How to cast off knitting?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 16-03-2018

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How to cast off knitting can be done in more ways than one. It can vary depending on your project and the stitches you are knitting (is it a purl, is it a knit stitch). Don’t feel bamboozled though, generally you will need a standard two needle cast off to finish off your project beautifully. It is so satisfying to cast off that final stitch, sealing in your stitches to see a neatly cast off piece of knitting. A much needed addition to our collection of Knitting Essentials blog posts, after all if we are going to share how to start knitting, you need to know how to finish it.

We have put together a series of ‘how to cast off knitting’ videos with the help of designer and workshop tutor, Carol Meldrum. Carol is a super tutor who teaches knitting finishing techniques, crochet and many more knitting workshops. It only made sense for her expert knitting hands to share a couple of demonstrations with you all. Carol will cover two needle cast off, how to sort out a baggy cast off stitch, rib cast off and three needle cast off – great for shoulder seams on garments.

How to Cast Off | Black Sheep Wools

Keep up to date with Carol on her Instagram page, she also teaches on knitting holidays around the world. Along with pics of knitting, you will also be treated to some breath-taking scenery.

How to cast off knitting – Standard two needles


1) With right side facing, knit the first 2 stitches.

2) Insert left hand needle purl wise in the first stitch on the right hand needle. (One at the bottom)

3) Lift the stitch over the second stitch on the second stitch on the right hand needle and drop off the needle. You will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

4) Knit the next stitch on the left hand needle. You will now have 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

5) Repeat steps 2 to 4 until you have the last 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

6) Fasten off yarn, leaving a 15cm end. Insert the end through the last stitch and pull tight.

Fixing a baggy cast off stitch


Sometimes when you cast off the final stitch can look baggy. This is the first stitch from the previous row. Watch the video for this on Instagram.

1) To avoid getting a baggy end stitch, work the standard two needle cast off (steps 1 to 4) until you have 1 stitch on the right hand needle and 1 stitch on the left hand needle.

2) Slip stitch on right hand needle, back onto the left hand needle.

3) Insert right hand needle through the back (tbl) of the first stitch. Keep both stitches on the left hand needle.

4) Then insert right hand needle knit wise through the last stitch on the left hand needle.

5) Place the yarn around the right hand needle as normal and knit the 2 stitches together and slip both off the needle.

How to cast off knitting – Rib stitch


Depending on the pattern you are working you may have to cast off in rib. For this example we have used a 2×2 rib of 2 knit stitches, followed by 2 purl stitches.

Cast off using the two needle method in rib as follows:

1) With right side facing, knit the first two stitches.

2) Insert left hand needle purl wise in the first stitch on right hand needle.

3) Lift the first stitch over the second stitch on the right hand needle and drop off the needle. You will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

4) Knit the next stitch on the left hand needle – you will now have 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

5) Repeat steps 2 and 3 once more.

6) Bring yarn forward between the needles and purl the next stitch. You should now have 2 stitched on the right hand needle. Repeat steps 2 and 3 once more – you will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

7) Purl the next stitch on left needle, then repeat steps 2 and 3 again.

8) Continue to cast off in rib as set, following the knit and purl stitches from the row below. Remember to make sure your yarn is in the correct position for knit and purl stitches.

How to cast off knitting – Three needles / Two edges together


Three needle cast off is used to join to pieces of knitting together and will give a smooth firm seam. It is ideal for shoulder seams, why not give it a go next time you are finishing a garment?

1) Depending on the project, the cast off can be worked with either the wrong or right side facing. Here we have cast off with the right side facing.

2) You will need three needles for this cast off method.

3) With wrong side together, hold both needles facing in the same direction, in your left hand.

4) Insert the third needle knit wise through the first stitch on the front and back needles, and knit together. You will have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

5) Repeat step 4 once more, now there should be 2 stitches on the right hand needle.

6) Insert left hand needle purl wise in the first stitch on the right hand needle.

7) Lift the stitch over the second stitch on the right hand needle and drop off the needle. You will now have 1 stitch on the right hand needle.

8) Repeat steps 4 to 7 until 1 stitch remains on right hand needle.

9) Fasten off yarn, leaving a 15cm end. Insert the end through the last stitch and pull tight.

Is there a technique that you would like to see covered on a how to video. Share you suggestions in the comments below.

Yarn used in examples is Scheepjes Softfun.

How to do mattress stitch?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 19-01-2018

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We asked superstar knitting designer Sarah Hatton to help us out with this knitting essentials how to – how to do mattress stitch? Sarah is an established designer who has been designing for many years and has incredible patterns featured in Rowan magazines and her own books. She also teaches knitting workshops and knows a thing or two about gin!
Whilst Sarah was in store teaching we took the opportunity to film a quick video on how to do mattress stitch. Sarah prepared two stocking stitch swatches (in Rowan Big Wool) to demonstrate the technique. Watch the video below or on our YouTube channel.

If you prefer to read the instructions, we have put together still images with our own text to guide you through this helpful finishing technique.

What is mattress stitch?

Mattress stitch is a joining method for two knitted pieces. It is most commonly used for joining two pieces of stocking stitch knitting. Fantastic for joining garments, giving you a practically invisible seam. Once you have got this sewing up skill under your belt, you will want to get that unfinished jumper finished pronto (note to self: get jumper finished!).

How to do mattress stitch

Line up your two pieces of knitting side by side with right side of work facing. Thread a length of yarn onto a sewing up needle and insert the needle under the first stitch at the bottom right of your knitted piece.

Mattress Stitch

Now move over to the left piece and insert the needle under the first stitch at the bottom or your work.

Mattress Stitch

Go back to the first stitch on the right and insert your needle and pull through to secure.

Mattress Stitch

Pull tight to secure, ready to begin the magic art of mattress stitch.

Moving to the left piece (green), insert needle under the first horizontal bar of the knitted row, then come back up with your needle leaving a gap of two bars in between. Move over to the right piece and do the same on the opposite side. There is no need to pull the stitches tight at this stage, leave it so that you can see a laced zig zag of sewing up yarn for the time being.

Mattress Stitch

Continue to swap from side to side matching the rows as you go. Once you have sewn up approximately 5cm – 10cm, gently pull the yarn you are sewing up with whilst holding the start of the seam and watch the two pieces of knitting marry together.
Once you reach the end of your knitted pieces sew in ends to finish off.

Mattress Stitch

What is your preferred seam for knitting? Do you find mattress stitch to be the best sewing up method?

How to Knit a Hat

Posted by Amy | Posted in How to......., Knitting Essentials | Posted on 07-12-2017

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Would you like to know how to knit a hat? I am sure many of you already do enjoy knitting hats, but there’s always room for one more. Plus, it would make an incredible last minute Christmas gift…..knitting a jumper is probably not something to task yourself with at this late stage in December. It is knitted in a super chunky yarn, so you will have it knitted in a flash.

We have created a really simple hat knitted in the round. If you have never tried knitting in the round with circular needles, please continue to read on, it is not as daunting as you think. We wouldn’t call it a quick and easy hat pattern if we didn’t mean it. Once you cast on and start knitting you will wonder why you ever knitted a hat with a seam. As you draw up those last stitches to finish off you will be jumping for joy having tackled a new knitting challenge.

Watch our video here below or on our YouTube channel.

How to Knit a Hat – You will need

1 ball of 100g Super Chunky yarn (Debbie Bliss Conway + Bliss Odin)
9mm 60cm Circular Needle
Stitch Marker
Sewing Up Needle
Pompom Maker (optional)

Cast on 47 sts.

Add in your stitch marker. Join stitches in the round by knitting the first 2 stitches together.
Knit 8 rows of knit 1, purl 1 rib.

Knit all stitches until work measures 20cm. Knit 2 together at the end of last round. (45 sts)

Decrease rows –
Row 1 – Knit 3, knit 2 together. Repeat to end of row.
Row 2 – Knit.
Row 3 – Knit 2, knit 2 together. Repeat to end of row.
Row 4 – Knit.
Row 5 – Knit 1, knit 2 together.

Draw up stitches and sew in ends. Add a pompom in a contrasting colour to finish!

How to knit garter stitch?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 04-08-2017

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To begin your knitting journey, the best place to start is with garter stitch. For anyone who has never knitted before and is wondering what exactly garter stitch looks like, then take a look below……

This is what garter stitch looks like as a knitted piece. The effect is created when you knit row after row continuously, I would describe it as a raised texture of interlocking loops. Garter stitch can also be called ‘knit stitch’ or ‘plain knitting’. So if you are reading a pattern in the future keep an eye out for the different terminology.

What do you think? Would you like to give it a go? We have created a step by step photo tutorial and easy to follow video. The video is worked at a slow pace with exaggerated movements so that you are able to follow the steps. Once you become comfortable with garter stitch you will find your own way of holding the needles and keeping tension that is just right for you and your knitting. Many knitters prefer to keep both needles tucked under their arms or just one needle tucked under. It really is personal preference and before you know it you will have a scarf knitted ready for winter. If you haven’t seen any of our Knitting Essentials blog posts before, make sure you take a look at our How to cast on video before you begin.

How to knit garter stitch?

With the desired number of stitches cast on keep the needle with all of the cast on stitches in your left hand. With the other needle in your right hand insert the needle into the front of the first stitch.

Push the needle through this stitch with the yarn from the ball ready to work with in your right hand.

Bring the yarn around the back of your right needle and down in between the stitch on the needle.

Keeping the yarn in between the needle (not too tight) carefully bring the right needle back and up through the loop of the stitch. Make sure that you don’t drop the stitch at this point (you’re nearly there).

Slide the stitch off the left needle onto the right needle.

Now repeat steps 1-5 until you have knitted the desired number of rows.

Yarn used in video is Sublime Evie Prints.

How to cast on?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting Essentials | Posted on 08-06-2017

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How do you cast on your knitting? Do you have a preferred method? There are many different ways to cast on knitting from the thumb method, two needle, to a cable cast on and many more. Some projects require a specific cast on, such as lace work or a design that requires a more elasticated edge.  We are beginning with the thumb method cast on. This is a great cast on method for newbie knitters and is pretty easy to do. You may find that it is the only one you choose to use once you get started.

If you are new to knitting then we have just the tools to get you started. It may also be of interest to the seasoned knitter. Having knitting tips to hand all in one place is always helpful mid project. With your knitting needle conversion chart and knitting starter kit at the ready, all you need now is to begin knitting. Gather your ball of yarn and knitting needles and follow the step by step instructions below.

How to cast on

Make a slip knot and catch through your needle.

How to cast on knitting
Gently pull the slip knot taught to your needle leaving a long tail of yarn to create the number of required stitches.

How to cast on knitting
Loop the yarn around your left thumb, holding the needle in your right hand (your left thumb is going to act as a needle for this part).

Insert the needle underneath the yarn on the top of your thumb. Get ready with the yarn (that is feeding from the ball) in your right hand to make a stitch.

Bring the yarn in right hand around (under and over) the needle and down in-between left thumb and needle.

Take the loop on your left thumb over the needle to create a stitch.

Repeat steps 3 to 6 until you have the desired number of stitches for your project.

How to cast on knitting | Black Sheep Wools

Yarn used in video is Conway + Bliss Elektra

Knitting Starter Kit

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting, Knitting Essentials | Posted on 27-03-2017

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Before you embark on your knitting journey it is worth setting out on your quest with all of the essential knitting tools. Along the way you will probably add to this knitting starter kit or find you prefer variations, such as working with circular needles rather than simply straight pins. It’s all part of learning something new, settling with what is comfortable and works for you personally. Speak to any knitter and their knitting kit will vary from another. We have just created a guide to what we would suggest are the essentials for a knitting starter kit.

With these few items, all you need now is some yarn and perhaps a pattern if you wish to start making something straight away.

Knitting Starter Kit

The Essentials


Knitting Needles – a selection of knitting needles are always handy to have in your knitting bag when you enjoy working with various weights of yarn. The knitting needles you require will vary depending on what you are planning to make. If you plan to work with a DK (Double Knitting) weight of yarn then 3.25mm and 4mm will be your go to needles for most standard DK patterns. Knitting needles can be made of different materials too – metal, plastic, bamboo or rosewood.

Scissors / Snips – a small pair of embroidery scissors or snips are super useful to have in your knitting kit. It is a good idea to keep them in your knitting bag at all times, as you don’t want to have to go searching at that crucial point in your knitting. Snips are a great invention as you can put a lid on them to protect your rummaging fingers from the blade.

Tape Measure – a very useful tool to have in your knitting starter kit. There is always an occasion where you will need to keep an eye on the length of your piece of knitting. We’ve all been there and done that when it comes to knitting too much and having to pull it back. Staying on track and being aware of how your knitting is progressing is a good habit to get into from the beginning.

Stitch Markers – there are a variety of different stitch markers available, split ring, locking and ornamental. Many people find their own personal favourite as they become familiar with knitting.

Knitters Needle (Sewing up needle) – no knitter can be without a sewing up needle. A must have item whether you are making a project that requires joining together or even if you just need to sew in your ends. A handy tip would be tip keep it in a pouch or attach to a stray ball band so it doesn’t get lost at the bottom of your knitting bag.

Notepad & pen – a very useful pair of items to have to hand to make notes about the pattern you are working on. When you are following a knitting pattern, it is good to get into the habit of writing down where you are up to, so that you can easily pick up where you left off next time.

Crochet Hook it may sound strange and you might think you are now reading the essential items for a crochet starter kit, you’re not, it is still knitting. A crochet hook is a life saver if you drop a stitch in your knitting. Simply catch the stitch and crochet back up to the top.

Non – essential (but still useful)


Cable Needle – once you are confident with your knit and purl stitch and fancy tackling something new, such as a cable pattern, then you will require a cable needle.

Stitch Holder – if you are following a knitting pattern it will often require that you leave a piece of knitting on a stitch holder rather than casting off. You can then free up your knitting needles to knit the next section of your pattern.

Nappy Pins – are mini stitch holders really. Very good for when working on smaller projects, to hold small sections of knitting.

Row Counter – these little gadgets can simply be slipped onto your knitting needle, so that you can manually adjust the number after every row or stitch repeat completed so that you don’t lose track of the pattern.

Yarn Bobbinsare used for colour work. When you need small quantities of each colour you can wrap the yarn onto a yarn bobbin and use it from there. This helps to avoid any major tangles with full balls of yarn too.

Yarn Guide an extra piece of equipment that some knitters find helpful when doing Fair Isle. It helps to keep the yarn from getting tangled when working with two colours simultaneously.

Stitch Stoppers – attach to the tips of your knitting needles to prevent your knitting from dropping off the end when in storage.

Knitters Marking Pinswill help to hold your knitted pieces together temporarily whilst sewing up.

Sara has been looking in her knitting kit, sharing her essential items below on our YouTube channel.

Knitting Needle Conversion Chart

Posted by Amy | Posted in Knitting, Knitting Essentials | Posted on 23-02-2017



When learning to knit one of the first hurdles is understanding knitting needles. There are so many different sizes to choose from for various thickness of yarn, it is important to clarify this before you even begin choosing yarn. Knitting needles can come in many different guises from many lengths of straight pins to double pointed needles (DPN’s) or circular. Have you been given someone’s old set of knitting needles and can’t quite fathom what all the numbers mean? We are here to help!

In the UK and Europe most modern knitting patterns now use metric terminology for all knitting needles. Therefore all knitting needles are sized in milimetres (mm).  This is quite easy to understand as the higher the number in mm, the larger the needle thickness will be.

If you were to find yourself a vintage pattern then you will notice a big difference. Needles were once sized differently, the higher the number, the smaller the needle size, e.g. what we now class as a 2mm knitting needle was actually a UK 14. A UK 14 was the smallest available, with the numbers decreasing all the way down to a 10mm – UK 000.

To add another spanner in the works there is just one more set of needle sizes to keep an eye out for, US sizes. On US knitting patterns you will see needle sizes listed from 0 upwards. Zero is the smallest size knitting needle, in metric a 2mm.

It is always helpful to have a quick reference tool to look back on, so we have created this useful knitting needle conversion chart.

Knitting Needle Conversion Chart

Metric UK US
2mm 14 0
2.25mm 13 1
2.75mm 12 2
3mm 11  
3.25mm 10 3
3.5mm   4
3.75mm 9 5
4mm 8 6
4.5mm 7 7
5mm 6 8
5.5mm 5 9
6mm 4 10
6.5mm 3 10 ½
7mm 2  
7.5mm 1  
8mm 0 11
9mm 00 13
10mm 000 15
12mm   17
15mm   19
20mm   36