3 methods to work garter stitch in the round

I did a little research recently on working garter stitch in the round while I was considering the design of this super simple cowl.

I started to work my project in the traditional way, working alternating knit and purl rounds and ran into that annoying jog at the end/beginning of the round at the transition point between knit and purl.  This started me on my quest to see if there was a way to do garter in the round without the jog and in this post I'll share some of what I found.

First off, I was able to find three ways of working garter stitch in the round.  Here's the roundup: 

  • The Traditional Approach: Working alternating knit/purl rounds. It's the way we all first learn to do it.

 

  • No-Purl Method #1 - Wrap & Turn: In this method you wrap the first stitch of the next round, much like short-rowing and just flip your tube of knitting inside-out on the needles.  KnitFreedom has a great video tutorial on this technique that I've included above. Don't make the same mistake I did and feel you have to pick up your wrap like you would if you were short-rowing. It just doesn't look as good as leaving the wrap alone.

 

  • No Purl Method #2 - Two Strand: This method requires two strands of yarn. Start your work by casting on, joining in the round and knitting the first round.  At the start of round 2, you will flip the work on your right hand needle so that the purl bumps of the round just completed are facing you. Then you will attach the second strand of yarn and start knitting, leaving the first strand of yarn to remain hanging on the side you left it.  Once you knit the second round, flip the work again so that the stitches on the right hand needle (round you just completed) are now facing you with the purl bumps showing, and use the first strand of yarn to knit the round.  In this way, you alternate, knitting each round with the strand of yarn that was unused the previous round, leaving the strands of yarn to hang on the sides you left them and making sure to pull snuggly when picking up each new strand when beginning the round.  Here is the best video I found that illustrates this technique.

One of the first things I discovered was that depending on your yarn-to-needle gauge ratio, your results with each technique will vary in providing the most seamless result.  Take a look at each of the techniques in the photo at the top of this post, and compare the results in a lacier garter vs. a chunkier, denser garter.  In the photo above, the seam is placed precisely in the middle of the image.  For a lacier garter, the traditional knit/purl route is actually the most seamless.  When the work gets chunkier, the two-strand approach yields the most seamless result.

But looks aren't the only consideration when choosing which technique you might want to follow.  Each technique presents pros, cons and varying degrees of fiddly.  Like anything else in this hobby, one of these garter stitch methods may be more fun for you, and another might be pure torture. Here's my thinking on the pros and cons of each technique:

Traditional Knit / Purl

Pros

-  Doesn't really show a jog with lacy stitches
-  Great if you like to purl

Cons

-  Shows a definite jog with chunky stitches
-  Not great if you don't like to purl.  Especially if you are considering a shawl with 1000s of stitches in a round.

 

No Purl #1 - Wrap & Turn

Pros

-  No purling required - just knit.
-  Only one strand of yarn required

Cons

-  Shows a jog with lacy and chunky stitches, at least in my experiments.  (Maybe I'm still not getting the subtleties of this technique?)
-  A bit fiddly, you need to really work on your tension at the wrap point and I was never able to really get results that pleased me.

 

No Purl #2 - Two Strand

Pros

-  No purling required - just knit.
-  Doesn't really show a jog with chunkier knitting projects

Cons

-  Shows a jog with lacy stitches
-  You need 2 strands of yarn.  This can get very fiddly, especially if you are working both strands from each end of a center pull ball.

 

The results above are for plain garter stitch:  A 4th way to eliminate the jog with garter stitch in the round is to deviate slightly from a plain garter stitch pattern. Had I had chosen my EOR stitch carefully and modified the plain garter stitch pattern slightly, I could eliminate the jogs entirely when working the traditional method and possibly the other 2 methods as well.   The free No-Stress Ripple Stitch Cowl pattern I designed has segments of garter-based ripple stitch and there is no jogging in those rounds.

No Purl garter stitch cowl

The photo above shows the simple cowl pattern I designed that started this whole investigation in the first place. For the featured yarn, which is chunky, I suggest the Two Strand Approach because it does the best job at minimizing the jog.  And as an added bonus, you don't have to purl.

I'm really interested to hear from others on no-purl garter in the round. Do you have a technique you use to eliminate the jog that I didn't cover here? Let me know in comments - or please just share any other tip you've got for working garter in the round.

 

 

Comments | Posted in Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen

Mixing Broomstick with your Knitting

Nov 30, 2012 12:33:19 PM

knitting and broomstick lace

Knitted Lace with Inline Broomstick Lace using Lucci Hemp Lace

I've been having fun playing around with ways to mix knitting with Broomstick Lace. Since Broomstick Lace is a crochet technique that is done with a knitting needle anyways, it seems completely natural to knit a few rows, then use the crochet hook and the knitting needle for a few rows - the effects are gorgeous and it is fun to watch what happens as the two different kinds of laces merge into one another.

Knitted Lace with Inline Broomstick Lace using Lucci Bamboo Lace

Knitted Lace with Inline Broomstick Lace using Lucci Bamboo Lace

The photos above show some of my experimentations working rows of knitting with a smaller needle, then switching to knit a row with a bigger needle. I've then worked the loops off the larger needle using a crochet hook and the Broomstick Lace technique.  Once the crochet row is complete, I've switched back to the smaller needles and continued in a knitting pattern.  I call this way of working "Inline" because there is no binding off the knitting before switching to Broomstick. In my experiments, I've found this way of combining the techniques is lovely for lacey fabrics.

Velutinous Lace Cap & Wristlets

Knitting with bordered Broomstick Lace as show in my new Velutinous Cap & Wristlets (Knit) design

I found that when I desired the transition between the knitting and the Broomstick Lace pattern to be more defined, binding off before a Broomstick Lace insertion provided a much more effective result.  But not just any bind off will work if you need to preserve the stretchiness and quality of the fabric.  I call this kind of transition between the two techniques a "Bordered" transition, and since no cutting of the yarn is required for the bind off, the bind off stitches really should just be considered a set of special stitches that create an attractive transition - it is not necessary to completely tie of and restart.

If you are a knitter and intersted in exploring mixing crochet into your work - do consider Broomstick Lace as it will feel like a very natural progression for you.  Even if you have only picked up a crochet hook to edge before - as long as you know the basics of how to single crochet and chain - you've got all the pre-requisites you need to tackle my new Craftsy class Beyond Basic Broomstick Lace or follow along in my new tutorial pattern Velutinous Cap & Wristlets.  And of course, there are my free, online tutorials on this website for Broomstick Lace.

If you are inspired enough to experiment with mixing techniques yourself, please do share. I'd love to see what you come up with.

Comments | Posted in Techniques & How To By Jennifer Hansen