Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Picking up stitches part 2: picking up along a bound-off edge

Garment finishing often requires the knitter to pick up stitches--to form a new row of live loops at the edge of a fabric where no live loops exist. TECHknitting blog has already dealt with picking up stitches along a selvedge, which is the "vertical" type pick up typical of cardigan bands.  This type of pick up is shown in green on the below schematic.

Today's post deals with a different kind of pick up: horizontal pick-ups (the brown areas on the below schematic).  A future post will deal with picking up stitches along a combo edge (light green).

The different types of picking up--today's post deals with the kind of pick-up marked "horizontal" on the above schematic of a cardigan sweater

There are actually TWO different kinds of horizontal pick ups: picking up live stitches from a provisional cast on, and picking up new stitches through a bound-off (or cast on!) edge. Today's post is only about the second kind: picking up through a bound-off edge.  This is because TECHknitting blog has already covered the first kind, links below.
As you can see, the bottom bands and cuffs (brown) were picked up on a horizontal edge.  In other words, the brown back-of-the-neck, as well as the bottom bands and cuffs were picked up and knit in the SAME direction as the knitting to which they are attached (arrows go the same direction on schematic).

Horizontal pick-ups are simple: the rate of pick up is 1:1, meaning one stitch is picked up through the top of each stitch-column in the main fabric.  Below is a diagram of how these are done using the "added yarn" method (very similar to the added-yarn method for selvedge pickups). As you see, the loops are picked up from the back to the front so that the live stitches appear on the OUTSIDE of the garment.  This hides the bind-off itself on the garment-inside, where no one can ever see it again.

The purple yarn is being picked up through the bound-off edge (brown) of the main fabric (yellow) using a crochet hook to draw loops through the top of each stitch column.  The loops are then parked on a knitting needle.
Here is a close-up photo of what such a pick-up looks like "in the wool" with the stitches parked on the knitting needle.

Reality check: how the picked-up stitches actually look "in the wool"

On the picked up stitches shown above, I knit a dozen or so rows to represent a collar, let's say, working one half in ribbing and one half plain (photo below) so you could see how the fabric would look either way.

The stitches picked up in the first photo were worked for a dozen or so rows, as a sample to show what a picked-up fabric--a collar, perhaps-- would look like worked in ribbing (right) or plain (left)

In the above photo, the "ditch" of the pickup (located along the row where the purl columns start)  shows as a disturbance in the smooth fabric, but the stitch pattern remains undisturbed through the pick-up row, because the bind-off itself is hidden on the back of the fabric scrap shown here.  In other words, the bind-off is inside the garment.

Where and why would a knitter want to pick up stitches through a bound-off edge?

Picking up through a bound-off edge is probably most common at the back of the neck of a garment. The reason to bind off and then pick up again is to hold the back of the neck from stretching--here is a link to an entire post about this.

Another common location this might happen is when your pattern calls you to bind off stitches at an underarm, followed by a requirement to pick the stitches up through the bound-off edge.

Yet another example of picking up through a bound-off edge can be seen in a scrap-yarn project featured in an earlier TECHknitting post, where the bind-off itself is a decorative horizontal element. This is called "Fake Latvian Braid, bind-off version." In this trick, the pick up is done from the outside to the inside, thus forcing the bind-off to the surface of the knitting where it becomes a decorative element. Using a decorative bind off like this is a particularly great trick to protect the already-knit part of a scrap project from unraveling, while at the same time freeing your knitting needles from a  project which might be knit in spurts, years apart, whenever more scrap yarn becomes available.  Using a bind-off as a decorative element also lets you use scrap yarn of different weights, colors, etc. because the horizontal element provided by the bind-off hides what would otherwise be discontinuities in the fabric.

As to picking up bottom bands and cuffs through a bound-off (or cast-on) edge: in truth, this isn't an ordinary manner of picking up such stitches in knitting. What's actually unusual is not the idea of picking up stitches to add the bands and cuffs afterwards.  In fact, adding cuffs and bands afterwards is an excellent idea because it allows you to custom-fit the garment with you in it.  However, such afterwards-added bands are usually worked "going the other way" on a provisional cast on. Bottom line: it's not the idea of picking up stitches for bands and cuffs which is unusual, it's picking up for these through a bound-off edge which is out-of-the-ordinary.

However, if we're talking children's clothes, it might make perfect sense to pick up the bottom bands and the cuffs in this unusual manner, working through a bound-off (or cast-on) edge.

Kids grow lengthwise a lot quicker than they grow in diameter. Further, the edges of a kid-sweater could use refreshing after a year of so of constant wear. By nipping the bottom bands and cuffs off and knitting brand-new, longer ones, you can keep a kid-sweater going for more years than you can imagine. Band/cuff lengthening  COULD be done on live stitches/provisional cast-on as you would do for an adult sweater, but it's actually easier to rip off the cuffs/bands and knit all-new ones if you don't have to worry about catching live loops.  So, if you'd originally picked up the cuff/band stitches through a bound-off edge, when the time comes for refreshing and lengthening, you'd simply rip merrily away until the cuff/band is all gone, then pick up all-new stitches through that same edge and re-knit.

An overlapping reason is that kids are hard on sweaters.  In fact, kids often wear sweaters  right out--little me sure did (and little-inner-me still grieves all these years later for that one worn-out, rust-colored sweater my mom knit!)   When cuffs and bands are picked up through a bound-off edge, a worn cuff/band can't unravel very far and all damage is constrained.  Instead of having to grieve for a worn-out sweater with runs all over it, your kids will think you are a magician as you simply frog that one worn-through cuff and knit a replacement, 1-2-3.

A final situation is which to use picking up through a bound-off edge arises in the special case of grafting ribbing head-to-head. Generally, such grafting would result in a 1/2 stitch offset causing disruption of the pattern.  However, if you bind off one fabric and then Kitchener-stitch (graft) the live stitches to the bound-off stitches, you can avoid this problem.  Here is a post with more info.

Until next time, good knitting!


Anonymous said...

The illustrations are so clear, thanks.

Anonymous said...

You write such amazing articles. It would be awesome to have them all available in a book, so I hope you are still thinking about something like that. I did notice that in the last paragraph it looks like disruption is missing a P. Thanks for all the wonderful tips!

TECHknitter said...

ooo(p)sie! Fixed it. As to the book? Who knows? Too many false starts, including one last year. So for now, back to blogging and we will see what the future holds. Thanks for your kind words and thanks for the good catch on the typo. --TK

Sarah Keeling said...

I love your in depth style. A very real explanation of what, why and how. I'd have loved to have found you when I was a new knitter as you reach the way I learn, but I still learn plenty from each post now.

Anonymous said...

I remember you said that you had a technique for stranded knitting with no long strands and the carried yarn did not show through the front. Will you be addressing that soon? I could surely use it!

Thanks for all your work! I missed your blogs for the past year!

TECHknitter said...

Hi Anon--I do, indeed have a method (several actually) for controlling long floats, but but "soon" is a relative term. I will (hopefully) get to that topic at some point. Logically, other things have to come first, and...the illustrations take for-freaking-ever. Also, real life keeps intruding on knitting, if you can believe that!

Hang in there with me, OK?

Best, TK

honey bathtime said...

Thanks for another detailed post! I'm new to knitting and your blog is my go-to resource. I've gained what knitting wisdom I possess thanks to your in-depth explanations, even as some illustrations tax my brain (hello, provisional tubular cast on). I'm about to embark on knitting an adult cardigan. The pattern is from the 1950s and quite fitted. It calls for casting on 29 sts at the wrist-end of the sleeve, then picking up & knitting 34 sts to make the cuffs. I can't understand how I can pick up and knit more sts than are already cast on. But anyway. After reading your post I question the need for picking up and knitting the cuffs at all. Couldn't I just cast on, knit the cuffs, then keep going and knit the sleeves? Is there a compelling reason to pick-up-and-knit the cuffs after the sleeves?

TECHknitter said...

Hi HB: Thanks for the kind words about TECHknitting blog. Glad you find it useful.

Now, first thing if you have questions about a pattern, consider going to Ravelry and punching in the name of the pattern in the pattern tab. You never know, even with vintage patterns, someone might have knitted it and kept notes. An invaluable resource. And, if you are the first to knit a vintage pattern, others would appreciate if you would take notes of what you find, such as how you resolved the mystery of the cuff stitch count.

Second thing, vintage patterns are often sized completely differently than to modern patterns, so be sure the pattern lists the actual finished measurements, not just the dress size.

As to the cuffs, if I were you, I'd provisionally cast on the sleeves, knit them as directed, then assemble the garment. Once you know just how long you want the cuffs, it's be easy to remove the provisional cast on and knit the stitches going "down." to the proper length. In fact, if I were you, I'd do this at the bottom band, also, to make it easy to adjust the final length/band tightness/cast off.

Here are some posts you might find handy (cut and paste addresses in browser window)
COWYAK (easiest provisional cast on) http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/10/cowyak-waste-yarn-method-of-provisional.html

Knitting up vs. Knitting down, issues with provisional cast on: http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/01/knitted-fabric-knitting-up-vs-knitting.html

Good luck with the project. Best, TK

honey bathtime said...

Hi again,
I wanted to thank you for taking the time to respond to me, and to let you know that I took your advice and posted my project on Ravelry, and also posted in the forums. One user suggested that the cuffs are picked-up-and-knitted because it's an old pattern, and folks were simply thriftier in those days and would have rather knitted up a new cuff to replace a threadbare one, than throw the garment away. I thought that made sense. It also helped me to decide that, as I don't plan to wear my cardigan while I'm scything the fields, I can afford to knit the cuffs and then the sleeves in one go. But it has been an educational journey to arrive at that decision! Thanks again for your help, and for sharing your wonderful knitting knowledge.

TECHknitter said...

Hi HB--glad you got it sorted out! Ravelry is a wonderful resource! And, good luck with the project. Best, TK

boocat said...

Great article, as always.

Funny you should mention the grieving for a certain "little me" sweater...every year I miss that red cardigan my mom knitted for me when I was seven. Wish I had that 1961 pattern.

The Muscats said...

Wow, I love your blog, it is such an amazing resource for an inexperienced knitter like me, so thank you!
I didn't know about provisional cast ons until recently and realise now it could have saved me in my current predicament. I am knitting a sweater with stockingette and no band at the hem. The pattern suggested a row of reverse stockingette if the fabric curls, so I did that. The curling is fairly diabolical and while I like the style of a loose hem, I think the curl up will drive me mad and add visually to my hip area. I am wondering if I grafted on a rib band of some sort would it hold the curl? Am I better to remove the bottom few rows and work a band down ways? And finally, would a 2x2 band be flatter and stop "pulling in" the hem? I also noticed your series on better hem finishes and wished I had read them before getting so far into this project!
Thank you so much for any help you can offer. Jo