I find myself repeatedly returning to favorite techniques. I am more than happy to expand to new things, such as German short rows, Judy’s Magic cast on, JSSBO, or other things I discover in my travels through knitting, but underlying technique methods–these are things that fascinate me.
We’re polishing up my techniques database, so it has me thinking about favorite techniques as I look through what I have, and how I can make my database better.
Favorite Techniques: Cast Ons
I adore the flexible long-tail cast on. This is such a great way to make your beginning work with the knitting that follows. I’m pretty sure I use it wherever a more specific cast on isn’t required. I actually can’t understand why it isn’t used by more knitters and designers. Here’s a quick video on why I love it.
Another thing that surprises me is that the backwards loop or e-wrap cast on is used for beginners. I get that it is super easy to do, but it is the absolute devil to knit into for your first row, making it frustrating. Okay, the long-tail cast on can be frustrating to learn. This is a conundrum.
Favorite Techniques: Increases
I use incL and incR and incLp and incRp almost exclusively. I like that they lean in opposite directions and that they don’t distort the knitting a lot. I was thinking about this yesterday, and I hardly ever use anything else. I use k1-fb (or multiples of it), (k1, yo, k1) in the next stitch (and multiples) or YO situationally. But my go to-s are these. I can’t remember the last time I did a lifted M1 which I think is a lot like working the e-wrap cast on! I had never heard of knitting into the top of the stitch below until a knitting friend mentioned it at a retreat in 2000. I immediately researched it and it was as wonderful as she described it. Here’s a silent video on doing incL.
Favorite Techniques: Short Rows
Until I discovered German short rows (GSR) I had always done the “wrap and turn” or “slip-wrap-slip” method. SWS is kind of pesky and requires some finesse to do it well, but I had only come across the Japanese short row (JSR) as an alternate method. It works fine, but I found it annoying to try to get the short row to disappear nicely. I am sure this is just because I don’t use it and that there are plenty of knitters who can do it quite well. In investigating JSR I did learn that it is why there are those clever little pin markers, so I consider it a good thing, even if I don’t often use it.
GSR was a revelation to me. I would like to redo every pattern to use it!
New Uses for Favorite Techniques
I have been working on re-releasing a pattern that hasn’t been available since 2011. The original pattern was for toesies (toe covers) and footsies, but now I have re-imagined it and it is really about exploring techniques.
I like using these small toe-up projects to explore techniques (listed below). I have made this a SYSTEM, where options are presented with the intention of teaching and introducing variations of familiar techniques so knitters can add them to their knitting toolbox without undertaking large projects. I have added a yoga anklet (no toe) and anklet. The new concept is called Cairo.
- bind off
- close gap
- German short rows
- Flexible long-tail cast on
- Japanese short rows
- Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy bind off (JSSBO)
- Judy’s Magic cast on
- Modified Turkish cast on
- PU bind off
- S-W-S short rows
- k1-PU wrap
It is interesting to me is that some of the test knitters have been really happy to learn new techniques, while others seem annoyed by needing to. As a result, I will offer two separate patterns: 1) Memphis, including the toesies & footsies, and 2) Babylon, including the yoga anklets and anklets, which will present techniques without variations to choose from.
I will release the Cairo SYSTEM, with the four toe-up foot coverings and all the options for cast ons, short-row shapings and heels, ribs, bind offs, with descriptions and explanations. One of my testers wrote this yesterday:
This is every bit as helpful as any of the sock books I’ve purchased.
Personally, I am not really a sock knitter. What engages me is the opportunity to compare techniques and I find these foot coverings (I’m not even willing to invest in the top part of the sock!) an excellent vehicle for exploring things that appear in other types of knitting. The time invested in any piece is fairly small, the amount of yarn needed is small, and the knowledge acquired is huge!