Using my US 5 [3.75mm] 16” circular needle, (did I mention they are LANTERN MOON Destiny?) and my contrast yarn, I cast on 116 stitches using the long tail cast on method. I then knit 2 rows before starting the ribbing. I think this rolled effect at the beginning or ending of a rib pattern just provides a little added visual interest. After knitting 6 rows of ribbing I was ready to start my stranded knitting.
Switching to the main color and US 7 [4.5mm] circular needle, I knit the first row of the pattern, adding in my lovely Amour stitch markers. Dividing the pattern up into sections really helps to clarify the pattern, making it easier to catch any mistakes that may occur.
Notice that my main marker is very different from the rest of the markers, so I always know the beginning of row, BOR.
When knitting stranded patterns, it’s very important to pay close attention to your tension. Taking the time to stretch out your stitches on the right hand needle every few stitches, will really help with keeping your strands from getting too tight. Also, taking some time (and patience) to learn to knit with a color in each hand is essential. Not only does your yarn not tangle, but your tension is usually more consistent since you are not dropping one yarn to pick up another. The right hand yarn is thrown, English style, while the left hand yarn is picked, Continental style. The tensioning of the yarn is the biggest learning curve, as with everything, practice makes perfect.
I think stranded knitting is best learned on a larger circumference, as in a top down yoke. It provides more space to work, which is really helpful in learning and perfecting the technique. This sweater is a good one to practice on since it has no short rows at the beginning. It would be fairly easy to rip your work back to the ribbing and start over again, if your first attempt at stranding is not ideal.
I know this statement will evoke howls of protest and general dread, but I assure you that getting comfortable with taking your stitches off the needles and putting them back on again, is an invaluable skill to master. One tip is to use a smaller circumference needle to pick up the stitches again, and then knit them with your regular needle.
Catching your floats is very easy when you have a yarn in each hand.
When throwing, you pick up the stitch with your right needle, lay the left hand yarn across the needle, wrap the right hand yarn around the needle and before you pull the stitch through, drop the left hand yarn off the needle.
When picking, go through the stitch with your right needle, wrap the right yarn around, then pick the left yarn and before you pull it through, drop the right yarn off the needle.
I generally catch my floats every 3rd stitch. Using the above technique makes this effortless to do, and I find catching floats more frequently creates a nicer overall fabric, both front and back. The Jay Sweater stranded pattern is very beginner friendly since it does not have many rows that have long floats, most of the rows alternate the two colors frequently.
If you become as enamored of stranded knitting as I have, this technique of holding the yarn in both hands will not only help you knit faster with better tension, but also save many precious knitting hours not having to untangle yarn!
After I finished my stranded work, I added a few German short rows for better overall fit. I always write out my list of short rows before I start and mark them off as I knit them. German shorts rows are not hard, but it is easy to get confused as to where you are since you are knitting and purling, turning the project back and forth. These were the German short rows I used in my sweater…
BOR beginning of row
DS double stitch
making a double stitch
- After turning your work slip 1 stitch purlwise with yarn in front.
- Pull yarn up, over, and back to pull on the slipped stitch until you can see the two ‘legs’ of the stitch below. At this point the yarn is in back.
- Keep tension and work the next and the following stitches as usual.
- BOR knit 93 stitches, create DS.
- Purl to BOR, purl 93 stitches, create DS.
- Knit to BOR, knit 89 stitches, create DS.
- Purl to BOR, purl 89 stitches, create DS.
- Knit to BOR, knit 85 stitches, create DS.
- Purl to BOR, purl 85 stitches, create DS.
- Knit to BOR, knit 81 stitches, create DS.
- Purl to BOR, purl 81 stitches, create DS.
At this point, when you turn to the right side, knit to BOR and knit a complete round, knitting all the DS along the way.