Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Article repost: Do you have Twisted Stitches?

This is an article I wrote back in 2004 for the Knittyboard, reposting it here for posterity and for folks on Ravelry. I've made all photos clickable so larger versions of the images are available.

Twisted stitches. Sounds like a really campy rock band from the 80s, doesn't it? Or maybe what happens when you accidentally throw a hand-wash garment into the washing machine? Actually, what I'm talking about happens WHILE knitting.

Have you noticed that when you try to knit a square, it ends up looking like a parallelogram? (one of these: / / ) Do your stitches all lean to one side or the other, as if they're looking at a Picasso, or maybe were inspired by the leaning tower of Pisa? When you make a garment and sew it up, do the side seams spin around to the center front and back of the garment? Do your scarves coil up like stretched phone cords?

Guess what? It's possible that your stitches are twisted. This may be something some newer knitters haven't ever even heard about, but I'm going to try to explain it as best I can here so everyone knows what to look for. Finding twisted stitches and correcting them is actually pretty easy, especially before you become very comfortable with the way you hold your needles, wrap the yarn, and all that good stuff. It's always easier to build good habits now than break bad ones later, yes? And then once you've gotten all comfortable with knitting stockingette and not twisting stitches, you'll find that there ARE uses for them later on, such as to make visual effects, to help maintain fabric structure (as in Knitty's Clapotis), or to intentionally get that parallelogram shape that used to be the bane of your knitting. But first you need to know how to tell twisted stitches apart, right?

Okay, here comes the pictorial portion of my yippy fun little lecture here.

First, I have a swatch that has both untwisted and twisted stitches in it. The top part has every stitch twisted. It's kinda difficult to tell from so small a piece, but if you're sharp-eyed, the top section is leaning to the right.

Now, closeups. The first is the untwisted section. I used Photoshop to draw in a pink line following the trail of the yarn through the fabric. You'll note, they look like a series of interlocking horseshoes pointing alternately up and down, and never cross over each other.

Now, the twisted section. In this much closer look, you can almost see where the yarn crosses over itself at the base of each 'V'. The pink line follows the 'loop-de-loop' path of the yarn.

So, what the heck does that mean? And what do I do about it? The best way to stop twisting stitches is to recognize what a stitch should look like, and thus know when it looks wrong. I hope my photos convey this well enough. I added text to them while cleaning up the photos, so the next section will have less chattiness unless I feel something needs to be better clarified. These are, of course, based on the way that I knit -- needles held like knives, yarn in right hand, wrapping yarn counterclockwise for all stitches. Since -- as so many of us have said on this board -- the way each person knits is a matter of personal preference, I tried to avoid making a primer of my method of knitting.

To knit, put the needle through the stitch so the right leg is to the right and the left leg is to the left, essentially through the opening of the horseshoe. I know most people say front leg or back leg, but that can be misleading in this case.

I know I said I wasn't going to illustrate how I knit, I added this only to emphasize that however you wrap your yarn, make sure to be consistent.

If you twist a stitch, you'll notice that the legs of the stitch being worked into don't stay on their own sides, they cross each other kind of a like looking at a corkscrew from an angle.

A completed twisted stitch shows the crossed legs at the bottom of the 'V' and the tendency to lean even when all the other stitches around it aren't.

Now, on to studying stitch structure from the purl side.

Another view of the horseshoe shape of an untwisted stitch.

And yet another view.

Wrapping my yarn again. If you find that your stitch is sitting on the needle so that purling is really difficult, try wrapping your yarn a different direction on your next knit row.

Another needle-on view of an untwisted stitch, this time a purl one.

There's that horseshoe shape again, purl side, off the needles.

Here's a stitch about to be purled that is prone to being twsted.

Purling that stitch. The pink line shows that the yarn is crossing from the left under the needles to the right. Uh oh.

The purled twisted stitch is harder to see, but following the pink line shows that the yarn path is indeed a 'loop-de-loop'.

I hope all of these photos help clarify how to tell if a stitch is twisted or not. If not, feel free to pester me some more. Maybe I can somehow make a little movie to show the stitches. (Written June 27, 2004...edited Sept 22, 2005 to ensure photos are viewable...reformatted Jan 23, 2007 for blog.)

entrelac at 3:42 PM :: |

Monday, January 07, 2008

Holy needleburn, Batman!

I've been knitting!

The Autumn shawl is bound off and just needs to be washed/blocked/ends woven in. I'm going to ask Robin to borrow her blocking space.

The pink and blue scarf has officially hit the final edging. I'm a little more than halfway through the first repeat of the final edging, and it's going fast. I can still remember the edging pattern, so that's helped a lot. No stopping to look at the chart on every row.

The winner of the now-vacant spot in my everywhere bag is....the Easter Bunny Barf Scarf! It's another easy and hopefully mindless knit, so maybe I can crank it out in a reasonable span of time also. And, yes, I broke down and started knitting the Lorna's Laces spider web half hexagon.

Anyway, that's all I have to talk about right now. Photos eventually.

entrelac at 9:07 PM :: |