project in the round knitted with two different sizes

Attach a smaller needle size (one or two) to the left end of your circular needles. That way, it will be much easiest to enter stitches when knitting in the round without screwing up your gauge. After all, the right-hand needle defines the size of your stitches.

Tip: You can also use this trick when you need to knit two projects with the same needle size!

2.2 Fix your purl tension

a knitted swatch with rows of loose purl stitches

Whenever you are knitting flat, you can use a similar effect. A lot of people have problems with their purl tension – especially when knitting stockinette stitch. If your purl stitches are too loose, you can simply attach a smaller-sized needle to one end of your circular needles because when knitting flat you also only knit the right and wrong side with one respective needle.

2.3 Keep track of your pattern

someone knitting with two different needles (same size) on each end

But there’s another way to employ different needles on each end. A lot of flat patterns require you to increase in every second row (or decrease, etc). In this case, you can attach a different-looking needle (but the same size) on each end, or mark one end with a sharpy or some nail polish. And then, whenever you come across the needle you marked in this way, you know it’s an increase, decrease, or whatever row.

Note: Of course, you can also learn how to count rows and read your knitting. But it’s still going to take more time.

#3 Use filler rope to avoid fold lines when blocking

socks being blocked on a blocking mat with filler rope to avoid creases

Whenever you finished knitting something in the round, you will face one big problem: How do you block a tubular project WITHOUT fold lines? Because if you were to pin your hat, sweater, or socks to your blocking board the regular way, you will typically end up with a permanent crease line that may be quite annoying.

To fix that, go to your next hardware store and get some filler rope. It’s typically used to fill tiny gaps when doing caulking but you can use it for your knitting as well. Simply pad the edges with the foam and pin right through it.

Note: There are special blocking boards for sweaters, hats, or socks. But these may be either too expensive or not available in the size you need.

3.1 You can also use a wire hanger and turn that into a sock blocker

Who doesn’t have a couple of these cheap wire hangers in their closet (like when you pick up shirts or so from dry-cleaning)? Well, you can turn these into a DIY sock-blocking board. Simply bend them in the shape of your feet and you are done. You could even pad them with the above-mentioned filler rope for an extra neat result.

#4 Use eyelets and knots to keep track of your needle size

a knitted swatch with eyelets in the first row to mark the needle size used

Most patterns require you to knit a gauge swatch. Otherwise, you will have no control over the size and fit. The only problem: Often you end up knitting multiple swatches until you can finally get gauge. And in these cases, it can be very helpful to mark the needle size you used directly within your knitting.

Simply add a couple of eyelets (so *k2tog, yo*) in the first row. Each eyelet stands for one needle size. For fractional sizes, you can add purl stitches. So perhaps two eyelets and two purl stitches stand for 2.5mm needles.

Tip: You can also tie knots in your cast-on tail. That way you can mark the needle size of your work in progress (on the odd chance that you may abandon it for some time because you need the needles elsewhere).

#5 organize your connectors and pins with stitch markers

chiaogoo needle conectors attach to a stitch marker for easy storage

Most advanced knitters will have an interchangeable knitting needle size. And typically those come with quite a lot of little connectors and pins that easily get lost. Well, here’s a simple solution for you: Use a bulb-shaped stitch marker to organize your connectors, adaptors, and pins.

5.1 Use a little pin cushion and sew it into your needle case

a interchangeable knitting needle pouch with a pin cushion to store the keys

Sadly this trick with the stitch markers doesn’t work equally as well for all brands as not all of the little bits have holes. In these cases, you can attach/glue a little pin cushion to your needle case where you can easily stick the keys in.

5.2 Open the seams of the pockets ChiaGoo

a chiagoo needle set with an extra pouch to store the spare cords

The last trick is specifically for ChiaoGoo users. If you take a closer look at your needle case, you will see that there is one additional row of pockets in front of the actual needle tip pockets. You can (partially) open these seams and store your cords in there.

#6 Use stitch markers to keep track of your progress

About the first thing you learn in primary school, or for most even in pre-school and kindergarten, is counting. And it takes a knitter to realize how hard counting actually is. So, if you are like me and easily lose track, then use stitch markers liberally so you don’t have to count a row with 200 stitches four times in a row.

a knitted cast-on with stitch markers every 10 stitches

So even when I cast on, I will place a stitch marker every 20 stitches. Otherwise, I don’t think I could ever tackle a bigger project – especially if it’s a more complicated or even alternating cast-on with purl stitch.

6.1. every 5 rows

a knitted project with stitch markers every 10 rows

A very easy way to keep track of your row count is placing a stitch marker every 5 (or 10 rows). That way, you only have to count the stitch markers and not your whole knitting starting from your cast-on.

6.2 move marker with every row (stitches in between are the rows)

A similar method that involves using fewer stitch markers goes like this. You start by placing an extra stitch marker in your second row or round. And then you move it along by one stitch whenever you come across it. As a result, you only have to count the stitches between the beginning of your row or round and your stitch marker to know where you are at.

Note: If you are using this method flat, you obviously have to multiply your count times two as you can only move the stitch marker in every right-side row.

6.3 Into every increase/decrease

a swatch with a stitch marker through every increase

If you ever knitted a sleeve, the gusset or a pair of socks, or the crown of a hat where you will have staggered decreases, then you might know how easy it is to lose track or get confused. And one very easy way to combat that problem is simply marking each increase or decrease with a stitch marker. That way you can count the rows in between so much easier.

Note: This trick works for cables and any other regular pattern just the same

#7 use mini needles as stitch holders

a project with stitches put on hold with mini needles

Have you ever tried to knit gloves or mittens? Or any other small diameter tubular project where you need to pick up stitches? Well, then you probably know how annoying it can be. And in these cases, I always use the ChiaoGoo mini needles. I slip the stitches to the short little cable, add cable stoppers on each end and continue knitting.

And when it comes to picking up stitches again, I re-attach the tips and knit all stitches the regular way. It’s so simple and works like a charm!

8. Use hair clips to secure loose ends

using hair pins to secure the tail of a yarn cake

Do you own a big yarn stash with many half-used skeins or skeins wound into yarn cakes? Well, then this knitting hack will be perfect for you: You can use old hair clips to secure the loose ends of each ball or skein. That way, they will not come undone and your stash ends up being a tangled mess.

But it gets better yet. You can use the same hair clip to secure your cast-on tail. Often it needs to be a bit longer so you can use it for sewing. And to keep it from getting in your way, just clip it to the edge!

#9 use the yarn label

Always remember: keep those yarn labels and don’t just throw them away without thinking. Here are two tips:

9.1 Put the yarn label at the center of your yarn cake

three ways to attach label to yarn so no vital information gets losts

First of all, nothing is worse than a ball of mystery yarn in your stash. One week from now, you might still be able to tell what it was, but in 2 years? 5 years? Probably not! That’s why I recommend winding your yarn cake around the yarn label. That way, you can easily retrieve the information later on.

If you plan to do center pulls, then you can insert the label before you wind the last few rows to achieve a similar effect. And if you lose the label, use a stitch marker to attach a little note with the most important details.

Tip: For those who love to do center pulls. Put your skein in an old pantyhose. That keeps your skein from falling apart and tangling up on those very last few meters.

9.2 Store your socks in the yarn label

knitted socks secured by a re-used yarn label

Yarn labels include some vital information any knitter should be able to read – especially the care instructions. Can you put this yarn into the washing machine or is it hand wash only? Make sure you don’t throw that information as well carelessly.

One amazing trick is to use the yarn label to store your finished garment. Reinforce it with a bit of tape and you have a wonderful little wrapper for your socks.

#10 use a binder/photo album to organize your circular needles

an old binder with sheet protectors full of circular needles

There are many wonderful needle cases available on Etsy or probably for sale at your local yarn shop. But you can also create a very inexpensive and very practical case for your circulars yourself. Simply re-purpose a standard binder or photo album and put each circular needle in a clear sheet.

Use a sharpie to mark the needle size or even add some organizers in between if you own a lot. I feel it’s such a smart and simple knitting hack that works like a charm and never ever has you fishing for the right needle size from an old shoe box where you tossed all your needles in.

Anyway, that was my list of knitting hacks. If you have a question or would like to add one, comment below!

10 expert knitting hacks for beginners and advanced knitters

8 thoughts on “Expert knitting hacks for better results”

  1. Hi Norman, after I watched this video yesterday I modified my ChiaoGoo needle case. I was able to fit my case with the small set of tips, scissors, both blue and red cords, and the needle gauge/ruler in the fabric pockets once the stitched lines were removed.
    I used the light bulb stitch holders to store the cord connectors, but also for the large and small diameter markers. I stuck the T pins into the lining fabric. At my knit group today everyone was very impressed by my cleverness, but I had to disclaim credit for the idea. Thanks for making my knitting paraphernalia so portable and easy to find!

    Reply
  2. Your tips and enthusiasm for everyone’s capacity to improve their knitting craft and enjoyment of it are so uplifting. I appreciate all your communique so much. I am a lefties and the learning curve can seem steep. These little organizing tips are great.

    Reply
  3. I have a 2 sided soft-sided fishing case that has zip lock type ‘envelopes’ inside as well as small pockets inside and a mesh pocket on the outside and zippers for each side. I bought it from Bass Pro and it works perfectly for my circular needles on one side and crochet hooks on the other with my needle/hook gauge in the outside pocket. (I have zero idea what a fisherman does with this btw.)

    Reply
  4. I’ve only just found your blog, and I’m absolutely delighted! I first read your article on alpaca, which was remarkably helpful and (joy!) based on science/fact. (I’m American; we’ve been having issues with ‘science stuff’ for a while.)

    I’ve been searching all over, but I haven’t yet found a SUBSCRIBE button; did I miss it?

    Reply
  5. Just discovered you.
    Love your idea for storing needles I have lots of old binders with clear plastic lying around.
    I’m not sure if is the right place to ask, please forgive if it’s wrong I’m new .
    I love your knitting knit 1 purl 1 on different size needles.
    I am pretty good at knitting, and I have some fingering yarn and a plain , light not to wide shawl pattern, I think would look great in this pattern, just not sure the size of needles, I don’t want it to big as it’s going to Australia and it’s very hot there.
    Please redirect me if this is the wrong place to ask .
    I love what you do , even after 50 years of knitting you never stop learning 😊

    Reply
    • I don’t have a published pattern for that. So, you will have to experiment around a bit yourself as it will depend on your yarn as well. Don’t think I can help you there – a swatch will be your best friend.

      Reply

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