The precious resource: yarn

We've invited Anne Merrow, Interweave spinning and knitting video producer and eMag editor, to share some exciting details about our  workshop video with Lily Chin.


Lily explains the magic length of yarn needed for the long-tail cast-on.

As a world-renowned knitter and crocheter, Lily Chin goes through a lot of yarn. It takes me a lot longer to use up my handspun than it does to spin and ply it, but Lily might be able to keep pace with my spinning wheel!

With so much yarn running through her fingers, Lily has learned a lot of tricks, which she shares in her new videos The Knitter's Toolbox: Lily Chin's Techniques and Tricks for Savvy Knitters and The Crocheter's Toolbox: Lily Chin's Techniques and Tricks for Savvy Crocheters. Some will make your life easier and some will make finished garments more polished, but my favorites are the ones that save yarn.

The Long-Enough Tail

When I have barely enough handspun to knit a project, I wind up doing the cast-on over and over— even though it makes even the best handspun look a little tired after the third try. It just seems like such a waste to have more than a few inches languishing at the end of my needles.

So when Lily showed me a little formula that helped me estimate the right amount of yarn for my long-tail cast-ons, it saved me a lot of ripping out. Lily explained that because of the geometry of a knitted stitch, I could get pretty close by multiplying the width of the cast-on edge by three and adding ten percent. Lily explains just why this trick works and shows you other uses for this rule of thumb in The Knitter's Toolbox.


By reserving yarn for seaming before the foundation chain, Lily saves yarn-and weaving in.

Seams Smart

When it comes to the end of a knitting or crochet project, I just hate to stop early in order to leave enough yarn for seaming. Instead of guessing on seaming yarn at the end, Lily has figured out how to plan for seaming yarn from the very beginning. At the beginning of the cast-on or foundation chain, she measures off enough yarn to join pieces at the end, saving yarn and also eliminating two extra tails that would need to be woven in.

I've been knitting and crocheting for years, but the new ideas in Lily's videos have changed the way I wield a hook and needles. From new ways of starting a project to clever ideas for measuring gauge, The Knitter's Toolbox and The Crocheter's Toolbox are full of terrific tips. Check them out before you start your next knitting or crochet project!

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