Abundance

Life with Fiber and Fiber Arts

Sew Its Seams January 23, 2011

Filed under: Garter Stitch Seams,how to,knitting theory,Seaming — Hannah Cuviello @ 6:35 pm

(Snicker, snicker)

I love the New Year; it’s so full of opportunities to do all the things I didn’t do last year. I’m also a huge proponent of New Year’s Resolutions Lists…mostly because I would be lost without lists. I don’t know if you have noticed this about me…but I’m a little scatter brained. Not in a bad way! Usually, actually, in a very amusing way. A putting the remote control in the freezer kind of way. A leaving my keys in the door kind of way. Without lists, I would be completely lost and would, consequently never get anything done. Never. Ever.

I especially love the satisfying feeling of checking something off my list. It’s so encouraging. That is why my New Year’s Resolution List will never contain something like, “Eat healthier” or “Keep the house clean.”  How do I check that off? I won’t know I’ve done it until January of next year. I will have lost my list by then anyway.   My New Year’s resolutions list usually contains small, manageable tasks that I just didn’t get around to last year. It’s more of a New Year’s To-Do list, really. So far, this year’s list contains:

Write Tunisian Crochet Blog (check!)

Rephotograph Cascade 220 superwash (check!)

Write Seaming Blog (check!)

Write the rest of the Ways of Knitting posts … (no check yet)

Take down Christmas Tree (almost check!)

Make Afghan

Start Charity Knitting Project

Plus a few other choice tasks, all easily manageable if I can just remember about them long enough to get them done.

Today’s post has to do with three of the above Resolution Tasks, namely, “Make Afghan” and “Write Seaming post” and “Start Charity Knitting Project”.  You see, I am quite fond of Afghans…especially in January.  I am particularly fond of afghans that are knit in many small, manageable squares (each square is a check mark on my To-Do list!).  I am even more pleased when each square is different and interesting in its own way. For this reason, I am drawn to XRX’s Series of Great American Afghan books (including Great American Afghan, Great American Aran Afghan, and Great North American Afghan).

We have several of these afghans in my house and are getting started on a brand new Great North American Afghan (colors as yet undecided).

Now, I can imagine what some of you out there are thinking. You like the idea of an afghan where each square provides new, engaging designs and techniques, but you just aren’t into sewing together all those squares. I know how you feel. I used to be firmly in the “I’m a knitter, not a sewer” camp and was determined to knit only top-down or otherwise seamless garments. Then I sat down and learned how to do it right…and you know what? It turns out that it is supremely satisfying to produce a beautifully seamed piece of knitting. It’s just as satisfying as checking a whole slew of things off a list.

Today, we are going to talk about seaming. Specifically, we are going to look at the kind of seaming that would be involved were you to make one of the above mentioned afghans…Garter Stitch seaming.

Very cleverly, the publishers of the American Afghan books required all the designers to give their squares tidy garter stitch borders, simplifying the seaming process tremendously. That said, there are still three different kinds of garter stitch seams you will encounter, should you knit these afghans.

1. Seaming up the edges of Garter rows (this one is easy!).

2. Seaming along bound off or cast on edges of Garter.

3. A mix; seaming a bound off edge to the edges of rows.

Let’s start with what is often considered the easiest of the three.Garter stitch, you may have noticed, is made up of ridges of alternating knit and purl rows (this describes the finished look, not necessarily how you come by it). Along the edges, you will notice handy little bumps, which correspond to the purl row ridges.

Each edge bump actually consists of two interlocking bumps; a lower bump and an upper bump.

When seaming Garter edges, you will insert the weaving needle through the lower bumps on one side of the seam and the upper bumps on the other side, alternately.

Go back and forth from one side to the other, until you have something like this:

When seaming, I will usually make several passes before pulling the thread tight and closing the seam. I find it easier to get into the bumps when the seam is still loose. Also, I love pulling the seam tight with a satisfying zip. Just be careful not to wait too long or it will become rather difficult.

Normally, of course, you would sew the seam with yarn that matched one of your squares.

Wasn’t that easy?

Number two takes a little bit more scrutiny of the knitting, but is, I think, still not too bad.

Just under the bound off edge of your square, you will see the little V’s of your stitches (they’re right above the upper bumps). To seam this edge, insert the needle behind both legs of one of those V’s.

On the other side of the seam, you will find much the same thing.

Do you see the little legs? They are right above the bump from the cast off (a cast on edge will look rather similar and be treated the same way).Insert your needle under the legs of a stitch on the bottom square, then under the legs of a stitch on the top square. Go back to the bottom square and move on to the next stitch.

If you can do these, sewing seams that include both edges will be just as easy. On the side with ridge bumps, insert your needle under the bumps (in this case, I actually go under both the top and bottom bump); on the cast off side, go under the legs of the V’s.

Alternate between the two edges as before and pull tight.

Sometimes you will have squares that aren’t exactly the same size a their neighbors. In this event, you can skip a stitch now and then on the side that is longer (I’m afraid I was not feeling quite thorough enough to take pictures of that for you. I’m sorry.)

So…are those afghans feeling a little more approachable now? Do you feel inspired?

Perhaps you would enjoy the experience of knitting these fun and enlightening squares, but  feel a little “no-thank-you” about seaming, let me offer an alternative.  We at Abundant Yarn are big fans of a program called Project Linus. This wonderful organization collects handmade blankets and afghans and distributes them to children who are ill, traumatized or otherwise in need. Should you feel like you would like to knit some squares, but don’t want to seam them, send them to us. We will be happy to sew them together for you. Then we will send them to Project Linus.

Actually, I will be writing (very, very soon) another post, completely dedicated to our upcoming official afghan square drive, with all the details you could possible want. Until then, I leave you with the tools to finish any garter stitch afghans you may happen to have lying around.

Happy Seaming!

 

 

 

Short Rows, in Short November 21, 2010

Filed under: how to,knitting theory,Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 5:34 pm

Apparently, it has been a while since I had time to post anything. I’m so ashamed.

Wait! I have an excuse. You see, I’ve been doing some knitting. Lots of knitting. Top Secret knitting.

Finally, I can share some of it with you all.

First, I spent some time working on this:

The “Saxony Scarf” for the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts issue. It is knit here out of Nashua Creative Focus Chunky, but I’m working on a second one in Cascade’s 128 Superwash and it’s coming out quite lovely (pics to come).

Then, I spent rather a lot of time (well a month, I guess) working on this:

The Scavenger Skirt, knit out of Sanguine Gryphon’s beautiful Codex yarn (silk and BFL wool), was part of their recent Steampunk inspired pattern line.  So there we go. I have also been working on some Secret Knitting that will not be revealed until the end of December, and then some other stuff. What I mean to say is that I have been having all sorts of fiber fun.

  Yes, I know that I still owe some installments of the Ways of Knitting series of post, but, in my defense, I never claimed to be good at staying focussed on a single thing for a long time. In fact, I think that I clearly stated that I am quite easily and frequently distracted by shiny things.

Right now, Short Rows are particularly shiny. I have been doing rather a lot of knitting with short rows lately and have fallen quite in love with them. I know what you’re thinking: “I hate short rows; they’re dumb and futzy and not worth the trouble”.  I once thought as you do (if you weren’t thinking that, good for you; you’re already drinking the short row koolaid). Now, however, I recognize that short rows are in fact not dumb, not that futzy (almost all of the time) and really, really worth the trouble (not that they’re really any trouble). Please observe the list of things that short rows do well:

1. Make curve hugging contours in your knitting.

2.  Make circular objects without knitting in the round.

3. Make edgings go around corners.

4. Make fun squiggles and shapes in all sorts of interesting places.

5. Make socks!

And that’s just the beginning.

Today, I am going to write a little bit about the different flavors of short row treatments. First, though, the theory:

When knitting short rows, you work to almost the end of your row, then turn your knitting, leaving the remaining stitches unworked. When you first started knitting, you probably did this a lot on accident. The result is that there is a portion of your knitting that is longer (has more rows) than another portion of your knitting.  This is useful when you are trying to knit fabric to cover something that goes out in some places and not in others.

Example: Ladies, take a tape measure and measure from the top front of your shoulder to your belt, in line with where your shoulder seam (if you are wearing set-in sleeves) is. Now, measure down your front, starting at a parallel point, but making sure to measure over the bosom and keeping the tape measure next to your body. (Fellows, you can find a lady to try this on, but make sure to ask for permission first). There is probably a different in the measurements. The height from shoulder to belt is the same, but there is more surface area over the bosom than at the side. Many sweaters and shirts ride up in the front because there is not a comparable difference in the amount of fabric used to cover the surfaces. We use short rows (on purpose) to make more fabric in the areas that go out more. Isn’t that Awesome?!

   When you were a beginning knitter and did this on accident, you probably observed a hole in your knitting once you worked back across the place where the short row happened. The trick to doing short rows on purpose is finding a way to avoid the holes. This is especially important when the short rows are someplace conspicuous, like the bust of  a sweater. That is what we are talking about today.

    OK. Too much text and not enough pictures! I thought this was a yarn blog!

First, I will address what has been (I believe) the most common way to treat short rows: The Wrap and Turn.

 Many patterns that require short rows will say something like this:

“Work to 2 stitches before the end of the row ‘Wrap and Turn’ leaving remaining stitch unworked”. Shown above, the Wrap and Turn is the reason why many knitters avoid short rows (it’s OK, I have two alternatives below). In the last picture above, I have wrapped every stitch on the row, creating a pretty severe angle. I have used this technique to make slantwise pocket fronts on bottom up sweaters. Notice that each of the stitches in that row has a bit of yarn wrapped around its base (like a tiny scarf keeping its little stitch neck warm). When working back across these stitches, you will have to knit that wrap together with the stitch it is wrapping. Observe:

That’s not so bad, right? OK, I know, it’s one thing to work in wraps on the right side of the piece when they are positioned in the direction you are knitting anyway. I promise that there will be a post on what to do when things get more hairy. This post is supposed to be “Short rows in Short”, and I am doing my very best to keep it to the basics (as much as I ever do, anyway).

Moving on. The next flavor of short row, which got quite a bit of attention a couple of years ago with regard to toe up socks, is the Yarn Over Short Row. This involves no wrapping at all and is much favored by those who would rather eat nails than wrap and turn.

While there is less slipping back and forth of stitches, this method is a little futzy in its own way. That is, yarning over on the right hand needle at the beginning of the row is not what we are used to. Once all your short rows are complete, you should have what looks like lots and lots of stitches on your needle. Really, it is just pairs of stitch and yarn over.

The working in part is just as simple here as it was for the wrap and turns. You knit the YOs together with the following stitch.

Finally, we have the Minimalist Approach, so called because it involves no wrapping and no YOs. All you do is turn, then slip the next stitch and work across the wrong side to the end. If you want a steep angle (as in the swatches above) you just work to one stitch before the last turning point every right side  row. If you do this for every stitch, you will end up with this:

To avoid holes, you…well, it’s better to look at it:

 The trickiest part to this is identifying the third stitch down from the needle. Cat Bordhi (a knitting genius and one of my knitting idols) calls this stitch the “grandmother stitch”. That is, the stitch on the needle is the “daughter stitch”, the one below it is the “mother stitch” and the one below that is the “grandmother stitch”. In step two, you insert the tip of the left hand needle, from back to front, into the grandmother stitch and then knit it together with the next stitch on the needle. I may be biased (this is my short row method of choice) but I really think that this one looks the best. Of course, I might just be better at it.

So there we go. In a later post (later just like those other “Ways of Knitting” posts are coming later) I will go into doing short rows from the wrong side. Fun times! Note, the short rows in these swatches are pretty noticeable because I have worked them on every row, which drastically changes the direction of the knitting. Worked every two or four (or more) stitches, they would be far more subtle.

Of course these are not the only short row methods out there. The Japanese Short Row method is quite popular and produces lovely results. It requires the use of a safety pin, however, and once there a whole other tool involved, I’m pretty much out.

So, we go to all this trouble to prevent holes where the shore rows end. Sometimes, however, it’s just not such a big deal. For example, in the “Bathtime Blossoms” washcloth pattern set by Evelyn A. Clark.

Each of these decidedly round washcloths is actually knit back and forth using short rows. There are no wraps, however, and no YOs. There is no special picking up of stitches. It is so cleverly written, in fact, that you hardly realize you are knitting short rows at all. If all of the above futziness makes you a little nervous, this is actually a pretty good place to start (plus they make great gifts!).

So there you go. Short Rows. More on that later, until then, go get started on your holiday projects!

 

Ways of Knitting: Part 2.2 Twist and Shout (cont.) April 4, 2010

Welcome back, friends. I have had a few days respite from our good friend stockinette stitch and am ready and excited to tackle our last eight swatches.

Remember that we had just finished a series of swatches in which we knit into the front leg and wrapped clockwise. Now we move on to the third column of the chart, for which we will be knitting into the back leg and wrapping counter-clockwise. Here is another look at the chart, just to jog our memory:

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

Now, without further ado…

Swatch 9:

Looking at the chart above and remember what we learned about what affects stitch mount, we can predict that the stitches on the knit row will be mounted as they were in swatches 1 and 5, with the Right Leg in front.

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

In this tutorial, we have yet to encounter knitting into the Back leg, so here is a picture to put us all on the same page.

2. Knitting into the back leg, wrapping counter-clockwise

Because the Back Leg, in this case, is also the Left leg (although it is, admittedly, very difficult to see that from the picture), we know that we will be twisting the stitches on this row.

Since we were wrapping counter Clockwise on the knit row, we also know that the stitches of the purl row will be mounted with the Right leg in Front.

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

I won’t say that this particular purl row is unexciting, but we have certainly seen it’s like before. We end up with a swatch that is twisted every other row (remember that we twisted the stitches we were knitting into).

3. Swatch 9: Knit into the Back leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise, Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Count Clockwise

Ooh…new post, new color of yarn for the swatches. Just changing it up a bit.

Swatch 10 (this one is exciting):

You will begin the knit row with the Left Legs in front of the needle.

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

Unlike Swatch 9, the knit stitches of Swatch 10 will not be twisted. This is because we are now knitting into the Right leg of the stitch, rather than into the Left Leg.

4. Knitting into the Back (Right) Leg, yielding untwisted stitch

You can see in picture 4 that, even though we are knitting into the Back leg, the legs of the stitch are not crossed at the bottom.

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

Although we have seen a picture of this before, I think I will show it again:

5. Purl, wrapping Clockwise

You see, many people really prefer to purl this way, rather than wrapping Counter Clockwise. Looking at the picture, it is pretty easy to see why. There does, in fact, seem to be very little wrapping involved at all. Rather, the needle can just sort of hook the yarn and pull it through. Compare this to wrapping Counter Clockwise…

6. Purl wrap, Counter Clockwise

…where the yarn comes from the front of the needle, over the top, and down behind the needle. The Clockwise wrap does indeed seem to be the simpler option.

In the end, Swatch 10 looks like this:

7. Swatch 10: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise, Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise

Interesting, no?   Generally referred to as Combination Knitting (I know, I wasn’t going to get into those kinds of labels until Part 4, but I just couldn’t help it) this is, in fact, an extremely popular technique, especially among people who don’t prefer to wrap their purls Counter Clockwise.  As you can see, the end result is the same as Swatch 1 (and Swatch 7). There are, in fact, many well-known knitters who knit this way, perhaps most notably knitter/designer/author Annie Modesitt. In fact, she travels, speaks, and teaches all over the country, encouraging those knitters who do not necessarily knit in the fashion prescribed by much of the knitting media. If you happen to knit like this, know that you are not alone.


Swatch 11:

The knit stitches of this swatch are mounted with the Right Leg in front.

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

Since the Left Leg is in back and we are knitting into it, we know that we are twisting these stitches.

8. (repeat of 2) Knitting into the back leg, wrapping counter-clockwise

Because we are wrapping Counter Clockwise, we know that the stitches of the Purl Side will be mounted with their Right Legs in Front, just as the knit side was.

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

Since the Purl stitches are mounted as they are (Right Leg in Front) Purling into the Back (Left) Leg will also yield a twisted stitch, giving us a swatch that looks like this:

9. Swatch 11: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise; Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise

I think that I have mentioned before that I really like to look of twisted stitches. Whenever I happen to decide that my knitting needs a section of twisted stitches, this is how I choose to achieve it. Both the knits and the purls are wrapped Counter Clockwise, which is how I wrap when I am knitting (see Swatch 1), and the only difference is which leg I knit into. I, personally, find it much easier to adjust which leg of the stitch I work into, rather than which direction I wrap, to achieve any short-term changes in the look of my knitting.

Swatch 12:

The only element that is changing between this swatch and the previous is the direction in which we wrap our purl stitches. This, we know, is going to change the mount of our knit stitches, which will now be sitting with the Left Leg in Front of the needle.

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

Since the Right leg is now in back, knitting into it will give us an untwisted stitch, as it did in Swatch 10.

10. (Repeat of 4)Knitting into the Back Leg, untwisted

Our purl stitches will be mounted as they have been since Swatch 9 (the direction of wrapping on our knit stitches has been constant, remember), with the Right Leg in Front.

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

While we have had to purl into the Back Leg recently (Swatch 10) and even into the Back/Left leg, purling into the Back/Left leg and wrapping Clockwise (which we haven’t had to do since Swatch 4) is probably my least favorite combination. It represents the opposite of everything I naturally want to do. Oh, the sacrifices I make in the name of education!! (umm…just kidding)

Anyway, here is what we get for out troubles:

11. Swatch 12: Knit into the Back leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise; Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

But not only that! We also get this:

12. Three columns (12 swatches) down!

As I have mentioned before, there will be a much better, clearer chart at the very end.


Lucky Swatch 13:

We start out this new column just was we have started every column (because we are always purling the same way in the first swatch of a column), with our knit stitches mounted Right Leg in Front.

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

This way of knitting (and consequently this entire column) constitutes the exact opposite of the way I naturally knit. (Just wait until we get to the last swatch!).  Let me stress again, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with knitting this way; it just happens to be counter intuitive to me and consequently more likely to spark a bout of whining.

At any rate, we will be twisting these knit stitches, as we have in the first swatch of every column, so that the Right Leg crosses over the Left Leg:

13. Right Leg crosses over Left Leg (or Left leg crosses under Right leg)

Since we are now wrapping Clockwise, our Purl stitches will be mounted withe the Right Leg in Back of the needle.

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

While I find the knit stitch in this swatch unwieldy, I find the purl stitch perfectly natural, if somewhat more difficult than it normally is. Because I am now purling into the Left leg, I know that I will be twisting the stitches of this row.

14. Left Leg crossing over Right Leg

You can see in Picture 14 (repeated from…ooh, somewhere, I’m sure) that the Left Leg of the stitch is about to cross over the Right Leg. Note that we just crossed our knit stitches in the opposite direction, meaning that our swatch will look like:

15. Swatch 13: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise

I still think this is very pretty; just as pretty as it was in Swatch 4. Maybe even prettier.

Swatch 14:

We are changing the direction of wrapping on out purl row, and thus the mount of our Knit stitches. These are now sitting with their Right legs in Back of the needle.

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

No twisting here; we are knitting into the Right leg, so our stitches are untwisted.

Since we are wrapping Counter-clockwise on both our knit and purl rows, our purl stitches will be mounted just as our knit stitches were, with the Right Leg in Back.

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

This is not nearly so easy to do as it was in Swatch 10, because of the stitch mount. The end result, I’m afraid, is also not quite as exciting. As we se so often, the stitches are only twisted every other row.

16. Swatch 14: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping clockwise; Purl into the Front Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

As I have mentioned before, I see this result fairly often “out in the field.”  I don’t think, however, that I have ever encountered someone who achieved it in quite this way. Of course, there are certain combinations of knitting that just aren’t very prominent where I happen to live.

Swatch 15: (Can you believe it?)

Our knits are mounted with the Right Leg in Front…for the last time!! Bwah Ha Ha!!

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

With the right leg in Front, and knitting into the Back Leg, we know that these stitches will be twisted.

The purl stitches, again, are mounted with their Right legs in Back.

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

These stitches, as you know, will be untwisted.

Do I seem like I’m hurrying? Maybe I am.  It’s all pretty redundant at this point, as I’m sure you have noticed.

In fact, you just saw something very similar to this:

17. Swatch 15: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Counter Clockwise.

…with the stitches twisted in the opposite direction, of course.


Oh my goodness, it’s…

Swatch 16!!!!

Well, here we are. Before we proceed, notice that this elements used to create this swatch are in every opposite of what I naturally do (that is, what we started with in Swatch 1). We are working into the Back leg of both purl and knit stitches and wrapping Clockwise in both cases. I can’t wait to see what it looks like!

As I’m sure you have guessed (or figured out based on past experience), both the knit and purl stitches of this swatch are mounted with the Right leg in Back.

18. Knit and Purl stitches of Swatch 16: Right Legs in Back

Knit Side: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

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

What do we get?

19. Swatch 16: Knit into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise; Purl into the Back Leg, wrapping Clockwise.

And so, we have come full circle. If there are any combinations that I have neglected to address, by all means, please let me know. When I set out to do something, by golly, I want to do a thorough job of it. Redundancy just helps cement it in the brain, right?

Finally, here is the much-nicer-looking-chart that I promised you:

20. Final Chart

There we go. It’s been a trip. It still is, actually; remember we are only halfway through the “Ways of Knitting” series. Coming up is the really reason I undertook this whole line of explanation. In Part 3, we will talk about why it is important to know how you knit in relation to how patterns assume you knit, specifically when it comes to matters of decreasing. All of this was just build-up, really. So, I am off to knit more swatches and take more pictures. I will be back with you shortly, but in the meantime…

Happy Knitting!

21. The Swatch, itself

 

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!

 

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!