Daily Archives: June 11, 2010

In which I talk about yarnovers

So, as we covered last time, I am in recovery from learning that I have been working my yarnovers (YO, also alternately indicated as “yarn forward” or “yf” – remember that, it’ll come in handy later) incorrectly, and dudes, it is a long damned time since I learned a knitted thing that changed my perception of what I was doing so distinctly. You can never have so much experience you can’t still occasionally feel like a beginner. Since my Yarnover Epiphany I have also since learned I am not the only one who has had this experience, something which eases my embarrassment like crazy.

Anyhoo, yarnovers. Let’s do this with some photos and you can figure out for yourself if a) you’ve been doing it right all along and can now sit a little bit taller in your chair knowing this, or b) you’ve been doing it wrong too and can come comiserate me with a stiff drink, or c) you have no idea what yarnovers are and are just here for some online procrastination. No matter.

Yarnovers are pretty much the cornerstone of lace in knitted form, I’d hazard to say. Heck, as Steph’s recent poll so soundly indicated, you make lace by putting holes in your knitting on purpose. Said holes generally get accomplished by combining YOs with decreases in various combinations. And it looks super pretty.

June10-YOswatch2

I’ll explain with the aid of some photos here, first by showing you how I have been doing it, and then by showing you the way it is actually meant to be done.

When you are creating a yarnover, you are wrapping the yarn around the needle to create a loop. When you work that loop on the next row, it leaves a nice little lacy hole behind. Let’s assume that we are about to work a “yo, k2tog” step on this little swatch, below. Let’s also assume that we are starting with the yarn in the position as if to knit – yarn held in back of work.

June10-YOwrong1

Next, what I have been doing is wrapping the yarn around the needle from the back, around the front of the needle…

June10-YOwrong2

June10-YOwrong4

And then working the K2tog right afterwards…

June10-YOwrong5

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…and as a result you get a loop that looks like this from the front of the work (the worked YO is on the right-hand needle):

June10-YOwrong7

…and it looks like this from the back of the work (worked YO is now on the left-hand needle):

June10-YOwrong7-reverse

Turns out, this is actually a YO worked in the reverse direction from what you are supposed to do, which pulls at the knitted fabric and actually twists the YO in an unflattering fashion. It is the lace equivalent of knitting through the back loop when you are only supposed to knit a regular knit stitch. At the end of this post I’ll show you the results of this in a swatch that involves YO and patterning on every row. It’s huge.

In actual fact, the proper way to work a YO is, from that same starting position of the knit…

June10-YOwrong1

..bring your yarn forward to the front of the work. (Remember that this is also called “yarn forward”?)

June10-YOright1

That’s it. That’s a yarnover. For real.

Now, work the K2tog decrease that follows it, and the wrapped yarn will appear as you work that stitch:

June10-YOright2

June10-YOright3

June10-YOright4

TA-DA.

And now you end up with a yarnover sitting just to the right of the K2tog decrease:

June10-YOright5

See how different/better it looks compared to its cousin worked in the previous step?

You can see from the reverse side how different they look, in particular. The correct version now appears to the right-hand side of the photo:

June10-YObothreverse

If all you are doing is purling-back on your WS rows, you might not even notice or care. If, however, you are called upon to work pattern on both RS and WS rows and suddenly have to manipulate the YO worked on the previous row, it makes an inordinate amount of difference.

I worked up a swatch (below) on fingering-weight yarn in a simple little netting stitch using both versions – the bottom half of the swatch is done with the ‘wrong’ way, and the top half is worked in the ‘right’ way. Can you tell the difference? It’s not an enormous difference, so don’t feel bummed if you can’t – in fact, with aggressive wet-blocking I dare say nobody would notice unless they went over it extremely closely. Since I am usually a pretty aggressive wet-blocker with lace, this also explains a bit why I never noticed anything amiss.

June10-YOswatch1

However, check out this class swatch with a knitted-on edging, in which the bottom inch of the swatch was my work done with my initial method, and the rest of it was worked correctly. This is a sample in which there is patterning and YO on each row. See the difference now? See how compressed and flat the bottom section is, compared to the rest? (This is when, during class, I showed my finished swatch to Jennifer and she looked at me with a sympathetic “DUDE.”)

June10-ClassSwatch2

This, my friends, is the power of working yarnovers in the right direction.

Since Wednesday night’s lace class I have been wracking my brain trying to remember how I learned to work yarnovers – did someone show me? Did I learn from written instructions? From a book? Or did I just do what I thought was a YO at the time, only to go 2 years before realizing there was a better way? Who knows. But I’m pleased to know the better/right way now, and I hope you are too. (Unless of course, you already knew. If so, kudos and cake to you.)

Go forth and yarnover fearlessly!

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