Saturday, December 29, 2007

Zig-zag bands

includes 7 illustrations. Click any illustration to enlarge
Knitting better bands the TECHknitting way:
Way back in October, as this series on better bands and cuffs started, I told you that garter stitch does not curl. (Neither does seed stitch. Neither does ribbing.) Yet you know from experience garter stitch bands on a stockinette fabric DO curl. You see, it is the stockinette fabric to which the bands are attached which curls. (For more about WHY stockinette curls, click here.) The end result is that the bands on your scarf, sweater or afghan are prone to flipping AND curling.

So far in this series, many cures have been recommended: rolled edges, or seaming the garment or steam blocking and/or ironing. Today, yet another recommended cure: zig-zag bands.

The fact is, that bands want to curl along the edge where the bands meet the stockinette. If you break up the line, you'll have less curling. The same is true about flipping: If you break up the line where the band meets the stockinette fabric, you'll be less likely to have flipping.As you can see, the scarf in the photo above is a stockinette stitch scarf with a garter stitch border all around. Yet, the scarf does not curl, and the borders do not flip, and here is why:
  • The rolled stockinette edge along the bottom of the garter stitch horizontal (bottom) band adds stability--by curling up so markedly, the rolled edge counteracts the inward curl of the stockinette fabric in the middle of the scarf.
  • Zig-zag bands both vertical and horizontal, where the garter stitch meets the stockinette stitch. By interlacing areas of garter stitch and stockinette, the "fault line," for flipping/curling is eliminated
  • A slipped selvedge helps prevent future ruffling along the outside vertical edges of the garter stitch border. (Click here for more info about slipped selvedges.)
  • Also, the scarf has been steam blocked.
Due to these four tricks, the scarf photographed above does not curl very much, and nor does it flip. Below is a close up of the corner, showing details of the curled bottom edge knitted in stockinette which rolls up below the garter stitch part of the bottom band, a bit of the zig zag design in the garter stitch part of the bottom band and a bit of the the zig zag side edge.One more close-up for good measure:

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Here are two diagrams showing how to make these non-curling bands. The diagrams show garter stitch, but you can readily adapt these for seed stitch.

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One last note: The zig-zags have to be in proportion to the amount of stockinette stitch in order to provide a non-flipping edge. An empirical rule of thumb seems to be that ON A GARMENT WITH TWO EXPOSED EDGES (SCARF, AFGHAN) the peaks have to extend approximately 10-15% of the way into the stockinette along each edge you want to prevent from rolling, in order to prevent flipping. So, in a a 250 stitch afghan knit all in one piece, for example, that would be a side zig-zag which protruded 25 to 38 stitches into the stockinette at the tip of each peak, along both vertical edges. The bottom edges also have to have zig-zags with peaks just as high as the side zig-zags in order to prevent flipping. Obviously, the wider/higher you make the tip of the peaks, the less likely is flipping, but the minimum seems to be about a 10-15% protrusion. Of course, that means that you have to adapt the above two diagrams to the width of your garment.

FOR THE FRONT BANDS OF A CARDIGAN (one exposed edge), a rule of thumb seems to be that peaks extending about 1.5 or 2 inches into the stockinette will do the trick, and this is true regardless of gauge or yarn weight.

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This is part 7 of a series. The other posts are:
How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 1: Opera and Soap Opera (November 1, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 2: Why cuffs and bands are wonky, and what to do about it (November 14, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 3: Hems and facings:(November 22, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 4: Knitting shut hems and facings (December 9, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 5: Sewing shut hems and facings (December 23, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 6: Your steam iron: a mighty weapon in the fight against curling and flipping (December 25, 2007)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 8: Provisional tail method of 1x1 tubular cast on (January 11, 2008)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs, part 9: Tubular cast off for 1x1 ribbing (it's pretty) (January 15, 2008)
*How to knit better bands and cuffs: the wrap-up (January 23, 2008)

(You have been reading TECHknitting on: zig-zag bands)