June 12, 2014
In last week’s post I shared a tip for swatching in the round, which is necessary because differences in knit and purl tension can mean you get a different gauge working flat or in the round. This imbalance can also cause other problems.
Yarn flows backwards. If you ever have problems with ladders when working on dpns or magic loop try pulling the yarn tighter after working the second stitch on the needle. That will pull the extra yarn out of the space between the needles and the stitches just worked will help to lock it in place.
In the same way extra yarn from a looser purl stitch and the yarn used to switch from knit to purl tends to flow backwards into the last knit stitch. You might have experienced this problem when working cables or wide ribbing — the final knit stitch of your cable or rib looks much sloppier than the rest. Trying to tighten the yarn while working that stitch or right after does nothing. The extra yarn isn’t there yet, so you can’t remove it.
The trick is to work the following purl stitch more tightly. One way to do this is to wrap the yarn differently so that it takes a shorter path around the needle. This can be done whether the yarn is held in the right or left hand.
Western style knitting involves the yarn moving around the needle in an anti-clockwise direction while for Eastern style knitting it goes clockwise. If you look at the illustrations below you can see that when purling the Eastern method results in less yarn being used — a shorter path is taken.
Switching from Western to Eastern will change the orientation of the resulting stitch on the needle.
This means that in order to keep the stitch uncrossed the needle must be inserted into the back loop when working the following row.
Many knitters will find that they get the most balanced knit and purl tension by working knit stitches Western and purl stitches Eastern. Worth trying if you have noticed issues with rowing out. Annie Modesitt termed this Combination knitting and has written extensively about it — the main thing to note is that decreases must be worked differently to achieve the same slant.
I don’t find my flat stockinette is noticeably imbalanced but I do use the Eastern purl when working ribbed or cable patterns. When working back and forth I work the first purl stitch following a knit Eastern — this will be alternating stitches on the right and wrong sides. You can see what a difference it makes on these swatches which were worked in the same yarn on the same needle size.
For narrower rib patterns I find it’s easier to just work all of the purls eastern. If you’ve ever thought that the inside of ribbing worked in the round was neater than the outside this is a good solution.
If you’ve been finding this series of posts helpful and you’re interested in garment knitting you might like to check out my book Little Red in the City which these illustrations are extracted from.
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Tombreck - a free chevron beanie pattern
Working the brioche neck detail on the Polwarth sweater
Decorative Channel Island Cast-on
3 Easy Stretchy Bind-offs (p2tog bind-off; k2togtbl, k1 bind-off; Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind-off)
Tubular Bind-off for brioche stitch
Paired increase methods compared
How to work into double yarn overs
Brioche stitch double decreases
How to Knit in the round using Magic Loop
How to Knit in the round using DPNs
Avoiding ears when binding off
Tighter purl stitches for neater cables and ribbing
Cabling without a cable needle
Understanding "continue in pattern"
Joining the body and sleeves on a seamless bottom up sweater
How to pick a garment without a model for you (specifically addresses finding garment patterns when your gender identity isn't represented and the styles you want to knit might not be sized to fit your body)
How does ease affect inclusive size ranges?
Identifying and fixing mistakes in lace knitting
Getting started with stranded colourwork
Understanding colour dominance
Working stranded colourwork over small circumferences
Decreases in stranded colourwork
Holding the yarn for stranded colourwork
Ladderback Jacquard (a neat way to deal with long floats)
Cabling without a cable needle
Cabling without a cable needle on the wrong side
How to knit cabled decreases
Closed ring cable increases and decreases
How to work brioche stitch in the round
How to begin your first large cross stitch project
How to finish a cross stitch project with an embroidery hoop frame
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