Sunday, April 10, 2011

A beautiful method of picking up stitches for a second fabric layer

Here is a beautiful method of picking up stitches on the inside of a stockinette fabric, so as to create a second, inner layer of fabric for facings or the like.

Step 1: run a column of reverse stockinette (ie: purls) where you want to start the new fabric.  You can either create this column of purls as-you-go, or insert it afterwards (possibly easier) by dropping a column and hooking it back up. When you flip the fabric over, this has created a single column of KNIT stitches on the reverse stockinette face of the fabric.

Step 1: on the reverse stockinette face of the fabric, you will have 
created a single column of knit stitches (darker green in illustration)

Step 2: insert a small crochet hook SIDEWAYS into each stitch of this column and draw through a loop

Step 2: Using a crochet hook, draw loops through the column of
knits as shown  

Step 3:  Deposit each loop as it is made onto a knitting needle (circular or double pointed). You will now have a line of stitches picked up on the inside of the garment which magically seem to grow right out of the row of knits.  You will not believe how completely and utterly invisible the pick up is--invisible from both sides of the fabric. (I've drawn it in pink here so you can see it, but when this is worked in the same color as the stockinette fabric, it disappears.)

Step 3: Each loop is deposited on a circular needle or dpn
as it is created.  Although the picked up stitches are shown
in a contrasting color for illustration purposes, if the same
 color is used, the pick-up line is perfectly invisible from
either side of the fabric.

Once your stitches are picked up, you simply knit away.

In the wool: the fabric to the right (at right angles to the line of knits)
was picked up through the line of knits and created as described in this post

This trick can be used for many purposes, but a really wonderful use is to make a little knit facing for a zipper.  The zipper tape lies inside, between the two layers of fabric, for a very tailored look.

A note on gauge--
Obviously, this method involves picking up one stitch for each row. Yet, this might make the fabric sag and gap, as row gauge is smaller than stitch gauge in knitting (more rows/in than sts/in).  This is solved by using a smaller needle and knitting tighter, to bring the st gauge of the facing in line with the row gauge of the garment.  If your yarn is too heavy for this trick, such that the resulting fabric would be too stiff, use a thinner yarn in matching color.

Addendum: Have a look at this post, where this sort of facing is used to face a steek. There are some very clear photos of what the inside of the facing--picked up by the "beautiful method"-- looks like.  This also shows the gauge-reduction trick in action, so even if you are not interested in steeks, the photos at the steek post could shed light on this facing trick.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Evenly spacing increases or decreases on an uneven stitch count

Today's TECHknitting post shows two quick solutions to the common problem of placing decreases evenly spaced on a stitch count not evenly divisible--these tricks work for spacing increases, too.

For example, suppose you want to space 8 decreases, evenly spaced, on a hat top of 93 stitches.  93 stitches isn't evenly divisible by 8.  The nearest even multiple of 8 is 88, which would be 8 decreases spaced 11 stitches apart, with 5 excess stitches left over.

1) Random decreasing before you get to the decrease rounds
In this solution, in the last few rounds before the decrease rounds begin, the 5 stitches would randomly be decreased away by working two stitches together at five random points.  By the time you get to the decrease rounds, you would have 88 stitches: 8 markers placed 11 stitches apart. This is the most common solution, I think, and it works very well in garter stitch (use k2togs), reverse stockinette (on the k side, use k2togs, on the purl side, p2togs) and other bumpy fabrics.  However, in stockinette, especially in bulky yarns (relatively few stitches) this has the potential to show somewhat as a disturbance in the fabric.

2) Differentially beginning the decrease round
Perhaps better looking in an all-stockinette fabric is this trick: work the first decrease round in pattern, but don't work all the decreases--in this differential beginning to the decrease round, only the excess stitches are decreased away.  In our example of 93 stitches and 8 decreases, place your markers in the last round before the decreases as follows: 3 markers 11 stitches apart (light blue on diagram, 33 stitches accounted for) and 5 markers 12 stitches apart (dark blue on diagram, the remaining 60 stitches accounted for).  On the first decrease round, decrease only on the 5 markers at 12 stitches apart by k2tog'ing the green stitches--this makes each set of 2 green stitches into 1 stitch, which gets rid of the 5 excess stitches.  You would then have 8 markers, each of which is 11 stitches from the next marker, and can go on to decrease evenly on each following decrease round.

click to enlarge

In my analysis, this trick-of-the-eye works because when the decreases are in the correct column, there is no clue to the eye that they don't all start on the same row. You can see it if you look closely, but since the decrease pattern is undisturbed, the eye assumes symmetry.

the decreases on this hat top start on a different rows

I find that this works not only on hat tops (as shown above) but also on raglan decreases, sock gusset decreases and so on. Also, differentially beginning works for increases, also.  With this trick under your belt, it is not necessary to cast on evenly divisible multiples for hats, sweaters, etc., freeing you to make garments which fit better.

ADDENDUM, 2014: There is a new TECHknitting post which has more tricks evenly space decreases on an uneven stitch count--the tricks are part of a pattern for a scrap tam.


PS:  For hats with a seam, put the excess stitches in the back for slightly greater fullness where it is needed--the (rounder) back of the head, rather than on the (flatter) forehead.

PPS:  8 evenly spaced decreases, worked every other round (one decrease round, followed by a plain round) is the default decrease rate for a hat top.  It doesn't always yield a perfectly flat top, however.  Switch to smaller needles in the last few rows (as was done in the illustrated hat above) and you'll have more a chance to avoid "knipples" at the hat top.