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Suppositions of Knitting Patterns
What a Knitter is Presumed to Know
Elsebeth Lavold shares her tips to knitters of her designs
A lot of instructions (and knitters) will tell you to read the instructions
before you start. That is a good recommendation; a general idea of what is going
to happen is a good thing. But there is a caveat: Don't
try to necessarily understand everything before you start! Oftentimes
an instruction will seem incomprehensible or confusing when read, but once you
start knitting, it will make sense. This text is intended to help you
through the "deciphering process".|
side and wrong side|
The right side is always the “public side”, that which will be visible when
the garment is worn. The wrong side, then, is the side turned towards your
All instructions refer to the right side of the work unless
otherwise stated. So if instructions state that you should start decreasing
when work measures x inches, that should be on the right side row closest to
that measurement. This eliminates the need for a recurring “ending on a
wrong side row”.
Picking up stitches for edgings and other details is always done
with the right side facing unless otherwise stated.
Right and left
Regarding the pieces of knitting left and right refers to the side of the
body on which that particular piece will be worn; left front is worn on the
left side of the body, the left front edge is attached to the left front of
In the knitting, it is always referring the piece as seen from the
right side. So, if the instructions tell you to place a panel at the
left side of the back, it should be placed at the end of a right side row
and it will end up on the left side of your body. If, on the other hand, the
instructions tell you to place a panel at the left side of the front, it
should be placed at the end of a right side row and it will end up on the
right side of your body.
Decreasing or binding off |
Decreasing and binding off are not the same thing.
Decreases can be made anywhere in the
knitting; at the edges, internally, on the right or wrong side of the work.
I usually prefer to decrease on the smooth side, whether wrong or
right, by working edge st, k2tog at the beginning of a row and ssk, edge st at
Binding off is normally only
done at the beginning of a row. If you bind off at the end you will have to
cut the yarn. If you bind off inside the work you will end up with a hole.
My patterns usually state that you should bind off for armhole at
each side. This, of course will have to be done on two consecutive rows, one
of them a wrong side row.
You can bind off instead of decreasing, but you can't decrease
instead of binding off. If you chose to shape an edge by binding off instead
of decreasing, you should always slip the first st instead of knitting it.
This makes for a smoother line without stairsteps.
There are two types of markers, ring markers and removable markers.
Ring markers are used for
horizontal information; to mark a certain point on the row where you should
increase/decrease or place a pattern or motif. They will move upwards throughout
the work but keep their place on the needle. Their placement will be given when
they are first needed and after that they should be slipped so they stay in the
same place until the instructions tell you to move or remove them. I don't want
my instructions full of “slip marker”.
Removable markers, safety pins
or thread markers, are used to mark vertical happenings. They help you keep
track of what you do; increases/decreases, pattern repeats etc. They should be
placed on the row or at each point where an increase/decrease, or whatever, is
made and left in place until the work is finished. This makes it easier to count
the number of increases/decreases and to see when you made the last one.
I personally prefer thread markers. When several things are going
on at the same time I use different color threads for e.g. decreases at the side
and decreases inside the work.
Removable markers are rarely mentioned except as a recommendation.
Finally, remember that you're in charge: If
your knitting seems right but my numbers are off, chances are that your knitting
is right, but don't hesitate to contact me for confirmation or corrections. I
answer all support e-mails, usually within a couple of days. During
periods when I'm working on texts for new books (working on a deadline), I may
not be capable of switching to other texts, so the waiting time may be a little
longer. If you don't get a reply within a reasonable time, please make sure
that your spam filter allows emails from @ingenkonst.se addresses to be
In all cases, I will do my best to solve problems, check
numbers, clarify and explain. My aim is that you should be able to successfully
finish any design of mine that you have started on. Let me know about your
problems so we can help others.
Corrections for all errors I am made aware of will be posted at our website.
Not always immediately, but certainly sooner or later
Recurring inconsistencies – I'm so sorry that they occur!|
Shoulders and short rows
Instructions for shoulders are not always as clear as they should be. Over
the years I have tried to refine both the shaping and the description of it.
As a result, sometimes some of the information is unfortunately missing.
I usually prefer to shape shoulders with short rows. Short rows
always start at the neck edge – we want the shoulders to slant up towards
the neck. There are many ways to hide the two-row difference in height at
each turning point. My instructions give the wrap & turn method, because it
is easy to master and easy to describe. I personally prefer the yarnover
method. You can also accept the slight hole the turns will create and just
minimize them by slipping the first stitch after the turn or by tightening
the working yarn.
Whatever method you prefer, you will end up with live stitches. You
can save them on a holder or make a temporary bind-off. I prefer the
temporary bind-off as it will leave me with enough yarn to knit the
shoulders together using the three-needle bind-off.
The stitch counts in all Viking patterns are given
not counting the sts increased for the pattern.
The reason is that these sts are normally decreased in the pattern
and will only affect the stitch count at some points, and not necessarily at
the same point for all knitters (at least in most of the patterns).
This shouldn't be a general supposition, this should have been
stated. Mea culpa, I have lived with the Viking patterns so long that I
sometimes forget to remember that a lot of you are new to them.
Some additional tips
The Magic Loop Technique
If you want a quick look at what the Magic Loop technique is all about,
check out this link:
Fiber Trends has published a booklet, The Magic Loop
by Bev Galeskas, with easy to follow instructions and with some sock and
wristwarmer patterns thrown in for good measure.
Knitting in the round v. knitting back and forth
There are as many reasons for knitting in the round as there are for not doing
so. I'll try state my thoughts and feelings on the subject.
First, I nearly always knit on circulars (better for your shoulders
and hands), but I knit back and forth on them.
I don't design a lot of stranded color patterns, since I don't much enjoy that
kind of knitting, and I don't often knit hats and such in the round because I'm
a loose knitter, so when I knit with dpn's they always fall out. The baby socks,
Sue, in book 6 was my second pair of socks ever, and I only knitted them because
I had just learned the magic loop technique (Thank you Bev Galeska).
Reasons for NOT knitting in the round:
First of all, my claim to fame, and one of my favorite type of knitting, is
Viking patterns. These are cable patterns consisting of stockinette ribbons on a
reverse stockinette background. The pattern construction is pattern on the right
side and resting (knit the knits and purl the purls) on the wrong side. If you
knit those patterns in the round you end up knitting more purls than knits, you
will loose the lovely knitting rhythm and have a harder time keeping track of
the pattern. No gain there!
Actually, I nearly always choose what to me is joyful knitting; a
pattern row followed by a resting row and I gladly pay for that when I finish
the garment. But since I think the finished result is better with seams than
without, it isn't really a cost.
Reasons for knitting in the round:
One of the few gains of knitting in the round is that you can avoid seams, but
most of my designs are constructed in such a manner that the seams are needed
for stability (at least in my opinion). You can't have a set-in sleeve without
seaming and I find that shaped garments have a better fit with seams.
There are a few types of garments that have to be knitted in the
round; gloves and socks where you definitely want to avoid seams, some types of
collars and, of course, color patterns such as Woodborer, where knitting in the
round is the only sensible way (trying to knit an irregular two-color pattern
from the wrong side is sophisticated masochism). I designed it to avoid the
problem of having to cut in the knitting which is extremely scary to most
knitters (I remember the trepidation when I did it myself for the first time).
Converting patterns for flat knitting to circular:
If you want to minimize the finishing and knit in the round, most designs can be
easily changed, just eliminate the edge st at each side and place a marker to
mark where the seams should be and you'll can knit in the round on the back and
the front at the same time. If there are armholes you must remember that you
have already removed an edge st and consequently need to bind off 1 st less than
stated to reach the required number of sts for the width across back.
The same goes for sleeves where you eliminate the edge sts and bind
off 1 st less at the underarm. Again, mark the beginning of the round as the
point where the seam would have been in order to keep track of patterning and
You may want to place all increases/decreases 1 sts in from the
So even if a pattern is written for knitting back an forth, you can
easily convert it for knitting in the round.
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