These mostly have to do with sewing, because after 40 years of knitting, I honestly don't "think" a lot about my knitting any more - I just do it. Things that would have taken some problem-solving 20 years ago have become part of my consciousness. That's not to say I have nothing left to learn about knitting - I certainly do! But when I think of the tricks I've learned lately, most of them occurred before 2012. And most of them are to be found in the works of Elizabeth Zimmermann.
However, I did finally crack a nut that's been bothering me for years:
1. Short Rows. I've always done the "wrap and turn" and my short rows have always looked sloppy. I didn't really know there was any other way to do them, so when I saw Carol Feller's Craftsy class on the subject, I signed up. I wasn't expecting to hit pay dirt, but I sure did! I used her techniques for the collar of my Exeter cardigan, and they were the best short rows I've ever done. I really recommend this class if you're not happy with your short rows - it's free!
OK, the rest are about sewing - I had a lot to learn here!
2. Darts. I mentioned this a few weeks ago when I made my sparkly skirt. Christine Hayne's method for pinning and sewing darts neatly has truly been a game-changer for me. I used to dread darts and fuss with them endlessly, but with this simple technique they've become one of my favorite bits of sewing!
3. Points and Curves. Almost a year ago, I posted a couple of new techniques I learned while making my Pussy Bow blouse. One was a tip from Pattern Runway for making good points on a collar: sew to one stitch away from the point, then pivot and sew one stitch diagonally to the next seam, then continue. It really does make for a neater corner, and now I try to use it on all corners, not just on collar points.
The other tip was from Colette Patterns: shorten the stitch length to make sewing curves easier! Now why didn't I think of that? No matter how slowly I sewed, I still had trouble rounding a curve - until I tried this simple trick. Genius!
4. Smaller (bust) darts for smaller cup sizes, and vice versa. It really took me a long time to wrap my head around this. I literally had to fold a piece of paper into imaginary darts to send the point home! In my experiments with fitting, I kept trying to take bigger darts to get a better fit in the bust, and not achieving anything but a worse fit! I don't remember where I read or heard this first, but I do remember saying, "Huh?! That can't be right!" But you know what? It is right.
5. Fabric choice affects fit. I first became aware of this with the coral silk Sorbetto top I made. I had made this pattern about a gazillion times before and they always fit fine, but this one was very constricting across the upper back. (BTW, this is also when I really realized I need to be doing broad back adjustments on things like this.) What I realized is that all the other times I'd made this pattern, I'd used plain weave fabrics, which have a little give. This one was made in silk twill - no give whatsoever, and hence the tighter fit. You really can't tell from the front, but it makes the top slightly uncomfortable to wear.
I realized this again with my Mission Maxi dresses. I did two test runs in cotton interlock (because I didn't know what the heck I was doing) and then three "real" dresses in jersey. I thought jersey was jersey, but that's not necessarily the case. The one I made in rayon/cotton blend fits far looser than the two 100% cotton dresses, and one of those is tighter than the others!
I still have a little trouble with this, probably because I don't really pay attention to the "amount of stretch" listed on a given fabric. I'm working on it though!
I learned so much this year - I really feel my sewing improved by leaps and bounds. This is partly due to some of the nifty new tools I bought myself (serger, sewing machine with fancy feet); partly due to increased experience from just doing; and partly due to all the extra knowledge I gained by following along with everyone else's knitting and sewing insights via their blogs. So thanks to all of you for participating in our wonderful online community!