Sunday, 20 July 2008

To knit or not to knit

Knit one
purl one
knit none -
how done?

Pretend to purl,
but slip the one,
with yarn in view,
or out of sight -
it's fun!

I have invented this little poem - or riddle? - as a help to remember the few basic things needed for these patterns, which I need to explain in this first post, and as well for reading the charts which I will explain later.

Now, what is it about?

Many colour patterns in knitting are created in the fair-isle way, that means carrying two or more differently coloured threads along a row and use one of them to knit or purl a stitch according to the colour chart. This is not the case here. There is no fiddling with various threads and no tedious task to keep the right tension, when knitting the patterns you will find here.

There is always only one thread to deal with in each row.

Experienced knitters who have already done double knitting and mosaic knitting, will be familiar with this, and it is one reason why the colour stitch patterns here are easy to create, even for beginners.

If you have managed to knit and to purl, all you need to add now is not to do it, but instead just slip certain stitches from the left to the right needle.

All patterns are created by nothing else than a repeated sequence of knitted, purled and slipped stitches, combined with a colour sequence for entire rows.

Back to the riddle: "Knit none, how done? Pretend to purl, but slip the one"

To slip a stitch, insert the needle as if you intended to purl the stitch. But don’t purl it - just slip it over to the right needle. Stitches are always slipped in this way for these patterns: purl-wise, not knit-wise, which is also a possibility.

"With yarn in view, or out of sight"

When doing this, the question arises where to carry the thread in relation to this stitch. There are two possibilities to do this: At back or in front of the stitch as you look at it. See here:

On the left picture the stitch was slipped with the working thread behind the stitch, "out of sight", the right picture shows a slipped stitch with yarn in front of it, "in view" of you.

This is the only other thing that is really important for these patterns. And note:

It doesn’t matter on which side of the fabric you are working. Slipping with yarn at back means always that the yarn is behind the stitch, as you see it, and slipping with yarn in front means always that the yarn is in front of the stitch as you look at it.

"It's fun"

Yes, it is, but other than in mosaic and double knitting, where stitches are slipped in one way for an entire row, the patterns here often require a combination of four actions in one row - knitting, purling, slipping with yarn at back, and slipping with yarn in front. Thus the working thread needs to be brought forward and backward frequently, when it isn’t were it is needed for the required action. It might need a bit of exercise to get used to do this in a repeated steady flow. When knitting the samples in the next post, where I will explain reading the charts you should quickly get the feeling for it.

There is no need to watch the tension of the thread where it is not knitted. If you treat all stitches alike, including the slipped stitches, and keep a steady rhythm, the tension will be right. Do not attempt to deliberately influence the tension. It is not necessary, except sometimes at the selvages, which I will explain later.

So that was necessary for a start. If you got curious, then read my next post where I will explain reading the chart along with a first sample for you to give it a try. And you will later learn that one chart results in a variety of patterns, just by changing the colour sequence of the yarns chosen.


  1. knittyvritti (kv)2 September 2008 at 16:20

    thanks for the very clear tutorial!

  2. Glad you consider it clear! If you ever try one of the patterns I'd be grateful to hear about your experience.