Tuesday, November 15, 2011

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

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

[ADDENDUM as of 2016, I have thought of a way of knitting perfect non-jogging one-round-high stripes. So, while picture framing (this post) continues to be valuable, also check out this 2016 post--SMOOTHED CIRCLES.]

The most common example of non-continuous, one-stitch-high stripes in different colors is Fair-Isle knitting. Each stripe typically contains at least some single-stitch-high color changing rounds.

Traditionally in Fair Isle-type knitting, the color jog wasn't hidden, but was placed far out of sight, 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. Putting the color change at the steek separates the offset by the width of the afterwards-applied front bands (cardigan style) making it disappear.

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, illustrated 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 more complicated than the simple background-colored vertical stripe shown above, but is 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.

If you make a very wide frame, this will make something of a welt (raised ridge) at the frame, because the stranding yarn behind the frame-columns will "draw up." However, over a short span (2 or 3 or even 4 stitches) loose tension helps avoid the welting problem.

Here is a pair of socks where picture framing avoids the jog. Also, have a look at this Faroese sweater where picture framing at the sides is carried right up the underarm: an unbroken frame from waist-band to sleeve cuff. Beautiful.

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