As a new knitter, there were some things I knew I didn't know, that I was consciously incompetent about - for example how to make a cable, how to knit fair isle, where to start with double pointed needles, and so on. There were also lots of areas where I was unconsciously incompetent - there were so many things that I simply didn't know I didn't know. It was only through figuring out different patterns and asking questions on my blog, or reading/listening to other knitters that I realised quite how little I knew about the craft. After a couple of years of knitting, I am constantly learning new techniques and tricks, and usually find myself wishing I'd known about them sooner.
To start the series of 'Things I didn't know', I'd like to share some things that have made a significant difference to my knitting. These are the things I do all the time but that I didn't even know existed a short time ago. There are lots more to follow and I hope they will be helpful to some of the newer knitters amongst you, and perhaps serve as a reminder to more experienced knitters too.
1. CONTINENTAL KNITTINGWhen I learned to knit as a child, I had no idea there was any other way to do it and had never seen anyone knitting differently until I was watching knitting tutorials. I have written about this already and really can't stress enough how much switching to continental knitting changed the speed at which I knit and consequently my enjoyment of knitting and of making larger items. You can read the detailed post here which includes some great video links. Edit Jan 2015: There's a brand new comprehensive online class from Craftsy: Knit Faster with Continental Knitting
2. MAGIC LOOPI had no idea it was possible to make a small round object on one long needle - I'd only ever seen DPNs (and they looked really complicated). This was a revelation, and although DPNs are no longer a mystery I use magic loop all the time. If you're new to the technique, this Knit Picks photo tutorial is a great starting point.
3. RUSSIAN JOIN
A common pet hate for knitters if the comments here are any indiction is.... sewing in ends! When one of my friends sent me this Russian Join video it felt like a gift and I try to use this as much as possible (depending on the yarn). If you haven't tried it, you might like to give it a go.
4. SEWN BIND OFF
This is one of the things I tried just a few weeks ago and which has now become my go-to method of binding off. It is totally flexible as it can be as tight or loose as you require, great for socks, hats, sweater cuffs and just about anything else you can think of. You can find a useful video tutorial here.
The women in my family were always knitting when I was growing up but they never blocked anything at all, so this came as a surprise. The first time I tried it (on Mizzle, visit the link for the pictures of a million pins!) the difference was quite incredible. I have since invested in blocking wires and don't consider a project truly finished until it is blocked. You can read how I do it here.
So what are the things you were unconsciously incompetent about but which have made a big difference to your knitting?