Sometimes I get an idea and carry on with it, trying to see it to s good resolution, far past the time I think I really should give up on it. I am not quite ready to say that I am at the end of this exploration yet, but I am close. Even so I thought it was worth posting about it in case someone with a bigger more mathematical brain than me can make it work!
The book, Sequence Knitting, is one I got last year while in the US for a wedding. Remember air travel? Weddings? Hugs from family? Yea. Well.
The concept is pretty amazing – knitting a “sequence” of stitches, let’s say (k4, p1) according to a set of rules (each row, in a serpentine way, or as a spiral) produces effortless, but amazing fabric.
I have been reading the book and looking at the samples for a very long time. My hope was I could turn the patterns into socks. But that wasn’t really working out for a variety of reasons. The spiral sequences, which are the only ones that work in the round as true sequence knitting, are interesting but not amazing FOR SOCKS. And I haven’t yet worked out a way to convert the serpentine versions into simple sequences – sure, you can make them two or more row patterns rather than repeating sequences but that rather defeats the point of it all!
I have made a few pair of socks from leftover yarn, using the helix knitting method, where you knit a round with one yarn then WITHOUT TWISTING you knit the next round with the second yarn. I love the effect, especially with two self-striping yarns (that do NOT share a common colour) and it sparked an idea.
I wondered what might happen if rather than knit 4, purl 1 I instead did knit 4 SLIP 1, on alternating row helix style knitting?
Well, At first it seemed like magic! Check out these mosaic style patterns:
All of these were done in the round, alternating the light and dark blue. All of them are pretty cool. The key is doing the sequence on multiple of some number + additional stitches. The only tricky bit (I thought at first) was to remember where you were in the sequence when rounding the magic loop – so if knitting (K5, S1) and you completed K3 on the back needle in light blue, the front needle had to begin with K2 in DARK blue. That was easy enough to get into a rhythm with after a few rounds.
At some point, My brain went Well crap. I am knitting a HELIX! I mean OF COURSE I am, but what are the implications of that? That the rounds do not line up. Nope, they sure don’t. In some sequences, it’s pretty rubbish.
In others you are aware something is not quite right but in similar colours or in fine yarn, it might not matter a lot if you place the beginning of round someplace that makes sense (the back of the neck of a cowl, maybe the back of a sock, etc)
And in reality it wasn’t too hard to come up with a way to make it more of a design feature – adding a single extra stitch at the beginning of the round that you slip on the alternate colour rounds and knit with the same colour gives you a sort of braided line of stitches dividing the helix beginning of round and end.
Not perfect, especially in these high contrast colours and in a small sample, but not horrible either.
So then I looked at it in different colours and I REALLY liked that effect a lot
But it just doesn’t seem like it will work for SOCKS, which was my initial goal. The slipped stitch fabric is thick, even on sock weight yarn. It draws the fabric in – not as much as stranded knitting does, but it does. Maybe a hat would work, doing the slipped stitch after the brim and before the decreases for the crown (much like the hat patterns included in the book) as long as the divider stitches are something you can place at the back and be happy with, like the line of black stitches here
It might work on the cuff, say, of fingerless mitts, below the thumb gusset.
But in the end, I am not as wildly enthusiastic as perhaps I was when I did my very first sample. Like I said, I am not quite done playing, because I still believe the simplicity of the sequence knitting is pretty darn nifty, the colour effect is likewise pretty nifty and the thickness of the fabric could be a benefit in certain situations. I’d be super curious if anyone has thoughts on this – something blindingly obvious I missed? some method to match the helix better that I have not stumbled on? and ideas this concept sparks that are worth exploring?
Let me know!