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Intro to Entrelac May 30, 2014

Filed under: fixing,how to,New pattern,Yarn review — Hannah Cuviello @ 10:26 am
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I love striping yarns; they’re exciting, surprising, adventurous. I do, however, frequently find myself struggling to match them to a project because, when it comes down to it…I don’t really like….stripes. all that much. *sighs*

Don’t get me wrong, stripes are great, but I really, really need to be in control of them when I knit them. If I put stripes on something, I generally want to know beforehand exactly where they are going to go, what color they are going to be and how long they are going to last. (Socks are the exception to this, however, there are rare times when I am not in the mood to knit socks, or when all my sock needles have other sock projects on them.)

Note that the two preceding paragraphs present concepts that are largely antithetical. This is not lost on me. I enjoy the sense of spontaneity required in letting go and just allowing the stripes to happen as they will, but when it comes down to it, I am often disappointed with the finished item. The upshot is that I often end up beginning and then ripping out projects with striping yarns several times before just giving up and knitting…Entrelac.

If you are not familiar with it, entrelac is a knitting technique that involves creating a network of squares, rectangles, and/or triangles that are attached to each other. The end fabric looks something like this:

Entrelac in ZauberballThis bit of green loveliness is knit in Zauberball Crazy, of which, we currently have several new colors. Because the fabric is worked in a series of small squares, the striping is broken up, and, as if by magic, wherever the colors land, it generally looks pretty amazing.

Recently, I knit a fantastic entrelac shawl pattern for my LYS (available from Eva Martinsson on Ravelry).

Image

Shawl knit from Eva Martinsson’s Entrelac Shawl with Tassels pattern.

As often happens when a sample is knit for a shop, our customers decided that they really wanted to knit it (of course, that’s the point). What followed was a Summer of, “Um…where am I in this pattern?”, “Which way am I going?”. Now, don’t misunderstand, the pattern is perfectly fine. In fact, I have knit a second one since (the green pick above) and will probably knit another. Entrelac involves interacting with your knitting in a different sort of way than we are used to, and this pattern in particular puts a little bit of a spin on the technique. As a result, people who had not previously knit entrelac, but who wanted to knit that shawl, often found themselves a bit lost. What follows is an introduction to the basic concepts involved in entrelac knitting, as well as some examples of places where you might wonder something like “which way am I going?” and explanations of how to figure that out.

Before we begin, though, I would like to point out some of my favorite yarns for knitting entrelac. First, off, while you can certainly knit entrelac with any yarn, I prefer self-striping yarns. In fingering weight, we have Zauberball and Zauberball Crazy. These are my particular favorites. We also have Noro Silk Garden Sock and just a little bit of Kureyon Sock left. If you want something heavier, we have Noro Kureyon (only a few colors, but a sweater’s worth in some of them) and Cascade Casablanca. For heavier projects still, we have Rowan’s Colourscape Chunky. So many to choose from!

Now, on to entrelac!

Entrelac swatchHere is your basic entrelac swatch. Note: because it is fairly narrow, there is still a fairly robust striping pattern. In a wider project, the stripes will be more broken up, and we will see all sorts of interesting color play happening, as in the shawl above.

The following explanation will consist of:

1. The building blocks of entrelac and how they relate to each other in space.

2. The actual pattern instructions. These are very basic instructions and may differ from other patterns you have encountered in one or two ways (different increases or decreases). The basic idea, however, is the same.

3. The recipe for entrelac. Entrelac is based on a very specific series of steps. We can modify these steps to make our projects different sizes and shapes.

4. “Where am I?” – examples of situations that might give you pause and explanations of how to reason your way out of them.

Now, having worked in yarn stores for about 10 years, I know that people learn different ways which, as I often say, is OK. For some people, reading an overview of structure is not helpful. If this is you, feel free to skip right to #2 and follow the instructions. Then, if you want, you can come back and read the description of what you just did. If you like to know what you are doing before you start, full steam ahead!

1. Building Blocks of Entrelac

We generally think of knitting in terms of rows and stitches. With entrelac, we add two more levels of organization: Rectangles/triangles (which consist of rows and stitches) and tiers (which consist of rectangles/triangles).

The different elements:

Base Triangles: These are the triangles that line to bottom of your work (orange in the picture above). In the swatch above and in the instructions below, the stitches of the base triangles lean to the left. Take a look below to see what I mean.

entrelac_direction

Tier 1 leans to the left, tier 2 to the right, tier 3 to the left, etc.

Each base triangle begins and ends with a RS row (note that this means there is an odd number of rows). These triangles make up Tier 1.

Left Edge Triangle: You can see this little fellow on, well, the left edge of the picture above. Notice that he leans to the right. Also note that, when I say “left edge”, I mean when you are looking at the RS of your work. (Oh boy…) At the risk of sounding like an Abbot and Costello routine, I do want to point out, that when you are starting your Left Edge Triangle, you will begin with a WS row and to it will actually appear that you are working on the right edge. When in doubt, look at the RS of your work. This is the side with the knit stitches facing.

Right Leaning Rectangles: These rectangles, along with the left and right edge triangles, comprise your Tier 2 and all even numbered tiers. The stitches for these are picked up along the right edge (looking at the RS) of your base triangles (or the rectangles from the previous tier later on). You pick up stitches for these from the wrong side, and knit your first row on the RS. You will always end these rectangles on a WS row. **You don’t have to memorize this rule because the knitting will tell you what you have to do.**

Right Edge Triangle: This is the last blue arrow on the swatch above and the last element of Tier 2. It begins and ends with a RS row.

Left Leaning Rectangles: The stitches for these rectangles are picked up along the left edge of your Tire 2 (or even tier) elements, with the RS facing. The actual rectangle begins with a WS row and ends with a RS row.

Top Triangles: These line the upper edge of the piece, creating a smooth (rather than jagged) top. Sts are picked up on the RS. Each Triangle begins with a WS row and ends with a RS row (more or less)

How they relate to each other:

  I mentioned that the stitches for some elements are picked up from the edge of other elements. Here is what that looks like (sort of).

entre-PickUpAs shown above, the picking up happens from left to right for even numbered tiers. Remember, though that that is from the RS perspective. I mentioned above that we pick up stitches for Right Leaning Rectangles from the WS. Thus, we are actually working from right to left, but looking at the wrong side. Yikes.

Here’s another picture. This shows the direction of knitting within each rectangle and tier.

Entrelac_arrowsDoes that help?

I think that’s enough abstract spatial reasoning for now. Let’s just do some knitting.

2. Basic Entrelac Instructions

Tier 1: Base Triangle

CO a multiple of 8 stitches.

R1: K1, turn.

*It may feel strange to turn while you still have sts on the LH needle, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.

R2: P1, turn.

R3: K2, turn.

R4: P2, turn.

R5: K3, turn.

R6: P3, turn.

R7: K4, turn.

R8: P4, turn.

R9: K5, turn.

R10: P5, turn.

R11: K6, turn.

R12: P6, turn.

R13: K7, turn.

R14: P7, turn.

R15: K8, do not turn.

You have now completed one triangle. It looks kind of funny.

entrelac1

There are currently 8 sts on your RH needle. You will now ignore these sts.

Repeat Rows 1-15 once. Note that you are working on the next group of 8 sts. When you are done with the second set, you will have two groups of 8 sts on your RH needle, separated by a gap.

entrelac2

Continue repeating Rows 1-15 until you end up with no sts on your LH needle after Row 15. Tier 1 is complete. This is the point where first time entrelac knitters usually say, “That can’t be right!” and tear it out. Don’t do that!

It should look like this:

entrelac3

Moving on…

Tier 2: Left Edge Triangle, Right Leaning Rectangles, Right edge Triangle

Left Edge Triangle:

R1 (WS): P2, turn.

R2: K2, turn.

R3: Pfb, p2tog, turn. (Note that your ‘p2tog’ consisted of one st from your row and one st from the previous base triangle. On every WS row, you will be “using up” one of the sts from the group of 8 sts immediately to the left of your current sts. There will always be 8 sts in the immediate vicinity of where you are working; some will be from your current group, some will be from the previous tier.)

Two sts on the RH needle are from Pfb; two sts on the left will be purled together.

Two sts on the RH needle are from Pfb; two sts on the left will be purled together.

entrelac4b

R4: K3, turn.

R5: Pfb, p1, p2tog, turn.

R6: K4, turn.

R7: Pfb, p2, p2tog, turn.

R8: K5, turn.

entrelac5

The sts of the new section, plus the sts of the closest section from the previous tier should always add up to 8.

R9: Pfb, p3, p2tog, turn.

R10: K6, turn.

R11: Pfb, p4, p2tog, turn.

R12: K7, turn.

R13: Pfb, p5, P2tog, do not turn.

The edge triangle is now complete. There are 8 sts (the sts of the edge triangle) on your right hand needle; ignore them. Place a marker on your RH needle, to mark the boundary between the sts you have just finished with and the next section. You will probably not need this marker after a couple more rows.

 

Right Leaning Rectangle

With WS facing, pick up and knit 8 sts along the adjacent edge of the triangle from the previous tier.

entrelac7

If you find it easier, you can do this with the RS facing, picking up from left to right (if you find this easier, I’m guessing you are probably left handed).entrelac6

entrelac8

2 sts have just been picked up. Notice that the marker indicates the boundary between the sts of the previous section and the sts that you have just picked up.

Once the stitches are picked up, turn your work so that the RS is facing.

R1: K8, turn. (You have just knit to the marker. Soon, there will be a big gap between the sts of this rectangle and the sts of the edge triangle – which we are ignoring- rendering the marker unnecessary.)

R2: P7, p2tog, turn. (Note: your p2tog consists of one of the picked up sts and a sts from one of the groups of 8 from a previous tier.)

Repeat these two rows a total of 8 times; do not turn after the last rep of R2. At this point, there will be not more sts readily available for your p2tog. This is one way that your knitting can help you figure out what to do. If there are no more sts for your p2tog, it’s time to pick up again.

Repeat the process (from the beginning of the Right Leaning Rectangle section) until all the sts from the previous tier have been used up and there are no sts left on your LH needle after your last p2tog.

Right Edge Triangle

This is the last piece of Tier 2. Pick up 8 sts as before, this time along the last remaining available edge, and turn work so that you are looking at the RS.

R1(RS): K8, turn.

R2 (and all WS rows): Purl to 2 sts before end, p2tog.

R3 (and all RS rows): Knit to end of triangle sts (there will be a big gap before the sts of the previous rectangle), turn.

Repeat Rows 2 and 3 until only one sts remains. This stitch will stay on the RH needle and be the first of your next group of 8 sts.

Tier 2 Complete! Yay!

Tier 3: Left Leaning Rectangles

After all the hullabaloo of Tier 2, Tier 3 is relatively easy.

With RS facing and 1 st already on your RH needle, pick up and knit 7 sts from the adjacent edge.

R1 (WS): P8, turn.

R2: K7, ssk, turn. (Note: the ssk consists of one picked up st and one of the 8 sts from the previous tier’s rectangles).

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until all sts of previous rectangle have been used up.

Repeat this process (picking up 8 sts along subsequent edges) until all groups of 8 sts have been used up and there are no more sts on the LH needle.

Tier 3 accomplished!

Now, repeat Tiers 2 and 3 until your piece is long enough, ending on Tier 2.

Top Triangles

One st remains on RH needle from last triangle; this counts as first picked up st. Pick up and knit 7 more sts (8 sts total).

R1 (WS): P8, turn.

R2: Ssk, k5, ssk, turn.

R3: P7, turn.

R4: Ssk, k4, ssk, turn.

R5: P6, turn.

R6: Ssk, k3, ssk, turn.

R7: P5, turn.

R8: Ssk, k2, ssk, turn.

R9: P4, turn.

R10: Ssk, k1, ssk, turn.

R11: P3, turn.

R12: Ssk, ssk, turn.

R13: P2, turn.

R14: Sssk, turn.

R15: P1, turn.

R16: Ssk, do not turn.

Repeat from beginning of top triangle section until all sts on LH needles are used up and only one st remains on RH needle. BO remaining st.

3. Recipe for Entrelac

So there we go. You can use these instructions to make a scarf or shawl. Now, you might wonder, how wide can I make this shawl or scarf? What if I want my rectangles to be bigger?

The second question is the easiest to answer. Remember how you cast on a multiple of 8 for the practice swatch? And then, you always started each section with 8 picked up sts? And the number 8 just kept showing up everywhere, like in the very last row of your base triangle instructions? Well, that “8” can be any number you want, all you have to do is continue working in the pattern established in the instructions.

As for the second question, you will adjust your cast on  to get your scarf/shawl/wrap to whatever width you want. You may have to do some swatching to figure out how many more sts to cast on, though.

 4. Where am I?

Earlier in the post, I made certain wild claims that entrelac fabric can actually give you very useful clues about where you are in the pattern.  I have put together some examples of questions people have brought to me in the past and how we talked our way through them.

First:

WhereAmIYou can’t really see it in this picture, but the yarn is coming off the right hand needle, so we know that we are on a WS row, or just getting ready to turn.

How do we know which one it is? Let’s have a look at the RS.

Note: when in doubt, I like to look at the RS, just because I find it a little easier to get my bearings. In general, it is never a bad thing to just pause and take a look at the big picture of your knitting. It is really easy to get lost in the little details, but often, when you take a look at what is surrounding the details, things become a little clearer.

WhereAmI2Once I’ve turned things around, I look at my groups of sts. I have a group of 8 (which is to be expected), a group of 7, and a group of 9. Notice that they all add up to a multiple of 8 (my magic number for this swatch). Any time you have 3 distinct groups of sts in the immediate vicinity of each other, they will consist of the following:

The sts you are currently working on (your current section).

The sts of the section you just finished.

The sts of the adjacent section from the previous tier.

The trick is to figure out which one is which. Well, clearly, the middle section (7 sts, plus one on the other needle) are your current sts. We know this because there are very close to the picked up edge, as opposed to the other groups, which have whole sections attached to them. The sts to the right (the group of 9, although one of those belongs to the current section) are the same color as the current sts. This indicates that these are from the section that you just finished knitting. That means that the group furthest to the left in the picture above are from a previous tier.

So now we know what’s what. How do we know what to do? We know that we have to get that 8th st into the center section. The question is, do we purl on and turn, (remember that we are actually on a WS row), or do we p2tog. We need to figure out if we are working on a right leaning or left leaning rectangle. Look at the 8 sts from the previous tier rectangle; their rectangle is leaning to the right. Just next to it is another rectangle leaning to the right. That is the rectangle that we picked up our current sts from. This means that we are currently working on a left leaning rectangle. Now, look at the instructions for the left leaning rectangle (repeated hear for your convenience):

R1 (WS): P8, turn.

R2: K7, ssk, turn. (Note: the ssk consists of one picked up st and one of the 8 sts from the previous tier’s rectangles).

Well, on the WS rows, we just purl, with not decreases at all, so when we see this:

WhereAmI

we know we need to purl one more (to complete the 8) and then turn.

What about this?

 

What happened?

What happened?

This happens all the time, so if you find yourself in this situation, know that at least you are in good company.

You are working on a left leaning rectangle. See that line of Ssk’s that are eating up the sts of the previous tier? Notice that you have just knit past them. You just got a little carried away and forgot to ssk and turn. To fix this, undo the last 6 knits, ssk and then turn.

And what about this?

What Happened?

What Happened?

This is a little bit more involved. Again, we are on a left leaning rectangle, specifically, at the end of a RS row. Normally, we should be doing a decrease here, but what is this?

Whathap2We appear to have decreases on both sides! Also, the section on the right has only 7 sts.

On the last WS row, I accidentally did a p2tog, then turned. I need to undo this whole row (8 sts, including the decrease), turn and then work the RS row of my rectangle.

There we go! everything is fixable. The important thing, though is to catch mistakes like these as soon as possible. We do this by taking time to stop and look at the project as we go along. Note: this is it’s own reward, since our projects are very pretty.

Do you have an entrelac project that is stuck? Send me a pic and we’ll see if we can get it figured out!

Have fun!

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Ways Of Knitting-Part 1 (Introduction to stitch mount) March 22, 2010

Well, it has been about a month and a half since my last post. The generous among you may assume that I am a very busy lady; that will last just as long as it takes you to read this next post (or rather series of posts), at which time you will doubtlessly conclude that I have no life at all. I do have a life, by the way. I do. really. Plus, I’ve been working lots on the new website; putting new yarns on our Stash Sale page. Oh boy!

The other reason for my long absence is that, once I became determined to write a post on “Different Ways of Knitting”, I found myself saddled with a “hole to China” topic.  It goes like this: I decide to dig a hole. I dig a bit, but then I just find more dirt, so I keep digging. More dirt. Keep digging. Repeat ad nauseum until bam! I come out the other side in China. (Actually, from where I’m starting, I would most likely end up in the ocean several hundred miles South of Madagascar, but that’s beside the point).  What I mean to say is that I had an idea for a topic, but every time I introduced a term or concept, I felt the need to fully explain it with pictures and drawings, until what I had was a very large, unwieldy blog post. Better to split it up into nice, manageable chunks and dole it out at intervals. Here is the breakdown:

1. Introduction to stitch mount. There are different ways that your stitches can sit on your needles and, it turns out, these are rather important to the final look of your project. This section will discuss the factors that determine your stitch mount (how you enter the stitch and  which way you wrap the yarn).

2. Twist and Shout! While part one will focus mostly on a single stitch, part two will look at how your stitch mount affects the fabric as a whole. There are a total of 16 different combinations of the factors I mentioned above (once you include whether you are knitting or purling). I have swatched them all and I am prepared to write at length about each (seriously).

3. Why We Care. I feel very strongly that there is no wrong way to knit. There are, however, different ways, and these differences affect the look of the finished project. I have also found that patterns assume a particular way of knitting, so it is helpful for those who may knit differently to be aware of what differences are important. One of the most important differences concerns the use of decreases.  Oh boy, oh boy!

4. Throwing, Picking and all that other stuff. This section will cover more general knitting styles, concerning itself with how knitters hold their yarn. I will also take the opportunity to discuss the distinction between left-handed knitters and Left Handed Knitting.

There may be more after that. We’ll see.

“No. Not too much. We’ve still got a looong way to go.”

(Never Ending Story quote, BTW)

Let’s start with the stitch. (Hey, this sounds familiar…)

It may be helpful to follow along with knitting in your hands. I, personally, have a hard time just visualizing this stuff.

1. Your basic stitch; it's just a loop, really.

2. A loop with a left leg and a right leg.

Your stitch has a Left Leg and a Right Leg. When the stitch sits on a needle, it can sit with either the Left leg in front or the Right leg in front. That is “Stitch Mount”.

OK. Post over. Have a good day.

Just kidding. I have an overabundance of pictures to go along with this concept. For example….

3. Right Leg in Front

This is what it looks like when the Right leg of the stitch is in front of the needle. This also just happens to be what my stitches look like and the what most patterns assume your stitches look like. Note that this is what the stitch looks like on the left hand needle, that is, before you have knit it (unless you are knitting Left Handed, but we will get into that much later.) I will not be discussing how the stitches look on the right hand needle. That’s just too much, even for me.

4. Left Leg in Front of Needle

Now for the alternative. Many people knit so that the Left Leg of their stitch is in front of the needle. This is a perfectly normal and acceptable way for the stitches to be.

Now, just in case the distinction is not yet totally clear, I have more pictures. Always explain things in more than one way; that’s what I strive to do.

So let’s pretend that our stitch is a little guy. A cowboy, perhaps.

5. "Jest coll me Stee-uch."

Our little Cowboy sits on the needle. Hmmm…

6. Cowboy on a needle. Hmmm, maybe not.

We’d better make it a horse.

7. On a horse (needle) with Left leg in front.

For purposes of describing the cowboy, we will refer to his Right and Left legs from our perspective, not his. In Picture 7, therefore, the cowboy’s “Left” leg is on the side of the horse closest to us and the cowboy is facing forward.

Compare to Picture 8 below.

8. Cowboy facing away.

In this picture, the cowboy’s “Right” leg is on the side of the horse nearest us, and he is facing away. (Or we could draw in eyes and he would be facing backwards, either way.)  To avoid the confusion about Right/Left legs and perspective when using the cowboy analogy, I usually refer to the stitches as facing towards me or facing away. I invite the people out there to use whatever terminology they prefer.

Well, what do these cowboys look like in real life?

9. Cowboys facing away.

They look decidedly less “Old West” and much more knitable.

In Picture 9, you can see that the Right Leg of the stitch is on the side of the needle facing the knitter, while the Left Leg is on the far side of the needle.

Below is the alternative.

10. Howdy, cowboys!

Now, the Left Leg of the stitch is on the near side of the needle, while the Right Leg is on the far side.  In general, and for the rest of this post, I will refer to whichever leg is on the near side of the needle as the Front Leg and whichever leg is on the far side of the needle as the Back Leg. This will be important. Note another difference between these two stitch mounts. The Right leg is always a little further forward on the needle than the left leg (because it is coming out of the right side of the stitch below). When the Right leg is in front of the needle, as in Picture 9, the Front (Right) leg is further forward on the needle, but in Picture 10, where the Right leg is in back of the needle, the Back (still Right) leg is further forward.

These concepts also apply to purl stitches.

11. Purl Stitch, Right Leg in Front

12. Purl Stitch, Left Leg in Front

OK. Vocab/Concept review.

Right Leg/Left Leg – self explanatory (remember, from your perspective, not the stitch’s)

Front Leg- The leg that is on the side of the needle nearest the knitter (can be right or left).

Back Leg- The leg that is on the side of the needle furthest from the knitter (can be right or left).

Forward Leg- The leg that is furthest forward (closest to the tip) on the needle. Always the Right Leg, but it can be either in Back or in Front.

Stitch Mount- Which way (Left or Right leg in front) your stitches sit on your horse needle.

Cowboy- Another name for a stitch.

Now, my friends, we are ready to move on. Deep Breath…

There are two things that affect the mount of your stitches and the overall look of your fabric.

1. Whether you insert the needle into the Front Leg of the stitch or the Back Leg when you knit or purl.

2. The direction in which you wrap your yarn when knit or purl.

Guess what! I have more pictures!

Let’s start with number 1.

13. Knitting into the front leg (in this case, the Right Leg)

When knitting, the Knitter can insert the needle into the Front Leg of the stitch, as in Picture 13, …

…or into the Back Leg of the stitch, as in Picture 14.

14. Knit into the Back Leg

There are several things of note in Picture 14.

1. The Right leg of the stitch is the Front Leg (and Left is the Back; the same is true for picture 13).

2. The Front (right) Leg is further forward on the needle.

3. The needle is being inserted under the Back (Left/further back) leg.

4. The legs are crossed at the base. This is called a Twisted Stitch. Compare that to Picture 13, where the legs of the stitch are open (untwisted) at the base.

Many patterns call for twisted stitches (for reasons I will discuss in a later post), and this is how they generally expect you to get it. In fact, patterns will often not say outright that they want a twisted stitch. Instead, they will just say “Knit 1 to the Back Loop (tbl)”.  The problem is that Knitting into the back loop does not always yield a twisted stitch.

15. Knit tbl, but it's not twisted.

In picture 15, I am knitting into the Back Leg, but in this case

1) The Right Leg is in Back (like the stitches in Pics 4, 7 and 10)

2) The Back Leg is further forward

3) The legs are not twisted at the base.

Therefore, if you are the kind of lovely knitter whose stitches sit with the Right leg to the back of the needle (cowboys facing you) and who knits into the back leg as a matter of course, knitting a stitch tbl may not give you the desired effect. Instead, you may want to knit into the Front Leg (Picture 16).

16. Knit into Front Leg, twisting

Note that, in Picture 16, the Left Leg is in Front, and knitting into the Front Leg yields a twisted stitch.

Summary:

If your stitches sit with the Right Leg in Front, knitting into the Back Leg should yield a twisted stitch.

If your stitches sit with the Left Leg in the Front, knitting into the Front Leg should yield a twisted stitch.

In other words, knitting into the Right Leg will yield an untwisted stitch. Knitting into the Left Leg will yield a twisted stitch.

Now, you may be asking, “What about the Purl stitches?!”

Well, those, too can be worked (purled) into either the Front or the Back Leg.

Most people, when they learn how to purl, naturally want to purl into the Front Leg, as in picture 17.

17. Purling into the Front Leg

Admittedly, this is not a great picture. I am trusting that enough people have seen it done that I’m OK here. Purling into the Back Leg, however, is a little more difficult to visualize.

18. Purling into the Back Leg

In Picture 18, the Right Leg is to the Front (it’s hard to see, but trust me; also look at the other stitches on the needle, you can sort of tell there)  and I am purling into the Left Leg. This stitch will be twisted. If the stitch were mounted so that the Left Leg was in the front, and I was purling into the Right Leg…

19. Purling into the Back Leg, Right Leg in Back

…the stitch would not be twisted. This is also much easier to do. Whenever I have met a knitter who naturally purls to the Back Leg, their stitches have been mounted with the Right Leg in back. I’m not saying this is always the way. It has just been my experience.

Now we are ready to move on the second factor that affects stitch mount (and perhaps affects it more immediately than which leg you work into). Let’s look at how we wrap our yarn.

There are two directions in which the yarn can travel around the needle. I struggled for a long time over how to describe these ways. Things like “from the back, over the top” and “from the back under the bottom” ended up being a little too subjective for many knitters I have worked with. I have finally settled on describing direction of wrapping as Clockwise or Counter Clockwise (when looking at the tip of the needle).

Here is an example:

Whenever I knit or purl, I wrap the yarn Counter Clockwise, which looks like this:

20. Wrapping Counter Clockwise

See it?

21. Really, Counter-Clockwise

How about now?

The alternative, of course is wrapping Clockwise.

22. Wrapping Clockwise

Once again, the purls can be a little harder to visualize, so here are pictures of each. Really, Clockwise and Counter Clockwise look totally different in the purl stitch.

23. Purl wrap, Counter Clockwise

24. Purl Wrap, Clockwise

Many people find it easier to purl by wrapping Clockwise, rather than Counter Clockwise, even if they knit by wrapping Counter Clockwise. Because the direction of wrapping determines the mount of the stitches on the next row, this way of knitting leads to an interesting situation where the stitch mount on the knit side is different from the stitch mount on the purl side (it is actually a very common way of knitting, which I will discuss at length later).

Well, I have officially fulfilled all the promises I made about the “Intro to Stitch Mount” post. Here is a summary of what we have covered, with Vocab Words and important concepts in bold:

  1. Stitches have a Right Leg and a Left Leg
  2. Either leg (Right or Left) can be in Front of the needle (Front Leg) or in Back of the needle (Back Leg)
  3. The Right leg, whether it is in front or back, is further forward on the needle (closer to the tip).
  4. The Knitter can knit or purl into the Front Leg or into the Back Leg (tbl).
  5. When the Knitter works into the Right Leg (whether it is Front or Back), the result will be an untwisted stitch.
  6. Working into the Left Leg (whether it is in Front or Back), will yield a Twisted Stitch.
  7. Most patterns assume that the stitches sit with the Right Legs in Front. When they want a twisted stitch, they say “Knit one to the Back Loop” (Ktbl) This does not work for everyone, and that’s OK. (I will discuss other significant extensions of this idea in Part 3.
  8. When working a stitch (either Knit or Purl), the Knitter can wrap the yarn around the needle either Clockwise or Counter Clockwise. This choice affects the mount of the stitches on the next row.

Are you full yet? Well, I’m getting pretty close to empty for the moment. Here, however, is a sneak peek at what’s to come:

There are two ways to wrap yarn (Clockwise and Counter Clockwise) and two ways enter a stitch (Front Loop or Back Loop) and two kinds of stitches (Knit and Purl). This gives us 16 different permutations, 16 different ways of knitting (stockinette stitch, at least).

In Part 2, I will discuss these permutations, point out the ones that are most common, and (more importantly) show you what they look like and why they look like that. Oh Boy, Oh Boy! (right? I’m sure there is someone out there as excited about this as I am…)

Until then, Happy (and informed) Knitting!

 

Fixing Things: Part 2 (Holes in Socks) January 21, 2010

Filed under: fixing,how to — Hannah Cuviello @ 10:26 am
Tags: , , , ,

Dear Sock Knitters,

As long as I have been knitting socks and giving them to others, I have felt that the best compliment I can receive in return is to see big old holes in the bottom of those socks. While I appreciate the sentiment that leads to handknit socks being hidden away in drawers with sprigs of lavender and cedar, only taken out on special occasions, I personally really knit socks to be worn. I live in the right household for that.

1. Much Loved Socks

These are clearly well-loved socks; pilled and threadbare from months of near constant wear. Now, I didn’t knit these socks, but I think that the dear friend who did would be very gratified to see this:

2. Very Much Loved

Especially knowing that these lovely, warm house socks were the only reason that my husband got out of bed and walked around on our cold hardwood floors this winter. At one point, one of the socks got lost in the laundry; I didn’t see my husband for days.

Now, in the interest of continuing to spend time with my husband during the day, I must make them wearable again. I invite you all to come along for the ride.

First, a note on the socks themselves.  As you can see, they are knit out of a heavy wool, Cascade Eco+. While this wool generally felts very well, we have somehow managed to wash these socks numerous times without any measurable shrinkage.  In the very early washings, there were signs that the socks would like to shrink, however much stretching quickly brought them back in line. Now they don’t even think about it.

I am hopeful that, since the socks are knit out of such a thick wool, the steps in the mending process will be easier to see over the internet. Note that these exact steps may or may not translate to other mending projects. My goal is to share the concepts behind the mending process.   Another disclaimer: This is just how I mend socks. Like almost everything in knitting, there are as many ways to do it as there are knitters and they probably all have their merits.

Now for my mending. Let’s take a closer look.

3. Closer Look

Yep. It’s a hole.  I recognise that red is not the easiest color to discern in detail over the internet, but hopefully, we will manage. The first thing I do when preparing to mend socks is get my bearings: determine how many rows and how many stitches I am dealing with. This might make that a little clearer:

4. Getting my bearings

Above, you see that the top and bottom rows (purple and green) are more or less intact, while the three middle rows have worn away, creating the hole. Along the bottom, are three green “stitches” (represented here by what looks likes previously used green staples). This tells us that about three stitches on each row have come unknit.  My preferred method is to go row by row, recreating the stitches that have come undone. Beginning with the bottom row, I anchor the mending yarn by duplicate stitching in the last two intact stitches of the first row. (What? For clarification of the duplicate stitch, see the previous post.)

4. Start with Duplicate Stitch

Here I have traced two of the intact stitches with the yarn I will use for mending (conveniently, a different color- my husband good-naturedly did not object to having periwinkle patches on his feet).  This is called Duplicate stitch.

Before continuing, I will need to pick up the three stitches from the last fully intact row (the green row in picture 3).

5. Pick up intact stitches.

I like using short, double pointed needles for mending; they don’t get in the way and I can knit in either direction.

The next step is easy. Just knit those three stitches. We all know how to do that!

6. Knit 3 stitches

7. 1st row almost done.

The first row of the hole is not pretty much mended. All we have to do now is anchor the other end, connecting it with the stitches on the other side of the hole.

As with the beginning of the row, we will be using duplicate stitch. Now, the basic rule of duplicate stitch is that the yarn will always come out of a stitch, go up or down diagonally, go behind two legs of the stitch directly above or below, then go back into the same stitch. The key thing to remember is that before the yarn can come out of any stitch, it has to go behind two legs. (People who have read my post on duplicate stitch say “Wait, it took 3 pages and 20 pictures to say that?!”)

8. End of row 1: Duplicate stitch

I think I should have more colors here to aid in explanation.

8b: Duplicate with colors

Look at the third Blue stitch from the right. The yarn comes out of a green stitch (a Balloon, using the terminology of the previous post), over the needle (it would go behind the legs of another stitch if this were intact knitting) then back into the same green stitch, which you can’t see, because it is behind the needle. Now, remember, before the yarn can come out of a stitch, it has to go behind two legs. When the yarn goes back into the green stitch, it goes behind one of the legs (see picture 8b).  I have to use a darning needle to bring the yarn behind the second leg and out through the center of the third green stitch. The stitch on the far left, outlined in blue, is the one I will be duplicating with the mending yarn. When I’m done, it looks like this:

9. Row 1 complete

A quick overview of my intentions for row 2. I will be mending row 2 from left to right (row 1, remember, was right to left). After Duplicate stitching the two intact stitches to the left of the hole, I will knit the three stitches from the needle and then connect them to the fabric on the right side of the hole using duplicate stitch.

Have you detected a problem with this plan? Because I am working from left to right, it seems to necessitate knitting backwards, that is, knitting the three stitches on the needle from left to right, rather than from right to left.  While I have had occasion in my knitting life to become proficient in knitting backwards, I don’t expect everyone out there to be as excited about it as I am. Here is an alternative:

Do the duplicate stitch on the left side of the hole, leave 3 stitches worth of yarn, and do the duplicate stitch on the right side of the hole. Now, using the extra yarn you left, knit the three stitches from right to left. How much yarn does it take to knit three stitches? Well, since I have not actually moved on to the second row yet, I can check on that.

10. Three stitches worth

This is how much yarn you should save.

Now, to continue with the mending,the first thing I have to do is get up to the next row. I have already stated that I intend to work row 2 from left to right, the other option being to cut the yarn and go back to the right hand side of the hole, where I started row one. That, however, would mean two extra ends to weave in and I’m not cool with that. Here is my preference:

11: Up a row

Bring the yarn diagonally up and through the center of the stitch immediately to its right. I am now ready to duplicate the two intact stitches of Row 2 that are on the left side of the hole. Once that is done, I will leave enough yarn loose to knit the three stitches and duplicate the two stitches on the right side of the hole.

12. Leave enough yarn.

In picture 12, I have left enough yarn to go back and knit the three stitches.  Also note that I have begun the duplicate stitch by going under the leg of the left most stitch from the beginning of row one. Once the yarn is secure on the far side of the hole, I knit the three stitches in the center.

13: Row 2 done

With two duplicate stitches done on the right side of row 2, I am ready to begin row 3.

14. Begin row three

In picture 14, I have moved up to row 3 and made two duplicate stitches, just as I did on row 2. Now, it would be lovely if I could just knit the next three stitches and be done with it, but remember from picture 4 that there were only three rows of mending that needed to be done. This being the third row, I have to find a way to connect it to the row above, which remained intact (the purple row in picture 4).

You can see in picture that the yarn of row three goes into the middle of the left most stitch of row 2 and comes out from behind one leg. This means that the next thing I have to do is bring the yarn behind a second leg and out through the center of the next stitch (which happens to be on the needle).

15. Behind the second leg

The next thing to do, according to our duplicate stitch instructions, is: “come out of a stitch, go up diagonally, go behind two legs of the stitch directly above…”

16. Hidden stitch

To find “the stitch directly above”, we have to see where the yarn came from before going behind the legs it just came out of. In other words, we have to backtrack. Now, this is not very fair, given the picture above, since the stitch in question is almost impossible to see.

16b. Found stitch

Focussing on the “teardrops” (for clarification, see previous post), notice that the third teardrop has only one line of yarn coming out of it. We know (from our duplicate stitch rules) that each stitch must have a line coming out and a line going in. This means that our next move has to be a line going into that third stitch.

17. Line out, line in

Next step in the duplicate stitch rules? Go behind two legs.  One leg is shown in the picture above, the second leg is part of the next stitch on the needle.

18. Second leg

Remember the next step? We’ve just gone behind two legs, now we move diagonally downwards and go into the last stitch that the yarn came out of.

19. Downward Diagonally

21. Into the center and under two

Still with me?

I have just gone under two legs of a lower stitch. Now I have to go back up diagonally, into the center of an upper stitch and under two legs.

22. Under two upper legs

Again, I highlighted the upper legs in question, since they can be extra hard to see. The second leg belongs to the stitch on the needle.

23. Under two upper legs

Now into a lower stitch and under two legs there.

24. Two lower legs

Next, you guessed it, up and under two upper legs.

25. Last two upper legs

And now for the last two lower legs.

26. Last two lower legs

Note that the leg on the left belongs to one of the initial duplicate stitches from the beginning of row 2! We’re home free.

27. All done

There we have it. There may be a pop quiz later.

Before I (finally) end this post, I would like to say a word or two about prevention. Of course, well-loved socks are going to wear out eventually, but the lovely people in the yarn industry have given us some tools to help fend off that day a little longer. One of these tools is darning yarn. This is generally a very thin wool/nylon blend thread that can be held together with the actual yarn while knitting the heel and the toe (the two parts of the sock that most commonly develop holes). The darning yarn is thin enough that it won’t change your gauge or create uncomfortable bulk in the sock.  It can also be used to shore up thin patches on elbows or other threadbare places on sweaters, if you don’t have access to the original yarn. In many cases, the darning yarn is thin enough it be used for mending holes in machine knit or store-bought garments.

What if your socks don’t wear just at the toe or heel? The socks above, for example, wore out more on the ball of the foot. If you don’t necessarily want darning yarn knit together with the regular yarn all the way around the foot, you can duplicate stitch the darning yarn over just the areas that tend to wear (seeing as you are all now experts in duplicate stitch).

OK. I think that I may have actually run out of words. I know, you thought it was never going to happen. Well, here is proof. Go now and wear your handknit socks without fear!