December 9: The Queen of Technique

Make no mistake, Sealed with a Kiss has always been MY business. When I wanted to branch out from pattern design and open a shop, mom made it clear that she would happily HELP me, but she didn’t want the headache of owning another business. She’d “been there, done that” and only wanted to do the fun stuff.

Mom’s idea of “fun stuff” was technique. Lots and lots of technique. When Principles of Knitting was first published in 1990, mom pre-ordered a copy. When it arrived in the mail, she read the book from cover to cover, then read it again, and again. I have her original first edition, and the pages are dog-eared and falling out of the book.

Her research wasn’t limited to just one book. She read any technique book she could get her hands on. Some she found useful, others not so much. These are just a few of those she found worthy of saving.

She didn’t simply take any author’s word for the usefulness of a technique. Instead she applied the knowledge to various situations, took note when they performed as claimed, and took exception when they fell short of her standards. In the latter instance, she often toiled away creating her own technique – and nothing short of perfection would do. That was just how my mom rolled.

June Hemmons Hiatt’s Principles of Knitting was her favorite. When the new edition rolled through the shop doors back in 2012, I called mom before the UPS driver had left the building. Next thing I knew mom came flying through the front door, snatched one up, spun around and went back home. I didn’t know that she could move (or drive) that fast! The next morning she called and started rattling off everything that had changed from the first edition, any new material, and everything she took exception with. It was a lengthy list on all accounts. I think she must have pulled an all-nighter!

Another passion of my mom’s was making digital movies. Her interest grew from a desire to preserve old family photos. This threw her into a period of genealogy, along with extensive digital photo and video research. She eventually turned her attention from family videos to knitting videos.

I recently sat down and started retrieving data from older Macs that we had retired, along with mom’s personal computers. At one point I think I had around 16 Mac computers piled in my office. The volume of notes, illustrations, and videos on knitting technique she had created was mind boggling! She filmed much of it on an older Canon video camera, that was then uploaded into a very out of date version of Final Cut Pro. Some of the material is accessible; some is going to take a lot of work to retrieve and restore. Eventually I hope to start pouring through some of the raw footage try to preserve as much of her genius as possible.

Today I have several treats for you. Mom may gone, but she is still very much with us in spirit. Her legend lives on through the work she left behind.

adding a new yarn

From the archives, I bring you one of mom’s tutorials on adding a new yarn. Mom had a way of improving and simplifying something as very basic as changing to a new skein of yarn.

From Sherry. . .

So it’s time to add a new yarn.  What to do?  Again, no one answer, no one best method.  Following are the methods I prefer.  Which I use depends on the circumstances – type of yarn, stitch pattern, project, or just whim of the moment.  They all work just fine.  

Note:  The following videos show the new yarn as a second color for visual effect only.  The procedures would be the same for a new yarn of the same color as the old yarn. 


You actually don’t have to do anything, just drop the old yarn and begin with the new yarn.  You can use this at the end of a row or within the knitting (if the stitch pattern will allow tails to be woven in discretely).  

I wouldn’t want to use this with slippery yarn or loose, open stitch patterns.   There is always the danger that the tail could slip through (and that’s what I refer to as a 4 letter event.)  Although if you leave a long enough tail, the yarn has some cling and the stitch pattern is nothing complicated, you should be fine.  Just check it and snug it up if it has  become loopy as you knit the next few rows.  You can adjust any loose stitches around the yarn change when you work in the tails.

Most people aren’t comfortable with this method and I fully understand.  Following are some methods I feel you’ll find more to your liking.

knitting last stitch of row with both yarns

This is simply securing the new yarn by holding it with the old yarn as you work the last stitch of the row.

Can you use this within the knitting instead of the end of the row?  Well I don’t, but you could.  There are just better ways to add a new yarn within the knitting.

joining with a slide

This comes real close to a knot, but it isn’t.  I don’t recommend knotting yarns together but this slide works quite well and can easily be undone – or not.  It’s up to you.

As you can see, both yarns need to be cut ends.  In other words, you can’t add a new yarn to a yarn that will stay attached for use later.

tail to the front

(my favorite method to add yarn within the knitting)

This is the technique I use to add intarsia yarns.  Naturally it can be used to add any yarn, it doesn’t have to be a color change. 

  • Tail between the needles with cut end to the public side of the knitting
  • Interlock yarns
  • Resume knitting with new yarn

To finish the tail, pull it through to the back and weave in.  TaDa!

I know many of you may be wondering “what about the Russian join?” Mom was not a fan. Too thick. Or spit splicing? First of all, it involves spit. Second, it only works with certain yarns. Third, it did not meet her standards of perfection. These are really cool joins and I know many knitters love them, but they just weren’t her style.

nifty tips

Nifty Tips is a new feature on our website. We already have several tips posted, and will be posting more from time to time. You can find the link from the PAGES tab at the upper menu, or simply click here.

a nifty gadget

Have you seen these nifty new Swatch Gauges? This slip resistant gauge has little sets of teeth that prevent it from sliding around while you count. Mom would have loved these, and I think every knitter and crocheter needs one too.

Today one lucky reader will win a Swatch Gauge, along with this decorative maker quote. If you were fortunate enough to be a student of Sherry, please share one bit of wisdom you learned from her. For those of you who did not have the opportunity to learn from Sherry, please share a technique you’d like to learn more about.

You have until midnight tonight! Check back tomorrow to see who wins.

congratulations amanda shirley – you’re the winner of the gauge swatch and maker quote!

Please note that all prizes must be picked up at our shop no later than February 1, 2020. We do not mail or ship prizes.


  • Ashley Lorenz

    09.12.2019 at 07:56

    These tools are amazing but, I just wanted to say how much I LOVE these photos! I was a fairly new knitter when I met Sherry, so I was too shy to ask for help but, she happily volunteered when she saw me struggle.

    Your mom was a marvel to watch- wish I would have taken advantage back then to try & learn continental knitting.

    But seriously, she was a stunner!

  • Sheri Blaylock

    09.12.2019 at 08:10

    Your mom was such a master! I remember her helping me with the first sweater I ever made. I really thought I couldn’t do it, and in her no-nonsense way she told me to just knit one row at a time. It gave me the confidence to keep going, and I was so proud when it was finished. She also taught me how to make socks with her fabulous pattern, after I had purchased another book and completely botched them! I still miss seeing her at SWAK, but I think about her every time I walk in the door. So glad that you are preserving all of her old videos!

  • Amanda Shirley

    09.12.2019 at 08:12

    I would love to learn some color work.

    • Keely

      10.12.2019 at 08:05

      Congratulations! You’re the winner. Please pick up your prize anytime before 2/1/20, or it will be put back in the prize hopper.

  • Clarissa Coble

    09.12.2019 at 08:18

    I didn’t get to be a student. I’ve had to teach myself because there’s nothing close to where I live. I’ve been working on socks and fair isle but not together. Yet.

  • Karyn

    09.12.2019 at 08:19

    I met your mom but never I didn’t live in Oklahoma when she taught. Some things I would like to learn about…different types of floats in color work, when to use and which increase and decrease to use (sometimes the designer doesn’t recommend the best choice) and necklines in sweaters. Sometimes they just don’t look as neat as I would like.

  • Anita Roesler

    09.12.2019 at 08:25

    I can knit intarsia, but I’ve never been content with the look of the stitches where the new color is added. If I want to knit in color, I need some advice.
    I really liked your mom. She was a pleasure to be around.

  • Becky Stack

    09.12.2019 at 08:28

    I love this advise she gave me…….”stop often and admire your work”. This way you can catch mistakes before you get too far along. I have so many lovely memories of Sherry.

  • Cari Deen

    09.12.2019 at 08:41

    I remember the “stop often and admire your work” to catch mistakes advice, and she got me over my fear or ripping things out by just grabbing it and yanking the stitches out. ? I know there are a lot of other things too, but those stick out.

  • Jennifer Walker

    09.12.2019 at 08:42

    I loved taking classes from Sherry! I learned a lot from her! Everything from basic techniques to intarsia!

  • Bernadette Ray

    09.12.2019 at 09:05

    I met Sherry when you sold yarn from your house. She answered my questions about a pattern and said how she knew the designer.

  • Ellen McKenzie

    09.12.2019 at 09:36

    Sherry was the best…just when I thought I knew how to knit her skills reminded me I was still a beginner (and always will be in comparison). What I learned from Sherry: intarsia and 99 (almost) ways to cast on and bind off.

  • Janet Marie Busby

    09.12.2019 at 09:42

    I would love to have the swatch gauge . I haven’t had the opportunity to meet Sherry, as I am a beginner knitter. This would help me gauge it. The quotes are right down my alley I love literature and poems. I was recently blessed with a quote of the day to equal the number of years that I am currently.

  • Evelyn Norvelle

    09.12.2019 at 09:50

    I loved Sherry’s technique classes. Especially the one about increases. I basically taught myself through magazine articles. When I found SWAK and Sherry, it opened up a whole new world of knitting for me. I remember how she used to make a sample for class and then show us all the changes she made in the pattern to make it look and fit better.

  • Jennifer Smallwood

    09.12.2019 at 09:55

    I never got to learn from your mother, but I am very excited to sit down and watch these videos when I have a few minutes as I haven’t found a way to join new yarn I’m really happy with. Also, reading through these comments, I love the ‘stop often and admire your work’ advice.

  • Brandie Ferguson

    09.12.2019 at 09:57

    I took a class with her and she taught me how to decrease 🙂

    Love these videos!

  • Alexandra Edwards

    09.12.2019 at 10:09

    I’m still a beginner, so there are tons of things I’d like to learn! But I think learning the fair isle technique would be amazing

  • Amy Otto

    09.12.2019 at 10:44

    I love instructional knitting videos & tools!


    09.12.2019 at 10:51

    I have not yet dived into entrelac and I have a design idea that I’m not sure will work. Once I am finished with my current projects I plan on trying it out.

  • Shawndalynn

    09.12.2019 at 10:58

    I was not lucky enough to be in a formal class that I can recall instead I got the distinct pleasure of spending time with her and what I learned was patience not the kind of patience that waits but the kind that lets go of time and does something over and over a little bit different each time until you find the right answer.

  • Stacy Webb

    09.12.2019 at 11:38

    Sherry warmly welcomed to class a mom with five young boys – often one along in his carrier – with a friendly smile and kind word. I am grateful! She encouraged each knitter to enjoy, succeed, and learn a bit more. What a gift, what a legacy, which you beautifully carry on. XO

  • Ana Johnson

    09.12.2019 at 12:17

    I cannot tell you how much I loved readying this one post. I would love to learn entrelac, and Tunisian. Thank you for sharing these tutorials. .

  • Patricia Riden

    09.12.2019 at 13:10

    Loved your mom! Love these pics and the video! I took her seaming class, and it opened up a new world for me of joining fabric so that the stitching truly did not show ( unless you wanted it to show). I think this is maybe my favoortie SWAK post of the season!

  • Carolyn Munholland

    09.12.2019 at 13:28

    Your mom was a master knitter and teacher. Learning to fix my own mistakes. That was life changing for me in my knitting .

  • Judy Smith

    09.12.2019 at 13:38

    Probably her one row buttonhole

  • Jo Jankowski

    09.12.2019 at 14:22

    Which increase and decrease to use would be good info to learn more about.

  • Lesley Rodgers

    09.12.2019 at 15:18

    THe class I took was for beading which I had never done before, it is very interesting, that is what I would want to do.

  • Donna J Miller

    09.12.2019 at 17:01

    That is the most gorgeous picture of Sherry!!! Like I said earlier, her book is what I use to knit socks. I loved spending time with her.

  • Jennifer Dodd

    09.12.2019 at 17:51

    I have so much to still learn!!! I need to make a hat, mittens, socks, cardigan….although I fumbled you were great at teaching brioche. I think I need to buckle down and face a pair of socks head on!

  • Barbara Kinney

    09.12.2019 at 17:51

    Sherry was the best knitting teacher that I have every taken classes from. I took all her technique classes that my schedule allowed. I think my favorite class involved cast ons and bind offs. Even thought I had been knitting for a long time. I had never occurred to me to match the bind off with the cast on so that both ends of the work had the same look. I am so glad that you are preserving her work. She told me one time that her favorite thing to knit was swatches, the thing I do, but enjoy the least. But , as she explained, she was testing techniques and stitch patterns.

  • Diann Riter

    09.12.2019 at 18:08

    I didn’t have the opportunity to attend one of your mom’s classes. Wheb working with two colors, bring the next yatn under the current yarn. Leaves a neat edge.

  • Linda Weston

    09.12.2019 at 18:12

    I never had a chance to knit with your mom. But I have to say, I never thought about using the intarsia technique to add a new yarn any other time! I’m going to try that on the hat I’m working on now. <3

  • Leslie Lightfoot-Wagner

    09.12.2019 at 19:54

    I was only able to take one class from Sherry. It was possibly 10 years ago at the SWAK City location. Cast on/Cast off was the subject and I purchased the DVD for the class. I really need to familiarize myself with it again. Sadly, I only seem to be able to remember “Long Tail” and all others I always have to watch you tube for restart directions. If I had not had to work I am sure I would have been able to take more of her classes. Love the pics and seeing Sherry in them reminds me so much of you Keely, You are doing a wonderful job in her manner of perfection.

  • Mary Bourne

    09.12.2019 at 20:13

    Socks ! The German twisty cast on, her video she sat & made after our shorty sock class so we’d have a reference for our second heel turn

    And yes, stop and admire your work.

  • Deborah Kimble

    09.12.2019 at 20:22

    I love the swatch gauge. I never met your mother as I am not from Oklahoma. I would like some pointers on picking up wraps when working short rows.

  • Cathy Via

    09.12.2019 at 20:31

    I never tired of taking classes from your Mother. She taught me so many knitting techniques that you cant find in books. Each class I would try to hold on to one Sherri-ism Nugget. She will always be a special star in my life ?

  • Shirley Smith

    09.12.2019 at 20:51

    I was fairly new to knitting when I first met your Mom. She had patience and always an encouraging word. She would often say, Just have fun technique will come. I loved coming to the shop and just knitting with her there.

  • Liz Hall

    09.12.2019 at 21:01

    I never met your mom but appreciate the techniques Of hers that you are sharing. I need to work on counting rows and reading my knitting better.


  • Sherry Irvin

    09.12.2019 at 21:48

    Thank you Finding and posting the techniques that your mom had perfected over the years. I have always enjoyed the technique classes and found them very very helpful

  • Amber Ketchum

    09.12.2019 at 22:25

    Thank you for sharing about your mom. I’m getting better at counting my stitches and/ or rows!

  • Melissa Ryan

    09.12.2019 at 22:38

    I never had the opportunity to take a class with her, but her reputation was legion among my knitting friends. I did chat with her in the store from time to time….

  • Betty Schlotthauer

    09.12.2019 at 22:44

    I was never fortunate to have had a class taught by your mom, but I did enjoy her assistance when shopping @ your stores.
    I am the knitter that gravitates toward colors and textures of yarns first, then tries to figure out what project(s) to make later.
    Your mother always had several suggestions, be it 1 skein, 6, or a dozen (sweater’s worth, hopefully).

  • Stephenia d

    10.12.2019 at 17:32

    Your mom was a special woman…I learned to knit in one of her classes…she was so patient and encouraging!