Five Knitting Techniques
Based on the knitting I’ve been doing lately, here are five knitting techniques I love–and why. These are in no particular order.
- Moebius cast on
- Flexible long-tail cast on
- Putting stitches on stitch holders or WY
- Garment swatches
- Short Rows
Moebius Cast On
Half the fun of this one is Cat Bordhi’s video. Watch it and learn. The cast on also includes the first round, so it should be Cast On and Set Up. I really recommend not trying to fully understand this one because it is fairly magical, and is a little less magical once you fully grasp it. Go with it and see what you discover and how the discovery comes to you. I have used it in two cowls, Esperance and Granite and have design ideas for other things using it. It is a technique that my brain fairly itches to do, so I am in a state of constant desire to make a moebius.
Flexible Long-Tail Cast On
We can put this one on my all-time favorite knitting techniques list. I use it all the time and have a couple of different ways in which I use it. I have a short video showing this one. If you know the long-tail cast on, go directly here [the video calls it the double-needle cast on, but the name has been changed]. If you don’t know the long-tail, go here first to learn that. The way I do it is an incorrect version of another cast on. This is a way useful things can be discovered! The beauty of it is that it puts extra yarn into the base of the cast on, not into the stitches.
Reason 1: I love it because it allows the beginning of my knitting to do what it wants to do.
- It is perfect for lace because it allows room for the natural undulations caused by YO and decreases.
- It is suitable for ribbing because it allows the knit and purls to shift forward and back to find a nice position without flaring the bottom.
- It will work with you so your opening isn’t too small–or too big. Use different sized bottom needles for different results.
Reason 2: I love it because it allows me to cast on stitches to work in two directions. If the bottom loops are put on stitch holders or WY (waste yarn), then you can return them to needles later on and work in the opposite direction. There are other cast ons that let you do this, but I default to this one and only use the others when it doesn’t work.
- It keeps options open. It is a closed cast on, so if you change your mind, you can just use it as your cast on!
- It can save you having to pickup all those stitches later on.
- It makes it easy to close hems or trims–no digging around for the right loop to pick up.
I probably have other reasons, but that’s sufficient for now.
Putting Stitches on Stitch Holders or WY
To be fair, I hardly ever use stitch holders. I have lots of them, but I almost always use WY (waste yarn) because I can block more easily. This is another method of keeping your options open, which is big for me since I am often thinking through techniques as I work on things. It also allows me to do things like 3-needle joins or bind offs at a suitable point in my knitting. I like to keep going when I’m knitting, so sometimes, just being able to move on to another portion of my project without having to get off the couch is a big plus.
Garment swatches are close relatives to gauge swatches, but contain more information. A swatch is an information-gathering process, so the more information packed into one place the more awesome it is. These are common components of a garment swatch:
- Bottom trim
- Body stitch patterns
- Armhole or neckline-like shaping (usually smaller, but same methodology)
- Shoulder shaping
- Trim picked up and worked in the armhole or neckline-like shaping
- Needle sizes,
- Trim gauge,
- Body stitch and row gauge(s),
- Shaping of curves, shoulders
- Trim inside a curve (often on a smaller needle)
I also get to see the patterns/trims/shaping in a scale to allow me to decide if I like them or not. Sometimes I learn that I cannot stand working a particular pattern and I will not go any further than that swatch.
I love short rows because they create shaping as you would in a woven garment. Darts, curved hemlines, shaped shoulders, sleeve caps, wedges, etc. Since short rows basically pile up stitches in one place, while omitting them from other(s), you can make your garment fit better, or create interesting shapes. I would guess that 75% of my patterns have short rows in them. From my list of 2014 patterns which were released by Jill Wolcott Knits, these have short rows:
- Bellevue Shrug – Sleeve Cap
- Seattle Cardigan – Sleeve Cap and shoulder
- Windsor Capelette – Body
- Ashland Capelette – Body
Work done for others:
- Twinkling Tinsel Top – Shoulders, Collar
- Sweet Sparkle Top – Shoulders, Collar
- Frosted Glass Sweater – Shoulders, Collar
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