Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crossing stitches: one way to avoid a hole on a vertical opening in knitwear

On the community knitting board Ravelry, the subject has twice lately come up of crossing stitches to avoid a hole where a vertical opening (pocket slit, buttonhole, sleeve opening, division for the heeltab of a sock) is being made. Although it is not the only method for avoiding holes in this area, crossing stitches is a decent utility method for solving the problem and deserves a post of its own.

Illustration 1 shows the nature of the problem. Specifically, when two columns of stitches are to be separated, the only thing holding the fabric together under the separation is a single stand of yarn (illustrated in green). That single strand tends to stretch out, and will eventually leave a hole in this area.

Illustration 2 shows that by crossing the stitches in the row just under the separation, there will now be five strands of yarn to take the strain (green) rather than the single strand in illustration 1. (As to how to cross the stitches, the easiest way is probably to spear one stitch with a bobby pin and let it hang on the back or the front of the work, knit the next stitch, and then replace the stitch from the bobby pin onto the left needle, and then knit it. Whether you allow the bobby-pinned stitch to fall to the back or the front determines whether the front stitch of the crossed pair slants right or left)

Illustration 3 shows an application of this principle at the heel tab of a sock.

Illustration 4 shows crossed stitches at the bottom of a vertical opening such as a pocket slit or a vertical buttonhole, or at the bottom of a sleeve opening.

Illustration 5 is the same as illustration 4, but shown "in the wool." As you can see, the stitches are crossed differently in illustrations 4 and 5, and it is up to you to decide which way you like better--structurally, it makes no difference at all.

Crossing stitches makes a sturdy utility reinforcement--very good for socks, buttonholes, glove fingers, sleeve openings and children's clothing. However, this method makes a noticeable pucker in the fabric, and therefore is perhaps not so wonderful for a v-neck sweater, where (depending on the further edge treatment) the pucker created by crossing the stitches might be on very obvious display.

A note to knitting geeks: there is one additional application of crossing stitches which is quite lovely. When you KNOW you are going to use a Norwegian sleeve "psuedo-steek" (no additional stitches added for the steek) you can cross the stitches in the row UNDER where the cut for the sleeve steek is going to end. In other words, after you have secured the two columns of stitches on either side of the intended cut, then when you come to cut the "ladder" between the two columns, there will be a nice pair of crossed stitches at the bottom of the ladder, just waiting to take the strain at the bottom of the newly-made opening.

--TECHknitter You have been reading TECHknitting on "crossed stitch reinforcement for the bottom of a vertical opening in knitwear."


Blogger Amy said...

Such a simple idea, but I never would have thought of it! When seperating for a short-row heel, would you cross the stitches at first, or later when knitting the first complete round?

April 11, 2009 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Jude said...

This is such a simple elegant solution to a very common problem. Thank you, Techknitter, for taking the time to elucidate it so nicely for us! Keep up the great work, I look forward to each new post of yours ... ;)

April 11, 2009 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Renna said...

I can see that it's a brilliant solution, though my 'visual' mind is having a hard time wrapping around it, even with the pictures. It will probably help if I sit and knit it while looking at them. I'd love to see a video of this demonstrated s-l-o-w-l-y. ;-Þ

I appreciate your site and tutorials so much. It's great that you take the time to share your knowledge. :-)

April 11, 2009 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger lookinout said...

I will apply this in a sweater I'm knitting now. Unfortunately, I've passed the point, but the back is still to be done, so I will cheat the cross before knitting it up. Excellent timing for me.

April 11, 2009 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Rhonda said...

Oh such a simple and brilliant solution to a problem that has plagued my aesthetic sense. Thanks for another great post.

April 11, 2009 at 10:44 PM  
Blogger 2BSewing: said...

Thank you for this post. I have knitted several shrugs and found the underarm split to be a nuisance. Yes, the yarn does get stretched. I will definitely try your cross stitch on my next shrug. Thank you again! :)

April 12, 2009 at 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Dixie Ipsit said...

I'm going to try this on the fingerless glove pattern that I've been using (Women's hand/wrist warmers by Joelle Hoverson). The thumb opening is a slit - you knit in the round, then back and forth, then in the round again. Sounds like this would help make the bottom of the thumb stronger. Thanks!

April 12, 2009 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Handmade Sunshine said...

What a great idea! I am really enjoying reading this blog. Thank you!

April 13, 2009 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Tracy said...

I am in total awe and feel completely unworthy to read your blog. giggle/snort My ever grateful thanx for continuing to teaching me sooooo much.

April 13, 2009 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

I love your blog. You are a very generous person indeed! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and from the tips of my knitting needles.

This tip is genius, as are all of your tips and bits of advice. Truly a *smacks forehead* moment - Why didn't I think of that??? (Because I'm not as smart as you are!)

Thanks THANKS!

April 16, 2009 at 1:25 AM  
Anonymous Clair St. Michel said...

hey!! i saw you've written an article for the latest interweave knits. i CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!

April 18, 2009 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger lulu said...

simple, elegant, beautiful solution!

April 23, 2009 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

It is 3am in Tasmania, Australia. I can't sleep, so I'm knitting. I did a search for ideas on "ease" and found Techknitting. As I was knitting and reading I was separating sleeves for my topdown raglan. I wondered if it was only me who made a small hole when joining the body stitches! I'm so happy I found this post! Thankyou so much for all your tips :-)

April 28, 2009 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger CraftyGryphon said...

I just stumbled across your blog yesterday - I have no idea how I managed to consistently Not Find such a great resource. I'll be starting at the beginning and reading on!

May 20, 2009 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger the woolly monkey said...

You are so awesome.
I second the book vote; yours would go right next to Montse Stanley's on my shelf if you ever do.
My latest sweater (finished today!) also thanks you; the cuffs were complaining until I saw this.

July 16, 2009 at 12:57 AM  
Blogger Ms. Packrat said...

I love your explanations and illustrations - there are a couple of things you have explained that I had struggled with for years and you provided the AHA! moment. Could you do something on "wraps"? I see patterns that call for wraps and dropping them and knitting them and all this other stuff and I can't visualize what the heck they mean.

September 4, 2009 at 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Dixie Ipsit said...

Sorry to be commenting on an oldie -

can/should you cross the stitches at the top of a vertical slot as well?

October 18, 2009 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger --TECHknitter said...

Hi Dixie! Sure, you can (I do). Also, on glove fingers, I cross the stitches.


October 18, 2009 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I'm searching for information on how to improve the ugliness that is the spot where you have knit across one shoulder, attached new yarn, bound off for neck opening and then continued for next shoulder.

I can see that the crossed stitches would address the problem - sort of. Do you have any suggestions for something more elegant?

March 12, 2011 at 4:05 AM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi Chris--Crossing stitches is a pretty neat trick, but if you find it inelegant, you could consider knitting two stitches together at the relevant point, inconspicuously adjusting the stitch count either a couple of rows before or after the maneuver to make up for losing a stitch.

March 12, 2011 at 8:36 AM  
Anonymous jjmm88 said...

Technitting: Would you do a video on how to do this? It would be very helpful, I am not that good with reading the instruction (even with your pictures), a video would be really helpful. Thanks.

April 29, 2011 at 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


November 30, 2011 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Kara said...

I'm so glad that I found this! I'm wondering the same thing as Amy though.

"Such a simple idea, but I never would have thought of it! When seperating for a short-row heel, would you cross the stitches at first, or later when knitting the first complete round?"


February 7, 2012 at 11:02 AM  
Anonymous linda said...

This looks great!!! Thank you for all of your help with issues that are just glazed over quickly in instruction books.
One thing I want to be sure of, this cross over is done as you reach the joining of the front to the back? I have just bound off the sleeve stitches on a top down sweater. Now I am at the point where the front stitches are on my right needle, back stitches are on my left needle. How do I cross the stitches?

July 1, 2012 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi Linda--I'm not exactly following where you are in your knitting, but the crossing is very simple, regardless of where you are.
1; slip the first of the two sts you want to cross onto a holder.
2. Knit the second of the two sts you want to cross.
3. Knit the slipped st off its holder.

Whether you hold the st on the holder to the front or the back determines which st is on top--it's like a very mini cable. Write again if this isn't clear, OK?

July 2, 2012 at 12:25 AM  
Anonymous Linda said...

Thank you for being so patient! I think I see now. Seems like you are referring to dividing the stitches, some to left and some to the right. My problem is joining stitches at the underarm. Say I am working from the top down and I have reached the underarm row. I knit the front left 20 stitches, then put the next 32 stitches on a holder for the sleeve. I now have to knit the next 40 stitches for the back. This joins the front to the back at the underarm. After knitting these 40, I put the next 32 stitches on a holder for the other sleeve. Now I have to knit the last 20 stitches for the right front. I am seeing a lot of stress and stretching on the stitches at the underarms. Is there some type of "cable/crossing", option here?

July 2, 2012 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Linda have the same problem you have. I'm at the point of knitting the sleeves and it driving me insane with the hole that's underneath the sleeve in the body of the sweater. I too started my sweater from the collar down for something different.It's easy but the hole is something that needs to addressed. I'm going to try the cross stitches to see what happens..

August 19, 2012 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Cory said...

This sounds like a fantastic idea, and it seems to be the preferred solution for glove fingers when looking at other sources. I'm a little confused when it comes to the execution. When I'm knitting glove fingers, would I be crossing the two neighboring stitches that are part of the palm/back of the hand on the row before the stitches for the actual fingers are picked up/cast on, or am I to cross the two neighboring stitches picked up/cast on in the first row on neighboring fingers? In the first case it seems that that would mean picking up stitches to start the finger through crossed stitches. In the second case it seems like I would have to start all 4 fingers at once from separate skeins in order to start the first row of each at the same time. Which would be correct, or am I completely missing it?

February 5, 2013 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi Cory--you'd pick up the stitches through the crossed stitches. (That is cross them, then knit through them to go upward on the fingers). This distributes the strain in such a way as to avoid a hole where the glove fingers come together.

February 5, 2013 at 11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is crossing stitches useful for joining the edges of a hat when knitting in the round? I am using the magic loop method and want to bridge the gap between the beginning stitch and the last stitch of the first or second row....

November 4, 2014 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger TECHknitter said...

Hi Anon--imho, there are better tricks to bridge the gap on the early rounds of magic loop--crossing sttiches would work, but it will show. Instead, may I suggest that you rearrange the work so that the gap appears between different stitches on each of the first few rounds? That will offset the loose "ladder" so it disappears. The idea is identical to the trick used by knitters on dpn's to eliminate the gap between stitches on different needles.

(Cut and paste link into browser window)

Good luck! TK

November 4, 2014 at 3:34 PM  

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