25 Jun 2014

An easy method for stranded knitting

Well, it's been a while since the last post (again). Somehow, the summer months are not the best for me to blog. I've been busy with gardening, enjoying my days off, running, doing lots of things or just doing nothing at all. In the meantime finished my Clinical instructor course and having a few weeks off right now and ... I'm knitting again. Today I'd like to discuss a great and simple method for stranded knitting.

never done stranded knitting before
I've been knitting for many years now, but one thing I've never tried is stranded or fair isle knitting. Have you? My recent, first attempt to (a rather simple, 2-color) stranded knitting was a disaster. I couldn't keep the right tension, didn't know where to keep the yarn and at the end of the day I didn't enjoy the whole experience at all. Sounds familiar?
Then I remembered that Ingrid from the Couturette blog posted a link on a Ravelry a while ago, in a discussion panel during the Knit for Victory challenge. Though the spoken comment in video was in German I thought at the time that the images were quite clear. It had a quite interesting, but very clear and logical approach by knitting every row in two takes: once with the contrast color yarn and then with the main color yarn. No fuzzing with the different color yarns and I must say, the results looked great!

front and back view:
First, let me show you my work. As you can see, there is no pulling or stretching , the pattern is very even, just as the stitches (this particular piece is knitted top-down)

Also the wrong side of the work looks neat. there are no long strands of yarn and it has a lot of elasticity:

how to:
So, how do you knit this? Here are the basic rules you need to know. (This is written for 2-color patterns, as the most fair isle patterns are knit in 2 colored pattern sections)
  • you knit every row twice, first with the contrast color yarn, then with the main color yarn.
  • you need to knit the matching stitches of your pattern and just slip the stitches of the other color without knitting.
  • if you need to slip more than 2 stitches you add a yarn over and slip the next stitches (as a rule you need to add a yarn over after every two slipped stitches. Of course, you are free to leave longer strands for 3 stitches too.) 
  • In the next turn you knit the yarn overs together with the stitch next to it, so it won't be visible on the right side:
  • for KNIT rows knit the yarn over together with the next stitch (=the stitch after the yarn over)  
  • for the PURL rows you knit the yarn over with the previous stitch (=before the yarn over)
  • remember, you only need to twist the yarns at the end/beginning of the rows!
It might seem a lot at first sight, but trust me, once you get started it makes sense!
For a first attempt I'd suggest to knit a simple, symmetrical pattern, like the little hearts I used. That way it is easy to track back which color to use, especially when working with the yarn overs on the wrong side.
Here is the chart I used:

- very even tension!
- even stitches
- very neat, short strands on the wrong side of the work
- a lot of elasticity, no pulling
- it takes a few rows to get handy in working with the yarn overs, especially at the wrong side (you always have a better view of your pattern on the right side)
- I suppose it would work for multicolor knitting as well, once you have some experience in how to work the yarn overs away
- you have to knit every row twice which takes more time than the traditional method for stranded knitting THOUGH: I don't count slipped stitches and yarn overs as time consuming and watching your tension and loops at the back is time consuming as well imo, if you are not experienced in stranded knitting.

Below the original video. Though it's lengthy it is worth to watch it:
(How comes that many knitters have cats and cats are attracted by knitted pieces?...)

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