Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Picture Frame" your color knitting to eliminate the jog on discontinuous rounds

A recent post on Ravelry showed the problem with discontinuous rounds of color knitting against a solid background. 

Color knitting in the round forms a spiral.  Therefore, the end of each round is 1 stitch above the beginning of that same round, forming an unattractive "jog."

When knitting is worked in CONTINUOUS stripes, there are two really nifty tricks to mitigate that jog:

However, although both the jogless stripe trick and the helix stripe trick are nifty tricks that really work, they have their limitations.  Specifically, where the colors are one round or more rounds high, but AREN'T CONTINUOUS, neither jogless nor helix will work.

The most common example of non-continuous stripes are one-stitch high stripes in different colors: Fair-Isle knitting is a subset of that category, since each motif is typically made up of single-stitch-high color changing rounds.

Traditionally in Fair Isle-type knitting, the color jog wasn't hidden, but was placed as far out of sight as possible: under the left arm. A different traditional treatment was to center the color change dab smack in the middle of the sweater front, and then cut the sweater (called "steeking")  up the discontinuity.  (For those unfamiliar, a steek is secured by sewing before cutting, then the front bands are put on either side of the cut afterwards.)  Putting the color change at the steek separates the offset by the width of the front bands, making it indiscernible.

A third trick, not much known, is called "picture framing."  By this trick, the patterns forming color-stripes are purposely kept apart by a few columns of either an added color, or a few background-colored stitches, as shown below.

Any Fair-Isle (or any other kind of colorwork) sweater can be adapted by picture-framing: you just add a few columns (stitches) to the pattern and always knit those stitches in the frame-color.

Here is a real life example of picture-framing on the side seam of a Fair-Isle inspired garment.  This frame is quite a bit more complicated than the simple background-colored vertical stripe shown in the line drawings above, but follows from the same idea.

As for the how to, you can carry the yarn frame color along, up the columns by winding it into a small butterfly or bobbin and keep that hanging on-site (don't carry it around the round).  When you get to the frame, draw the running yarn from the bobbin back to the starting point and knit the frame columns with it.  The other colors are simply stranded behind the picture frame columns, every time you come to them. Alternatively, if the same colors are always used in the frame as in the main body of the work, as in the photo above, you can just knit the frame as part of the ordinary colorwork.

Obviously, if you make a very wide frame, this will make something of a welt (raised ridge) at the frame, because of the stranding yarn behind the columns of the frame.  However, over a short span (2 or 3 or even 4 stitches) maintaining a loose tension will generally avoid the welting problem.

In the comments, Beverly mentions a pair of socks she designed which feature picture framing separating patterned panels from one another.  These socks are a good example of using simple background-color picture framing to avoid a pattern jog, go have a look.

Also, have a look at this beautiful Faroese sweater by Asplund, a very talented knitter.  Asplund has used picture framing at the sides of his sweater, and has even carried the framing right up the arm-seam, also.  Beautiful. 

Good knitting, TK
You have been reading TECHknitting on "how to avoid a jog in Fair-Isle knitting"


Glana Ricci said...

woww excelente idéia!!

Suzanne said...

So timely. I'm getting ready to start a striped cap. Thank you!

thatgrrl said...

I'm wondering how it would work to intentionally tighten the frame yarn, so as to create an i-cord-ish welt, and how I might use this as a faux seam/ structural element in sweaters knitted in the round. Guess I know what I'm swatching next!

TECHknitter said...

Hi Thatgrrl--it actually works really nicely, but you just have to watch that you don't get it uneven. Good luck with the welt-seam. TK

Anonymous said...

love it.. thanks for thinking up cool stuff!

random Cindy said...

Nice trick. Reminds me of Chevreul's Law (about color).

Beverly said...

This is a great idea! It's exactly what I did on my Houndstooth Obsession Socks. (See Ravelry - I couldn't link to it in the comment box!) There are two-stitch columns of plain white stitches separating the front and the back houndstooth panels specifically placed there so I didn't have a weird jog in the pattern at the beginning of the round. I'm gratified to see the technique featured on TechKnitter!

GinkgoKnits said...

This answers one of my long standing questions about colorwork. It had been my impression that the traditional fine gauges for Fair Isle greatly minimize the jog so tucking it under the arm is no big deal. However, with so many heavier weight knits with all over colorwork patterns, this seems like something that could seriously mar a design. Now, I'll know not to worry about the jog if there's picture framing in the design. Thank you!

devaburger said...

What great timing. I was hiding the jog on the back of a holiday stocking, but I still wasn't happy. Picture framing should work well. Thanks!