We need your knitting help

This crochet and knitting help page has been set up for you to contribute any crochet and knitting techniques and tips you think may benefit the many others visiting the site, and especially, those learning how to knit or crochet. Knitting techniques could be anything from how to pick up a dropped stitch to tips to keep your work even.

Teaching children to knit and crochet
The Teachers and Parent Resource has been developed to encourage children of school going age to learn how to knit (and why to give at the same time). Your help will be much appreciated by them. Here's a wonderful example of what we hope to achieve in many thousands of schools around the world.

Easy knitting patterns
It would be great if you would share with us any simple crochet or knitting pattern for pretty squares, that others would enjoy to knit.

Postal instructions
It will also serve as the place we can collect postal instructions and costs for different countries around the world, and any other ideas to improve on getting the maximum number of squares to Africa in the shortest possible time.

Any great ideas?
We recently had a letter from Anne in Canada, who suggested that non-knitters could be involved too by organising prepaid envelopes for the knitter's squares. Now that's a great partnership idea.

The contributions will appear as a link list at the bottom of the content form below, so if you are looking for knitting hints, just scroll to the bottom of the page, (although it may take a while to collect these tips). Thank you for your assistance in getting more squares, better done, more quickly to Africa. In the meantime, here is our knitting help to start with. Every square helps and will end up in a blanket for an abandoned child or AIDS orphan.

Knitting for profit
If any of you want a way to make some money to pay for the postage and a bit more besides, here is a terrific ebook to help you do just that. Click here to purchase.

Comparing yarn weights, knitting needle sizes and number of stitches

Comparing yarn weights, knitting needle sizes and number of stitches


Different yarn weights (country to country) are being discussed on the knit-a-square forum and in knitting help.

What seems to be most commonly understood, is that worsted and double knit are most likely 4 ply. Therefore doubling it would be closer to the 8 ply we have suggested for the squares. The most important thing to consider is that the squares should be warm.


Descriptions of yarn weights vary widely from country to country and it's all a little confusing.


What we know to be 8 ply in Australia is, according to one how to knit reference: category 2 fine, sport weight or baby yarn in the USA or double knitting (DK) which is the equivalent of British 8 ply according to another.

Hmmmm? Are Australian and British 8 ply the same or different?

Researching further, the recommended knitting needle size for baby yarn or sport weight is only: 3.25-4mm (Australia), 5-7 (USA), 10 (UK).

This did not fit with our recommended 6mm knitting needles size.

And yet our results create a compact 8 x 8" square using 8 ply yarn.

Seeking further knitting help to clarify this situation, added yet another dimension.

It introduced knit gauge. Our knitting instructions are for 32 stitches. 16 stitches on 6mm (10 USA) (4UK), creates a 4" (or 10 cm square. Therefore 32 stitches is perfect for an 8 x 8" square.

And then it became even more complex. The recommended yarn weights for these knitting needle sizes, according to two references, were Aran weight (or somewhere between worsted and bulky weight, or 10 ply UK). Phew!

After some exhaustive searching I could find no reference anywhere to help with South Africa and only a few for Canada. I am hoping the rest of the world's knitters (with apologies) work from one of these three standards, as confusing as they are.

Jill from wool crafting.com , who has reworked the square vest in a crochet pattern for those of you who prefer to crochet, has used light worsted weight (medium#4). However crochet and knitting stitches may not make exactly the same gauge.

For now, and until we are able to create a definitive chart that simply compares each knitting needle size, yarn and the number of stitches to make up a 4" square, it seems the bulk of the recommendations for the ideal yarn weights were as per our knitting instructions.

Worsted weight (USA), 10 ply (UK).

Don't forget to sign up to our ezine, Square Circle for news of the children and their blankets.


Can you help me create this chart?

As you have will have read here, this is a confusing business! Some of the most expert knitting sites have differing views to each other on the subject.

Would you contribute to gathering information for a Definitive Yarn Weights and Needle Sizes Comparison Chart?

This will help us make sure all the squares sent for blankets are the same size and bulk. But it will also be of great use to the knitters of the world what ever they are knitting.

You may like to upload photographs of knitted squares or the yarn you used too. Thank you.

History of knitting, from knotted nets and knitted socks to knitting guilds

History of knitting, from knotted nets and knitted socks to knitting guilds

We researched many of the great knitting sites on the net and other historical references for information on the history of knitting. Most of them cited a similar story from which we were able to establish this basic knitting history.

Knotted nets

Among many other theories, there is supposition that knitting may be connected to the ancient skill of knotting fishing nets. The similarity in spelling is tempting enough. And this concurs with the historical view that knitting was introduced by Arabian seafarers sailing and trading in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Knitting certainly appears to have its roots in pre-Christian times, but the spread of Christianity may have carried the germ of the practice with it. Its evidence in South America, for example, is thought to be as a result of the influence of the Spanish conquistadors. The lack of many surviving examples – fabric and fibres deteriorate relatively quickly – makes it difficult to judge the exact history of knitting.

Knitted socks

knitted socks

The earliest example we could find was these knitted socks, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, circa 300-499, excavated from Egypt at the end of the 19th century. According to the museum, they have been knitted in stocking stitch using three-ply wool and a single needle technique, similar to Nalbindning.


Nalbindning is described as an ancient Scandanavian technique used to produce woollen clothing from lengths of yarn and a single short needle. This method created a tight weave which was suitable for felting and therefore, provided maximum protection from the cold. While this is not considered knitting, it is suggested it may be its precursor and certainly that of crochet-work.

Evidence of the earliest knitting, using two needles, is believed to come from Egypt in the eleventh century, where more knitted socks were found.

early knitting

But from there we jump to thirteenth and fourteenth century Europe, particularly France, Germany and Britain. The painting, The Visit of the Angels, circa 1390, by the German painter, Master Bertram, depicts the Madonna knitting in the round.

Knitting guilds

Fashionable knits were known in France as early as the 1420s. It is also known that knitting guilds, exclusively male and with structured apprenticeship systems, were formed in Europe in the 1400s. These knitting guilds appear to have been established to improve the quality of the profession and to attract a wealthier and more stable clientele. Ancient knitting From the Elizabethan period in Briton, knitting history is easier to determine. The development of knitting was driven by the fashion of the time, in particular fitted stockings worn by the men under short trunks. These stockings were exported to many other parts of Europe.

During the 17th century, knitted stockings continued to be very popular and could be beautifully knitted and finished with embroidery as shown in this example, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, circa 1660 – 1670. Knitware such as this jacket below, circa 1525-1650, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, were knitted in incredibly fine gauge out of silk and silver gilt thread and then embroidered. It is hard to imagine how many knitting stitches that would involve.

ancient knitting

Knitting and modern history

As we approach more modern times and with the industrial revolution and the two world wars, the history of knitting, particularly in Britain, is better documented.

We were even able to find evidence of square knitting for blankets and for charitable purposes too.

Sources: www.menknit.net, The Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery by Mildred Graves Ryan, www.helium.com, http://www.jelldragon.com, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Knitting scarves breaks records and helps charity

Knitting scarves breaks records and helps charity.

Knitting scarves seems to be a favoured knitting project, both to break records and for giving to charity. The longer the better.

The record for single-handedly knitting a scarf, which measured 3,463m (11,363 ft 11 in) when completed, is held by Norwegian, Helge Johansen, according to the Guiness of Records. The project ended in 2006 and took 23 years.

Knitting while running a marathon!

Running a marathon is an amazing physical feat. But running a marathon while knitting a scarf is extraordinary. British knitter, marathon runner, and tireless charity collector, Susie Hewer, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest scarf knitted while running a marathon. She knitted the scarf (1.62m (5ft 2in)) while running the Flora London marathon on April 13 2008.

As she described on her blog, the idea came from her combined love of knitting and running marathons and a desire to raise money for the Alzheimer's Research Trust, as she had watched her dear mother taken away by dementia.

32 000 metres of knitting

The latest issue of Yarn, an Australian knitting magazine, describes the extraordinary knitting project of a community of knitters in Wangaratta, a town in north east Victoria, for the annual Stitched Up Festival. Five years ago they decided to make an attempt to beat the record, for the longest scarf in the then current Guiness Book of Records, by knitting a scarf longer than 32 kilometres.

Debbie Ellis writes in Yarn, that it was a massive knitting project which for some people "literally took over their lives and their homes". But she notes, in the end, even though they did not beat the world record, (established at 53km by the Welsh in 2005), "what was achieved was so much more, bringing together people of all ages, from every corner of Australia and even beyond our shores. Contributing to something bigger than ourselves…"

knitted scarves

Knitting a scarf that ended up being 32 – 33 kilometres long was a wonderful achievement. But more inspiring is that their plan involved giving to charity, by unpicking each of the knitted scarves and re-working them into blankets. Pictured here is a roll of the knitted scarves joined together from the Stitched Up Festival website.

If a small community can inspire this amazing team effort over five years, then it is surely possible for the world's knitters to do the same for the millions of orphans in Africa affected by HIV AIDS.


knitters of the world


These children live in dire poverty. They lack love, shelter, food, education and warmth. Many wonderful charities are working hard to provide the first four. Knitters can provide the last.

Please knit an 8 x 8" (20 x 20cm) square (or more) and send it to Africa to help make blankets for the children. Square Circle ezine will send you stories of the knitters, the children and their blankets.

If you have a plan that involves knitting scarves, perhaps we can persuade you and your community instead to knit acres of blankets for the orphans of Africa. Please let us know by filling in the form below. We would love to inspire the knitters of the world by sharing stories of your knitting projects records and ideas.