FAQ

Q: What is your return policy?

A: We take returns or exchanges on any merchandise except needles with no time limit, provided the original receipt is presented and the merchandise is in its original packaging and in saleable condition. Unused needles are returnable only within 7 days of purchase, in their original, unopened packaging, with the original receipt. Patterns and Magazines are not returnable.

Q: What are your class registration policies?

A: You may register for classes in person or by phone. If registering by phone, we will hold your place for 7 days without payment. In general, our class prices include patterns but not materials such as needles and yarn, although there may be exceptions.

Q: What should I bring with me to class?

A: When you register for class, a materials list will be supplied. Staff at the shop will be able to help you in selecting materials. It is a good idea to bring your needle collection with you to the first class session, as you may need to make adjustments to your needle size after you have knit a test swatch. Also bring scissors and paper and pencil.

Q: What are your class cancellation policies?

A: In general, if you have registered for a class and must cancel, we will refund your registration fee up until class begins. After the first class session, no refunds will be given. If Borealis must cancel a class, we will notify you by phone as soon as we determine the class will not be held.

For Special Events, classes are not refundable except in extraordinary circumstances or if we can fill your spot with another student.

Q: What happens if there is bad weather on a class night?

A: Please contact us by phone if you will not be able to attend due to weather conditions. If we have decided to cancel classes, we will notify you by phone as soon as it becomes apparent the weather will be prohibitive. We will make every effort to reschedule classes missed due to bad weather.

Q: Does Borealis provide finishing services for knit or crochet projects?

A: Not at this time.

Q: Does Borealis have gift certificates for sale?

A: Yes. We can make a gift certificate for any amount; just ask at the front desk.

Patterns & Copyright

Q: Why can’t I copy a pattern and give it to my friend – I bought the pattern!

A: When you buy a copy of a pattern, it is for your personal use only. The content of the pattern is the designer’s intellectual property, and cannot be duplicated or sold for another’s use. Doing so would be an infringement of copyright laws. Designers spend many years developing their skills, and most do not get much compensation for the designs they produce. Help us keep patterns available and affordable by not copying them illegally.

Q: Can I sell an item I knit from a pattern I bought? For example, can I sell the felted purses I made at a craft fair?

A: Generally speaking, you cannot sell such items unless you get express permission from the person who holds the copyright to the pattern. You would be profiting from sales based upon their intellectual property.

Knitting FAQs

Q: How long a tail should I leave for a long-tail cast on?

A: The rule of thumb is the tail should at least 3 times the width of the edge of the knitted piece. For example, if you are casting on for a sweater back, and the back will measure 22″ across, leave a tail at least 66″ long. If in doubt, leave a longer tail.

Q: Why are there so many different kinds of increases and decreases, and how do I know which one(s) to use?

A: Each type of increase or decrease has a slightly different look. Some slant to the right, and some to the left. Some look better than others when used with certain pattern stitches, or in certain situations. For example, when decreasing at either side of a sock toe, if you use a left-slanting decrease (e.g. SSK) on the right side, and right-slanting decrease (e.g. K2tog) on the left side, it will give the toe a very polished, symmetrical look. Get a good reference book, such as The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square ($19.95) that shows pictures of each, and describes their properties.

A good, all-purpose increase is the “backward loop”. It is practically invisible in most situations. Knit to where you want the increase, then make a backward loop of yarn over your thumb. Place it on the right-hand needle. Knit the next stitch on the left-hand needle, and continue knitting normally. When you encounter the “loop” on the next row, simply knit or purl it as if it were a normal stitch.

Q: What’s an ‘SSK’ and how do I do it?

A: ‘SSK’ stands for ‘Slip, Slip, Knit’. It’s a left-slanting decrease. Insert your right needle into the next st as if to knit, but do not knit it; slip it onto the right needle. Do the same for the next st. Then insert your left needle into the 2 sts. you slipped, and knit those two sts together through their back legs. This is a little hard to visualize until you do it. A good knitting reference book with pictures, such as The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square ($19.95) will help.

Q: Why did my knitted item turn out too big (too small)?

A: It is important to check your gauge both before you begin a project, and several times during the knitting of your project. Use the actual yarn and needles you will use for the project, as there can be variations among needles made by different manufacturers. There can even be variations among dye lots of the same yarn! Don’t assume that since you made something out of Brand X yarn last year that your gauge will be the same this year. Brand X may have changed their yarn slightly. You may be more tense or more relaxed than you were last year. Always make a gauge swatch.

Q: How do I make a gauge swatch?

A: First, determine the gauge your pattern calls for. Let’s say it’s 16 sts / 4 inches, which works out to 4 sts/inch. Make a swatch at least 5 inches square, plus borders. For the borders, plan 3 sts in garter st at each side, plus 3 rows of garter st at the bottom and the top of the swatch.

Thus, in our example, you would cast on 20 sts (5 inches at 4 sts/inch) plus 6 sts (3 garter sts at each side) for a total of 26 sts cast on. Work 3 rows in garter st. Then work 3 sts in garter st, 20 sts in st st, and 3 sts in garter st. until you have knit 5 inches. Work 3 rows in garter st but do not bind off. (Why? Because a tight bind-off can distort the tension of the swatch).

Take the swatch off your needles and lay it flat on a flat surface. Smooth it out, without stretching it. Then, using a rigid ruler or ‘Knit Chek’ device, select a spot in the center of the swatch and count the number of sts in two inches. Don’t forget to count half-sts or even quarter sts. Do this in two more spots on the swatch (but not near the edges). Divide the number of sts by 2, and this is your gauge, or number of sts per inch.

If the number of sts per inch is too few (e.g., if you needed 4 sts/inch but you only have 3.5 sts/inch) you are knitting looser than the specified gauge. To remedy this, change to a smaller needle (the smaller the number, the smaller the needle. For example, a size 2 needle is smaller than a size 3.) If you have too many sts per inch, you are knitting tighter than the specified gauge. Change to a larger needle (larger number).

It is important to use the size needle you need to get the pattern gauge, not the size suggested in the pattern. Needle sizes in patterns are always just suggested starting places.

Don’t throw away or unravel your “wrong” swatch! Label it with the date, the yarn, the needle size and brand you used, and the gauge. Now make a new swatch with your smaller or larger needles. Yep, you heard right. Why go to all this fuss? Because if your gauge is off, your garment will not fit. It would be a shame to waste money and time knitting a garment you can’t use in the end.

When you achieve the desired gauge, remember to check your gauge periodically as you knit your garment. Sometimes we loosen up or tighten up as we go, and more needle-size adjustments may be necessary.

Start a folder to save your labeled swatches in. Next time you use this yarn, or make this pattern, you will have a better idea of which needle size to try first. (But remember, always make a new swatch for each project, even if you have used the yarn before.)

Q: What’s the difference between straight and circular needles, and why would anyone want to knit with circular needles?

A: It’s mainly up to personal preference, although there are some good reasons to knit with circulars. With straight needles, you can knit a flat piece back and forth, e.g. the back of a sweater. You can’t knit in the round — e.g. hats or sweaters knit all in one piece — with straight needles. For these, you must use circular needles. You can, however, knit a flat piece on circular needles. Circular needles are ideal for big, heavy projects like afghans, as the bulk of the knitting rests on the cable portion of the needle, not on the needles themselves, while you are knitting. This saves wrist strain that could lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Circulars come in bamboo, metal, wood and plastic just like straight needles do.