lace: a video and an experiment

So, here it is: the short video filmed (on an iPhone 4S!) in support of Creative Knitting‘s Spring 2013 special issue, Easy, Everyday Openwork & Lace. My goal for the video was to expand a bit on the basics of the article, and illustrate how to work 2 types of double decreases. Here I’d like to expand still further, with an experiment on relative yarn over and decrease placement.

Gull wings

Chart of the Gull Wings stitch pattern

Chart and key for the 7-stitch Gull Wings pattern

Let’s take a look at the Gull Wings pattern shown in photo 2 of the article. It is a 7-stitch, 4-row repeat whose even rows are worked plain (ie, without increase or decrease). All the action takes place on the odd rows. Now notice the placement of the yarn overs, “inside” the left- and right-slanting, compensating decreases. For every increase, there is a decrease, so the total stitch count remains constant from row to row.

To ease your cognitive burden, use ring markers to set off parts of your pattern. At a glance you’ll be able to see if you forgot a yarn over or decrease.

While charts are designed to be visual representations of stitch patterns, the best way to see how a pattern will look is to cast on some stitches and play. I cast on 30 stitches, worked a few rows of garter, then began working 2 7-stitch Gull Wings panels within a stockinette stitch ground (bordered by a few garter stitches).

Gull Wings pattern worked as 2 panels within stockinette stitch ground.

Gull wings worked in 2 panels within stockinette stitch ground. Kolláge Yarns Corntastic on US 7.
Cast on 30 sts. Knit 3 rows.
Row 1 (RS): K6, work 7-stitch Gull wing panel, k4, work 7-stitch Gull wing panel, k6.
Rows 2 & 4: K3, purl to last 3 sts, k3.
Row 3: K6, work 7-stitch Gull wing panel, k4, work 7-stitch Gull wing panel, k6.
Repeat last 4 rows until scarf is desired length, ending on a Row 3. Knit 3 rows; bind off.

Above you see the end result: the slanting decreases, with their 1-stitch stagger outward between rows 1 and 3, and inward between 3 and the next pattern repeat, look like diagonal lines underneath the holes of the yarn overs. The V-shape with a center knit stitch does indeed look like gull wings, 2 little seagulls flying forever down the length of my scarf.

Reverse Gull wings

Gull Wings chart with yarn over/decrease placement swapped

The yarn over and its compensating decrease swap places.

So, what happens if the yarn over and decrease pairs in Gull Wings were to swap places, ie, the yarn overs move to the “outside” of the decreases? Looking at the chart, one might expect the only difference to be that the diagonal lines are above rather than below the yarn overs. Back to swatching to get the answer (this time, in the round to make a cowl).

Swatch cowl of Gull Wings reversed panels separated by stockinette sts.

Panels of Gull Wings reversed (relative placement of yarn over and decrease reversed) separated by stockinette stitches. Kolláge Yarns Corntastic on US 6.Stitch pattern
Rounds 1 & 3 (WS) Knit.
Round 2 [K1, yo, k2tog, k1, ssk, yo, k5].
Round 4 [Yo, k2tog, k3, ssk, yo, k4].
With B and using long-tail cast-on, cast on 99 sts. Cut B, flip edge so purls face out, join A. Knit 1 round, purl 1 round. Work in Stitch pattern until work measures approximately 6 inches, end on a Round 1. Purl 1 row, cut A. Join B (or C), knit 1 round. Loosely bind off purlwise. 

Hmmm. The yarn overs appear to point in the opposite direction as the original pattern, and there are no diagonal decrease lines beneath them. And the knit stitch around which the yarn over/decrease pairs are centered appears as a 3-stitch column of knit stitches. Innnnnteresting…

So… why? Why is the fabric different than what the chart might lead us to expect? Take up your needles, and make your own swatch, and see if your fingers and fabric can help you find the answer. Think about the effect of placement, and which stitches are being worked together on successive rows/rounds. What do you notice? ;-)

Come do more Lace Experiments with me at the end of October at ImagiKnit in San Francisco. 2 Mondays, 7-9 pm, October 21 and 28 – see you there!

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