Category Archives: demo

It’s a little gross, but it works

If you knit a lot of large projects – or projects involving more than one skein of yarn, you have encountered the step of switching from one skein of yarn to another mid-project. This is called a ‘join’ or a ‘tie-on’ in knitting lingo, and there are a lot of different ways to do it. You might know twelve different ways. It’s also entirely possible that you’ve been sort of Macguyver-ing this step and are convinced there is a better way to do it than your way. If you’re happy with the results you’ve been getting, by all means keep doing it.

Truthfully, you’ve got many fun options available to you, including simply dropping the old yarn and picking up the new one and returning later on to weave in the ends. There’s also the tried-and-true method of overlapping the incoming and exiting yarns with each other (holding them both yarns together and knitting a few stitches with both), or the approach of tying a square knot between the exiting and incoming tails of yarn, proceeding by knitting with the new yarn. I’ve used both of these options before, and they work just fine. The main downside with both of these options is that they  involve coming back later to deal with the ends.


If you’re working with 100% wool, more methods are available to you – in particular, the spit splice. Strands of wool (and it must be 100% regular wool, not superwash wool or wool blended with other things) have the ability to get fuzzy and friendly with other strands of wool. The same qualities, incidentally, that allow wool to felt – the planned and purposeful version of shrinking a piece of knitting – allow you to execute a spit splice.  Just as any kind of wool felting involves three steps: moisture, heat, and friction, a spit splice also needs all of these things! If you’re not familiar with this join, here’s how it goes:


(I grabbed this yarn from my leftovers bin, but in case you’ve fallen in love with it, it’s Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, in ‘amethyst.’)

1. First, separate the plies of your wool yarn at the ends (as pictured above). The yarn pictured is 4-ply which means I could actually go in and tease out all 4 individual plies on each of the two ends, but as you’ll see, separating the plies into 2 sections each does just fine. And, if you had a 2-ply yarn, you’d only be able to separate it out into 2 individual plies anyway.


2. Next, arrange these unwoven plies so that they are overlapping and getting friendly with each other. Again, you can be as meticulous or non-meticulous as you want. Mostly you just want the plies from one end to intermingle with the plies from the other end.


3. Apply the moisture required for the felting step – yes, this is the step where you actually spit on the yarn! If you’d prefer not to get quite that personal with your wool, you can apply water or run it under the tap, but I have no shame in admitting my splices are happily infused with my own spit. (I really put as much of myself into my knitting work as I can.) You can also just lick the whole thing in your mouth if you want – it doesn’t take long and is quite effective, although you do of course risk getting a fuzzy tongue.

(God I can’t wait to see the search strings that result from this post. I’m so sorry, blog.)

4. Finally, you’re going to apply the friction and heat at the same time, by rubbing the splice vigorously between your hands. This is going to take vigorous motion (i.e. more briskly than rolling a rolling pin), but will not take you very long. I bet this must look really fun to kids. Heck, grown-ups have fun with this part. Possibly after the first go you might have a few bunched-up portions, so go back a second or third time to rub those smoothly if you like.


Ta-da! A  successful join. The nice thing about this is that you have no ends to weave in afterwards. Once the work is finished you’re not likely to notice it, but it’s still prudent to place this somewhere other than front-and-centre across the middle of your sweater, say. As you might imagine, this kind of join is especially useful on a project where a simple overlap or knotted join might be either very obvious (on a piece of lace knitting, for example), or when you’ve already got a lot to deal with and you don’t want to have to worry about two more ends (such as a colour-work project). It does, however, only work when you are joining the same colour to itself.

So there you have the spit-splice, folks. Is this already one of the tools in your knitting toolbox? What’s your favourite method of joining yarn ends?

Happy Wednesday!



Filed under demo, tutorial, Uncategorized

On the Subject of Sweaters (Addendum): Browsing for Patterns

As an addendum to yesterday’s post on choosing what sweater pattern(s) you’d like to knit for yourself, I wanted to take a moment to point out some very nice ways that the knitting internet has already made this easier for us. It’s possible that you already know the things I’m about to point out, but if you don’t, I can promise you that this is going to help you out a LOT in your browsing.

First, if you are searching generally on the internet through a search engine, it is worth remembering that Google or any search engine will return best results to you if you are a little bit specific about you want. It might be that you are very happy to sift through many pages of pattern websites (heck, I love a good procrastination spell myself), but at some point you have to put some limits on it and give the search engine a search string that will return a more refined result. Here are three examples, courtesy of Let me Google that For you:
Knitting pattern sweater
Knitting pattern sweater cardigan cables worsted buttons
knitting blog finished sweater cardigan

I include that last one because often bloggers will go into detail about their finished knitted items and talk about why they liked the pattern and what kind of modifications they did to it. Each of the above three search strings return very different sets of results – and a different number of potential web pages to sift through.

Ravelry: Advanced Pattern Search
By now, if you are a knitter who uses the internet, you probably know about Ravelry. It’s a website that’s free to use and functions in many different ways to help knitters think about their knitting. The notebook function allows you to store project pages for each of your in-progress or completed knitting projects, noting yarn and pattern selection, needle choice, and your own project notes and photos. However, once you store your information in your notebook pages, these are connected to the entire Ravelry archive of information, so, if I come across an entry on your Ravelry page, I can click on the entries for the pattern (sometimes it may be available for sale on Ravelry, but usually you will be able to find out where it is from) and yarn and find out more information about these, along with all the different kinds of projects that pattern and yarn have been involved in. It is a library of knitterly knowledge and much of the information stored there is the result of many knitters geekily entering in project information and talking about their stuff. In short, there’s a lot you can do on Ravelry, and one of those things is finding patterns.

To browse for patterns on Ravelry, you start with the “Patterns” tab up there at the top:

Ravelry A

Many people then start by browsing according to general category (a bit cut off there at the right of the image), or by perusing the “hot right now” items (this screen shot was taken last week, when Cookie A’s new book was just out and those patterns were getting a lot of attention). However, I want to also draw your attention to the “Advanced Pattern Search” feature up at the top. It’s a relatively recent addition to Ravelry (in the sense that it’s only been around for about two years or so, if my memory serves – as opposed to being there from the beginning of the site), and one that can save you a whack of time to help you browse for just what you’re looking for.

Ravelry 1

When you first click on this link, you will be taken to a page with the potential for a lot of filtering – but when you first look at it, there is no filtering whatsoever, and it is basically the first of many pages showing you all of the patterns that are listed in the Ravelry archives. So, a lot of patterns. The way to use this feature is to immediately start narrowing down the search filters. One is a drop-down menu at the top of the page towards the right: You can filter by most popular, most recent, etc. Another is the expansive set of menus and sub-menus that are listed in a column at the left: when you use these menus you immediately start narrowing down your search parameters based on specific criteria. Knitting vs Crochet, photographed vs. not photographed, garment type, yarn weight, male or female garment, and so on. This is your time to get picky and tell the Advanced Pattern Search exactly what you want to see, and it is going to save you so much time I can hardly stand it.

Ravelry 2

If you’re a Ravelry member (it’s free to join if you’re not), go onto the advanced pattern search and start clicking in some selection criteria and watch how the results are immediately refined for you, it’s awesome. (All of these Ravelry screen shots above and below are refining the same search from an open pattern search down to a women’s cardigan sweater in worsted weight yarn, knitted, with a photograph, worked in pieces from the bottom up; from hundreds of thousands of patterns down to about eight hundred. You’ve still got some browsing to do, but now it’s a matter of an evening instead of all week.)

Ravelry 3

Ravelry 4

Ravelry 5

Patternfish Pattern Search
If you are a knitter who uses Patternfish (also free to use, and hosts sale patterns only and no discussion forums or groups), a very similar search process is available to you. While the main page shows you the most recent patterns added (and their newsletter will also highlight specific patterns for you to peruse), you can refine your pattern search along specific criteria that you choose:

Patternfish 1

Patternfish 2

Patternfish 3

While it might seem fairly obvious to use these kinds of search techniques online, in fact these specific websites have only been around in Knitting Internet Land for the last few years, and are under constant improvement and adjustment every year, as more knitters come to use them. It’s entirely possible for a person to use a website (or the entire internet, for that matter), in the same manner for months or years at a time before discovering, “oh, wait, what does that button do, I’ve not noticed that one before,” and on the off chance that you are one of those people – I salute you and encourage you to get as picky as you like in your pattern browsing.

Next post: Style, Construction, and Fit

With that, I’m looking ahead to the weekend, and I hope you’ll have some knitting in it just as I will. Until next time!


Filed under demo, sweaters

Looping along

A couple of folks asked last week about a blog tutorial on Magic Loop, since it’s a technique I mention every so often and one that I use happily. So, ta-da! Let’s talk about that, with the aid of some photos.

I will start out with a brief proviso – Magic Loop is the popular name given to the technique of working small circumferences in the round by using a single, long circular needle, in place of a short circular, multiple double-pointed needles, or two circular needles. It is by no means my invention, and in fact I learned this technique through a collection of things – friends showed me, Elizabeth Zimmerman mentions the same basic approach in her books, and of course Bev Galeskas and Sarah Hauschka have what is arguably the most popular publication on the subject. There are likely other resources on the technique. What I’m going to show you here is the essential basics, but as for any technique, I invite you to check out your local resources and advice from other knitters on the subject. I hope this post will spark your interest at the very least!


So: you’re interested in working in the round for small items (hats, sleeves, socks, gloves, mittens, toys, booties…snake sweaters? Flute cozies? I don’t know, there’s got to be endless options, right?), but aren’t so keen on double-pointed needles (DPNs), or at the very least you’re interested in an alternative. I definitely enjoy the magic loop technique – I still use DPNs frequently, and haven’t tossed them away, but more often I gravitate towards ML as a default.

First: you need a long circular needle, in whatever needle size is desirable for your project, and in a length no shorter than 32″. 40″ circulars are an ideal option for most needle brands, but 32″ is an option if the cord is flexible enough. (The reasons for this will become apparent later on in this post.) I find with products like Signature Needle Arts circulars, Knit Picks fixed circulars/interchangeables, and Addi Lace needles, a 32″ is all I need. With needles like Chiao Goo “red” circulars, classic Addis, and craft-store finds like Unique or Susan Bates, the cords aren’t quite as flexible and a 40″ circular is what you need. There are plenty of other brands that I haven’t managed to spend a lot of time with that are easily in play here as well,  (Dyakraft, Addi interchangeables, Lantern Moon, Hiya Hiya, etc), so if in doubt experiment until you find the ones you prefer the most. I tend to reach for the needles I do because of a combination of preferences – the cord, the materials of the needles, the pointy-ness of the tips, how well the knitting slides (or not) along the needle and cord, and so forth.

(Since I know someone will ask – here I’m using a 32″ circular from Signature Needle Arts, with a 5″ stiletto tip, and a superwash worsted from Neighbourhood Fiber Company that I found at Fibre Space in Alexandria/DC on a trip a while ago.)

Anyway, for magic loop, you’ll need a long circular needle.

The first thing you’ll do, naturally, is cast on all of your stitches as required for the pattern (first photo, above). Next, to get the stitches into working mode, you’ll divide them into two sections, one for each needle, like so:


It’s most likely you’ll divide them evenly, but you might vary this up slightly depending on pattern. Here I have 2 sections of 22 and 20 sts, because I’m working ribbing in k1tbl, p1 on this mitten cuff, and wanted to keep the ribbing repeat intact. You’ll note that, as one would normally do for working in the round, I have made sure that the round is not ‘twisted’ around the needle, and the yarn will be pulled from the end of the round so that when I make my first stitch, the round will be complete and joined.

This is the position you will start from at the beginning of every round, and at the mid-point of every round. Many knitters refer to this as the “start position.” Your needle tips are lined up, with the work emerging below:


To start knitting, you will first reach for the needle tip sitting in back…


…and pull it out along with a portion of the cord.


Now, you are ready to knit. Just start at the beginning of the round with your two needle tips and proceed as normal according to your pattern.


When you get to the end of that side, you’ll have the Left Hand needle now sitting loose, drooping at the end of the cord that was looping around the left side.


So, what you do is flip the work over…


And pull that formerly droopy needle all the way through the work so that it is lined up at the beginning position just as we had before. Then, keep knitting the other side just like you did the first side.


You’ll notice that while you work, you’ll have two loops – one on each side of the work, where the sides divide. Managing these two cord loops is, in my humble opinion, the only real difficult part of magic loop, and this is where your needle selection will make the biggest difference. Some needles swivel and twist more than others, others pull and separate at the side join more than others. Try a few kinds and see what works for you.


There are several advantages to this technique over others. For one, you are only using one attached circular, and so there is no risk of losing one DPN of your set – both needles are always attached to each other at all times. Additionally, this method has the effect of dividing your work into two surfaces instead of 3 or 4. If you happen to be working a pattern which has an intricate pattern over the “front” and on the “back” (as for some socks – the front of the leg and the back are often identical), working this way allows you to not interrupt either of those surface with the join of a DPN, as would typically be the case for working with a set of either 4 or 5 DPNs. This also reduces the number of potential “laddering” points to two, as opposed to 3 or 4.

The only immediate downside to this is that, if you don’t own them already, you’ll have to go shopping for some long circular needles. (But on the other hand…you get to go shopping. So, still a win? ;) )

I’ve taken the liberty of putting up a short video clip on YouTube (because, uh, maybe the zillion other video clips weren’t enough? Heh), in case you’d like to see a little 3-D action on this.

Nothing like getting your Monday off to a good start with a little learnin’. May your day be as painless as possible, and with knitting waiting for you at home!




Filed under demo, fearless knitting, teaching, tutorial

Things are picking up (yuk yuk)

Inevitably, when I teach a knitting class, a few miscellaneous things crop up that fit into that category of Things Everyone Does But They Are Not Shiny Enough To Normally Get Huge Technical Explanations About them All The Time category. Those things that, once you know how to do them, you often take them for granted as a normal step. Sort of like how, once a person explained to you that “stockinette stitch” is actually code for “knit all stitches on the Right Side of the work and purl all stitches on the Wrong Side of the work, when working flat, or if you’re working in the round then that means that you knit all stitches on every round,” you stopped asking what stockinette was and now you just do that without having to need it explained to you.

Picking up stitches along an edge is something that fits into this category. So, I thought I’d take the liberty of making a photo post about that, in the event that there are some of you out there who are figuring this out. Most often you’ll encounter this task in one of two place: picking up stitches for a neckline/collar/buttonband for a sweater, or along the edge of a heel flap of a sock in order to create the gussets (when working from the cuff-down). Here I’m going to show you how I pick up stitches in both such situations, using my Dusseldorf Aran (pink Berocco Ultra Alpaca) for the neckline example, and the heel of my sock design for Tanis Fiber Arts’ Year in Colour yarn club March installment (more posting about that to come, from both Tanis and myself, I am sure!), in her club colour for March.

Much of the process is the same, in either case, but there are a few small differences. Let’s take a look at it step by step.


For a neckline or buttonband or collar, you generally have to pick up stitches along a vertical section of the body (or cardigan fronts, as the case may be), and for the collar or lower part of the neck you also often have stitches held aside on waste yarn as the central section; These last few are just slipped back onto the needle and knitted as required, but it’s the picking up along the vertical edge that is the required step here.


The way I do this is to simply insert the needle through the middle of the stitch (above), and then pick up the yarn with the tip of the needle (below).


This is, as you can see, taking advantage of the continental-style method of knitting, wherein the yarn is held in your left hand, and stitches are ‘picked’, as opposed to in the English-style or right-handed method which involves ‘throwing’ the stitches. I am generally a right-handed knitter, but I am also generally of the opinion that everyone should know how to do both (even if they only mostly use the one method), because you just never know when the other method is going to come in hand. Picking up stitches and working stranded colour-work are the two times I’m glad I know how to knit continental.


If you’re picking up stitches along a vertical edge like this, you also generally don’t want to pick up a stitch in every single stitch on that edge. This is because you are working a new stitch into what was formerly the end of your row on the vertical-running piece, and your picked-up edge is going to be going horizontally. Since (most of the time), your row gauge is usually looser than your stitch gauge (check it, I’ll wait), if you were to pick up a new stitch in every row, you would end up with one floppy collar. The way around this is to pick up stitches in the same general ratio as the row-gauge-to-stitch gauge ratio. This generally works out to picking up about 3 sts for every 4 along the edge, and that’s the ratio I use. It was good enough for Elizabeth Zimmerman and gall dangit it’s good enough for me.


Another option, which I’ll demonstrate below also, is to pick up the stitches using a crochet hook, then slip them onto the needle afterwards. This is a comfortable alternative if you’re not into picking stitches continental-wise.

This next set of photos details the picking-up process on the heel flap of a sock. I like heel flap construction, and it works well for me since I tend to work socks from the cuff-down. So, this involves working a heel flap and then picking up stitches on the edge of the heel flap to make the gussets and re-start the round for the foot. For a heel flap, the main difference in this process is that you are working with a specific sort of edge construction. If you’ve done a traditional heel flap where the first stitch of each row is slipped, as you are working the flap, then you will end up with an edge that has a nice little row of elongated slipped stitches waiting and ready for you.


So, we have the same steps as above, this time inserting the needle through the base of the slipped stitches on the heel flap – but not the actual slipped stitches themselves. (It took me a couple of years of sock knitting to learn that part).


Then, you pick the yarn from your left hand (below)…


…and slip the new stitch through.


And that’s that. Keep doing it for every slipped stitch, and maybe one or two extra at the join of the instep, if you’re worried about gappy holes. As I mentioned above, though, one  alternative to working these picked-up stitches with the yarn held continental, is to use a crochet hook. (You could do this for a neckline/buttonband pickup as well).


Insert the crochet hook through the edge in the same way as above…


…and then pull the new stitch through. Eventually, this will leave you with several stitches collecting on your crochet hook. Just transfer them every so often to your working needle.


In both cases – picking up at a neckline or on a sock edge – this process is likely to leave that first picked up row with relatively loose stitches, like you can see below.


So, what you do to fix this is to work these stitches through the back loop on the next round – in other words, as ktbl, or twisted knit stitches. This tightens the gap left by those loose stitches on the pick up round. Here we can see the step of inserting the needle through the back of the knit stitch on the needle:


And then wrapping the stitch as normal:


And then your first row becomes a nice neat little strip of twisted stitches. From then on you can work the stitches as normal knits, when you encounter them, or however the pattern tells you to.


So there you have it folks, just another piece of my knitting brain from me to you.
I hope you have an excellent Saturday!


Filed under demo, tutorial

On the subject of things that are challenging



In the mean time, I’ve been spending a bit of thought and energy going back to the whole technique of cabling without a cable needle. It’s a favourite technique of mine, knitting-wise, and one that I use and encourage a great deal through my designs. (Hint: I am probably not stopping with the cables in the designs, any time soon.) And I directly point out how this works in this blog post from the fall, with a step-by-step set of photos demonstrating a left-leaning and right-leaning cable.

I don’t think everyone needs to know how to do this, in the same way that I don’t think that any kind of technique is required knowledge for knitting. We are all capable people and we do things as we please, and there is rarely only one single way of accomplishing something in knitting world. But I do think that being able to do this greatly increases your chances of working cables efficiently and quickly, if you don’t have to reach for the cable needle every single time, especially if you are working a pattern that asks you to work several cable twists over a row, every other row. (Um, not that I would know anything about that. Heh. ::coughcough::) And this is one way of working cables that I like a lot.

There are a few basic steps to this that have to do with what cables are and how they are constructed, that may help you to wrap your head around this technique in case you are still struggling with it.

1. All cables or cable twists involve 2 things:
a) the addition of a twist or directional turn in the knitting, that moves one or more stitches in one direction, in the foreground of the work, over top of one or more stitches that move in the opposite direction, in the background of the work.

b) working the stitches in some combination of knitted and purl stitches. In the cases where all stitches are knitted, this is usually referred to as a cable, i.e. C4L is a cable twist leaning to the left over 4 sts, where all sts are knitted. T4L is a cable twist leaning to the left, involving knitted stitches leaning to the left over a background of purl sts.

Some examples of cable notations that all lean to the right might be like so:

Left Cables and Twists

And similarly, all of the following lean to the left:

Right Cables and Twists

In other words, the action of making the twist to the left or to the right is always the same, regardless of how many total sts are being worked. What may differ, however, is whether or not all the sts are worked as knits, or some as knits and some as purls. So…

2. This also means that, although I am working all of these in English style and not Continental (i.e. ‘throwing’ the yarn with the right hand instead of ‘picking’ with the left), you can work the twist like this regardless of whether you are an English or Continental knitter. Just do the twist in the required direction, then work the sts.

3. When you’re working this technique without a cable needle, the only thing that really matters is that you are working these steps in 1a and 1b in sequence: First you make the twist, then you work the sts according to the pattern.

So, all you need to ask yourself when working a cable is: Is this leaning to the left or to the right? And then; Which ones do I knit (or knit through the back loop – ktbl – as the case may be, as here), and which do I purl?

I decided to add to this whole cabling tutorial experience with a video demonstration, because as helpful as photos are, it’s easier for some people to simply see this live in 3D action. So I’ve taken the liberty of doing just that, and as it turns out I like to blather about this so much that I had to divide it up into 3 segments. Part 1 (above) involves some general explanation of the cables and twists (as I do some of here in this post), and also demonstrates a right-leaning cable.

Part 2 (below) adds to the demo by showing several right-leaning and left-leaning cables and twists. All of these are over 2 sts, but the technique would be the same for cables over 4 or 6 sts. After about 8 sts I jump back to the cable needle, it’s just easier that way. (Spoiler alert, in this clip you also see me fixing a couple of boo-boos as I go, re-knitting an unknitted stitch and so forth, from the RH needle. Knitting in front of a camera is tricky, yo.) I also refer to the need for a bit of relaxation while working this technique, to avoid a death grip and hand/arm strain.

And then, in Part 3 (below), I put this all together and just plain work a full needle’s worth of stitches including several cable twists to the left and to the right.

All of this asks you to be comfortable with having some sts that are temporarily live (off a needle). This can sometimes be a bit terrifying if you’re new to it, but it also happens pretty quickly. The worst that could happen is that you drop a stitch in the process, and heck, if you do that, all you have to do is go and remember your Knitting 101 and remember how to pick it up again. (See that? See how I calmly breezed past that? Lalalala you can too.)

Finally, because I know people might ask – I’m demonstrating all of this on a pair of Staked socks, and the pattern will be available from Indigodragonfly Yarns as a kit in mid-April, and as a wide release pattern from me in June. (I’ll be sure to let you know when that all happens.) Also, the knitting back in the background is one of Jennie Gee’s, happily snatched from the Knitty City booth at the Vogue Knitting Live event in NYC. I love her stuff.

Anyhoozle, there you have it. More endorsement for cabling without a cable needle. (And, um, probably not my last). Stay tuned until next time, when I may actually have more cabled knitting progress to report. Those sleeves on the Dusseldorf Aran aren’t going to knit themselves.

Happy knitting!


Filed under cables, demo, design, fearless knitting, tutorial

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.


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.


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



And then working the K2tog right afterwards…



…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):


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


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…


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


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:





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


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:


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.


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.”)


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!


Filed under demo, lace

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