Sunday, November 21, 2010

Showing Your Pattern Who's Boss

But before I get to the "bossy" part, let me tell you what I'm working on.

Amy, at Red Purl, asked me to knit a shop sample from the new line she's carrying: Madelinetosh. I have heard many a gushing comment on the web/Ravelry about 'Tosh so I said, why not? (I mean, I have all of 5 weeks until all my Christmas knitting has to be done, right? ::groan::)

The pattern, Honey Cowl, is designed for the Tosh DK, but Amy wanted it in the Pashmina. Fine with me, because in the Pashmina the lovely wool is blended with even lovelier cashmere and silk. (How decadent is that!)

Amy let me pick the colour; she had four. And, well, let's face it, there wasn't a bad one in the bunch. A gorgeous dark red ("Tart" I think), a goldish/redish mix "Amber trinket" (hard to describe but beautiful), a deep semi-solid blue "Baltic Blue" and a goldish colour.

Of course, she thought of me immediately when she saw the "Tart" (because of the colour, not the name!), and I did love it. But I decided on the blue. It's deep deep deep and you can get lost in it. I thought the slight variation in colour would work well with the slip stitch pattern. And after knitting a bunch up, I think I was right!
I cast on Friday night and put in some serious knitting time over the weekend. I'm at about 7 inches or so. The pattern says to go until it's 12 inches wide but Amy wants me to just knit as far as I can with one skein. We'll see how far I get.

Meanwhile, the yarn is just wonderful to work with and feels really nice. Not that super soft that makes you weak at the knees, but it feels like it will wear well and last over time.

Now, about that "bossing the pattern." Since that pattern is free and I've linked to it I don't think they'll mind if I describe the stitch pattern. Rows 1 and 3 are just plain knitting. Rows 2 and 4 alternate Purl 1 and slip one (with yarn in front).

Now purling is not so bad, but knitting is easier. And I remembered a technique I had read about once which would let me knit all the time. (I've since traced it back to a post in Fleegle's blog which I found through a link on the great TECHknitter's blog. Fleegle's blog is apparently also great but I haven't explored it much so I can't say that from personal experience.)

What is this great method?

Sorry, before we get there, let us first review a simple fact about knitting: The knit stitch and the purl stitch are the same but are reversed from front to back. In other words, a knit stitch is a purl stitch from the other side; and a purl stitch is a knit stitch from the other side. So when you are supposed to purl, if you could just work from the other side, you could knit and it would be the same thing.

Ok, now for the meat of it:

Row 1 you knit as directed. When you get to the end of the round, you are here:
The right side is facing you.
Normally you would pull the yarn in front and start purling. But what if you tried to just turn the work around and knit?

Then you are here:
The wrong side is facing you.
Now one option would be to start knitting "backwards" (from left to right) and that would get the job done. But it's slower, awkward and hard to get an even tension (for me anyway).

So what you do is work with a second yarn. See here I have the yarn I just finished knitting with on the left. And a new yarn attached on the right:
Now you can drop the first (left) yarn and just start working with the second yarn:
This has you going in the right direction and lets you "Knit 1 and slip one (with yarn in back)" instead of the "Purl 1 and slip one (with yarn in front)". When you get to the end of the round, turn your work, drop the working yarn and pick up the yarn you had dropped previously.

You go through the whole project alternating working yarns and changing directions. It works brilliantly. Since you're changing yarns every row, there's no line of carried yarn up the back and I think the "seam" is no more obvious than what it is in "regular" knitting in the round. (There's always some sort of jog in the pattern at the "end of round" changeover point.)

Why does it work?? Well knitting in the round is actually knitting in stacked "spirals." Usually all the spirals go in the same direction. (For a visual, Grumperina's diagram on this post might help.) But there's no reason you can't interlace two spirals going in different directions. That is what we're doing by turning the work over.

Simple. Ingenious. Not my idea. But I love it.


  1. This is an amazing technique! Did you just start another ball of yarn and let it hang from the outside or inside of the cowl? I'm a bit nervous to try this for some reason...afraid I'll mess up and tangle the yarns.

  2. Since I only needed one ball for this project, I actually used the other end of the same ball. Yes, your two "lines" may twist but they shouldn't tangle.

    I kept things under control by watching which way the ball sat while I was knitting. Then end from the center is easy--pulling from it shouldn't twist the ends at all. When you pull from the "outside" end, just make sure it unravels over the side that the center yarn is NOT coming out of.

    If you're working with two balls of yarn, this is a lot simpler and they shouldn't twist badly if you just keep an eye on how you turn your work.

    Don't be afraid of trying it--it's a lot easier to do it than it is to explain it!


  3. I'm going to try it and use two balls of Malabrigo Rios...and if it is successful, I may break out my Pashina for another one. I learn so much from those who share their project notes online. Thank you so much, Christina!

  4. what kind of sorcery is this! brilliant and I will give it a go!

  5. That is great, Tanya! Feel free to link to your project when you get it done so we call all see! :)

  6. Wow! I'm a little late to the show, but better late than never. Just discovered Honey Cowl, loved yours, and followed the trail to your blog. Am happy to have discovered you and this information at the start of 2019 and the dawn of my 79th year. Always new stuff to learn and try. Thank you. Diane

  7. Welcome, Diane! I hope you try the technique and make a honey cowl to enjoy!


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