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Friday, 31 May 2013

TECHNIQUE - knitting single row stripes

Have you ever been tempted to knit a garment in single row stripes and then, with a sharp intake of breath, thought ahead to the mammoth task of sewing in a zillion ends, and hurriedly decided that carrying the yarn up the side in 2 row stripes was a much more practical option?

I have.

But help is at hand! And the solution to this problem is such a simple, genius technique that you'll wonder why you didn't think of it yourself.

To begin with, you need to knit with a circular needle but use it to knit your piece flat (or backwards and forwards in rows). I know that there are knitters out there who have yet to discover the practicality of knitting straight on a circular, but there are so many benefits that I rarely knit anything on straight needles longer than 10" now. It makes your knitting much more easily transportable (unless you're knitting an XL Gansey which wouldn't be easily transportable in any situation!) and if like me, you are a commuter knitter your knitting 'space' is much less likely to encroach on your fellow commuters space. It is of course, more secure as sliding your knitting down to the cable section when you're not knitting it, means you have less chance of stray end stitches dropping off the tips of your needles. But I digress. The main benefit, and the one applied to knitting single row stripes is that you can slide your knitting to either end of your needle and therefore you can begin to work at either end.

With a promise to Katarina to knit a garment for Johan, and my curiosity piqued I decided that the Kalle Tanktop from Little Rascals would be the ideal project to test this technique. It takes just 2 balls of yarn in each colour - Katarina chose seaside and putty grey for a gentle contrast, but the strong contrasts of midnight and storm or claret and fawn produce equally lovely knitted fabric.

The Kalle has a section of ribbing at the bottom and then the single row stripe sequence begins. To execute this you:
1) Knit the first RS row with the main colour
2) Do not turn, but slide your knitting back up the needle to return to the beginning of this row again.
3) Join on your contrast colour and knit this row.
4) Turn, and using the main colour purl this row.
5) Do not turn, but slide your knitting back up the needle to return to the beginning of this row again.
6) Using contrast colour purl this row.

This picture shows the WS. I have just pulled my knitting back up the needle to begin to purl the next row with my contrast colour (putty grey). You can see the yarns coming from both the right and the left sides, but on completion of this row, both colours of yarn will be on the same (RS) again.

That's it! A simple and incredibly effective way to produce single row stripes without any ends to sew in and that creates a standard stocking stitch pattern on the front and a really attractive dense purl pattern on the back. I'm rather taken with the lovely straight edged stripes on the purl side (see picture below) and already wondering how I can utilise this in a pattern too!

RS stocking stitch                                                     WS showing the straight edged stripe

My completed back piece and the final single piece blocking before seaming.

Happily for me, Katarina brought Johan into the office wearing his lovely Kalle Tanktop and I had the opportunity for a cuddle and a photo for my Ravelry project page.

(posted by Max)

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