In early lessons, most knitters are shown how to avoid twisting stitches. We work hard at figuring out which is the front leg and which is the back leg of the stitch. If we are pickers (or continental knitters) and we work our purls so that the first leg of a stitch is at the back on the knit side, we have to knit into the back leg so that our stitches don’t twist. Combination knitters are really good at figuring this out! If we are throwers (or we knit English), then our first stitch legs are usually also the front legs and we need to knit into the back leg to twist the stitch. It all becomes a muddle of legs and fronts and backs and nexts and behinds, but somehow, with practice, we come out on top, breathing easily, and with our stitches all aligned just so, all this without our nickers in a knot!
But today we are going to break all the rules and we’re going to deliberately twist stitches to add texture to our knitting.
Why would anyone want to twist knit stitches on purpose? If you look at this photo, you can see that the lines of stitches that zig-zag back and forth to create these diamonds really pop to the forefront of the panel of reverse stockinette. Twisted stitches are responsible for these well-defined mini-braids traveling through the swatch.
Let’s look at the steps you should take if you want to twist your stitches on purpose, and then we’ll look at how to cross twisted stitches.
For the tightest of braids, you’ll want to twist the stitches on both the knit side and the purl side. Work the stitches to the one that needs to be twisted. Now look how the stitch lays on the left needle, does the strand of yarn that’s at the front of the work lean to the left? If so, you’ll need to knit into the back strand, or leg, to twist the stitch, as pictured below. If the front strand of the next st lays leaning right, then you can knit into the front leg.
When you approach the stitch on the wrong side of the work you’ll need to purl into the back strand as pictured below.
That’s it! That’s the twisted stitch. If you’d like to only twist on the knit side and just purl the wrong side as usual, you’ll get another interesting look. Give that a whirl and see what you think.
The next step to making this lovely bobble and braid pattern is learning to both twist and cross stitches at the same time. The easiest way is to twist the stitches as you’ve already tried above, and to use a cable needle to assist with the crossed stitches, but it’s possible to do this without a cable needle.
When you want to cross the stitches so the front braid leans left you work up to the 2 stitches that will be crossed. Then you follow the 5 steps pictured above:
- bring yarn forward, insert the right needle from behind between the next 2 sts
- insert the needle into the front leg of the 2nd stitch as if to knit and tug it out into plain view
- pinch the base of the loop and remove the needle
- re-insert the needle from the back of the loop you’re pinching
- purl into this loop
When you want to cross the stitches so that the front braid leans to the right, you work up to the 2 stitches that will be crossed. In this pattern the first one will be a purl stitch. Then proceed as follows (not pictured):
- take yarn to the back, insert the right needle from the front between the next 2 sts
- insert the needle into the front leg of the 2nd stitch as if to purl and tug it out into plain view
- pinch the base of the loop and remove the needle
- re-insert the needle into the front of the pinched loop
- knit this loop
So know you will be able to complete the braid and bobble swatch pictured at the top of this post. The chart and text instructions are available below including the instructions to make a scarf.
I just thought of one last thing to suggest for you to try next time you work on a project with 1×1 ribbing. On the right side of the work, twist only the knit stitches, but not the purls, and on the wrong side of the work, twist only the purl stitches and not the knit. You’ll really like how the right side of the ribbing looks and it gives the ribbing a little extra springiness.
I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring these knit textures over the last few posts. Tomorrow we’ll see one last texture technique called the eyelash stitch. It’s a spin-off of the tuck stitch. Until then, I hope you enjoy knitting twisted stitches and crossing them as well.
Bobble and braid pattern stitch
Please check above for those accompanying diagram.
1/1/1 LPtwC: With cable needle slip next st and hold at front of work; with 2nd cable needle, slip next st and hold at back of work, k1 twisted, purl st off back cable needle, k1 twisted off front cable needle.
Make bobble (mb): See blog post from 3 days ago.
Worked over a multiple of 22 stitches plus three (not including selvedge stitches).
Row 1: K3, *p3, k3, LtwC, p3, RtwC, k3, p3, k3; rep from * across.
Row 2: P3, *k2, [k1, p1] twice, k1, p1 twisted, k3, p1 twisted, [k1, p1] twice, k3, p3; rep from * across.
Row 3: K3, *p3, k3, p1, LtwC, p1, RtwC, p1, k3, p3, k3; rep from * across.
Row 4: P3, *k3, [p1, k1] twice, k1, p1 twisted, k1, p1 twisted, k2, [p1, k1] twice, k2, p3; rep from * across.
Row 5: K3, *p3, k3, p2, 1/1/1 LPtwC, p2, k3, p3, k3; rep from * across.
Row 6: Rep Row 4.
Row 7: K3, *p3, k3, p1, RtwC, mb, LtwC, p1, k3, p3, k3; rep from * across.
Row 8: Rep Row 2.
Row 9: K3, *p3, k3, p1, LtwC, p1, RtwC, p1, k3, p3, k3; rep from * across.
Row 10: Rep Row 4.
Row 11: K3, *p3, k3, p2, 1/1/1 LPtwC, p2, k3, p3, k3; rep from * across
Row 12: Rep Row 4.
Row 13: K3, *p3, k3, p1, RtwC, p1, LtwC, p1, k3, p3, k3; rep from * across.
Row 14: Rep Row 2.
Row 15: K3, *p3, k3, RtwC, p3, LtwC, k3, p3, k3; rep from * across.
Row 16: P3, *k2, [k1, p1] twice, p1 twisted, k5, p1 twisted, [p1, k1] twice, k2, p3.
Rep Rows 1–16 for pattern.
One more holiday gift pattern: Bobble & Braid Scarf
200g / 440yds approx. of worsted weight yarn
Size US8 [5mm] 32″ circular needle. (size US9 [5.5mm] circular needle for cast-on and bind-off)
2 cable needles
In Bobble and Braid st pattern 22sts = 10cm. Exact gauge isn’t essential for this pattern.
With larger needle, long-tail cast on 267 sts, change to smaller needle.
Row 1: K3, *p3, k4, p5, k4, p3, k3; rep from * across.
Row 2: P3, *k3, p1, k1, p2, k5, p2, k1, p1, k3, p3; rep from * across.
Rows 3 & 4: Rep Rows 1 & 2.
Next 48 rows: Work Rows 1–16 of Bobble and Braid motif 3 times.
Next 4 rows: Rep rows 1 & 2. With larger needle, bind off loosely in pattern.
Thanks Sharon. Years of language teaching have honed my efforts. I hope you enjoy trying these out. Please share if you do.