Daily Archives: November 8, 2009

Twist it, baby

As an adventurous knitter one of the things I have become pretty comfortable with is twisted stitches – that is, purposefully twisted stitches. I’m a pretty conventional knitter in the sense that I knit “normal” English-style, and don’t twist my stitches unless I mean to. There are, of course, knitters who knit all their stitches twisted and then purposefully untwist them (or not) on alternating rows as they please, and this works well for them. When I talk about twisted stitches, I mean that instruction that we come across to knit “through the back loop,” or as it is often noted, “ktbl” or “k1tbl.”


However, on the off chance that there are knitters out there reading this who have no idea what we mean by “ktbl” for “knit through the back loop”, I thought I’d offer a brief demonstration of this. If it’s a new term for you, it’s the sort of thing that is much easier to understand visually than descriptively. Below is a short, 3-minute video clip of me demonstrating ribbing in alternating ‘k1tbl, p1′, but I’ll show off the basics with a few photos as well. This was a fun chance to practice out a few more camera tricks and use my little point & shoot for more of the things it can do. Here we go!

Video-me explaining ktbl, below:

(I think my voice sounds a bit odd here, but that is probably due to the fact that I was lying on the floor in front of my wee camera and tripod to do this. Totally worth it, though.)

Photo-me explaining the same process from 2-D images:

We’ve got some nice ribbing going here already in ‘k1tbl, p1′. The yarn helping us out is Malabrigo Silky Merino in ‘Amoroso’. It’s a single-spun yarn which really shows off the difference between k1 and k1tbl quite well. (I’m using the Magic Loop technique to work in the round on this sample.)

Now, if we were doing a regular k1 stitch, we would move to insert the needle through the stitch knit-wise, through the ‘front’ loop, like so:


However, this isn’t a normal k1, so we are instead inserting the needle through the stitch purl-wise, through the ‘back’ of the loop, like so:


From there, we simply wrap the knit stitch (or pick, as all you super-speedy continental-knitters would do) as we normally would, and pull it off onto the right-hand needle. The result is that the knit stitch sits slightly twisted on the needles, as we have rotated it slightly:


And you’re done! That wasn’t so hard, was it?


The result is that the twisted stitches sit much more snugly and produce a more clearly defined, sturdy stitch than a regular knit stitch would. They are highly decorative, which is why they can be well-used in applying texture to stitch patterns and to swirly, twisty cables. Anything labelled as “Bavarian” is going to have whackloads of twisted stitches. (Mmmm, delicious challenge). However, twisted knits are also much less elastic than normal stitches. So, ribbing in ‘k1tbl, p1′ will still be clingy, but much less stretchy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is just something extra to take into account when you apply twisted stitches. When applied all over a garment, you may need a few more stitches than you normally would to achieve the same size or fit.

And you know, I think they’re pretty.


One of the key things to keep in mind is how you hold your hands and fingers. You are adding more twist and tension to your knitting when you do this, so there can be added twist and tension on your hands and fingers as well. You may find yourself wanting to stop occasionally and stretch it out a bit more than you normally would, or feel your hands fatiguing a bit sooner. I know this is often the case for me.

I’ve used twisted stitches as a design feature a couple of times – for any of you who have already knitted Viper Pilots, you know there isn’t a single normal knit stitch in there. They are all twisted. I know this because after I finished them I had to remind myself that it was possible, in fact, to knit normal knits instead of always twisting them. They can be a challenge at first, but very easy to get used to.

That’s the story for today, folks! Stay tuned for Part 2 on Monday, wherein I reveal my most recent application of the k1tbl ;) Happy Sunday!


Filed under demo