Celebrating Stripes

A Class Anniversary

Some years ago now I worked with one of my favorite editors, Kara Gott Warner, and the folks at Annie’s Craft Store to develop an online class, Colorwork Without the Work. The class covers simple ways to work with color in stripes: basic stripe patterns worked flat and in the round, helix knitting, mosaic knitting (stripes with slipped stitches to make patterns!), and vertical intarsia stripes. As a project-based class, it also includes tutorials on techniques like working from a temporary cast-on, grafting in garter stitch, reading charts, and three-needle join.

Colorful Striped Coasters

This week I’m celebrating the anniversary of the class release with a post on stripes, specifically three-color one-row stripes worked flat, something I didn’t cover in class. Work the swatch coaster and you will also learn how to work the e-loop cast-on and work a sewn bind-off.

Grab three colors of DK or worsted weight cotton and US 5-6 needles, and let’s make some stripes!

Normally when we knit flat we work in pairs of rows: out then back, odd row/even row, RS row then WS row. Working one-row stripes in two colors requires working with double-ended needles and using a special move called the slide. Add a third color, however, and there’s no special needles or moves required. The yarn you need to use next will always be waiting for you on the other side.

Have a read through the coaster instructions, and then scroll to the skills section to get started!

Use this project to stretch your color muscles! Pull out your color wheel and use it to select a color triad. Or choose a key color and its split complementary hues. Or make it a study in light and dark: choose a hue, and a tint and tone.


Colorful Striped Coasters

three-color one-row stripes

4-5 g each worsted weight cotton in 3 colors A, B, C
US 6 needles
tapestry needle, scissors

With A and using e-loop cast-on, cast on 20 sts. Leaving tail of B, join B and knit one row. Leaving tail of C, join C and knit one row.

Row 1: With A, knit.
Row 2: With B,  knit.
Row 3: With C, knit.

Repeat rows 1-3 until piece is square (check by folding one corner of the cast-on edge diagonally up to the needle; if it meets the end stitch then the piece is square), approximately 4 inches from cast-on.

Cut the last yarn used and the one on the far end, leaving 4-6 inch tails. Leaving a tail 3-4 times the width of the piece, cut the yarn for binding off and thread on tapestry needle. Using sewn bind-off, bind off.

Skills

E-Loop Cast-On

The e-loop or loop cast-on is not my favorite cast-on but it is the right one for imitating a one row stripe. Be sure to hold the tail tightly as you cast on the first few stitches as they tend to want to fall off the needle. Use the same caution when you work into those loops on your first real row.

Join B And C

Turn the work as usual at the end of the A cast-on. Leave a tail of B and with B, knit across the row. Turn the work. Leave a tail of C and with C, knit across the row. The working yarns for C and A will be at one end, and B at the other. As you continue working back and forth, use the yarn that is next in the sequence (A, B, C) and which should be waiting for you as you finish the current row.

Switching Yarns

When you get to the end of a row there will always be two yarns at that end, the one you just used and the one you need to use next. To switch to the new yarn, simply drop the one you just used and let it hang where it falls. Pick the new one up and take it to the back to begin knitting or to the front to begin purling.

Binding Off: Sewn Bind-Off

Leaving a tail 3-4 times as long as the piece is wide, cut the yarn you will use for the sewn bind-off and thread it through a tapestry needle. Hold the work in one hand and with the other, *insert the tapestry needle purlwise and right to left through the first two stitches, pull yarn through. Insert the tapestry needle knitwise from left to right through the first stitch, then slip this stitch off the knitting needle. Repeat from * , adjusting tension of the sewn stitches to match the fabric, until all stitches have been slipped off.

Want More Stripes??

Take a stripes class with me at STITCHES Salt Lake!

I’ll be teaching Stripes of the Circular Type on Thursday, October 3, 2019 from 9-noon. You will learn how to carry yarns up the inside, minimize “the jog,” try helix knitting, and make mobius stripes. I’ll also talk about principles of contrast and repetition, and strategies for creating your own stripe patterns. Let’s make stripes in the round! Learn more here.

Yarn Over Season: Feather Faggoting

If you are a systematic person you might expect yarn over season to conclude with a stitch pattern that combines a yarn over with a left-slanting purl decrease, aka SSP (slip, slip, purl two together through the back loop). Try a few stitches-worth of [yo, SSP] and you’ll understand why it is not listed in stitch dictionaries or used in patterns—it’s awkward, with a capital AWK! We’re going to conclude yarn over season with Feather Faggotting, a pattern showing how to use faggoting repeats in combination with other stitch patterns. In Feather Faggoting, 2-stitch columns of garter stitch are combined with 2-stitch columns of Purse Stitch.

Yarn Over Plus Purl Two Together Plus Garter Stitch

Looking at the stitch instructions below, note that this pattern requires no selvage stitches. The pattern repeat is written to place one of the garter stitch stitches at the beginning and one at the end, making them next to each other as you work the repeats. The maneuvers for “yo, p2tog” are the same as for Purse Stitch (for a refresher on it, go back one post).

Feather Faggoting (mult of 4 sts)

All rows *k1, yo, p2tog, k1; rep from * to end.

Cast on 20 or so stitches (some multiple of 4, that is). Work a couple of rows in stockinette  or garter stitch to give yourself a nice base. Then work the first row as written above.

When you get to the last few stitches, remember to end “p2tog, k1.” You shouldn’t have any more stitches.

When you turn the work the pattern begins as for Purse Stitch. You’ll see the stitches on the left needle are, from right to left: a purled final stitch (technically half of the garter pair), a right-slanting knit decrease stitch, and then the yarn over strand. After working half of the garter stitch pair, you begin with “yo, p2tog,” knit 1 to finish the repeat, and continue with the next repeat.

The fabric produced incorporates the characteristics of garter stitch you might expect: a more condensed row gauge and fewer stitches per inch than Purse Stitch. The yarn overs twist the same way over each other, but because the rows are more condensed they have less of a “herringbone” quality than in Purse Stitch. The columns of garter and faggoting create vertical textural design elements, making an intriguing fabric that lies flat.

Project

This week’s project is the same as last week’s, albeit with two more stitches in order to meet the repeat requirements of the stitch pattern. Note the gauge difference: more stitches per inch in pattern. Even with two more stitches cast on, this version is not quite as wide as the Purse Stitch version.

Finished measurements 15 inches around x 9 inches deep [38 x 23 cm]

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Drama (100% linen; 270 yds/3.5 oz [247 m/100 g]): small amount of 1 skein (~40-45 g)
US 6 [3.75mm] needles or size to get gauge
Same size 24 inch [60 cm] circular needle for 3-needle join
F/3.75mm crochet hook
Tapestry needle

Gauge 15 sts and 34 rows = 4 inches [10 cm] in Feather Faggoting, before blocking

LOOSELY cast on 28 stitches. Work Feather Faggoting until piece measures 18 inches [45.5 cm]. Bind off: k2tog, *k1, slip sts back to right needle, k2tog tbl; rep from * to last 2 sts, one on each needle; bind off 1 st, fasten off.

Finishing

Picking up stitches
Picking up stitches

With RS facing and circular needle, pick up and knit 1 st for every 2 rows along side edge to an even number of stitches.

With WS together, fold work at halfway point and pull out cable so needle tips face in same direction. Holding needles parallel,* knit 1 st through both front and back needle; knit second st through front and back; bind off 1 st; repeat from * until all sts have been bound off. Leaving tail, cut and fasten off. Repeat for other side. Weave in ends.

Joining the side edges

With yarn held double and crochet hook make a chain 30 inches [145 cm] long. Working about 1½ inch [4 cm] from top and beginning at side edge, thread drawstring through mesh, overlapping ends at side. Tie ends together.


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Yarn Over Season: Purse Stitch

We’ve looked at the faggoting fabrics produced by the two knit decreases. Now it’s time to try a purl decrease: purl two together (p2tog). The yarn will always begin at the front of the work and go completely around the right needle to get where it needs to be to work the decrease. The resulting fabric is open, with much the same character as Basic Faggoting, and is known in most stitch dictionaries as Purse Stitch.

Yarn Over Plus Purl Two Together

Make a k2tog, turn the work, and what do you see? A p2tog, a right-slanting decrease made with purl stitches. As when a k2tog follows a yarn over, it makes a smooth eyelet, one in which the stitch in the yarn over column of stitches is hidden behind the decrease column stitch.

Purse Stitch (mult of 2 sts +2)

All rows k1, *yo, p2tog; rep from * to last st, k1.

Cast on 20 or so stitches again, and work a couple of rows in stockinette stitch as a base. Then work the first row as written above. I find this stitch pattern to be the easiest of the three to work: the right needle is inserted into the open right side of the first stitch on the left needle and simply continues through to the second. No fuss, no muss, no need to pull the fabric down to expose the holes in the center of the stitches.

Remember to end “p2tog, k1!”

After the first row, when you turn the work you’ll see the stitches on the left needle are, from right to left: a purled selvage, a right-slanting knit decrease stitch, and then the yarn over strand. After working the selvage stitch, you begin the “yo, p2tog” repeat again. In Purse Stitch you insert the right needle into the decrease stitch first, then continue through the yarn over. Because p2tog is a right-slanting decrease the yarn over ends up on top. Continue across the row, again remembering to end with p2tog, k1.

If you’ve been working swatches, you’ll notice the Purse Stitch swatch bears a striking resemblance to the Basic Faggoting swatch. Look at them up close. The structures are reflections of each other, yarn over strands and backbone decreases slanting  in opposite directions. Something to ponder as you make this week’s project!

Difference between basic faggoting and purse stitch

Project

Given its name, it seems like what one should make with Purse stitch is just that: a purse. Or at least a little project bag. I chose to use a bit of sport weight linen left over from a top I designed for Claudia Hand Painted Yarns. Leftover cotton or other firm fiber would work well too.

Finished measurements 16 around x 9 inches deep [40.5 x 23 cm]

Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Drama (100% linen; 270 yds/3.5 oz [247 m/100 g]): small amount of 1 skein (~40-45 g)
US 6 [3.75mm] needles or size to get gauge
Same size 24 inch [60 cm] circular needle for 3-needle join
F/3.75mm crochet hook
Tapestry needle

Gauge 12 sts and 30 rows = 4 inches [10 cm] in Purse Stitch, before blocking

LOOSELY cast on 26 stitches. Work in Purse Stitch until piece measures 18 inches [45.5 cm]. Bind off: k2tog, *k1, slip sts back to right needle, k2tog tbl; rep from * to last 2 sts, one on each needle; bind off 1 st, fasten off.

Finishing

Picking up stitches
Picking up stitches

With RS facing and circular needle, pick up and knit 1 st for every 2 rows along side edge to an even number of stitches.

With WS together, fold work at halfway point and pull out cable so needle tips face in same direction. Holding needles parallel,* knit 1 st through both front and back needle; knit second st through front and back; bind off 1 st; repeat from * until all sts have been bound off. Leaving tail, cut and fasten off. Repeat for other side. Weave in ends.

Joining the side edges

With yarn held double and crochet hook make a chain 30 inches [145 cm] long. Working about 1½ inch [4 cm] from top and beginning at side edge, thread drawstring through mesh, overlapping ends at side. Tie ends together.


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Yarn Over Season: Basic Faggoting

Yarn over season continues with Basic Faggoting, in which the knit two together (k2tog) decrease is swapped out in favor of slip, slip, knit (ssk). The name would seem to imply it is the fundamental stitch; personally I find it harder to work, and Turkish much easier for first-timers. Get the hang of Turkish stitch, your hands figuring out the necessary micromovements, and the other patterns will be easier. (Need a refresher on yarn over basics? See this post from a couple of weeks ago).

So where does the name come from? Faggoting is a type of needlework in which vertical groups of threads are tied decoratively in bundles. It is often used to join hems together. A quick search for “faggoting needlework” returns some examples. The Victorian Embroidery and Crafts page has some nice diagrams of how the needlework is done. Compare our knit Basic Faggoting fabric to the images and diagrams: pretty darn similar, with threads twisted around each other. So let’s see how our knit version is worked.

Yarn Over Plus Slip, Slip, Knit

As with Turkish and all other patterns of the category, the yarn over is worked first. In this case it is followed by a left-slanting decrease. The decrease points away from the yarn over. If the pair were isolated in a ground of stockinette stitch, the stitch from the “hole” column is on top of the following stitch, visually breaking up the neat column of stitches.

Basic Faggoting (mult of 2 sts +2)

All rows k1, *yo, ssk; rep from * to last st, k1.

Cast on 20 or so stitches, and work a couple of rows in stockinette stitch  to give yourself a nice base. Then work the first row as written above. When working an ssk, I find I often use my left thumb and forefinger to pull the fabric down when inserting the left needle back through the two slipped stitches, and to hold the stitches in place when pulling the yarn through . When working with the yarn in my left hand, I use my right index finger to hold the yarn over in place as I work the ssk. These micro movements work for my hands; your hands may require different ones. Give them (your hands) time to figure out what will make them happy—they are smarter than our brain much of the time!

When you get to the last few stitches, remember to end “ssk, k1.”

 

After the first row, when you turn the work you’ll see the stitches on the left needle are, from right to left: a purled selvage, a left-slanting purled decrease stitch, and then the yarn over strand. After working the selvage stitch, you begin the “yo, ssk” repeat again. Notice what this means: when you work the ssk after the yarn over, you slip the decrease stitch, then the yarn over. The decrease stitch ends up on top. Continue across the row, again remembering to end with ssk, k1.

The fabric produced by working successive yarn over / ssk pairs  in this way is by nature open and flat. The difference between unstretched is barely noticeable. The zigzags in the column of decreases are in the same plane. In Turkish stitch they are just slightly in front/back of each other. The same is true of the zig-zagging lattice of yarn overs. And the yarn overs appear twisted around each other in Basic Faggoting, while in Turkish they simply cross over/under. Fascinating.

Basic Faggoting, unstretched and stretched

Project

Basic faggoting fabric is naturally open, rather than collapsible like its sister Turkish fabric. I choose another Colinette yarn, this time a wool and cotton twisted together, Prism.

Use a slipped-stitch selvage instead of the k1s at each side in the swatch instructions. This gives a nice edge, and it makes it a bit simpler to seam: 1 slipped edge stitch to 1 stitch at bottom or top (depending on which edge you fold!).

Finished measurements approximately 12 x 40 inches [32 x 103 cm]

Collinette Prism (90% wool, 10% nylon; 126 yds/3.5 oz [115 m/100 g]): 2 skeins
US 15 [mm] needles or size to get gauge
Tapestry needle

Gauge 10 sts = 4 inches [10 cm] in Basic Faggoting Stitch

LOOSELY cast on 30 stitches; knit 1 row.

All rows slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front, *yo, ssk; rep from * to last st, k1.

Work as above until piece measures approximately 40 inches [103 cm]. Knit 1 row; bind off loosely. Fold one end to one side as shown in this post and seam.


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