When a pattern says to "BO in pattern" what exactly does it mean? Many knitters are interpreting "bind off in pattern" to mean that you work the stitches as they appear. This creates an odd looking last row especially in patterns like Seed stitch.
If a pattern tells you to "bind off in pattern", it's telling you to essentially work the bind off row in the same manner as you would work the next row in the pattern. If you're working the below chart and you've just finished Round 2, and the pattern tells you to BO all sts in pattern, you'll actually work Round 1 again during the bind off. If you forget for a moment that you're binding off, just work the next round or row in sequence, that you would normally work if you weren't binding off. The only difference is that after you work one stitch, you're lifting the first stitch over the second and off the needle so that one stitch is bound off.
The Alternating Cable Cast On alternates between casting on a knit stitch then a purl stitch. This is a great one when you're working the one-row buttonhole in Seed stitch which allows the Seed pattern to be maintained above the buttonhole. A video and step-by-step written directions are provided for your convenience. I hope you enjoy trying this one. It's no more difficult than the standard Cable Cast On and it blends in with knit/purl patterns so well.
Yf: bring yarn forward
Step 1. Yf, slip 1 st p-wise, yb. *Slip next st and pass 1st st over it. Rep from * three more times. 4 sts have been bound off. Return last st to left needle. Turn.
Step 2. Yf, insert right needle between 1st and 2nd sts on left needle from back to front, wrap yarn around needle as if to purl, and pull through the loop, then set it on the left needle.
Step 3. Yb, insert needle from front to back between 1st and 2nd sts on left needle, wrap yarn around needle as if to knit and pull through loop, then set it on the left needle. Rep Steps 2-3 once then rep Step 2 once more. (5 sts cast on).
Step 4. Turn, slip first st on left needle to right needle & pass last cast on st over it and off needle. Tug yarn and continue working chart as est.
Knitting is FABULOUS, but at times can cause pain if you're addicted to knitting like me.
For years, I have suffered from pain as a result of knitting too much. I have used ice, heat, sports massages, visited physical therapists, chiropractors and technicians specializing in Active Release Technique (myofascial release). (Please understand that I am NOT a medical professional - but I am sharing what has worked for me.)
In the end, it turns out my pain was not tendonitis, or related to my tendons or ligaments at all. It was muscle overuse. Physical therapists who specialize in myofascial release were able to break up the adhesions and provide instant relief. In the past, I was told to take a break from knitting for a few weeks, which really, I couldn't do. I was so relieved to find therapists specializing in myofascial release who provided a better way to help my body without stopping what I love. During the pandemic however, the option of visiting a therapist was not always available so they provided some stretching exercises that can be done at home.
I've found that taking a break from knitting every hour, and stretching really helps keep my body pain free. There are stretches for your neck, shoulder and back too, but the most important I've found are three vital stretches for the hands and forearms. These are the muscles that do all the work in knitting, especially in your dominate hand.
1. Rest your fingertips of your dominant hand on the palm of your other hand and with your palm, pull the fingers back as far as you can. Once you feel resistance, hold this stretch about 30 seconds. Rest and repeat.
2. Grab ahold of your thumb and pull it back towards the top of your wrist. Hold for about 30 seconds. Rest and repeat.
3. The most important (for me at least) is to stretch the outside of the forearm. This is a little harder to do, but if you create a fist, then with your other hand, pull the fist inwards to the inside of your forearm and hold. The first time I do this, the first doesn't move much. The second time I find that I can get a deeper stretch and you'll notice right away how good it feels. Hold for about 30 seconds. Rest and repeat. This stretch runs from your hand through your elbow which is oftentimes where my pain originates.
Shake out your hands, improve your posture, and resume knitting. Sometimes you don't have 10 minutes to exercise and walk around, so these three, quick exercises can get you back to knitting faster while stretching out the muscles that are doing the most work.
There can be many reasons why we experience pain when knitting, so it's always best to visit a therapist who is knowledgeable in sports medicine. (Yes, I'm the only knitter at my wellness center which caters to runners, and ball players but they treat my injuries much the same as any other athlete.)
Click on the below You Tube link for a short video showing you how to do these.
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...when my knitting pattern doesn't have size labels?
If you're finding more and more knitting patterns omitting the traditional size labels you're not alone. From magazines to independent designers, patterns are dropping the S, M, L, labels and substituting them with sizes 1, 2, 3 or just the finished measurements 34, 38, 42".
If you're one of those knitters who "always wears a size ______ in sweaters" and just wants to knit that size, it's getting tougher to do just that.
When a pattern includes a size label, the designer has done all of the work for you. He or she has looked at the standard measurements, added the appropriate amount of ease based on the yarn weight, stitch pattern and intended look of the garment. If you want to knit a size Large sweater, it may be 40" finished chest circumference or it may be 50" depending on these factors, but if you wear a size large and you knit a size large, then you know the sweater will fit as intended.
When labels are removed, you as the knitter need to do some work. You need to know your own actual body measurements. You need to know how much ease to factor in. And you need to take into consideration the yarn weight, stitch pattern and intended look.
This is where one size does not always work. If you're a 34" bust and you like 2" positive ease, you can go about knitting sweaters marked 36". But a heavily cabled sweater in worsted weight wool which is intended to be worn with 6" of positive ease, will feel much the same as stockinette sweater in fingering weight wool with only 1" of positive ease. If you knit a fingering weight stockinette sweater in size 36" it may feel a little loose and look baggy in places. If you knit that Aran weight cabled pullover in a 36" you'll look like a stuffed sausage and it will feel very fitted.
If you find yourself without labels to guide you, consider the following:
Does the pattern tell you the amount of recommended ease?
Is the stitch pattern flat (like stockinette or lace), medium texture or heavily textured like brioche rib or cables?
Is the pattern for a summer tee or tank or outdoor winter cardigan?
What is the weight of the yarn?
Use this as a guide, but understand that ease and fit are very personal:
First look at ease:
(A) Body Hugging or Very Close Fit: -2 thru -4"
(B) Close Fitting: 0
(C) Normal or Classic Fit: +2 thru +4"
(D) Loose Fitting: +4 thru +6"
(E) Oversized: +6"
Now factor in the yarn and stitch pattern:
Top Row: Letters correspond to the desired fit.
2nd Row: Yarn weight 0-2= Lace, Fingering, Sport; 3-4 DK, Worsted, Aran; 5-7 Chunky, Bulky, Jumbo
3rd Row: Type of stitch pattern. Lace falls into the St st range. Brioche rib falls into the Cables range.
Bottom Row: Approximate Ease.
Each of these columns can vary. For example, oversized can be +10" of positive ease. There is no right or wrong answer. This serves a starting place when trying to figure out what finished measurement you should make. This also depends on the type of garment. A tank top or tee works well when it is fitted against the body. A baggy loose tank top with deep armhole isn't going to look or feel good on unless you wear it overtop of another garment.
I hope this helps you to select the best size when knitting your next project, or at least gives you some criteria to consider beyond actual body measurement and ease.
See a little more about how the Blackwater Mosaic Pullover is constructed, and some of the features. Worked in Miss Babs Yummy 3-ply merino.
Mosaic knitting was invented by Barbara Walker in the 1960's and here we are, 60 years later, still obsessing over the effect of this mesmerizing style of knitting. It is a subset of slip stitch knitting but has its own characteristics, or rules you may say, in order to define and separate it from the broader category of slip stitch.
Let's go over some of these differences:
First, mosaic is always worked with two colors, which are normally high-contrast colors. The broader umbrella of slip stitch knitting may involve one, two or three or more colors.
In mosaic knitting, only one color will be worked at a time, over two rows. All color changes are done at the beginning of rows or rounds but never involve working with more than one color across a row or round.
All stitches on are slipped purlwise unlike slip stitch knitting which may slip stitches knitwise or purlwise.
Mosaic stitches are slipped on right side rows with the yarn always held to the back and slipped on wrong side rows with the yarn always held to the front. This keeps the horizontal strand to the back of the work. In slip stich knitting, this is not necessarily the case.
Mosaic patterns are geometric and can be complex or simple, with longer multiples and repeats of a pattern. Slip stitch knitting uses smaller, simpler motifs that repeat frequently.
One row on a mosaic chart represents two rows of knitting.
Now that you know the parameters, let's put them into practice and see how it's worked:
One color is worked across two rows, usually in Stockinette or Garter stitch, then a contrasting color is slipped purlwise over the same two rows. It is then reversed with the contrasting color worked over two rows and the original color slipped over the same two rows.
Each horizontal row on a mosaic chart represents two rows of knitting and each row is usually numbered with an even number on the left and an odd row number on the right. You read first from right to left for the right side (odd numbered) rows, then from left to right for the wrong side (even numbered) rows.
The first and last squares of each row tell you which stitches to work.
When you begin a row, one color is dropped and the other is picked up from underneath.
The wrong side rows look exactly the same as the right side rows and most knitters do not refer to the chart when working the wrong side rows, they just read the knitting on the needles. This means less time paying attention to a chart. If you're working on a right side row for example, and you are working all of the dark stitches and slipping all of the light stitches, then when you turn your work, you will work back across the wrong side row doing the same thing, working the dark stitches and slipping the light stitches. This allows one color to travel to the end of a row and back.
Mosaic charts will come with their own set of notes. In the chart below, the notes that explain how to work the chart are listed here:
On RS rows that begin with a dark square, you'll knit dark stitches and slip light stitches purlwise with yarn in back.
On RS rows that begin with a light square, you'll knit light stitches and slip dark stitches purlwise with yarn in back.
On WS rows, slip all slipped stitches purlwise with yarn in front; knit all dark stitches, purl all light stitches.
On Row 1 for example, you'll begin at the right. The first square is dark, so you'll pick up the dark yarn and work with only that color. This is how Row 1 will be worked:
K11, sl 1, k1, sl 1, k2, sl 1, k2, sl 1, k1, sl 1, k10. On RS rows, stitches are always slipped purlwise with yarn in back.
Row 2 is worked by: K10, sl 1, k1, sl 1, k2, sl 1, k2, sl 1, k1, sl 1, k11. You're knitting the stitches that you knit and slipping the stitches you slipped on Row 1.
This produces the mosaic patterning seen in the Blackwater Mosaic Pullover. It's definitely not as hard as it may seem. It moves along quite quickly since you're slipping so many stitches. Once you remember that the color shown in the first stitch of each row is the color that you'll use for the next 2 rows, it's a fun way to knit.
Another plus is that tension is usually not as a big of an issue as it can be with stranded work. If you'll notice in the chart above, you only slip one stitch at a time. You may knit 10 stitches straight, but are only slipping one stitch. Just remember when you knit your next stitch following a slipped stitch, not to pull it tight. Let it rest across the slipped stitch with a bit of room.
Since you are slipping stitches over two rows (for example slipping all light stitches across the right side row, then slipping those same light stitches on the wrong side row) the fabric will become compressed. There will be more rows per inch than in plain stockinette. To prevent a distorted image, you'll often find a combination of Stockinette and Garter used in mosaic knitting. This produces a nice looking, deeply textured fabric that lies flat.
I really encourage you to not overthink mosaic too much. Just pick up your needles and yarn, and jump right in. Read the notes that accompany a chart. And just start. You'll find that it all makes sense after you work a couple of rows. What I love about mosaic charts is that they look just like my knitting, so if I'm not sure of which row I should be working next, I just look at what I've knit so far and compare it to the chart.
Knowing the differences will help you identify which patterns are truly mosaic. I hope you try mosaic knitting or if you're a fan already, that this helps to shed some light onto how mosaic knitting is defined.
Gonzalez, Leslie. “Slip Stitch Knitting Redux.” Cast On Aug – Oct 2014.
Gonzalez, Leslie. “Don’t Confuse Mosaic Knitting with Color Slip Stitch Knitting – They Are Different.” <http://whitehorsedesigns.blogspot.com/ 2014/09/dont-confuse-mosaic-knitting-with-color.html>.
Vogue Magazine Editors. Vogue Knitting. New York, NY: Sixth & Spring Books, 2002.
Walker, Barbara. Charted Knitting Designs. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972.
Walker, Barbara. A Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Pittsville, WI: Schoolhouse Press, 2012.
Hello! I'm Donna Estin, knitwear designer, certified master knitter and instructor. I enjoy designing artistic knitwear that is comfortable. I specialize in sweaters with a contemporary silhouette.