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We have a new warehouse denizen at Atlas Drive! And this time, it is not a bird (maybe we’ll explain this later). His name is Nathan and he is settling in just great. 

One of the questions we always ask ourselves when looking for a new person for Atlas citizenship is “Can he or she knit, yes or no?”

We can’t quite decide which is the better answer: someone who doesn’t knit at all would probably be very, very good at filling orders, since the goal is to simply read the packing slip, find the yarn that matches up with it and then move on with zero percent lollygagging. Whereas a knitter will read the packing slip, find the yarn and then oooooohhh and aaaaaaahhh over it for half an hour, pat it (sorry, y’all—we do) and think of a bunch of things to make with it. Which type is the better hire is a question that is unanswerable.

Other questions arise whenever there’s a new person in the warehouse. “How does the espresso machine work?” “What time does the paletas stand around the corner open?” “Has anyone ever actually SEEN Kay?”

And of course, “What does DK stand for?” That is one of the great Mysteries of Knitting (a 437-part series coming soon to a very exclusive streaming service).

The other yarn weight designations make perfect sense: lace is lacy, chunky is chunky, and fingering of course bears a striking resemblance to long skinny fingerling potatoes that are ideal for a salade Niçoise.

But DK? No one knows.* Man- and womankind have conjectured for centuries, to no avail. I mean, sure, there have been guesses.

People have thrown runes, dunked sticks in water and read the ripples, followed the predictive trails of eclipses and comets across the sky, had a few extra cups of tea just to read the leaves. Even alectryomancy has been applied (it’s a real thing and it involves chickens and it is nuts), but no, no one knows what DK stands for.

Perhaps “DK” stands for “DON’T KNOW.” It makes as much sense as other popular guesses.

And so it remains a mystery, never to be solved. You’re welcome!

A Question . . .

Are there any Mysteries of Knitting questions you might like addressed? We’re happy to take suggestions and research the answers as thoroughly and exhaustively as we have with this one—just let us know in the comments!  

. . . and a Giveaway

In the interest of getting you to think about unsolved knitting mysteries, here’s a little giveaway.

The prize? DK weight yarn, of course, fresh from MDK World Headquarters, lovingly packed up by Nathan (who does knit).

How to enter? Two steps:

Step 1: Sign up for our weekly newsletter, Snippets, right here. If you’re already subscribed, you’re set.

Step 2: Leave a comment below with a mysterious knitting question. What have you always wondered about?

Deadline for entries: Sunday, May 16, 11:59 PM Central time. We’ll draw a random winner from the entries. Winner will be notified by email.


Oh, and welcome, Nathan! If you think this all seems perfectly ordinary, you’re gonna fit right in.

About The Author

DG Strong took up knitting in 2014. He lives in Nashville with his sister, her rat terrier and a hound dog named Opal. He has a blog of drawings and faintly ridiculous rambling called The Psychopedia—there are worse ways to spend your afternoon.

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  • All of the bits of information we never stop to consider can turn out to be fascinating. So I looked this up. Fingering yarn was originally called knitting yarn. When it was doubled, it became double knitting yarn. Hence DK. Too prosaic. It could be daily knitting, for its versatility. The signature yarn of MDK.

    • How can I easily figure out how to use a different weight yarn for a pattern and how much I need? I often have a perfect color for a pattern but it’s the wrong size. Sport is hard to find and I seem to have DK but not fingering when I need it. The struggle is real

    • Hey, thanks for the fascinating tidbit!

      • Does it or doesn’t it? The cast on row count as the”first” row?

        • Does it matter if you pull from the center of the ball to knit, or if you start with the end that’s on the outside of the skein?

    • Why did someone invent those silly double-pointed needles with the bend in the middle?

      • When and why did the “throw over” method of knitting start?

        • It was to do with the position of the wrists. The older version had wrists facing down towards the lap and holding the needles more like pencils. The newer “more ladylike” version twists the inside of the wrists upwards so they are open, causing the knitter to work more slowly, and more injuries to the knitter, but looking more “feminine”.

          This is not dissimilar to childbirth – once we all used to do it squatting – instinctively more comfortable, fewer injuries – the current fad for on our backs is due to Louis 14th wanting to see what was going on (all his wives and mistresses gave birth as a show before the court to ensure that the baby couldn’t be substituted and the royal line of succession changed) which leads to more tearing, damage and injury.

        • Something about the English thinking knitting was lower-class, so “ladies” began the throwover method. This is what I’ve read, don’t know if it’s accurate!

      • Why can I never find the needle size I need? Also, what is the best way to store circulars?

        • I use clear pencil bags (usually bought up when the ‘back to school supplies’ go on sale) with holes for a 3 ring binder; they are all in a thick 3″ binder folder, zipped into their respective bags.

        • I always warm them up in a sink of hot water before using, then stretch out straight. Some of the plastics are impossible to work with if you don’t do this first.

        • I have a series of zip loc bags standing up in a box with the circs loosely coiled within. Sharpied the sizes. Other brands would do just fine.

      • What is the precise time point when new yarn (ooh shiny!) becomes stash yarn (blah, boring, must buy new yarn) and why is it only 48 hours after the end of the fiber festival?

        • Hedonic adaptation.

        • Why can I always remember how to do ssk and k2tog but I always have to look up m1r and m1l? I have a serious problem with right and left anyway…

        • Where do all the stitch markers go?

      • Not sure, but I can’t live without mine. Cables rock and I can’t knit one without that weird, dippy, double point needle!

        • How is it, that whenever I purchase a new, 5-needle set of dpns, within a very short time, I have lost the 5th needle? Every.Single. Time.

        • How come I think I can “shop my stash” but I never have the precise yarn I need? How come the patterns I choose don’t match the yarn in the stash?

        • Love the J shaped cable malt way better: les chance for the stitches to accidentally fall off while I knit the first half of the cable

  • Here a mystery question, What does it mean to “bind off loosely”?

    • That instruction always makes me think of Stephen West’s video encouraging you to think “loosey goosey thoughts” while binding off

    • I will often use the next needle size up for the cast off so it is slightly looser.

    • Good question as loosely is relative to what?

  • how do you know which weight a yarn in your stash is, when you’ve lost the ball band?

    • (1) Use the “WPI” wraps per inch method. (2) knit a swatch and measure the stitches per inch. (3) compare it so some yarn in your stash that still has the labels. (4) take the yarn to a yarn store and compare it to similar yarns with labels on.

    • Wraps maybe, I once saw a chart.

    • Look for mini tool – yarn gauge by Katrinkles

    • Wraps per inch

    • And how do I know what fiber my yarn is made of if I’ vs lost the ball band???

      • And also, how can I tell how much yarn is on a ball without a band? I have 10 balls of a lovely unbanded yarn, no idea how much there is though. It was a gift from my daughter who traveled to peru.

        • Weigh 1m or y with electric scales. Then weigh the ball. Divide big number by little number = answer.

      • I like the bleach test. Put an inch or two of yarn into a small glass jar. An empty spice jar is perfect. Cover with bleach. Wool dissolves in a day, acrylic doesn’t.

      • Try the burn test as used by sewists to identify mystery fabric. If it burns it is a natural fibre and if it melts it’s acrylic. Don’t burn the whole ball – just a short length in a saucer or similar.

        • I appreciate the afterthought that made you mention that you shouldn’t set the whole ball of yarn on fire.

    • There are lots of resources out there to help you work this out based on ‘wraps per inch’ 😀

      • How does my stash grow? Do they multiply on their own?

        • It’s the stash elves who can’t wait for Christmas.

    • Ooh that’s a good one Mary Ellen! I want to know that too…

      • Yes good one for me too. Why doesn’t someone invent a yarn size tester like we have needle size testers.

        • i use a pencil with a 1 inch mark, and don’t wrap the yarn (because I tend to tighten it), I just place it behind the strands of the skein and count the wpi

        • There is a yarn weight gauge! Check out Katrinkles website for the Yarn Weight Gauge – you just pop your yarn in the groove! The only place I see it now is in the mix and match mini tools.

  • Is there a ‘correct’ end of a skein of yarn to pull the middle ‘start’ piece from? Perhaps to get less ‘yarn barf’ when it is pulled out?

    • It depends on the brand of yarn you are using. Companies wind their skeins differently. I prefer to use from the outside because it is easier to tell how much yarn I have left as I’m using it.

    • And why does the big blob of yarn always come out when you pull from the center?

      • Because the winder had a huge yarn vomit and didn’t correct it. Yarn vomits drive me nutz when I wind skeins into cakes. They actually make a sound when they happen. Malabrigo yarn winding is a real pain.

  • Vocabulary is a good place to start. PURL? Doesn’t have much context in English. According to Webster the word is akin to the Norwegian word for ‘ripple’. Now it makes sense!

    • Why is circular knitting a spiral? After all you do join first to last stitch. In crochet you make “raise up” stitches to start the next round.

  • Mysterious knitting question: Why do those woven-in ends always pop out at the most in opportune times?

    • That drives me crazy!

  • It’s always been a bit of a mystery to me how knitting every row in circular knitting produces stockinette stitch but knitting every row in flat knitting produces garter stitch.

    • This is exactly what I planned to say. People can explain how, but nobody can explain why.

      • Because when you pull the loop of yarn through the loop on the needle, what might be called the loopy bit of the yarn that is over the needle falls to the back to the two strands being pulled through. Clear as mud, eh?

  • How do you know how much yarn to use in long tail cast on without having either a) a small ball of yarn you need to cut off or, even worse, not enough and you need to re do 104 stitches because at 90 stitches you suspect you don’t have enough for the required 110 cast on, but hope does spring eternal and you try really hard to make it work, but of course, it doesn’t?

    • Long tail cast on leaves a nicer edge than regular cast on. I always have trouble with the length too, lol!

    • THIS! And don’t tell me “wrap around needle and count” because that never works. I’m always left with too much yarn because I’m convinced that you should only have enough yarn on the tail to do half the stitches but that never really works either.

      • Cable or crochet cast-on so the tail matters not?

    • And why exactly should I even bother to do a long tail cast on? What exactly is so special about it?

      • I never use long tail cast on. I learned a different method when I was 12 and could never use any other method. I think what I do is called “knitting on”. It works. And when I want to start a project I don’t want to learn a new cast on method, I just want to start a project!

      • It’s the quickest cast on

        • No – the quickest cast on is the back loop.

      • Why don’t knitting needles have measurements on the side, wouldn’t that be handy?

        • Why are skeins tied the west they are?

        • Knitters Pride smartstix have inch markings on them. I get mine from

  • How I can knit for a while, measure it, knit a few more rows, measure and get the same result, repeat for an hour.

    • Why is it when I knit a sleeve- measure 3 times. Adjust for my long arms. Knit and try on. All seems perfect. Shape shoulder & join to body. Sleeve is miles too short. Blocking doesn’t help.

    • Why is my row gauge always so far off when I get the correct stitch gauge.

      • I second that question! And how do I fix the problem of having too few rows when my stitch gauge is correct?

    • Ha! I just posted about the same thing before reading the comments!

    • And after an hour of it being the same length, next time you measure it’s 2” too long!

  • Does the Queen knit? Always wanted to know.

    • I have seen pictures of the Queen knitting as a child or WWll. The real question is: Does she still knit? I haven’t seen it on the Crown.

  • How big should you stash really be?

    • When you finally look at the selections of yarn and say, “Move along, nothing to see here.” Which means there is no such thing as enough. We are addicts. I may have to start a rehab for craft supply addicts – as long as it has fascinating colors and texture, we have to have it, even if it is the scratchiest yarn ever made – ooh, what a pretty color!

      • Is “rehab” code for “opening a yarn store”?

  • When I offer to teach someone to knit, why is the answer almost always “Ha ha no” ?

  • Why is brioche called brioche?

    • Maybe because there is a similarity between the stacked stitches and the french buttery bun made by inserting a small ball of dough into a larger ball of dough?

      • Why do I think I have every needle size I could need until I start a new project and realize I do not.

      • What?

  • DK = Divine(ly) Knitting

  • Why does the cat always wants to sit on you lap RIGHT NOW when you’re knitting?

    • What exactly is a yarn snob and who would create such a judgy word? Ok, technically that is two questions

  • How did “knitting” get started? Two sticks and some Woolly Mammoth fiber??

  • Why is buying new yarn so much more appealing than using stash yarn I already own?

    • Because it’s new and hasn’t been languishing next to all the other yarns you have. This phenomena also happens to those of us that are quilters too, but with fabric.

    • Good question! I have more yarn than the LYS but I never seem to have what is called for in the pattern I want to knit.

      • I think this is an important issue to get into too, because i’m always in the same boat, unless I want to stripe everything….

    • 100% resonance here with this deeply spiritual question!

      • Yep, that’s the winning question right there. Why??

  • Why do the British call ‘fingering’ weight ‘4 ply’? 4 sounds like a lot, compared to a ‘single’ ply which is also fingering weight. A ‘4 ply’ seems like it should be lighter than a ‘DK’ (like “summerlite 4 ply’ compared to ‘summerlite DK’. Very confusing to me!

    • The British also refer to all yarns as “wool,” regardless of the content. 🙂

      • European yarn weights where everything is by ply, but here you can have different plies in different weights. How do I figure out what is needed for a project?

        • You can have different plies in your plies and they can be plied differently! (ie. Woolen or worsted spun)

  • Why does blocking stay? I have had small miracles occur during blocking that have fortunately not disappeared after.

  • So if DK means double knit ( as in DK weight), what exactly is double knit?

  • Probably not a mystery but I’m intrigued by double knitting. Also, I would like to work in your warehouse

    • Maybe a contest and the winner gets to do a couple of days as a guest worker!

  • Knitting needles are numbered with whole numbers, sequentially…..except there is no 12, but there is a 101/2??

    • This is my question, too, except I want to know why, when translating from US sizes to metric sizes, there is such a big jump from a US101/2 (=6.5 mm) to a US11 (=8 mm)?

      • That one always puzzles me too!!

        • I’m just completely mystified by the basis for US needle sizes (and missed sizes). I use metric because it makes sense and there is a 3.0 mm!

  • I have zero problems laddering down into my knitting to pick up a dropped stitch (I’ve even managed to figure it out in brioche!) but dropping a stitch on the edge feels like the end of the world. Is there a trick to fixing edge stitches that have popped off and unraveled?

    • Yes! 10 rows day just put out a brief video that shows the way. It is genius.

    • “Maryna at 10 rows a day “just had a free lesson on this very problem yesterday. Ie- dropped edge stitches.

    • Well this happened just a few days ago on a cotton dishcloth I am working on. Major caveat: it’s probably not going to work with any other yarn! I spent a good while thinking about how a stitch is made—c’mon brain, you’ve done it a million times, can’t we just make a stitch already & pop it back on the needle?
      I came up with a very simple solution, probably because it was a travel knitting situation & I didn’t have great wifi on the road. So I made a slip knot as if casting on, knit it to complete the row, & called it good. Let me emphasize this was Less Than Good, because it was too lumpy, or so I thought. Moving on! The cotton edge of a dishcloth can absorb a lot, even before use! I can’t even see that little knobby bit now. This may actually work better with wool, especially smaller weights. No actual research to back this up.

    • Great question! In 60 years of knitting it’s happened more than I’d like, but always been remedied with ripping back to wherever the edge stitch was still there…Or faked and fudged if it was in sock heel….

  • Mme Defarge, the woman who knit the names of people to be guillotined in the French Revolution….remember that book? We read it in 7th grade, maybe??? Did she knit their entire names or just their last names? If the latter, were there cases of mistaken identity with the wrong heads lopped off? (Asking for a friend) And was the book “Tale of 2 Cities”? (Asking for a different friend)

    • I can’t answer your first question, although by the time she got around to coding traitors’ names in her knitting, Mme D was a hard, hard woman. I don’t think she would have cared if a wrong head was lopped off, as long as a head was lopped off. She had a few anger issues. And yes, it was “A Tale of Two Cities.”
      Also, Madame Defarge is my hero for busting the sweet, harmless granny knitting stereotype.

  • What weight is mohair really? Is it lace because it’s so dang skinny, or is it bulky because of the halo?

    • Some or it knits like aran (or worsted ion you are in the US)

      • You’re telling me that aran and worsted mean the same thing?!! I’m amazed. I somehow thought that aran was heavier, but only slightly so compared to worsted.

        • Hi Jean. Well, I’m thinking of the now discontinued Rowan Kid Silk Haze Trio which knitted as aran. As for aran and worsted I’m often stymied by US patterns that call for worsted – it’s not a weight that is available in the UK. Sometimes a heavy DK will do it, but mostly I need to use an aran that is a slightly lighter weight than the average. So I’ve come to see aran and worsted as ‘the same’ weight but you are right – they are not the same thing.

      • Whoops – typos.

        Some of it knits like aran (or worsted if you are in the US).

  • My mystery question is: Hey, world why can’t we all agree on just one system of needle sizes?! (British, American, metric?) What gives?!

  • Gauge is a mystery wrapped in a conundrum.

    • So many mysteries!!
      In fair isle knitting, how can you keep the single stitches of color from disappearing? Mine always get swallowed up in the background, making the motifs look like they’re missing something.
      Welcome Nathan!

    • Profound! And yes, agree!

  • How different are US and metric needle sizes?

    • How can I organize my stash? It has become so unwieldy that I recently bought some more yarn because I could not find what-I-know-I-have-somewhere. Even I know that this reflects a problem.

  • Everyone says steeking is cool but I’m not convinced. Can steeking go wrong and can it be fixed if it does?

  • Nothing beats casting on backwards.

  • How can one pattern be written so clearly and another using basically the same symbols be so confusing?

  • Why do I measure a piece of knitting in progress, knit on it for a long while, measure again, and the measurement has not changed? (Or worse, is shorter?) I think Stephanie Pearl-McPhee referred to this as “the black hole of knitting”.

  • Why does yarn get tangled sometimes when pulling from the middle?

    • Easily solved. When you finish caking the yarn from the skein, set the cake down and recake it! You end up with far less tension in the cake of yarn and it feeds so much more easily while you’re knitting. I always do that and never end up with a mess while working on a garment or other knitting project.

    • Because when winding to create the cake or ball you run into areas where some out of it hanker messed up and you hit a loose patch of yarn which then creates yarn vomit, and the end result is you get a yarn barf when you try to pull it to knit, etc.

  • How does anyone have the patience to spin yarn and then knit with it? I “need” my yarn to be ready to go (and I am typically a patient person).

    • That one’s easy, Cynthia. While you are spinning something, you buy some yarn to knit with, then your spun yarn when it is done goes into the handspun stash, which never has quite what you need, so you buy some more yarn, and then some roving, because spinning is really fun!
      And then occasionally some handspun gets knitted too….

    • What are those tiny bits of straw like material in some wool yarn. I have always heard “its from washing”. Who washes with straw?

      • And why don’t they remove those bits of straw before twisting the skein?

      • Hey Connie, it’s called, technically, VM, for vegetable matter. And if you ever see a raw fleece, you see a LOT of it, because 1) it becomes obvious how crimpy/curly wool is and 2) it catches everything, due to scales/ lack of smoothness of the fiber. And it’s awful hard to remove, some of it just breaking into teeny pieces when the machines comb it out. The worst, though, are sweetgum balls! Weed seeds.

      • Yes. That’s funny! Literally?

      • Sheep eat plants. Plants like to get stuck in wool. It did not get removed in carding or washing so it ends up in your yarn. Even cotton sometimes has other plant material caught in it. Ever tried to brush weeds out of long dog fur? Same problem!

  • If we travel to Nashville, can we come visit MDK headquarters? You can even put us to work in the warehouse for a day!

  • Mystery question: why is the one knitting needle that I need the one I can’t find?

    • Easy answer! Because it is already in a WIP.

  • Why is garter stitch, which is all knit, have the name garter stitch?

    • They actually knit long strands of garter stitch and used the strips as garters to tie the stockings up just below the knees. At that time they hadn’t figured out knit 2 purl 2. Since knitting was done in the round (except for the aforementioned garter stitch), purling probably hadn’t been figured out yet

    • This is my guess about garter stitch and stockinette stitch. Back in the day, knitting was very useful for long stockings worn by kings. Check out royal portraits if you want to see. So the part that covered the leg was knit in “stocking” knit, all smooth and then the “garter” part that needed to have a little traction to stay up or be pinned up to their undies was knit in garter stitch. Plausible? I think so!

  • Does anyone actually use square needles? They seem to have disappeared. And if a, say, US6 square needle actually produces the gauge of a US7, why not just call it a US7?

    • I love my square wooden needles (cubics).

    • I use them and love them! Wish I had more. And I must be really weird…I like the ones with the sort cords…they’re even harder to find!

      • How can a person have hundreds and hundreds of balls of yarn in a stash, dozens of projects on needles, but nothing to knit when they just want to pick up something mindless and knit?

        • Another question i have also wondered!

  • Why do we get yarn guts? Particularly on cotton.

  • Can someone ever have too much yarn?

    • Blasphemy!! Never!

  • Why do mistakes usually only get noticed many rows later?

  • Why do designers say example 27 stitches per 4 inches after blocking. Why not say what guage should be in instructions. Drives me nuts.

  • Why do companies make yarn that splits? Why don’t they make variegated colours, such as red white blue, or yellow green or colours of flags?

  • The metric system of needle sizes makes sense (2mm needle is 2mm circumference, etc.) but what is the American, British or old Canadian system based on and why do they make no sense (eg 5mm = 8 in the American system. 8 what?)

  • Where, oh where do all my stitch markers disappear to?

    • The dogs eat them.

    • They are all under my couch cushions. I think I have everyone’s missing stitch markers buried deep in my couch.

    • Sorry, but they are in a pile right next to my missing socks!

  • Why is it that when you need a stitch marker I can never find one and when I don’t need them I have many.

  • I’m chugging along on my daytripper cardigan and reading about steeking. What is this ribbon that some people use to reinforce the seam? Where do I get it? What about adding the button band before cutting? Is that a good idea? I bought a needle felting thingy but at what point should I use it? Before cutting? I joined your zoom about steeking but I still have questions

    • Why are there fewer stitch markers all of the time. Does my dog think they are treats? Does our roomba find them palate cleansing?

      • They are in the black hole with the Legos, the other earring, and sock.

        • And Tupperware lids.

  • Who was Lord Kitchener and how did he get involved with stitching?

  • Why can an American pattern for a shawl take 8 pages, while a Japanese pattern for a quite complicated sweater pattern is only one page long?

  • How did Americans sometimes end up with different names for yarn weights and basic crochet stitches than Brits? Particularly with crochet stitches where the same name can mean something completely different depending on where the designer lives.

  • Why do some knitters purchase yarn by weight, and others by yardage??

  • How did the Kitchener stitch get it’s name?Was it created in the Kitchen? Was there a person with said name who dreamed up ways of overwhelming others?

    • It was named after Lord Kitchener in WW1 – a method of finishing off socks being knitted for the troops in the trenches which did not rub their toes and exacerbate their foot rot (ie trench foot). I learned this from a TV show.

  • What is the history of knitting? What are some of the earliest “found” knit objects? And where were they found?

  • Is worsted DK weight.

  • Are there any leftie knit patterns?

    • Why is it so hard for a right-handed knitter to learn to knit left-handed? I want to learn to knit backwards (left-handed) so I can make a bobble without turning the knitting back and forth a bunch of times. Til then, I avoid bobbles in knitting (they are so much easier in crochet!).

    • No, we are discriminated against on that. A left-hander should write a pattern and have right-handers figure it out. Learning to knit is a bear.

      • Yeah, totally. But crochet is even worse, at least with knitting, I’m still going on the right direction. I started a crocheted vest once, faithfully following diections for making the right front and then at the armhole discovering it had turned into the left front. WTH?

  • Have only wondered this for 2 weeks when I encountered my first ever Armhole pattern instruction to: “RS, bind off 6 sts. at beginning and end of next 2 rows.” Doesn’t a bind off look significantly different on RS and WS? Am I overthinking this banal question?
    And, thanks to the knitter who looked up the story behind “DK”!!

  • Why don’t dyers use a different color of yarn to tie off skeins?

    • Little Skein in the Big Wool uses a separate black string to tie off skeins, and I thank her for it every time I unwind one

    • Due to a video I just saw on dyeing for rugs, it looks like they tied the skeins before they went into the dyepot, so no Big Monster Knot of loose yarn develops. And then the ties got dyed with the rest of the skein. But there may be other reasons, too.

    • This will be my official very first first-day proclamation when I am elected president.

  • Why do I only want the expensive yarn??

    • We know quality when we see it or we are easy pickings for a scam?

  • How did we wind up with two such different ways of knitting (throwing and picking)? And who invented that thing where you just put the skein around your neck?

  • Will I eventually have time to knit all the things I want to? Also, welcome to Nathan.

  • How can my stitch count be right, but my row count be wrong?

  • My mysterious knitting question is how do I keep the cat out of my yarn while I am knitting?

  • Why do patterns provide (blocked) gauge? Do they all mean it that way? It would be so much easier, faster if the gauge listed were “unblocked”.

  • How much bacteria grows on a spit splice?

    • Apparently saliva is anti-bacterial – so hopefully none.

  • Why isn’t there a way to reinforce the buttonhole side like there is for the button side (example of using ribbon on the back of button band)? The buttonholes seem to need reinforcement as well so as not to stretch out or pull on the band making it look wavy.

  • Increase and decrease stitches. Why do many choices 😉

  • Is “old Norwegian “ cast-on only used by elderly Scandinavians ?

    • No, elderly Americans also use it! But a similar question would be, in what way are the Twisted Germans twisted?

    • I don’t know but this is my fave question so far!

    • Why are those holes at the underarm of a sweater or at the corner of a sock’s heel gusset so near impossible to avoid and why does it drive me crazy till I get them closed??

      • Mine too!

  • My question goes way back. I can imagine someone petting a sheep, pulling out long fibers that spin together in your fingers eventually ending up in a ball. Maybe watching Weaver Birds suggests weaving that yarn—is there a knitting bird? Someone with opposable thumbs figures out a hook or some sticks can make something with that string and voila! Not overnight but obviously it happened and I’m eternally grateful. As complicated as lace can be, it is a progression, an evolution, one I can see in most types of knitting. But what seems like a sharp left turn and around the corner, and the subject of my actual question, finally, is… how did someone come up with brioche? I realize this is unanswerable. I’ve recently learned this technique watching Nancy Marchant videos and wonder. (Yes, she tells its history but that only goes back so far, not to the someone who had that original crazy idea.)

  • Why is knitting so addictive? I could knit all day,all night and anywhere I go! I was never crafty until I learned how to knit. My name isTracey and I’m a knit-a-holic!

    • Hi Tracey, I’m Gloria and I’m a knit-a-holic too.Lol.

    • Hi Tracey, my name is Patricia and I’m a yarnoholic.

  • Why did my mom’s generation not know that you could knit with yarns other than 100% acrylic? Maybe I would have appreciated knitting more when I was younger if I had access to yummier yarns? But I love you anyway Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

    • They knit with acrylic because all the good yarns disappeared after the soft, easily washable orlon yarns started being sold in dime stores and stores were driven out of business. Then the nice orlon yarns disappeared and we were left with acrylic, and nasty acrylic at that. My stash was down to one hard ball sized ball of red wool yarn and a small handful mystery yarn when I started spinning.

  • Did Deborah Kerr knit?

  • When was knitting invented and how did the first knitter figure out how to do it?

  • I am getting such a chuckle from these comments, thanks! My question is sort of related to knitting…..well, he’s a knitter so I’m going to pretend it is. How did we get so lucky as to have the pleasure of reading DG Strong on a regular basis? His writing is truly awesome.

    • Where did the word ‘colorway’ come from? What’s the matter with ‘these colors were used’ or ‘what color are you using’? Colorway????

    • I second that!

  • Why has Ann never written another novel. I really enjoyed her 1st “Bowling Ave” ..and I also listened to it on audible. This is a great mystery to me. I really think Ann has lots more to say, in her entertaining voice, — may have yarn in there?, –either way I would certainly love to hear / read it.

    • This one! I agree! I loved her “first” novel!

  • How many WIP are too many?

  • Love the drawings!,,And. D.J Strong! And MDK!

  • Does it make a difference if you use yarn from the beginning of the skein or the end of the skein, because the yarn is spun in one direction. (With the grain or against the grain – what’s the difference?

    • I always run the yarn through my fingers and wind or re-wind it in the direction that runs smoother on the skin. Just think, that friction would be fighting you with every stitch if you did it the other way…

      • Which brings me to my Mystery of Knitting: Why do center-pull ball or skein manufacturers NOT KNOW THIS??? Why to they make their skeins WRONG, so that they have to be wound or caked again so that they come off the ball or cake correctly?

        I once had a skein of a certain US wool headquartered in Nebraska. I ran the outside strand through my fingers — it was the “wrong” end. I fished inside and got that end of the yarn… stroked it and IT WAS WRONG TOO. I started hand-winding the skein, and SURE ENOUGH, I came to a knot, with both right-ends knotted together. How could this even be??? Wouldn’t the winding machine be set up to cake the pull-skein off the same direction mega-ball or bale or whatever? I really should have written to Brown Sheep and gotten an answer…

  • Can I-chord only be used for idiotic projects

  • I love the self patterning sock yarn. How is it dyed to be this way?

    • Good question! I would love to see a behind-the-scenes demonstration (but probably the companies who create it keep this proprietary information a deep, dark secret).

  • Doubting Kitties live in my house. One of them lives for the moment when a little yarn end escapes bd she can run with it. This was an excellent way to start my morning, y’all! And welcome to the house, Nathan!

  • How can I avoid the surer untwist that happens in yarn with a long tail cast-on? I end up doing all sorts of tricks especially with a single.

    • Yes, would love to have a trick for that, preferably one that does not involve twisting the skein in the opposite direction over and over and over……

  • When I heard the term yarn cake, I get a completely different imagine than ball of yarn. Yet most ball winders produce “cakes.” Then you get people who HATE the term yarn cake. Meanwhile I’m just off to the side joyously winding balls (or cakes) by hand based on what I feel like working with. WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?!

  • I never understood the term ‘reverse stockinette’. What’s reverse about it? It sounds like you’re supposed to be doing stockinette knitting backwards.

  • Why do some people insist there is no knotting in knitting? How many of us secretly make knots and feel guilty about it?
    Also, why is a half double crochet not the same thing as a single crochet?

  • Why is brioche knitting called brioche?

    • Is it related to the brioche you can enjoy at a bakery?

  • Why can’t I stop buying yarn? It’s a mystery – perhaps.

  • How did I not know Ann has written a novel? I am paying too much attention to armhole videos…

  • I vote for Don Knotts.

  • Currently working on a project with 3 balls of yarn. I put the project and balls of yarn in the bag VERY carefully. WHY are the yarns completely tangled when I take the project out of the bag every, single, time?

    • I managed all of the yarn needed for the Eddy Wrap (6-7 colors, maybe?) by making a guide for the strands–a piece of light cardboard with a slot for each color to feed through. Yarn went into the bag, cardboard placed on top, and each skein was threaded through its slot. Then I could pull the next color needed for the next scallop without tangling or getting everything twisted together.

  • The mystery is how to tell fiber content when you’ve lost the wrapper; does it even matter if you like the feel and drape?

  • Are all my missing cable needles partying together and using my missing stitch markers as hula hoops?

  • For a long tail cast on for socks, pulling the yarn the length of my left arm gives me enough for a sox – about 70 stitches – I use that as a general rule and if I need 120, 2 pulls etc.

  • Why does my sweater gauge swatch always, always, always lie? No matter that I use the same needles, use the same yarn, knit it in the same way as the sweater (flat or in the round), wash it, and lay it flat to dry. My sweaters all end up a different size than I intended.

    • Yes! I make big swatches and do all the math and block it and it still comes out different in the garment.

  • How did people learn to knit before youtube? I crocheted granny squares for 30 years….until….

  • DK aka Double Knitting as you so rightly say means double fingering weight or double “2ply jumper weight” in the UK. I.e. 2 of those held together. I discovered that recently on a back podcast of Fruity Knitting.

  • Does yarn ever wear out? How many times can you frog a project?

  • When I reply to several comments in the same thread, or write a new one do I have to put my email address and name each time???? That is the REALLY BIG QUESTION.

    • That is my mystery question too… Why do I have to rewrite my name and email each time, even when the box is checked saying ‘Save my name [etc] for the next time I comment’… But I love these Atlas Insider posts so I won’t complain.

  • Do weavers ask questions like this? (my actual question – not trying to be ironic).

  • Should I teach my left-handed teen to knit in the usual direction or “backwards” (which would be easier to learn but would require also learning to reverse patterns)?

    • I’m left-handed, and I knit backwards. I never changed anything to a pattern, other than occasionally changing the word ‘left’ for ‘right’. So far, I knit lace, stranded color work, sweaters, socks, … of course, my finished objects are mirrored, but that doesn’t really bother me.
      When I watch a complicated tutorial, I put my laptop in front of a mirror.
      I tried to learn to knit the ‘normal’ way, right-handed, continental, but it just wasn’t as fun and relaxing as knitting left-handed.
      And also, I wanted to prove my grandmother wrong, who always told me that left-handed people ‘just can’t knit’.

    • I learned the English (I think) throw method, with the right finger, which is probably right handed. Continental may be better for lefties, but having learned the other way, I’ve never really been able to use it. So just show both and whatever is most comfy, she’ll use.

    • Whatever comes naturally to her without overly frustrating her. Knitting leftward is fun. You have to remember that when knitting in the round, the front is the back, and left is right. In straight knitting, left is right also applies. No problemo.

    • Teach the “usual” continental style. I’m left handed and I love it. I learned it from a Craftsy video from Lorilee Beltman. Fabulous teacher!

      • My lefty daughter also learned continental from that same Lorilee Beltman class. I was able to teach her some basics, but she really learned from Lorilee.

  • Does it make a difference in your stitch/row gauge which end of the skein you start knitting with due to the twist in the yarn?

  • Why doesn’t The NY Times Spelling Bee game allow the words marl and steek?

    • Marl is also a word in geology, referring to a sedimentary rock composed of near-thirds of clay, silt, and sand. Well, that is how I learned it. Now Google is saying a carbonate rock with significant percentages of clay and silt. Darn’d science, always changing and self-correcting.

    • Been wondering that, too. Steek may be too technical. (Spellcheck here doesn’t recognize it.) But marl? Seems mainstream to me and no squiggly red line.

    • Agree 100!!!!

    • I’m with you! Drives me crazy!

  • When I’m knitting on my couch or in my favorite chair and I inevitably drop a stitch marker, where does it go??

    Seriously, I need the answer to this question.

  • I’m a knitter (mostly), but have a mysterious crochet question. What’s the deal with double crochet in Britain being single crochet here in the US? How did that happen?

  • Why is there not a 6.5 or a 5.5 size needle I need one have even asked signature needles to make me one.

  • Why are there so many, many things that knitters “just know” that is not written down anywhere? Most recent, my friend had purchased a pattern and I told her, there is an “erratum” for that pattern, ya know. She said WHAT?

  • Why can’t we all agree on names for basic colors, like “blue” or “red”? And why don’t all yarn manufacturers put the color names on the ball bands? Maybe that’s a new job for Nathan! He can start with Lett Lopi and move on to Rowan Handknit cotton! Welcome Nathan!

    • Who decided to call garments for the upper body by such unappealing names? The idea that sweaters are for sweating and jumpers are for jumping makes me want to eschew both and knit nether garments instead. Except that socks also have painful connotations.

    • And why is sport yarn called “sport”? And what is the difference between it and DK? I have never understood sport yarn.

  • According to Wikipedia, knowledge of the purl stitch was lost during the Middle Ages. How did it get lost, and how did people figure it out again?

    • Purls must have had some dark magic. My guess is that Irish monks kept the secret of the purl stitch and during the Enlightenment, an abbotess leaked the method for purl. Or it was in the Book of Kells.

  • Why do patterns so often say “Sleeves (Knit 2)”? Do many knitters forget to knit a second sleeve? Or is this a friendly warning about ‘sleeve island’ and a reminder to commit early to that second one?

  • Do patterns include the yarn needed for swatching or should you add an extra ball? Who doesn’t need an extra ball? If the extra is not included, why not?

  • Does the yarn seem to multiple at night in the warehouse when no one is around?

  • Why does your family always insist on trying to have a conversation when you’ve just begun counting stitches, or just begun a complicated part of the pattern?

    • Here, here!

  • Here’s my question – why do those bigger size needles (US#13 and up) hurt to work with – or am I just holding them wrong?

  • Will the 437-part series have kits available?
    Welcome, Nathan!

  • Why can’t I ever find a tape measure when I have 3?

  • What is the origin of the word “purl?”

  • So many mysteries, but most are solvable. I love that most of the terms have history behind them; that being said I wonder about the first usage of “I Cord”?

    • I’ve heard it’s the ‘polite’ stand-in for the original name—Idiot Cord (because even an idiot can make it)! Was this Elizabeth Zimmerman, or did she re-invent I-cord?

  • Why is Worsted called that? Another, it makes no sense. But it is pronounced almost the same as Worstershire, which also makes no sense. Is it something to do with the English language?

  • Who named it the knit stitch when the whole thing IS knitting? I mean, even when you’re purling, you’re knitting, right?

  • Does it matter which end of yarn you start with when you are winding your yarn from a hank? And which end should you pull from the resulting cake/ball? I have yarn “nap” fears.

  • Which is correct-to ravel or unravel? Doesn’t unravel mean to put it back together? (That idea makes my brain hurt!)

  • Is there help out there, for people like me, that have too much stash?

    • Who invented knitting charts and why am I completely unable to knit using one? Is it a diagnosable learning difference?

      • Opposite problem – I can’t knit from the text. Different learning styles. It’s why we have a bazillion YouTube videos for the same processes too.

  • How come I have at least 8 WIPs and still can’t stop thinking about casting on more things?

  • why don’t crossword puzzles include “purl”? And many don’t include “knit”…

  • My personal stumper….why does my stash just keep growing? I know I have some beautiful yarn in there, but for some reason beyond my comprehension, it just keeps growing….

  • Is it OK for white people to knit traditional First Nations designs, such as Cowichan Sweaters?

  • Why are knitting needles sized so differently? I get the metric part, but why a difference between U.S. and English?

  • What IS “jumper weight” yarn??

  • Why can’t I ever find the beginning of the skein to start winding. It’s always buried in the middle and out comes the “blob!”

  • When I do short rows in the round … why does it leave holes on the right side of my back yoke but not on the left side? Can’t believe I’m asking this after decades of knitting!

  • How do folks become accomplished knitters? How do they learn how to do the things along with learning how to fix the things? Where is the class for how to frog, tink and whatever else one does to fix glaring mistakes, the can’t go forward mistakes (I go forward with a lot of stuff that are now design elements thanks to casapinka)?

  • How do sheep feel about the weather we knit from their wool? Do they have a color preference?

  • Why is knitting often a gateway to other fiber-related crafts? It’s like fiber ADD

  • Is the cast on row counted as row one? Which side is the yarn tail on when you want to have the “right side “ facing you?

  • What are there so many small needle sizes (1mm, 1.25mm……2mm, 2.25mm, 2.5mm, 2.75mm, 3mm…..) then once you get to a 4mm, it’s 4.5mm, 5mm, 5.5mm, 6.0mm, 6.5mm, 7.0mm, 8.0mm, 9.0mm, 10.0mm, 11.0mm etc.? And why is there no US size 12 knitting needle?

  • Why should I care about the twist of my plied yarn?

  • Where do the stitches go when my stitch count goes horribly awry? Off to Boca or Key West?

  • Absolutely loving this.
    You know the other name for DK is sport weight which also doesn’t give a bloody clue as to why, because every sport I have played provides not a dicky bird of a clue.

    My question is, “How many sheep, alpaca, goats, yaks, etc., especially from youngsters from this group (like lambies wool), does it take to make one 100g skein of yarn?

    Ohiyo gozaimasu
    Patricia “Trish” Keene

    • Sport and DK aren’t the same. Sport is like heavy fingering and DK is like light worsted. They can be pretty easy to substitute but not quite the same.

  • I am a “newish” knitter. I see a project (sweater, shawl, etc.) and must have the yarn and pattern. I make the purchase and then the entire scenario repeats itself. So, is it better to have a lot of lovely yarn in an antique cabinet to marvel over or actually finish and wear said project? And for how long can this obsession go on?

    • F O R E V E R . . .

  • I learned somewhere along the way that DK is double-knitted, or double of fingering weight. Sounds good to me! 🙂 I’d love to see a vocabulary list with word origin. “Purl,” for instance. Where’s that come from? Or a speed test on which type of knitting is fastest! I learned to throw, and am slow, but trying continental. (Histories of how we hold our yarn would be a cool topic, too! Portuguese, Norwegian. English. Continental)

  • What is a “ply”? I’ve been to knitting groups where people called their yarn 2 ply or 4 ply and I have no idea what they are referring to. Even worse I was asked what “ply” I was using, sorry I have no clue. Welcome to Nathan!

  • How do you figure out how much yardage you have when the tag only gives ounces (of the beautiful chunky yarn my sister brought back for me from New Zealand years ago)?

  • Is there a cure for “start-itis”?

  • Why did knitters in Peru carry the yarn behind their necks? Seems like it would slow you down….

  • I’ve always wondered about the word “purl”. Where did that come from!?!?

  • Why do I still have questions after MDK experts have done such a good job explaining things? Could it have to do with my memory? Any way, I still wonder how to save that messed up edge stitch?

  • Why does it seem like sometimes you have to pull teeth just to find out how a given yarn is spun (woolen vs worsted)? For my projects, this is often a critical characteristic, yet it’s rarely stated in online yarn descriptions. Arghhh!

    • The quick answer is, if it’s tightly twisted, smooth and a bit shiny, a bit heavy for the weight vs.yardage, it’s worsted spun. The reverse is true; if it’s lightly spun, fuzzy and “wooly looking”, lots of yardage for the thickness, probably woolen spun.
      Being a beginner at spinning, I know I hold the fiber too tightly, so most of mine is worsted. Too bad, because woolen is light and much warmer, with lots of little nooks for air to creep in and hold warmth.

  • Who took my scissors?

  • Do you “always” have to do a gauge swatch?

    • If you want it to sorta fit, yep!

  • It’s a British thing. It was explained to me in great detail in a knitting shop in Cambridge (not the one in Massachusetts) by someone with a very interesting, and intense, accent from some very specific place I can’t remember. I have no idea what she actually said, but it was a lot of fun listening.

  • Are there any knitting term “sniglets?” Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Why are so many knitters trying to knit cables without a cable needle?

  • What is the best way to do an SSK?

  • I’m just starting a round blanket. What is the best way to knit a swatch? Or shall I just start, and see what I think of the gauge?

  • Why are there so many ways of describing a wrap of yarn around the right needle?

  • I wonder what was used for the first stitch markers?

  • Loved this. You are a funny guy 🙂

  • Why are some yarn stores so welcoming and other feel like you wandered into a sorority house that is filled with people who look down their nose and make you feel so uncomfortable? Like was I supposed to call ahead and give you my knitting references and a few sample knits and gauge swatches?

    • Insecure knitters. Gauge is never right, have hired help to fix their mistakes so they don’t have to admit it, actually use a knitting machine and never hand-painted anything but rectangles. I went into one where you were frowned upon for touching the yarn! WTH.

  • Why do I never need the extra skein when I buy one but I always need an extra skein when I don’t’ buy one?

  • Kitchener stitch? I always wonder what a Kitchener is? Any ideas?

  • This has been a fun read! I’d love to know the logic behind US needle numbering and manufacturing…I assume it’s something to do with metric equivalents, but it’s odd that there is a US10.5, and no US12, US14, or US18. And while you can occasionally find a US19 after a US17, the next needle is normally a big leap to US35. And don’t even get me started on the lettering/numbering for the bigger crochet hooks…

  • Why is it that no matter how large your stash is, you need more yarn for certain (most) projects?

  • When shopping for yarn for a pattern, is there a conversion chart to help? The chances of finding the same yarn at a local store seems ever so slim.

  • Another confusing yarn weight is aran.

  • The way US knitting needles are numbered…missing some, some added. Makes no sense at all!

  • Why — with all the many scarves, cowls, and shawls I’ve knit — do I never have one that matches my outfit?

  • Question. Why do I get so excited about all this fabulous yarn at MDK, buy it, plan the pattern, then sit back and hoard. Wait, there is another new project I want to be a part of, I need to get that too, and so on. I have always been a one project at a time knitter. I must finish one before I start another. This month I needed a break on a project that Ii had frogged YEARS ago. I am about halfway through and need a break from the monotony of the same yarn and knitting o a sweater, so I was attracted by another new yarn and project. Will I ever finish this sweater? Will I be as excited about another “Old” project as I was when I initially bought it? When will I finish this basic sweater? So many mysteries!!!

    • Oh bless the yarn goddess above!!!! I am not alone!!! I will start a rehab for yarn addicts.

  • Why are the manufacturers so hellbent on producing chainette yarns? The cut ends unravel without mercy. I looked up how to avoid this. The method is not only fiddly, but the result is downright fugly.

  • Why do people say, when they see you knitting,, “I WISH I could knit.” ?

  • Should I match my cast on to my bind-off to my project? Plus how do I do I do that and how do I choose bind-off and cast on other than most stretchy? These are only 2 of the world questions I ponder.

  • Why do the US and Uk have the same needle sizes, but numbered oppositely?

  • How does my yarn get tangled when I carefully wound it before putting away? Why, when I have a drawer full of needles, do I never have the right one when I start a new project? (And where is my #7 16″ circ when in a misguided impulse to knit two sleeves at once, I bought two of them?)
    Thanks for the contest and welcome Nathan.

    • Why do I tell myself I’ll only knit from stash, very adamantly, and then buy yarn the next day to add to the stash?!

  • Why do we call it”knitting” when nearly half the time we are purling?

  • What? It doesn’t stand for Donna Karan? Mon dieu!

  • Is there a secret to not twisting your stitches when joining in the round? And if you do twist them, is there a way to fix it without starting over?

  • Where did the descriptions for yarn weight come from? Who decided DK, Sport, etc were even meaningful?

    Thank you

  • I’ve always wondered: Do more people knit in countries with colder climates (to make garments to keep warm) or do people knit equally around the world (for relaxation and the fun of it)?

  • So then, what does DG stand for Mr. Strong?

  • Why don’t designers include the amount of yarn needed or a gauge swatch in with the amount of yarn needed to knit a certain size? Especially when the gauge is measured after blocking.

  • Why does it always feel like such a triumph to turn a heel, even if I’ve done it dozens of times before?

    • I have the same experience! It seems like a bit of magic every time. Heels are so fun.

  • always wondered why some skeins seem to untwist as I knit with them and others – same company, same yarn – do not.

  • I always struggled with BOR. I frequently have to look it up. It means beginning of round, but why not SOR start of round.
    Mary Dyke

  • Is it better to knit the first stitch of a row or to knit it?

  • What was Nathan’s answer to the ever important can they knit question?

  • Why do some skeins wind beautifully and easily off a swift and others are an agonizing mess requiring untangling after every turn? Same methodology applied to each!!!

    • It’s not you, it’s them!! The hankers! I swear a lot when I wind a hank!

  • I always thought it should be NQ. Not Quite sport, Not Quite worsted…

  • Is anyone a monogamous knitter? One project, start to finish, nothing else?

    • Most of the time I am monogamous. I test knit a lot and have a deadline. That’s why I like testing, it makes me finish a project.

  • I have seen the odd ball ‘tagged’ with the end, so pulling from the center is made easy. . .no yarn ‘barf’. . .wouldn’t it be great if every company did this!

  • How do you find the start of the strand from inside the ball?

  • What’s the best way to knit with 100% linen yarn? My gauge is always way off — no matter how small I go on needle size.

  • Double knit was my guess. The why is certainly mysterious.

  • What should I knit next?

  • This is such a fun question! For one thing, I’d love to know why we use the word ‘worsted’ for SO MANY THINGS…worsted weight, worsted spun, and on and on!

  • How do I retrieve a dropped cast on stitch? Very sad to start over, lousy start to a sweater.

  • Here’s a mystery: did I already knit this chart? Did I forget an increase last time, or did I make and extra one?

  • Why does my project never has the same gauge as my swatch?

  • A true lefty here. For once, I would love to follow a pattern the way it is written (garter and stockinette stitches are t e exception. Any tips on how to know if a pattern would do ok with a K2T instead iof the adjustment of an SSK! Complex cables are the worst. If you have a tip or trick there, I’d love to know! In most cases I am just fine with a mirror image of a right or left leaning design.

  • Why are UK and US knitting terms NOT interchangeable?

  • Sweater dresses were popular for a short time in the 80’s. I had two (store-bought) and wore them threadbare! I never seem to be able to find patterns for sweater dresses. How unrealistic would it be to find a good raglan sweater pattern and add about 18″ before the bottom ribbing?

    • If you are slim, that would be fine! Lily Chin had (I think) a dress or two in early Knitter’s Magazines, and I know she had a suit of separates I always wanted to wake up some day and find that I had knit it in my sleep.

  • How can you “not block” a sweater, etc.? I feel like I hear people say that all the time… Does that mean they never wash it??

  • Is there a formula to help substitute yarn without swatching for items like scarves that don’t have a close fit? For example, if DK is double the size of fingering, why can’t I just cast on a set percentage fewer stitches and have the same size finished item??

  • Does anyone have a pattern for socks that have cushioning on the sole to be used for
    as hiking socks? I thought I could just adapt an existing pattern and do a heel flap stitch on the sole… but apparently it mucks about with gauge.

  • i am always captivated by the mystery of how someone first had the idea to putt two sticks and a bit of string together and wrap them around each other just so to come up with knitting!

  • I’ve always wondered why it is so darn easy to make mistakes in my knitting. It should be simple not to. Yet time and time again, mistakes are made in even the most simplest knitting….like how I can cast on 129 stitches and at the end of 12 inches worth of simple garter or stockinette, I only have 128, or 130. And why didn’t I count the stitches every inch or so, instead of waiting so long? All I can say is, knitting is a very humbling experience.

  • When exactly does a WIP become a UFO?

  • What is the best cast on for a rib stitch scarf?

  • So what is double knit?

  • Why do designers create patterns with yarn that is obsolete?

  • Why can some Knitters memorize a lace or cable pattern and not have to follow the line by line directions and I would have no idea what to do if I didn’t?

  • Are there “official” set colors for Faire Isle knitting patterns like there are for selbuvotter and other Norwegian mittens? Or are the Faire Isle patterns less tightly defined in their traditional color choices?

  • Excellent use of the word “lollygagging”.

  • What is 4-ply? I see this on U.K. yarn shop sites. Does it really mean the yarn is plied with 4 singles? It seems to denote a gauge instead. Is it both a gauge and a ply description?

    • Why is purling called purl. I know how to do it, but what on earth does it mean?

  • Why don’t interchangeable circular needles come in smaller gauges? Size US 4 always seems to be the smallest.

  • Who came up with the garter tab? I used it once to start a shawl and hated it.

  • Why do I have a hump in the center of the top of my shawl? No amount of pulling/blocking gets rid of it.

  • Why do designers use SSK for a left leaning decrease when it’s so much easier to knit through the back of the stitches?

  • Why do you never have enough yarn for a new pattern you see?

  • What does Aran mean? It is not very descriptive like chunky or bulky, but then again, worsted isn’t either!
    Love your articles, DG!

  • why are European needle sizes different from US sizes?

  • If I am running out of yarn, will knitting faster make the yarn go farther?

  • Why do we still have to put up with “yarn barf” and why has no one solved that issue???

  • Why is gauge so elusive. Why does my gauge swatch never match the actual knitted object? How could three different needle sizes produce the same gauge? My ongoing struggle.

  • How does my yarn mate and have babies cause I can’t possibly have purchased all that yarn?

  • How have I spent countless hours knitting leftovers into amazing things this past year and still have a ton,bunch,gazillion yards of leftovers left?!!!?

  • What does YF mean in old knitting patterns? Us it the same as YO? Or something else,

    • What needles do you like best? Wood or metal,pointy or not?

      • Another mystery which confounds me: Why, oh why, do yarn companies discontinue absolutely wonderful and popular yarns …which happen to be the exact ones needed for your next project.

  • What’s the most popularly knit item? Sweater? Sock? What abou most popular first knit?

  • Why is pick up AND knit not: Pick up TO knit?

  • Love me some MDK… I have too many questions. Like why do I knit so slowly and why is yarn so darned pretty and why does my stash take up so many bins?? But there’s always room for more DK!!

  • When knitting and the pattern row instructions it says “turn” , do I just turn the needles 180 degrees or is there a special stitch to do before I turn the needles?

  • Why do I always feel that the 3 yards of yarn left over after a project is good for something? And why do I feel guilty if I throw it away?

  • Why is it that color shifting, variagated yarn looks utterly scumptious at the store, but when I take it home its a nightmare of color pooling?

  • Why, with enough stash to stock a small shop, do I never have the right weight, color, quantity or fiber type to make the next project that catches my eye?

  • Why is it that while I’m knitting or sewing something lately I can only think of other things I’d like to work on?!?!

  • Why is starting a new project so exciting, but finishing…not so much? Is this a universal experience or a knitting personality type? Or maybe there is a season for casting on. And a season for binding off. A time for everything…la la la. Now I’ll have that tune stuck in my head.

    • Why aren’t all knitting needle size tools not alike? I have 4 and some needles measure different on different tools.

  • As seen elsewhere in this thread: How to know the weight of the yarn that is “mystery yarn” in my stash. And a related question (because much of my yarn stash is picked up second hand), how to tell what the content is of “mystery yarn”.

  • Why are there so few patterns that show off hand-dye, color shifting yarn? What are favorite patterns? I like Westknits Spectrum scarves but I would like some variety that is not just mindless stripes.

  • How did the Kitchener stitch get its name? From Lord Kitchener? Really? Why?

  • How do you figure out how pick up stitches on a selvage especially if you’ve slipped stitches for a nice edge and 2 out of 3 doesn’t work

  • i find Nathan an incredibly wonderful young man, he is knowledgeable about your store, and if you dont know, he is an incredible cook also. signed, Nate’s mom

  • How to keep track of all those swell knitting tips I read and think ‘Yes, that is ever so clever!’ vow to incorporate into my next project but it slips my mind? Then when I need it I can’t remember where I read it or where I saved it (if I even saved it). Ie. Jogless stripes, weaving in ends, magic knots, how to unkink cables and a bajillion others …

  • Why do swatches lie? When I fibbed, stretched the truth, boldface lied, I had to sit in the corner for a long time thinking about what I had done and then have a talk with Mom and then fix whatever problems I caused. A swatch never has to do any of this. It just sits there in it’s smugness and doesn’t change at all.

  • Mystery question: after I knit my hat rim with a 4mm and do 2k/2p stitches for a while, I then change to 4.5mm and start knitting away. However the rim stitches are always so much bigger than the regular knit stitches despite the larger needle size. (Admittedly there have been write-ups about this but I still haven’t wrapped my mind around it.)

  • What is the science behind the overwhelming need to cast on all the things!? Love this mysteries of knitting post with the cartoons.

  • My knitting mystery: When is Kermit going to reappear?

  • Just how do they get wool yarn to become “Machine Washable”?

  • What is the best age for children to learn knitting? I recently taught a group of children from 7-13 and I honestly couldn’t see a trend toward one age getting the hang of it vs the other. I learned at 8!

  • Why do skeins of yarn come in weird amounts? 176 yds/161m (neither is regular) Why not just normal numbers? (And DK stands for Daily Knitting, of course!)

  • Does yarn go bad?

  • Why can’t I figure the solution to my knitting question at exact moment I need an answer!!

  • Why are there so many different descriptions of the same cables? (e.g. 2/2 LC, LC4, CL2)
    Were the instructions always different, depending on where you’re from, or was there once a Pangea of knitting instructions, before we all drifted apart?

  • Why is my time to knit disproportionate to my desire to knit? I want to knit all the time! Also, I have enough stash to open a store, why do I rarely shop my stash for my next project.

  • What is the secret to unrolling a skein of yarn so that you never end up with a ball of mess on the floor?

  • Where do all the stitchmarkers go?????

    And don’t say “in my sofa” cause I checked and only found less than I need!


    So you had me at “paletas stand”

  • Who ever thought up brioche and why is it named after bread?

  • These questions are so great! I’ve had a good chuckle reading them. And mine is… is there a stitch marker fairy? Where do all the lost ones go? Will they be waiting for me over the rainbow or lost for eternity in the abyss?

  • How did sportweight yarn gets its name?

  • When doing a gauge swatch, I know that #of stitches is important to match, but how do I adjust for length. Mainly with decreases for armholes and sleeves?

  • If you buy a skein of yarn and immediately cast on, technically was that skein a part of your stash or not? How long does a yarn purchase need to wait to become stash?

    • Nah, not in stash if on the needles. Once on the needles it is a Work In Progress.

  • Why don’t they print the needle size on the needles in a dark color so I can see it. Grey on grey is not cutting it!

  • Why do patterns call for a specific yarn? What’s wrong with using Brand A as the yarn instead of brand B?

  • My burning question: why won’t short row method stay in my brain???

  • Why do people think knitting backwards is better than purling? I will never understand the fear of the purl stitch!

  • Mysterious Knitting Question: after years of reading this blog & all of Ann’s posts about blocking, The Joy of Blocking, The Miracle of Blocking Lace, Good Times to Be Had in the Basement with Six Dozen Pins, etc. how did I not realize that anything lace would not only be challenging to knit but require serious blocking? With either pins or wires or as Jen A-C instructs, BOTH? And will need to be blocked AGAIN after every washing?! I will tell my friend, the recipient of my first lace project, the Rib Lace scarf from Field Guide # 15, never to wash it. Or just mail it back to me if her nieces get peanut butter on it…

  • How do the neatly wrapped balls of yarn in my basket unwind and tangle up with at least 5 other yarns when the basket is sitting undisturbed for months?

  • Why was that “eyelash” yarn so popular back in the 90’s? How was it even thought up? I kinda liked it though.

  • Why when knitting do some yarns become twisted in a spiral, requiring me to secure the yarn to the ball and dangle it from my knitting until it unspirals? Is there any way to avoid this situation? It is maddening!

  • Back some 50 odd years ago when I knit with mohair it was a bear to knit with, and impossible to rip out if a mistake was discovered. Now I hear and see these yummy knits holding mohair with another yarn. Is this another creature all together? Is mohair silk blend easier to use???

  • When I started knitting lo, many years ago, I avoided DK because I didn’t understand it. Now it’s my fave weight. Go figure!

  • Who invented knitting?

  • Why does the rule of thumb for long tail cast on NEVER work for me? Also, forget knowing how to do them, how do I remember the difference between English and Continental to even tell people which one I know?

  • Do you think felting was discovered by accident or did someone actually decide that they wanted to “full” their socks?

  • Why does the dog always need to go out when you get to the most complicated piece of your knitting? Do I am actually hoping someone has an answer.

    • Why can I easily remember how to SSK and K2tog but I always have to look up how to M1r and M1l? Of course I do have issues with right and left in life anyway…

    • Who was the first person to use German Short Rows? I’d like to meet him/her!

  • Number one knitting mystery: why are the swatch and the final garment never “quite” the same gauge???

  • Why do end up with two little flappy ear things when I do Kitchener stitch?

  • Stockinet? Stocking-net? Stalking-net? Stocki-knit? What is stockinet? And why does is not come up on spell prediction? Big questions.

  • Who invented the circular needle and when it’s first know use?

  • An unanswerable question why do we feel compelled to hoard yarn. My stash has out grown the rooms it lives in.

  • Why is the last bind off stitch always loose and wonky?

  • My question might not be expert level difficult, but I have wondered about why knitting all rows as PURL will give you the same garter stitch effect that you get when you knit all rows as knit?

  • How is it my children can go an hour without saying a word to me and then seem to urgently need to speak to me while I’m trying to count stitches?

  • Why, oh why, can’t I bring myself to have more than one project going at once? My friends are happily casting on one, two, three new projects while in the middle of multiple other projects. Oh sure, if I’m in the middle of a sweater, I’ll start a small shawl / scarf to take on a plane trip. Mostly likely though I won’t get back to the sweater until that is complete. Would my knitting joy be more complete if I could let go and happily cast on more projects? Or would I constantly berate myself for all my unfinished projects?

  • I have another question which really really bothers me: what is the best way to store double points so that # better than throwing them all in a shoe box and 2 I can tell at a glance what size each set is.

  • Why does a knitter lose all sense of sanity when faced with the newest “perfect” project and ignore all the other projects waiting to be done at home?

  • Why am I afraid to knit sleeves?

  • Why is there only one “half sized” needle? 10.5?

  • Why do I loathe purling?? Knit all day no problem, purl 5 rows and I dread it. The end result is the same – my fabric grows, my project gets. Closer to completion – but darn it I do NOT like to purl.

  • Why is it when I start a project I never have the right needle needed? Could it be they are used in another project? Could it be the needles used are too slippery or too grippy?

  • Why isn’t it easier to contact a pattern designer when your piece doesn’t look like the picture in the pattern?

  • Why no standard for cables both terminology and charts. Some so confusing I’ve opted to not do a project.

  • Is my husband actually annoyed that I am knitting? He says it’s fine but seems secretly annoyed.

  • Why is the print showing the size so small on the tiny No. 1 and 1.5 needles? They should use specific colors to designate the sizes.

  • Why, when my stitch markers fly off of my needles, do they ALWAYS end up in the crack between the sofa cushions? (And a bonus question: why do my stoppers NEVER a seem to stop the knitting from slipping off overnight??)

  • Why do we knit faster when we’re running out of yarn?

  • Why don’t knitters, no matter what continent, use metric measurements for needle sizes?

  • There are a fair number of mystery questions for which there are answers in the MDK article library. I have so many articles saved and revisit them before I search YouTube or do the Google.

  • Why is a purl stitch called a “purl” stitch? Is “purl” an ancient swear word used by new knitters? A name of someone who got the knit stitch backwards?

  • If my stitches are twisted on occasion, am I a confused knitter or is that simply another aspect of my natural dyslexia? Or am just tired and should stop?

  • How to learn to knit faster? I am 60 (when did THAT happen?) and my knitting is self-taught, slow and not very efficient. Can an older brain really retrain my hands? Because you know, I want to knit all the things.

  • Why is brioche stitch named after bread??

  • In all seriousness, where does all my sock yarn hide so that I never think I have any yet when I get around to cleaning there are dozens of skeins? Do they multiple or divide?

  • How do you achieve stockinette in the round (on the right side) without purling?

  • Q: Why does “just one more row” never mean just one more row?

  • Is there a rule that the best stitch markers fall off in the most inconvenient places, like airplanes?

  • Why are there both color numbers and dye lot numbers? Don’t they have a formula for each color number? And if they do why doesn’t it come out the same all the time?

  • I know I’m way late on posting. I actually attempted to post last week, but there was some type of issue with my account. It existed and didn’t exist at the same time. Anyway! My question is: In the times of the pandemic, I suppose, how does a homemaker have the time to get the house clean, tend to the kids virtual school and other needs, and find the time to knit or crochet? I can’t seem to get the time after the day is done. How do those that do, do it all the time? It’s my ideal life.

  • Why is the needle size stamped on the (usually bamboo) needle be dark enough for me to read without a magnifying glass? Not to mention acrylic circulars with absolutely nothing to indicate size without digging out the measuring thingie?

  • Two strands of very fine yarn is equivalent to DK, double knitting. Been knitting since 8 years old. Love knitting Scandinavian sweaters. There is never a plateau in knitting always learning new techniques.. Love Solveig Hisdal and Kristen Wiola Odegard sweaters. Beautifully executed and easy to follow the instuction. I have almost knitted all of Hisdal sweater. Wish she would write more books.

  • I’d love to know more about knitting in code (like they did to send messages during the war). Thanks!

  • Why, regardless of the number of WIP I have and my love for them, am I drawn to cast on a new project rather than knit what’s started??

  • M1L , M1R drive me crazy! How can I remember needle goes in here and then knit there? I wore out pattern pages flipping back and forth getting the instructions on these 2 simple makes.

  • I read somewhere that knitting with wood vs. nickel vs. other types of needles yield a different gauge, which made me wonder what material is used when determining the gauged printed for the yarn?

  • I get that a purled stitch can be imagined to look like a pearl. So why don’t we say/write “Knit and Pearl” instead of “Knit and Purl”???

  • My mystery question is why do I get a completely different gauge when I swatch vs when I knit my actual project? I have so much trouble with gauge that I basically have to stick to shawls and blankets because sweaters never come out right! I love felted things for this reason. The size is supposed to change.

  • Often wondered how different yarn weights were deleoped and why. Why was their a need for sport weight and worsted for example.

  • My questions are usually about origins. Like, how did someone look at spun fiber for weaving and think to themselves, “What if I wrapped that around a twig and pulled more of it through the circles on to another twig?”

  • Why is that as soon as you buy more stitch markers, your old ones start falling out of your couch, your purse and your car?

  • Yarn overs! Big, small, clock-wise or counter-, to twist or not. Definitely a mystery every time.

  • Environmental impact of knitting vs buying a new garment? So many variables, I know but just in general.

  • Where did the word “knit” come from? Knitwit? Knot? Knotwit? Just wondering…

  • When you find a yarn you love but don’t have a project in mind, how do you know how much to buy?? And what is a “sweater quantity” of yarn.

  • Why is blocking called blocking? There are no blocks involved. Why not “sizing” or “stretching” or “settling” you knitting?

  • Why aren’t there half sizes for needles after US size 3 ? Except for 10 1/2 ? I need all the sizes possible to have hope of getting gauge.

  • When using double pointed needles, I often wonder, “Who on earth was the first person to come up with this idea?”

  • Why is shopping for new yarn so much fun when organizing your stash isn’t fun?

  • Probably a newbie question only but how do you count rows to figure out where you are in a project when you took a “pause” several years ago? I never know whether to count the loop on the needle or the really tight stitch by the cast on. I’m amazed Kay could pick back up a 2018 project for travel.

  • Why is it when I want to start a new project I can never find the right size of needle tips in my five sets of interchangeable needles?

  • Why do the yarn gremlins always hide the yarn I am looking for when I have been so careful to put it in a place I just KNOW I will remember? Hmmm?

  • How do some people knit (and purl)) without looking at the needles? In the dark? While participating in a meeting? I wish I were that talented!

  • Why cant I use my stash when it comes to a new pattern. Why do I always buy more yarn?

  • Why is

    Why di I like knitting, but hate finishing?

  • how to “carry a yarn for a border when you are knitting a blanket with a border all the way around.

  • What is the weirdest place you have ever found a stitch marker?

  • I recently made a cardigan using yarn that seems to have been over spun, and there’s some bias action happening in the FO. Blocking once didn’t fix it. Should I bother trying to reblock, or do I just need to learn to accept the diagonality?

  • Where does the term skein come from? And why do we call a skein a skein but a ball not a skein?

  • How do you join yarn in very loose knitting without knots?

  • Okay here is my question: why don’t all designers include metric when they recommend needle sizes? For all the years that I have been knitting, I can never remember how to convert them, and yes I know I can look it up but it always feels like an unnecessary waste of perfectly good knitting time. No offence guys, but American needles sizes make No Sense to me. Some of my needles are stamped with both, but I always get frustrated when the very one I think I need is not. Can we start a grassroots movement here: please, please, please just include both in your patterns? You spent all that time developing and writing the pattern. Just take an extra minute and add metric needle sizing. You will have my undying loyalty, and I promise to buy Every Single Pattern you write. And since I have roughly 8000 patterns in my Ravelry library, that is not an idle promise.


  • What is grafting and why does it sound so painful?

  • What is the trick to finding out what your yarn is made of if you’ve lost the ball band. It involves soaking the yarn for a few days but I can’t remember the full technique. And is this only for wool, or does it work with silk, cotton, etc.?

  • Why can I never find the right needle size for my project, but can easily find one size higher or one size smaller?

  • How and when did someone first think of cabling? How did they realize that creating these tiny pockets of air between the sweater and the skin actually made the wearer feel warmer?

  • Why do we keep buying new skeins of yarn, but the stash never contains the yarn one needs for the new pattern that one desires to knit? And if we buy a pattern, the yarn we need is never in the stash? I think it is like chips and dip…you run out of dip, so you get a little more, but then you run out of chips and have to get a little more to use up the dip…but then you run out of dip…and so it goes. Stash and patterns are much the same. (Wait! Did I answer a question?! It’s still a mystery to me.

  • Why can I never figure out the right length of yarn to use for long tail cast on? I have tried many different methods and always seem to waste yarn or not have enough.

  • Welcome Nathan!
    Mysterious knitting question: How do those tangled up messes get in the middle of balls of yarn? Gremlins?

  • Why does knitting have a double meaning for double knitting? It’s not like we were running low on adjectives.

  • I long ago gave in to knowing I am a process knitter, loving the feel of the work and the relaxation and thinking time of a simple project. Now I have way too much half-done work — moving on to that next fantastic yarn is so tempting! What to do with these projects is my question. (I have seem others donated to thrift stores. A good solution?)

  • I’ve heard people say they knit right-handed or left-handed. What does that even mean? You knit with both hands!

  • Why is it after I post a comment I can never find it on the site?

    • This one turned up but my first one is not here. What’s worse- I can’t remember what I had written.

      • Finally remembered- why is knitting in the round a spiral? Joining first to last stitch would seem to insure it would not. In crochet you raise up stitches to go to next round.

  • Where can I stash a little more yarn in my house, now that the office closet and the space behind the couch are both full? Please don’t suggest the garage — the yarn bay of the garage has been full for years.

  • Who do I thank for twisting wool with sticks? Can’t imagine my life without knitting!

  • Why is it not widely understood how important the grist & fiber content are when knitting a pattern and substituting yarn? I have projects that I want to unravel (I have been known to dismantle entire sweaters) because I wasn’t fully versed in those concepts and just went for weight (ie; Worsted or Aran) and gauge (I do swatch). I’m learning…

  • Here’s a mystery. How did “sport-weight” get its name? Was it used for sweaters in which to play tennis or badminton? Or was it used for knitting football jerseys? Or croquet apparel? Please enlighten us!

  • I get this question all the time as i’m Winding yarn into a ball, how come some yarn comes in a ball and some comes in a skein?

  • At what point does my stash become a library or art collection?

  • Why are knitting needle sizes numbers while crochet hook sizes are letters in countries like the US? And why don’t we just all use metric?

  • I am a continental knitter. Recently I have noticed when knitting stockinet one leg looks twisted. I have watched videos on continental knitting & it looks like I’m doing it the traditional way. I’m wondering why the one leg is twisted looking? Thanks

  • Why- oh why- does another project always look more inviting than the one I am knitting?

  • Who invented DPN’s? Ingenious!

  • Is there a way to keep your tail in a long tail cast-on from untwisting

  • Although I love the mystery of the ‘mobius’, it is a strange fascination. How’d she come up with that? And then there is the Kitchener stitch, the biggest mystery of all. Even after 50+ yrs. I still need a slow video to follow.! How’d they do that?

  • So many questions!

    Why is it called Tunisian crochet? Not that I’ve tried it.

    Why did my gauge swatch match in stitches and then (solely from the weight of the yarn) grew from a short sleeved sweater to a poncho?

    Why am I completely unable to finish a baby gift before the baby is five? I’ve learned to simply gift another baby who is the correct age the finally finished product while pretending that was the intended baby all along to baby’s parents.

    How do I stop stashing yarn?

    Is there any way to correct a cable from above without ripping everything out? May just be a design element too.

    I have more questions but this will do for now!

  • How did a word – worsted – associated with staple length and spinning style – then become associated with one weight of knitting yarn?

  • Yarn weight and gauges and needle size – I LOVE IT ALL!, but why is it so complicated? And the British terminology for the gorgeous British yarns is confusing, or is just me??

  • How do you fix A pulled strand of yarn from a finished hat? It’s not A snag, I have tried tugging on it and picking stitches next to it but I can’t get it back in place! Help!

  • Why is it called purl?

  • Why do I always want to start the newest design I see on your website rather than knitting from my stash of projects? (that 6′ Kaffe throw is calling my name…)

  • How do I work cables without killing my wrist?

  • Why is the needle size I need for a new pattern that I absolutely have to start right now always in a se in another unfinished project?

  • Why would someone use a magic loop when they can use 2 circular needles and knit a circle any size? Why use straight needles when you can use circular for any size?

  • What’s the difference between self-striping yarn, and other multi-colored yarn? Can you tell which is which just by looking at it?

  • I always think of “DK” as DOUBLE KNIT as in, if you knit with a lot of fingering weight yarn, a general rule, not a hardfast rule, is that you can DOUBLE the fingering weight yarn (holding 2 strands at the same time) to more or less equal a DK weight yarn. So, double fingering equals DK.

  • Hey guys
    Firstly, are canadians part of giveaway?

    How do you resize the always sloppy too big slip knot first stitch?

  • Why are some yarns just labeled “wool”? As a sensitive skin person, I’m learning which breeds make yarn that I can enjoy vs scratching my neck to a red mess.

  • The mystery of why purl stitches take longer and have different gauge, when they are just a backwards knit!

  • Where do all of the lost cable needles go? Are the on an island with the orphaned socks?

  • How does a marker that slipped off the needle instantly disappear POOF into thin air? Watch it fall and still it’s gone.

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