Wrap and Turn

When you see that a pattern includes “short rows” do you just want to pass it over?  I have long had a fear of short rows.   In fact, the first shawl I ever attempted, had wrap and turn short rows.  At the time, I didn’t understand the purpose of short rows or how to execute them.  I eventually frogged the shawl.  I have yet to go back and knit that pattern.  Over time, I have gained a better understanding of the purpose of short rows and how to knit them.

My latest project was a shawlette with a design that was new to me.  You cast on all the stitches for the lace border.  After completing the border, you knit to the middle 50 stitches or so, then do longer and longer short rows until you are knitting across the whole shawl.  The purpose, is to have the shawl be wider in the middle (mid-back), and thinner at the edges (the ties of the shawl).

The wrap and turn is really quite easy to perform.  I find the biggest challenge is to identify the wrapped stitch when you knit back toward it.  Adding a stitch marker at the wrapped stitch has made all the difference.  So, to perform a wrap and turn, follow these steps.

1. Knit to the stitch that will be wrapped

2. Slip the stitch you wish to wrap purlwise to the right hand needle

3.  Bring the yarn forward

4. Place a stitch marker after the last stitch on the left hand needle

5. Slide the slipped stitch back to the left hand needle.  The stitch marker should be just to the left of this stitch

6.  Now turn your work and start knitting.  If you are doing Garter stitch, the yarn is already in the back from when you brought it forward with the wrap and turn.

When you come to the wrapped stitch, you can camouflage the wrap by knitting it together with the wrapped stitch.   In the second picture from the bottom, I am holding up the wrap with my needle tip.  In the bottom picture, I am knitting the wrap and the wrapped stitch together.  The wrapped stitch disappears into your garter rows.

What happens if you just turn your work and don’t wrap your stitch?  A hole will appear in your work.  If you’re knitting lace, you can incorporate the hole into your pattern.  Otherwise, the wrap prevents the hole.


Purl 2 together, through back loop

As I delve further into the world of lace knitting, I keep coming across Purl 2 together through the back loop.  When I started with lace, I was always just purling on the wrong side row.  Now I’m working on more challenging patterns that work increases and decreases on both sides of the lace.

Purl 2 together through the back loop will create a right leaning decrease on the side of the work facing you while you work it.  I’m usually working this decrease on the non-public side, or wrong side of the work.  If you turn the work around to the public side, this decrease will be left leaning and look like an SSK, or slip, slip, knit on the right side.

Here’s how to work the decrease.


You take your right hand needle around the back side of the next 2 stitches on the left hand needle.  You insert the right hand needle into the 2nd stitch from the needle first.  You have to twist the needle and your work around a bit to get your needle inserted correctly.  Then just purl 2 together as usual.  If this method doesn’t make sense, you can work a purl 2 together after changing the stitch mount of your stitches on the left hand needle.  That means you take the stitches off the left hand needle, then replace them so they are twisted.  When the stitches are twisted, the back side yarn will lie forward, or closer to the needle tip than the front side yarn.  You can also twist your stitches by slipping them one at a time as if to knit, then replacing them back on the left side needle without reorienting them. Then just purl 2 together through the front loops like normal.


How to create a Picot edge

A picot edge adds a wonderful decorative detail to a piece.  I recently finished “hot oatmeal” which is a lovely shawl with a picot bind-off.  You can see the pretty detail the picot adds to the shawl, and this shawl has not even been blocked yet.  After blocking, the picots will stand out even more.

Like most things in knitting, the picot bind-off is a very simple technique that really jazzes up your knitted piece.  The technique involves casting on, then binding off extra stitches to create the picot bumps.  You then bind off an equal number of stitches between the picot bumps so they are spaced evenly.  It’s really as simple as that.  Picots can be made in different sizes.   Creating a picot by casting on and binding off 2 extra stitches per picot bump seems to look the best in my projects. To create a 2 stitch picot bind off, you would cast on 2 extra stitches at the beginning of the row to be bound off.  Then bind off 4 stitches (2 for the picot bump which are the extra 2 stitches you cast on, then 2 from the project edge that will space out the picot bumps).  Here is a step by step guide to the picot bind-off.











Picot Bind-Off


1. Cast on 2 stitches at beginning of bind-off row






018c07f05060134681c2c397b06fb44fee630ef8a52. Bind off 4 stitches






01622d720fa2946633553b7ae13fd77c5c4635cf733. Transfer remaining stitch from right needle to left needle.



4. REPEAT steps 1-3 until all stitches are bound off.






In this picture, 1 picot has been made and the additional stitches have been cast on to start the next picot.









About half the stitches have been bound off in the picot method.




Always remember to account for extra time and extra yarn to complete the picot bind-off.

Easy German Short Rows

Today I’m going to show you how to do a German short row.  I’ve always been intimidated to learn this short row technique because I found wrap and turn to be somewhat difficult.  I always had the impression that this short row technique would be even more challenging.  However, I started my first mystery knit along this week and was forced to learn this technique, which was part of the knit along.  Once I learned how to do it, I wished I had learned this technique long ago.  For me, the German short row technique is a lot more intuitive then the wrap and turn.  Let me show you how to do it, and it might become your favorite too.

On this piece, I’ve knit up to 2 stitches left in the row.  The second to last stitch is where I’m doing the short row.  I’m actually going to go ahead and knit that stitch like normal.  Then, I’m going to turn the work.  The yarn has to be forward in the German short row technique.  Then I’m going to slip this stitch that I just knit, purlwise.  And then the technique is as simple as pulling this yarn up and over the needle.  Now you can see these 2 legs.  That’s how you know you’ve done it correctly.  Then I’m going to knit the rest of the row.  I’m doing this in garter stitch.  I’ll show you once I get back to the “double-legged” stitch on the other side.  I’m going to knit that stitch like a “knit 2 together”  with both legs knit into a single stitch.  The double leg stitch will become hidden and look like purl bump.  This technique is an excellent choice for garter stitch.  I’ll knit to the end of the row and back, until I get to the “double-legged stitch” and then I’ll show you what that looks like.

So now I’ve knit back to the place where I did the German short row, and you can see this stitch has the 2 legs that I pulled up and over the needle when I did the short row.  Now, I’m just going to knit into those 2 as if it was a knit 2 together, so the 2 behave like 1 stitch.  That’s all there is to the technique.  When I turn the work over, you can see that short row is really hidden on the back of the work.

How to knit a gauge swatch for circular knitting

I have been very frustrated over the years when attempting to knit a gauge swatch for a project worked in the round.  The gauge swatch was possible when given in stockinette stitch.  However, when the gauge was given “in pattern” it became much more difficulty.  Many times, I tried to convert the directions from the round into flat knitting (knitting the purls and purling the knits on the wrong side rows).  This conversion can be very difficult depending on the complexity of the pattern.  I often gave up on the gauge swatch which sometimes worked out OK, but many times did not.    It wasn’t until I started knitting Fair isle, that I learned how to accomplish this task.

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Simple Knitting Math

I always did enjoy math and algebra but never thought about how I would use it in my knitting.  I’ve recently started to think about designing my own patterns, and have been using the same equations over and over.  Though this Math is simple, it would be even easier to write down the equations and save the time thinking about how to do the Math each time.  Following are some of the equations I keep using over and over, and their practical uses.  I will apply the numbers from a recent design project to help the equations make more sense.

  1. Figuring out how many stitches to cast on from knitted gauge swatch:  Figure out the size of the finished garment.  I was designing a cowl with a desired circumference of 21 inches.  My gauge swatch had 9 stitches per inch.  Therefore I needed  (21 x 9) or 189 stitches total.    [Number of desired inches x Number of stitches per inch= Total number of stitches needed].  In my cowl, I was using a cable pattern that was worked over 9 stitches.  Since 9 divides into 189 evenly, I ended up with 21 cable repeats.  If my total number of stitches had not been evenly divisible by 9, I would have added a stitch or 2 to the total to make an appropriate total number for the stitch pattern I was using
  2. Figuring out how to evenly space increases in the round: For my cowl, I wanted to start with a smaller number of stitches, and then evenly space increases on the last round before the cable pattern.  I planned the cowl this way because I know that cable stitches will cause the fabric to contract a bit.   I didn’t want to end up with an hourglass shaped cowl with the cable portion less wide than the edges, which I planned in garter stitch.  I decided to cast on only 80% of the total stitches needed, work the edge, then add on the remaining stitches in the last round before starting the cable pattern.  Since I needed 189 stitches for the cable portion, I would need to cast on (0.8 x 189 = 151 stitches), then add (189-151 = 38) stitches in the last round before the cable.  Since I would have 151 stitches on the needle. I would need to increase every (151/38) = 3.97 stitches.    [Current number of stitches / (desired number of stitches after increase -current number of stitches) = stitch interval to work increase].   I rounded this number to 4, knowing that after the last increase I would likely only have 1 or 2 stitches before the increase.  When you increase every 4th stitch, that means Knit 3, then increase on the next stitch.  After the 37th increase, I knit 1 then increased.
  3. Figuring out how to evenly space decreases in the round: After the cable section of the cowl was knit, I wanted to decrease back down to my original number of stitches to match the other edge of the cowl.  I already knew I had to decrease 38 stitches because I had added 38 stitches after the lower edge was knit.  Here is the equation I used to figure out how to space the decreases.  [Stitches on needle / (Stitches on needle-desired number of stitches after decrease)].  189/ (189-151) or 189/38 = 4.97.  I would need to decrease every 5th stitch.    I was planning to decrease by Knit 2 together.   To decrease every 5th stitch on Knit 2 together, I would need to Knit 3, then knit 2 together.  However, because my decrease interval is actually 4.97 and not 5, I needed to make an adjustment at the end of the round in order to get all my decreases done.  I accounted for this discrepancy by doing Knit 3, Knit 2 together 37 times taking me to 185 stitches.  I had 4 stitches left on the needle and 1 more decrease to do.  Thus I knit 2, knit 2 together for the last decrease.

I hope these simple equations help you.  I admittedly have learned some of this “the hard way”.  I hope I can save some of you from that more painful method of learning knitting Math.


Blocked capeletI’ve been doing a lot of research on blocking lately.  I have always wet blocked by either submerging the item, or spray spritzing.  Most of my yarn is wool so these methods have served me well.  My technique is simple but this week I discovered a kitchen tool that works perfectly for the process.  My general process involves soaking the finished item in lukewarm water with a bit of aqua soak (rinse-free soap for hand knits).  In my reading, several sources have recommended draining the water, rather than lifting the hand-knit item out of the water, to avoid stretching.   Unfortunately, I don’t have a utility sink that I can dedicate for this purpose.  I started brainstorming about using a strainer, in a bowl of water.  Then, I remembered my husband’s pasta pot…. perfect!


Perfect blocking chamber
Perfect blocking chamber

I place the item in the inner chamber where the pasta goes, and then fill the pot with lukewarm water and aqua soak until the item is submerged.  After letting the item sit for 20 minutes, I lift out the inner chamber and let all the water drain.   I then roll the knit item in a towel to remove most of the moisture and place it on a blocking mat.  The mat I use is foam with multiple pieces that fit together like a puzzle.

Mat pieces for blocking
Mat pieces for blocking

I’m able to make the mat as small or large as I need it.  I place the mat on a flat surface and use stainless steel t-pins to pin my item to the appropriate size.  I then leave the item until it is completely dry.  Some items can be blocked on forms, such as socks.  Some people use forms or balloons to block hats.  I just lie my hats flat on the blocking board, usually without pins.  I’m concerned that stretching around a balloon will stretch the ribbing of the hat.  I continue to be afraid to steam block but hope some day I will work up the courage to try it.