START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Group Discussions
| track thread
« Back to topics
Tips and advice
10 years ago
| Hot!

Place tips and ask for advice here...

My tip today is to use a magnetic board to hold your pattern and magnetic strips to keep track of the stitches your working on when doing counted cross stitch.

10 years ago
To keep the edges of your aida cloth fraying use masking tape or a product called fray check.
10 years ago
Sometimes having more than one needle comes in handy.  Couching is a technique that would work better with 2 needles.  One to make the design and one to anchor it in place.
10 years ago
If you use a hoop or q-snaps to stitch, be sure to remove your work when you're not actually stitching it.  Leaving the fabric in the hoop can cause it to stretch.
Wash your hands
10 years ago
Oils and dirts on your hands can damage your project.  Be sure to wash your hands well with mild soap and water before stitching.  Also, be careful if you're using the newer "waterless" cleaning gels.  Some of them can discolor fabric.
padding hooks for crochet
10 years ago
 pad small hooks by cutting the tips off knitting needle tip protectors. For large hooks,use the pads used for pencils at an office supple store. This is less expensive than purchasing the pads sold for this purpose. This works well for those with arthritis.
10 years ago

Wash your crochet hooks every so often in dishwashing detergent. This eliminates the built-up oils from your hands, making the hooks slide through the yarn easier.

10 years ago
Rub the point of your crochet hooks over waxed paper periodically to clean and smooth the tip.
10 years ago
Periodically check your gauge as you crochet an item to make sure it is the same. If you have relaxed as you became familiar with the pattern, change to a size smaller hook. If for some reason you are tense and working more tightly than usual, go up a size.
10 years ago
Even "no dye lot" yarns can very slightly in color. Check closely when buying large amounts.
on that note......
10 years ago

Always check dye lot numbers when purchasing yarn, and purchase the full amount needed plus at least one extra skein.

(Now we all know how hard THAT is to do.  )

10 years ago

To convert grams to ounces and vice versa, remember 100 grams equals about 3 1/2 ounces.

Multiply the number of grams by .035 to get the number of ounces you will need.

To convert ounces to grams, divide the number of ounces by .035 to find the number of grams needed.

10 years ago
To avoid "splotchy" colors, if you suspect the yarn you are about to purchase may have been on the shelf for some time, look at the portion of the skein that has been covered by the label for tell-tale signs of discoloration.
Types of yarn and suggested hook sizes
10 years ago

Sock, Fingering, Baby          B-1 to E-4

Sport                                   E-4 to 7

D. K.                                    7 to I-9

Worsted, Afghan, Aran          I-9 to K-10

1/2Chunky, Craft, Rug          K-10 1/2 -M-13

Bulky, Roving                       M-13 and larger

10 years ago

Letter Hook Size          Number            MM
A                                                        ?                           2
B                                                        1                         2.25
C                                                        2                         2.25
D                                                        3                         3.25
E                                                        4                         3.5
F                                                        5                         3.75
G                                                        6                          4.0
7                                                        7                          4.5
H                                                        8                           5

I                                                         9                          5.5
J                                                       10                           6
K                                                    10-1/2                       6.5
L                                                       11                           8
M/N                                                   13                           9
N/P                                                    15                          10
P/Q                                                                                 15
Q                                                                                    16
S                                                       35                          19

9 years ago

Starting a new ball or skein

Once you move onto bigger projects,there will be times when you need to start a new ball of yarn or skein of thread.

It’s best to do this at the start of a row.
This way, it will be easier to hide the tail of the yarn and keep your work looking tidy.

 Take the new yarn and wrap it around the hook.
 Draw up a loop and continue crocheting.
 Leave a six inch tail and tie a loose knot to keep it in place.
 When you’ve completed your item untie the knot and weave in the ends.
This method can also be used when you have to change yarn in the middle of a row.

9 years ago

Loose ends

If you are working to a deadline, don't forget to account for time to sew in the ends.

 It can sometimes take a long time to finish a piece. When you sew in your ends, try to make it as invisible as you can.
 Take your time. Make sure that whatever method you use it is secure.
 If you are afraid your ends won't stay put, then wash the item.
 Any ends sticking up can usually be clipped if you have left a long end and sewn much of it in. Here are some tips on how to deal with your loose ends.  

    Use long ends of six inches or longer and sew them in as much of them as possible.
 Little pieces may stick out after washing and if you clip the pieces having only left a small strand, soon there will be little left and it may come apart.

   Don't sew over two strands at once, because it gives a bulky look.
 If you want to sew over both ends, then you could sew over one of the strands and then bring the other one up to the next row or round, and sew over it there.

  Try to sew ends in on the wrong side of the work.

  Don't pull too tightly as you weave or your work may pucker.

 A yarn needle works best to weave in loose ends.  For doilies,
 a yarn needle will be too big and a sewing needle will damage your work.  You will need to use the crochet hook. Weaving in yarn ends is necessary for neatness and to prolong wear. With the wrong side facing you, thread your needle with the end of the yarn. Carefully weave the needle along the back of the stitches about two to three
 inches on a diagonal, gently pulling the yarn end. Weave the other yarn end in the opposite direction. When finished, gently stretch the fabric in all directions so the fabric doesn’t pull. Trim any excess yarn ends.

9 years ago


Gauge is the number of stitches per inch and the number of rows per inch produced when working with a particular size of yarn and a specific hook.

Gauge varies from crocheter to crocheter, even when they are using exactly the same yarn and hook. To get beyond this problem a swatch, or small sample piece is made in the stitch pattern using the size of yarn and hook.

A swatch will help you determine if you meet the patterns intended gauge.

For the best results, make a crocheted swatch of at least 6 inches square and then measure the stitches in the center of the swatch to determine gauge.

Often a crochet pattern doesn’t suggest a gauge swatch.
It may say instead 4 stitches and 4 rows = 1 inch.

To make a swatch, make about six inches of chain. Lay the piece flat on a table.
Count how many stitches there are in one inch. This is your stitch gauge.

Next, count the number of rows in one inch. This is your row gauge.

Row gauge becomes important, when complicated stitch patterns repeat after a number of rows. If the shaping must take place at a certain row and your row gauge is different from the pattern gauge, shaping won’t be done at the proper time and your garment may not fit properly. Usually, if your stitch gauge matches, the row gauge will be close enough for most purposes.

If your gauge is larger than the one described in the pattern, use a smaller hook try another swatch. If your swatch is smaller, then you'll need to increase your hook.

As hooks vary between manufacturers, you may find that switching hook brand can help you to reach the right gauge.

 A swatch should  be at least two inches square.

 Always make a square swatch – it’s easier to make an accurate count

 Try not to force your tension, but crochet just like you always do.

  If you naturally crochet tightly use a size larger hook than recommended

  If you naturally crochet loosely, use a size smaller hook than recommended.

  If your foundation chain is too tight or too loose begin the pattern with another size hook.

  Always measure the swatch on a hard, flat surface.

9 years ago
Left handed crochet

Working crochet left handed is just as easy as working it right handed. The methods for forming the stitches and holding the hook and yarn remain the same, you simply use your left instead of right hand. Patterns and instructions are generally written for right handed people. Therefore, remember to substitute left for right and vice versa. This is the only adjustment you will need to make. The easiest way to learn crochet if you’re left handed is to sit opposite another crocheter and mirror their movements.

 If you’re using a book for instruction, you can take the illustrations to a copier and ask thenm to make transfer image copies. This flips the images over. If looking at diagrams on the internet, keep a mirror next to your monitor. Position it so that you can view your monitor through it. The mirror will flip the images to make them left hand interpreted. Any image editing program, like Windows Paint, will allow you to reverse diagrams before printing out by doing a “horizontal flip”. Usually though, it can be easier to change the settings on your printer so that it reverse or mirror image prints.
Sometimes, you may have to take a few minutes to prepare if you’re a left hander, but the amount of effort is minimal and will save you hours that could be lost trying to figure out how to reverse instructions.

Cross stitch tip
9 years ago
 Use the Right Needle

Not all tapestry needles are the same size.  Generally, you should choose your needle based on the type of fabric you're using.

General Guidelines
When Selecting a Needle

11 or 14 count fabric use needle size 24
18 count fabric use needle size 24 or 26
22 count and higher fabric use needle size 26 or 28
9 years ago

How to get the yarn to flow through your fingers

There are traditional methods of holding the yarn but when it comes down to it, the way you hold your yarn is up to you. You must be comfortable with the flow and be able to control that flow. This will come with practice. Usually, crocheters wrap the yarn around their fingers.

The best thing that you can do to make sure that your yarn runs smoothly is to make sure that your hands are clean and have no residue of hand cream or similar on them. You can experiment with guiding the yarn in back of your index finger, bringing it in front of your middle and ring fingers, and then guiding it in back of your pinkie.

The looser flow will help your gauge if your work tends to be too tight because your yarn pulls or drags.

If you’re working too loosely, hold and feed your yarn.

9 years ago
SINGLE KNOT FRINGEfringeFold specified number of strands in half. Insert crochet hook through piece from the back and hook fold of strands.


Pull strands halfway thru piece to form a loop.


Bring ends thru the loops.


Pull ends to tighten.

9 years ago
f5Complete steps 1-4, then tie one half of each fringe together with one half of adjacent fringe.
9 years ago
f6Complete steps 1-5, then tie another row in the same way as in step 5.
9 years ago
Free-standing paper towel holders work well for holding balls of thread.
9 years ago
I cant believe I never thought of using a paper towel holder! So simple and makes so much since! Thank you for the tip!
Counted cross stitch
8 years ago

To Begin

Find the center of the graph. For most patterns this is shown with arrows or a bold line. Next, find the center of your fabric. An easy way to do this is to fold the fabric in half vertically and "pinch" with your finger to make a small crease. Open the fabric, fold in half horizontally and make another "pinch". Open the fabric up. The two creases will mark the center of the fabric.

Knots on the back will show through, so do not use any knots to start or end. To begin stitching, bring the threaded needle up from the back of the fabric leaving about a 1" tail of thread behind the fabric. Stitch the next 5 or 6 stitches over the tail. Clip off extra thread. To end off, weave your needle back through the last 5 or 6 stitches and clip the thread short so as not to leave a loose tail.


There are two methods. The first method is to work a row of half stitches (////), then work back (\\) to complete the X's. Use this method for most stitching. The second method is to complete each X as you go. Use this method for vertical rows of stitches.

It is important that all the X's are crossed in the same direction. That is, the top thread of the X should always slant in the same direction (either or /). It does not matter which way they slant, but if they are mixed the finished piece will look uneven.

Relax as you stitch. Your stitches should lay flat on your fabric and not distort the holes or the fabric.


Backstitching is a running stitch (not an X) used to outline an area or to form lettering. In the graph, the words "I Like You" and the strings on the balloons are done in backstitch. Normally you use one less strand of floss for backstitching than you use for cross stitching.

Carrying Your Thread

Sometimes a color will have only a few stitches and then "jump" to another area. Most of the time you should end off and start again, other times you can carry the thread along the back. Just jumping from area to area is easier than starting and stopping, but sometimes the thread will show through. This can be a problem if you jump a dark thread over an unstitched area of light fabric. In general, you can carry the thread to another area if the jump is short, the floss color is light, and you are jumping over a previously stitched area.


When your stitching is complete, wash in cool water using a mild liquid detergent. Rinse well. Do not wring, but roll in a clean towel to absorb most of the water. While still damp, place face down on a terry towel. Place another cloth on top of the needlework and press lightly with a warm iron. Let dry. Then frame or finish as desired.

I have never had to wash my thread first, but if you think it might bleed, you should wash it first, before beginning to stitch. I use DMC floss and it has NEVER run.

8 years ago
I'm not sure if this is where I'm supposed to put this, but up at the top where you were talking about putting your pattern on a magnetic board with magnetic strips? A friend of mine gave me a really nice one as a gift. It's actually supposed to be used for knitting charts, but it would work beautifully for cross stitch also. I used to have one that was meant for cross stitch, but I like this one better, because I can close it up and put it away. Here's the link if you want to take a look.
8 years ago
That is exactly it Shawn!  That one is very nice since you can close it up. The one I have doesnt....I may have to invest in this one!

Any Knitting Tips
7 years ago


I am teaching someone to knit this summer and I have been gathering some tips for him.  Like wind your balls up before you start, store your yarn in plastic totes, but they have to easy to open, keep your gauges because you can make a blanket out of it.

Does anyone have any to share?

Thank you.


7 years ago

I always make a copy of the pattern so that I can highlight or write on it without spoiling the original. I do this for knitting patterns, crochet patterns and cross stitch charts. I use safety pins for stitch markers. Elastic bands on the ends of the needles to keep the stitches on in between sessions. I hope these are useful tips and good luck to you and your friend with the teaching/learning knitting. Debbie

This post was modified from its original form on 16 Apr, 8:06
Deborah O.
7 years ago

Hi, thank you for the wonderful tips.  I haven't thought of photocoping your patterns.  It makes sense because if you are travel, you can bring the copy with you.  And if you lose the copy, it may appear to be the end of the world, but it is actually not.  Because the original is at home.

Which is good for him because he is a trucker and he is planning to bring his knitting with him on the road. (He will not be knitting and driving at the same time.)  But it is a very good tip for him.

Thank you again.