Twists and Turns

Some well-designed, complex-looking knits have such a perfect blend internal logic and self-references that they almost knit themselves. Consider the circular part of Opposite Pole: reversible cables (twists and braids), garter, simple cables, joining short rows, what a melee of instructions!! Or is it?

The pattern is, in fact, charted with beautiful clarity. But the real delight is in the knitting, when you realize all the separate components receive such clear pings off each other that after a few rows there is no need to refer to the pattern. Really! Behold:

small pickup

The first thing to constantly keep in mind is the rate at which the circular section is knitted onto the rectangular one (to eliminate the need for seaming). However, to account for differences in horizontal and vertical gauge, every row is not joined to every stitch. Meaning one needs to remember which row is a joining row and which isn’t. Simple solution? Pick up the legs of the stitches from the rectangular section on a circular needle, skipping where necessary, before starting the circular section. Then, just join the circular section to the picked up stitches.

In the photo above, the green scrap holds live stitches along the back neck. An arc of the circular section has already been knitted on to the back rectangle. The bamboo needle holds the picked up stitches which will be joining points for the circle when it swings back up from the right to be finally grafted to the live stitches.

Next, remember the reversible cables (marked with a cable needle and safety pin, respectively) are set in a field of garter while the lone simple cable (extreme right) is set in a field of reverse stockinette. Also, the reversible cables are basically 1×1 rib, except on cabled rows. Within a couple of rows your brain will knit the knits and purl the purls and garter where necessary, eliminating another need to refer to the chart.

small cables

Next, on which rows do we need to cable? The reversible twist and simple braid are worked every fourth row, simple enough to remember and read directly from the knitting. It’s also pretty easy to know the direction of the cable: the reversible one is always done in one direction while the simple braid is twisted first right then left, just like braiding hair.

Once the brain has absorbed all the above, the only element remaining for which we need to use the chart is the big outer reversible braid right? This is cabled every sixth row, out of sync with the other two cables. However, because this one involves moving six stitches across another six, any time you try to do this on fourth row, the cable cross will be just too tight and the fabric won’t let you. So pretty soon, your brain picks up that this needs to be done every sixth row. Oh and this was the only cable I actually needed to use a cable needle for, so I stuck it in there to remind me as I knitted along.

At this point, the pattern has you work a solid 20 rows straight, so everything gets hardwired into your brain. You’re 90% there to not needing the chart at all.

And then come the wedges! Also easy, formed with short rows turning every alternate stitch in the garter section. I used safety pins to mark the end of each wedge.

But wait… after the short rows, the reversible outer cables have progressed further than the inner simple braid. How do we start keeping track now? This is where good design comes in; by the time you have finished the short rows, you’ve worked a multiple of four rows along the outer edge. Meaning, your inner braid and reversible twist can still ping off each other and be cabled on the same row.

An easy way to count: There should be nine cable twists between two safety pins, five on straight rows and 4 formed by wedge shaping short rows.

I promise you your brain will read and sing the logic of this pattern, with no need to look down at the paper after you have worked one wedge in the circle.

Here’s where I was a couple of days ago. I’ve already finished several more wedges, and am now halfway past joining the circular section to the rectangle along the lower edge.

small last


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