Life with Fiber and Fiber Arts

Ways of Knitting, Part 2.1- Twist and Shout! March 29, 2010

Filed under: how to,knitting theory — Hannah Cuviello @ 1:53 pm

Well hello again. Guess what! Here is another post in less than a month after the previous post. It’s unheard-of.

In this installment of my “Ways of Knitting” series, I intend to drone on and on about the way we can combine the knitting factors I discussed in Part 1. For a quick review, these factors were:

  1. Whether you enter the stitch through the Front Leg or Back Leg
  2. Whether you wrap your yarn Clockwise or Counter Clockwise

In this post, we will take it up a level and look at how these two factors combine when we are working with rows of Knits and Pearls, i.e. stockinette stitch (back and forth, rather than in the round – it’s more interesting that way).

(Part 4 will deal more with other terminology found in the literature and will refer back to many of the swatches in this post. If you are specifically interested in Easter vs Western vs Combined or Continental vs English, etc, check out part 4).

Here is the chart I will be using to guide my way through the exercise. By the end of this post, I will have filled this chart with pictures of swatches corresponding to the appropriate combinations of knitting techniques.  By the way, I have a life.

For example, to make Swatch 1, I will be knitting into the Front Leg of each stitch on the knit side and wrapping Counter Clockwise. On the purl side, I will also be knitting into the Front Leg and wrapping Counter Clockwise.

But I am getting ahead of myself. I will try not to talk too much at length on each swatch (try), since it is going to get rather repetitive by Swatch 8, however, I will point out some of the interesting things and may comment on the pervasiveness (from my experience) of that particular style. I will not be insulted if you skip all the “blah, blah, blah” and just look at the pretty pictures. Hint: there is a big, filled out chart at the end.

Some of you might also be big dorks. In that case, I highly recommend knitting along with your own swatch.

Swatch 1.

Knit stitches are mounted with Right Legs in Front.

Knit side: Work into the Front Loop and Wrap Counter Clockwise

1. Knit into Front Leg, Wrap Counter Clockwise

This will create a row of purls on the other side that are mounted with the Right Leg in Front (just like the Knit side).

2. Purls mounted with Right Legs in Front

Why is this? Well, when you wrap your working yarn around the needle, whichever direction you choose, the end of the yarn that is attached to the work becomes the Right Leg of the new stitch, then travels over the needle to become the Left Leg (look at your own knitting and try to visualize this). When you wrap Count Clockwise, the yarn travels from below the needle, up across the front of the needle, becoming a Right Leg in Front of the needle. The yarn then travels over the top of the needle and down the back, becoming a Left Leg in Back of the needle. When you turn your work around and look at the purl side, the perspective changes, and what was the Right (Front) leg of the knit stitch becomes the Left (Back) leg of the purl stitch (and vice versa).

Purl Side: Work into the Front Leg and wrap Counter Clockwise (this is square 1, remember).

3. Purl into the Front Leg and wrap Counter Clockwise

Purling a row like this creates a knit row (on the other side) that is mounted in the same way. It all ends up looking like this:

4. Swatch 1

Many of you are probably saying “Hey, that’s what my knitting looks like!” Many of you probably get it in the same way, too. Note: this is regardless of which hand you use to hold and wrap your yarn (that discussion will come in Part 4). Truth be told, most (but definitely not all) of the knitters I know knit this way. I will just stress again: that does not make any other method of knitting any less valid.

OK, moving on. Let’s change one factor and see how it affects the outcome.

Swatch 2.

The knit stitches for this swatch are mounted with the Right Leg in Back and the Left Leg in Front (we will see why later).

5. Knits mounted with Right Leg in Back and Left Leg in Front

Knit side: Work into the Front Leg and Wrap Counter Clockwise (as in Swatch 1)

If you are knitting along, you will notice that this is much harder to do (at lease I find it so) than it was in Swatch 1. The reason is that now we are knitting into the Left Leg, rather than the Right Leg. You may remember from Part 1 of the series that the Left Leg is further back on the needle than the Right Leg. Knitting into the left leg crosses that leg over the Right leg, twisting the stitch.

6. Left Leg crosses over Right Leg

You will end up with purls (on the other side) mounted as they were in Swatch 1. You see, the direction of wrap affects the mount of the stitches on the next row.

Purl side: Purl into the Front Leg and wrap Clockwise.

7. Purl in Front and Wrap Clockwise

Look closely. Remember from the Swatch 1 discussion that the end of the yarn attached to the knitting becomes the Right leg of the new stitch. In Picture 6, the yarn passes behind the needle first, so the Right Leg (of the corresponding Knit stitch on the next row) will be in Back. This is how we get the different and interesting stitch mount on the Knit Row (and why it is harder to knit those stitches through the Front Loop).

Many people actually find this method of purling easier (See Swatch 10 for a very common knitting method that uses this way of working purls).

I most often see this particular combination among newer or self-taught knitters who default to this method of purling without realising the difference. It generally comes to my attention when someone comes to me and asks “Why are my knit stitches so tight?!” Well, there is your answer.

The knitting looks like this:

8. Swatch 2: Knit into Front Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise, Purl into Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise

Notice that every other row in this swatch is twisted, that is, the legs of the stitch cross each other. This comes from knitting into the Left (Front) legs. This way of knitting also sometimes pops up (without the knitter realizing it) when a person has been knitting in the round for a long time. If the knitter has been making many stockinette stitch bags or hats in the round, there may have been little or no occasion to purl. Any ribbing done in the round would not necessarily present a problem; the knits and purls stack on top of each other, and neither would affect the mount of the other. The purls would be twisted, but they would not be much harder to execute and they would only look different on the Wrong Side.

I worked with a lady once who did not discover that she was purling this way until half-way through a sweater, when she split for the armholes and started knitting back and forth. All of a sudden, ever other row was twisted. I was very excited. Incidentally, the sweater turned out stunning (she ended up altering her purling method for the rest of the project).

Swatch 3:

The knit stitches for this swatch will be mounted as they were for Swatch 1, with the Right Leg in front of the needle.

Knit Side: Work into the Front Leg and Wrap Counter Clockwise (as in Swatches 1 and 2. I know it’s getting tedious, but there is just one more swatch with this knitting method to go.)

The Purl stitches in this swatch are mounted as they have been in all the previous swatches, with the Right Leg in front.

Purl Side: Knit into the Back Leg and wrap Counter Clockwise.

Purling into the back leg is a little tricky, so here is a picture to with it:

9. Purl into the Back Leg of the stitch

I always struggle with how to describe this to people. Anything directional seems too subjective, and what makes sense to me will often not make sense to another person. I would describe the movement of the needle in this picture as starting behind the back leg of the stitch and coming out in front of the Front leg. I invite you to describe it in whatever way makes sense to you. However you describe it, it’s a little tricky to do.

Remember that the purl stitches in this swatch are mounted with the Left leg in back, so you are purling into the Left Leg. We have determined before that whenever you work into the Left leg, the stitches will be…

10. Swatch 3, Knit into Front leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise; Purl into Back leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

…twisted on every other row (the knit rows are not twisted).  Compare this with Picture 8 (Swatch 2). In Swatch 2, the stitches are twisted with the Left leg crossing over the Right leg; in this swatch, the Right Leg crosses over the Left leg. Actually, if you think about how this particular twisted stitch is formed, it might be better described as the Left leg crossing under the Right leg. I have never met anyone who actually knits like this. I have never even seen it happen on accident.

Swatch 4.

The knit stitches will be mounted with the Left leg in front. Since out knitting style has not changed yet and we are knitting into the Front (Left) leg, we know what the Knit rows are going to look like.

Knit Side: Work into the Front Leg and Wrap Counter Clockwise (this is the last swatch with this knitting style, so enjoy it.)

The purl stitches are still mounted with the Right legs in Front, as they have been all along. You can probably guess the generalizations that I will be drawing at the end of this section…

Purl Side: Purl into the Back Leg and wrap Clockwise.

I consider this the most unpleasant combination of knitting techniques. On both the knit and purl sides, you are working into the Left Leg of the stitch, twisting it. Let’s look at the swatch.

11. Knit into the Front leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise, Purl into the Back leg, wrapping Clockwise.

As you can see, the stitches are twisted on every row, but in alternate directions. It’s actually kind of pretty in person, although I would never consider it worth the trouble.

Well, column 1 (cells 1-4) of the chart is finished. It’s so exciting!

12. Column 1 complete

Hmmm… the picture in the final chart won’t be so smushed. What have we learned so far?

The mount of the purl stitches has remained the same through all four swatches, as has the method we used on the knit rows. The mount of the knit stitches, however, changed between swatches 1 and 2, as well as between swatches 3 and 4.

This is because the direction of wrapping determines the mount of the next row.

Knitting into the Left leg, however, affects the look of the row that has just been knit.

Column 2

Swatch 5:

Knit stitches are mounted with the Right leg in front

Knit Side: We are finally shaking the knits up a bit. Knit into the Front (right) leg as before, but wrap Clockwise this time. I know it’s been awhile since we wrapped any other way while knitting, so here is a picture:

Based on what we have discussed so far, you should be able to predict the difference this will make in your knitting.

Did you guess that your purl stitches will be mounted differently? You deserve a cookie! (hmmm…I think I deserve a cookie too…).

13. Knit into the Front loop, wrapping Clockwise

Your purl stitches will now be mounted with the Left Leg in front of the needle.

Purl Side: Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise (as in Swatch 1).

Does it feel a little funny? You are now purling into the Left leg in front of the needle (which we have not done in any of the previous swatches, since the Left leg has always been in back of the needle).

(There is no picture here, because I couldn’t get this picture to upload. But you’re all knitting along, right? So you can just look at your own knitting.)

As you purl into the Left leg, notice how it crosses over the Right (back) leg at the base.

Compare this to Swatch 3 (Picture 9) where the Left leg crosses under the Right leg. Both stitches are twisted, but they twist in opposite directions. You can also compare end products, Picture 14 compared to Picture 10.

14. Swatch 5; Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise, purl into the Front leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise. Twisted only on the Purl rows.

Swatch 6:

Knit stitches are mounted with the Left Leg in Front of the needle.

Knit Side: Knit into the Front (right) leg as before, wrapping Clockwise (for this and two more swatches).

This yields a different result than it did in Swatch 5, since we start out with differently mounted Knits. Knitting into the Front Leg here causes the Left leg to cross over the right leg, as it did in Swatch 2.

Purl Side: Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

These purl stitches feel and look like the ones we just did (wrapping a different way, of course). As in Swatch 5, the Left leg of the Purl stitches cross over the Right leg, leading to…

15. Swatch 6, Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise

…a twist on every row, in the same direction. I think this fabric is lovely. One of my favorite aspects of this knitting is that, when stretched, the stitches pull tighter, rather than opening up, as untwisted stitches do.

16. Swatch 6, stretched

Many patterns call for a hem facing to be knit in twisted stitch (0r twisted rib) to help the garment hold its shape. It is important to note, though, that these stitches lie on a bias, though it is a little difficult to see in this picture. This is especially important if you are knitting in the round, since the beginning of your round at the bottom of your piece will not necessarily line up with the beginning of your round many rows later. (I have seen socks turn out very interesting because of this phenomenon.)

Swatch 7:

We will be wrapping counter clockwise on the purl side, which means that our knit stitches will sit with the Right Leg in Front.

Knit side: Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping clockwise.

So far, our knitting is not twisted, and the purls are sitting with the Right Leg in back and the Left Leg in front.

Purl Side: Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

We have purled into the Back Legs previously, in swatches 3 and 4, however you should notice that this time it is considerably easier.

17. Purl into Back (Right) leg

This is because, as you can see in the picture, we are purling into the Right leg, which is in Back, instead of into the Left leg, as we were in swatches 3 and 4.

Untwisted purls combined with the untwisted knits we just made give us…

18. Swatch 7; Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

…totally untwisted knitting, like we had in Swatch 1. I have only met one person so far who knit like this, although it doesn’t seem at all an unnatural way to knit. It’s actually the opposite of Combination knitting, which we will see in Swatch 10 and discuss in Part 4.

Swatch 8:

We are now at the last swatch of column 2, our knits are mounted with the Right Leg in Back and I fear that our official half-way there swatch will be a little anti-climactic.

Knit Side: Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping clockwise. (For the last time…)

These stitches will be twisted, as they were in Swatch 6.

Purl side: Purl into the Back loop, wrapping Clockwise.

These stitches will be untwisted, as they were in the previous swatch.

19. Swatch 8: Knit into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the back Leg, wrapping clockwise.

As I said, a little anti-climactic. I have to confess, I always find the twisted-every-other row swatches a little less exciting than the totally twisted or totally untwisted swatches.

To make up for that, though, here is another chart!

20. Columns 1 and 2 complete. Half-way there!

We are certainly very much half-way there. At this point, though, I have been sitting at my computer for far too long a time and so, I imagine, have you. I am going to get up, have some supper and knit for a while. I will return “shortly” (for me, that is within a week) with Part 2.2 and the last 8 ways of knitting. I will also be changing yarn colors, because I am so very tired of blue stitches!

Take care, everyone, and happy knitting!


5 Responses to “Ways of Knitting, Part 2.1- Twist and Shout!”

  1. Thank you so much for your detailed description/explanation. I hope you do not mind my using some of your pictures in my blog. I gave the sources, but if you do mind, please let me know so that I can remove them – thank you!

  2. WOW!! All I can say is WOW!! I have been trying to learn how to knit for a looooong time and I can’t believe how easy you just made it to be!!

  3. susanky Says:

    Oh…my…Gosh! Thank you for this valuable information!! The photos and explanations are golden!!! And at $1500/ounce, that’s worth a LOT!

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