A drop shoulder pullover can be knit in a combination of knit-in-the-round and knit flat, whether it’s knit from the top down or the bottom up. If you add cables to the pattern, like in the Saddle Up pullover, well, it gets a little trickier.
Cable patterns are almost always written to be worked flat, with a right side and a wrong side. The cable crossings are worked on the right side rows. This simplifies things a little bit. You know those right side rows are the ones to watch out for.
At some point, you may need to work in-the-round. Then, you have the right side facing you all the time. Figuring out when to cross cables can be a little more difficult.
Here is a 4-stitch cable, where two stitches are crossed over two stitches, every 4 rows. The lines in the photo indicate the outside stitch of this Left Cross. See that hole just to the left of the crossing stitches? That’s caused by the crossing. (On a right cross cable, the hole would be on the right of the cable.)
When this cable is worked flat, there is a Right Side Row where you worked the cable cross, followed by a wrong side row, right side row and one more wrong side row. On the next Right Side row you would work a new cable cross.
When you work in-the-round you only have the Right Side facing you. Then you have Round 1 where you cross the cable, followed by Rounds 2, 3 & 4. Then cross again.
If you put something straight into the hole created by the crossing and run it under the horizontal bars to the needle, you should see the 4 bars. I used a sewing up needle but your cable needle may be handy and it would work great.
When you can count 4 bars, you are ready to cross again on the next round. If you have a 6 stitch cable, crossing every 8 rows/rounds, you would work until you can count 8 bars from the hole created by the last crossing. It works.
Have you tried this? I don’t use a cable needle. I was going to say I don’t own one but I think I do. It’s in the container with my set of straight needles which I also don’t use. Why do I still have them? That’s a very good question. Let’s not go there today.
One of my internet friends wanted to know how I get my cables to look so neat and tidy. My first thought was that I had no idea. I just do them and they turn out that way. But then, the next day, I remembered that I don’t use a cable needle. It’s not that I didn’t know I don’t use a cable needle, that would be sort of crazy, it’s that I haven’t used one for quite a long time so it doesn’t occur to me that they are needed to work cables.
So I did a video to show you how I do it. Thanks CD for the question that prompted this. I hope this visualization helps.
Only use the tips of your needles. Push all the stitches on your needles to the tips so you can maneuver your needles without pulling any of the stitches.
Take your needles to the stitches. Load the stitches going to the Back first. Once they are on your needle, Leave Them Where They Lie, usually slightly to the back of your work. Don’t move them because they will pull the stitches that are still hanging free.
Load the stitches going to the Front.
Cross the stitches to the Right or Left and load the stitches on your right needle onto the left needle. Check that you crossed them correctly. If not take them off and start again.
Knit across the cable stitches.
It’s a little risky but so satisfying and no cable needle to lose, imagine that!
Designing your own garment? Maybe you are working on the Saddle Up pullover with me and it’s time to work the cables. Here’s what you need to know.
Cables pull your fabric in as soon as the first cable is crossed. You have to make sure you accommodate for this fact or … well, your sweater or project will be much smaller than you had anticipated.
Let’s say you want to work a 4-stitch Rope Cable (worked by crossing 2 stitches over 2 stitches). This cable is worked in stockinette stitch and is a pretty common cable to work.
Once you start crossing this cable, it is no longer the width of 4 stitches. It is closer to the width of 3 stockinette stitches.
If you have a sweater where you want to introduce a 4-stitch Rope Cable, set it up for 3 stockinette stitches to begin with. Then increase 1 stitch before you work the first cross. That’s it.
A basic rule of thumb: for every 3 stitches of the cable, set up 1 less stitch. Add them back in by working increases before the first cross.
Here’s another example: 6-stitch Rope Cable where you will cross 3 stitches over 3 stitches – set up 4 sts and before the first cross, increase 2 stitches (now you have 6 sts for the cable).
This is fairly straightforward, except … (you knew this was coming, right?), the more complex the cable, the harder it is to do this successfully. Do I have to say the S word? Yeah, I do. You have to swatch!
Elizabeth Zimmermann had some great advice. Her suggestion was to cast on 96 stitches and knit a hat with all the cables. It will fit someone.
That can work as your swatch. Measure across the cable once you have worked the cross several times. Use your stockinette stitch gauge to figure out how wide the cable is in stockinette stitches. That is the number of stitches to set up and how many stitches you need to increase before the first crossing.
Example: Let’s say you have a 12 stitch complex cable, repeated several times on your hat, measuring 1.75″ across. Your stockinette gauge is 20 sts = 4″ OR 5 sts = 1″. 1.75″ x 5 sts = 8.75 sts, rounded up to 9 sts. Set Up the cable with 9 stitches and increase 3 stitches in the first row to 12 stitches and cable away.
Norah Gaughan has coined the phrase SSE: Stockinette Stitch Equivalent. The SSE for the complex cable above is 9 sts, even though the chart for the cable is 12 sts wide. Yeah, I know, this can mess with your head.
I would like to recommend her book, Knitted Cable Sourcebook for this information. There are tons of cables in this book and they all have an SSE. She’s done it for you. No swatching necessary. I don’t receive anything if you buy this book. I’m so happy I bought it. You might know that I am not a happy swatcher.
The latest section of the Saddle Up pattern is in your ravelry library. Update the pattern and set up your cables. Have fun.
Do you know how I-cords work? They are a little bit of knitting magic. When paired with Garter Stitch they do all sorts of good things.
First, 2 or 3 stitches of I-Cord on the outside edges of garter stitch give it a tidy finish. This is sometimes called a Built-in I-cord because you work the I-cord edge as you knit the garter stitch fabric.
Secondly, because these outside stitches are slipped every other row, they give the edge stability. They are a tiny bit shorter because they are not worked every row. These I-cord stitches hold the edges firmly so the edge won’t stretch.
Garter Stitch with 2-stitch I-Cord edge: Knit to last 2 sts, bring yarn forward, slip the last 2 sts. This row is worked over and over, on both the right side and wrong side of the fabric.
When you slip the last 2 sts, your yarn is attached to the 3rd stitch in from the tip of the needle because that was the last stitch you knit. So what happens in the next row? You need to pull the wool across the back of your work, from the third stitch to the first stitch so you can knit the row. This pulls the first stitch around towards the back of your work, as you knit it.
Because these two stitches are slipped every other row they look like stockinette stitch. A 2-stitch I-cord is the tiniest tube you can knit around the edge of your garter stitch fabric.
The Saddle Up pullover begins with a Garter Stitch Saddle with I-cord edges, of course.
The Saddle begins at the left shoulder and is worked across to the the right shoulder, with a hole for your head in the middle. Pretty straight forward, right?
But that’s not all there is to it, of course. That would be way too easy. There is another way of working the 2-stitch I-cord.
There are occasions when you would like both the I-cord stitches to be rolling to the wrong side of your work. This can be done, too. The Saddle uses this technique for the Back of Neck stitches.
2-Stitch I-Cord rolling to the wrong side: Right Side Row: Knit to last 2 sts, leave yarn in the back, slip last 2 sts. Wrong Side Row: Purl 2 sts, knit to last 2 sts, yarn forward, slip last 2 sts.
What is that line down the middle of the Saddle? The shoulders of the Saddle for this pullover need a lot of extra stability since the sleeve will be trying to pull it down. So I added some non-stretchy stitches right down the centre. It looks like an I-Cord but it isn’t. The middle 2 stitches are slipped every other row and work the same way, in that these 2 stitches are a tiny bit shorter and won’t stretch. Thanks L for pointing this out.
There is one more reason for all this I-Cord business. A 2-stitch I-Cord gives you a sideways stockinette stitch for every garter ridge. In the Saddle Up pullover, stitches are picked up & knit along the bottom edge of the Saddle to form the Front which is worked flat, down to the bottom of the armhole. If you pick up & knit into the I-Cord stitch that has rolled to the back the Saddle, you get a very lovely line of stitches running between the Saddle and the Front. It will never stretch and it’s so very neat and tidy. Don’t you think?
You can add I-cord stitches to any garter stitch project. You may get to love them as much as I do.
Are you are interested in knitting this Saddle Up, drop shoulder pullover with me? I’m publishing each section as I get it done and tested. I’ll update the pattern with each new section as we go along. The Saddle section is up for sale.
I’m interested in any comments, corrections or problems you have with this pattern. I’ve included lots of photos and my blog posts will be featuring this pullover for the next month. Happy to have you join me.
I knit top down sweaters all the time and I love it. But after the excitement of knitting the yoke, there are all those rounds/rows of knitting to go for the body. Miles to knit, to paraphrase from Robert Frost’s poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. What is a knitter to do?
Here is one solution. You are in luck if your top down pattern has a set of stitches cast on at the underarm during the Divide Round/Row. These cast on stitches are a gift to you. They are the perfect place to add a stitch pattern to break up all that stockinette stitch.
You must have a couple of stitch patterns that you love that you could work in here. You can also search through your stitch dictionaries for patterns you can use as a panel of stitches.
Let’s start with some easy stitch patterns:
Then you could move on to working twisted stitches. Why twisted stitches? They don’t change the gauge of your knitting so you can just pop them in.
Cables are great too but you have to watch how much they pull the fabric in. Two stitch cables work really well.
And the last suggestion is to find a lace pattern to work down the side of the body. This is always a very attractive option.
So what do you think? Could you do this on your next top down? Have you taken a step away from a pattern and given this a try?
I need to correct that, this only involves one snip. The scissors are out and ready to go.
I can’t live with this ruffle-effect on my top down neckband.
It was my own error in calculation but sometimes I don’t know what will happen until I actually knit it up. Then denial, denial. It’s not so bad. It will block out. Does this sound familiar?
Unfortunately, it is not going to block out. So now to fix it.
Yes, scissors to the rescue. I cast on this cardigan at the neckband so I can’t rip it back. That only works with a cast off edge.
I’m ready to take the plunge. This is the centre back of the garter stitch neckband. I want to cut so that this row of stitches ends on up my needle.
I must admit to chickening out a bit and going up one more row to be sure to get a good set of stitches. I’ve turned my neckband around. The line at the top is there to show you the base of the neckband.
Here goes. Snip a leg of one stitch. That’s it, only one snip.
By pulling the cut yarn through one leg of a stitch at a time, you are taking out one row of stitches and leaving open stitches above and below. One row I’m putting on my needle. The other row belongs to the neckband I will be discarding.
It’s a slow process. One stitch at a time from the centre back around to the front. Half way done now.
I can think of worst places to do a slow and somewhat tedious job. Not so bad when I’m sitting here. Now to go from the centre back in the other direction.
There, finished. Now I just have to reknit my neckband. Just give me a minute or two … decrease about an inch of stitches along the front … knitting around … do the same on the other front … straight knitting now … taking a break … knitting … knitting … casting off. Done.
Here’s the before and after. There is a little bit of ruffling on one side but that will definitely block out. Yay. A win.
Slip stitches are easy to work. You’ve probably done them to work decreases and maybe a selvage or two. Have you used them to work a decorative 2 colour pattern? If you haven’t here’s how it works on a garter stitch scarf.
Tech notes: Slip stitches are always worked purlwise. That means insert your needle into the stitch as if you were going to purl the stitch and transfer it over to the right needle without working it. It’s simply a transfer of a stitch from left needle to right needle. The yarn, while working the slip stitch, is always carried across on the Wrong Side of the fabric. OK, that’s it.
When using 2 colours in a standard garter stitch stripe (2 rows in colour 1 and 2 rows in colour 2), slipping one stitch pulls the colour of the stitch you slipped up into the row you are now working. So working [K1, Slip 1] makes every other stitch a different colour. In this first pattern the white yarn works K1 and the blue yarn is slipped. The blue yarn from the previous row is pulled up into the white row. On the wrong side row the white yarn is knit and the blue yarn is slipped again (with the yarn in front – the wrong side of the fabric). The working yarn (white) moves back and forth between knitting and slipping, much like when you work a 1×1 rib. A bit of a pain but I think it’s worth it.
Rows 1 & 2: With blue, knit. Row 3 (RS): With white, work [K1, with yarn in back SL1]. Row 4: (WS) Work [with yarn in front SL1 (the blue stitch), K1 (the white stitch)]. The white stitches are in garter stitch (knit on both the RS and WS). The blue stitches look like stockinette stitches but they aren’t, they have been slipped over two rows.
If we can work this as [K1, SL1] we could also work it as [K2, SL2]. Why not? That’s easy enough, right?
This time the first two knit rows are white and the slipped stitch rows are worked in blue. Rows 1 & 2: With white, knit. Row 3 (RS): Work [K2, SL2]. Row 4 (WS): Work [with yarn in front SL2, K2]. You can see the difference from the 1×1 pattern below it. Cool, eh? Just a little change and it looks quite different. Switching which colour works the first 2 knit rows also makes it look different.
Why stop here. What if on Row 4 (WS) we purled instead of knit. What would that do? This is the first 1×1 stitch pattern worked as: 2 knit rows in blue, Row 3: With white [K1, SL1]. Row 4: (WS) Work [with yarn in front SL1, P1]. On this wrong side row you are keeping the yarn to the front of your work, on the purl row side, all the time which makes this quite a lot easier to work. None of that back and forth business, yay. But a little harder to see clearly. Can you see that it now looks like there are 2 stockinette rows worked between the blue garter ridges?
Now that we’re on a roll let’s do the 2×2 stockinette version. Work 2 knit rows in white. Row 3: (RS) With blue, work [K2, SL2]. Row 4: (WS) Work [with yarn in front SL2, P2]. It’s easier here to see the blue stitches are knit on the right side and purled on the wrong side. It looks like the white garter stitch rows are floating on top of a blue stockinette stitch fabric or maybe I’m being a bit fanciful here, ha, ha.
I’m working on the beginning triangles of a new scarf pattern. The triangles get larger and larger until you have the depth of scarf you desire. These triangles will form one of the tails which will hang down the front of the body. I don’t like to have a colour pattern on the tails of a scarf because then I am always fussing to keep the right side of the pattern showing. I decided to try different ways of working eyelets since they look good on both sides.
I put my scarf in the sink while still on the needle and hung it out with my laundry. I wanted to see how deep the scarf was going to be. The white hand-spun really bloomed. Good to know that as I go forward.
Triangle One (on the far left) has eyelets worked on the wrong side of the fabric. This is a 4 row pattern more or less based on a stockinette stitch background:
Right Side Row 1: Knit. Wrong Side Row 2: [YO, P2tog] repeat. Right Side Row 3: Knit. Wrong Side Row 4: Knit. This last row creates a ridge on the Right Side. I really like that the eyelet holes sit between 2 Right Side knit rows. I think the holes look bigger and more defined.
Why bother working the eyelets on the wrong side row? I find that the needle position for working P2tog makes more sense to me and is easier to work than the K2tog. But I get that P2tog may not be your favourite stitch.
So I made Triangle Two with the regular eyelet pattern worked on the Right Side rows with several garter rows in between.
RS Row 1: [YO, K2tog] repeat. Rows 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6: Knit. This pattern places the eyelet holes between two garter ridges.
Just to try that again I worked Triangle 3 with Eyelets worked on the Right Side, every other row. This is one you are probably quite familiar with.
RS Row 1: [YO, K2tog] repeat. WS Row 2: Knit.
One more triangle, Triangle Four, and back to the beginning with the P2tog eyelets because, well I’d had enough of the other ones. This time I added a second colour. Same 4 row pattern though.
With Main Colour, work RS Row 1: Knit. WS Row 2: [YO, P2tog] repeat.
With Contrast Colour, work RS Row 3: Knit. WS Row 4: Knit.
I have to say I loved this last one and was sorry when the triangle was finished. I’m going to have to use this again somewhere soon. Do you want another look at my laundry?
There are many ways to use eyelets. These were a couple of easy combinations. Enjoy.
I think 3×3 is the best way to stripe a cardigan or any piece of flat knitting. You may not consider a Top Down Cardigan flat knitting but it is done working back and forth with Right and Wrong Side rows which is where this works. Check it out.
Three colours, 3 rows each. Here are three reasons why you might want to give it a try:
You use all the colours equally throughout.
You carry the yarn up both front edges of the cardigan (or edge of your flat knitting). Both front edges will then be equal in length. If carrying yarn up only one front edge, it may be pulled tighter and then be shorter than the other front edge.
The colour you need for the next stripe is exactly in the right place when you need it.
Reason Number 2 is how I started using the 3×3 stripes on a cardigan. Method Number 3 is why I love to work it. This cardigan which will become a New Any Gauge Top Down pattern some day. It’s early days yet.
The 3×3 Stripes work like this:
Work 3 rows in Gold, drop that yarn and work 3 rows in Blue, drop yarn and work another 3 rows in Purple, drop yarn.
Now you want to work the next Gold stripe. The Gold yarn is hanging right there on the front edge you just finished working the Purple on. Pick up the Gold and work 3 more rows finishing on the other Front edge.
Hello, there is the Blue yarn hanging out there ready to work the next Blue stripe. Pick up the Blue and work 3 more rows finishing on the other Front edge …
where the Purple is waiting. Pick up the Purple and work another stripe. Then pick up the Gold and continue on working 3 row stripes with a big smile on your face.
Is this a perfect set up or what?!
Not ready to jump in? Try a little person cardigan: Neapolitan (named after the ice cream) where I’ve written out all the rows for you, line by line. Knit in DK weight in Cotton Tweed by Cabin Fever.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.
Where do your “oops” happen? When I make mistakes it’s almost always at the end of the row. The longer the row, the more chance there is that I will completely loose the plot. I spend a lot of time unpicking stitches at the ends of rows to redo what I should have done as I approached the end, frustrating.
That is the explanation for the increase I used on the Magic Symmetry Shawl pattern. I thought it best to do a 2-stitch increase right at the beginning when it’s fresh, instead of a single increase at the beginning and end of the row. Then you can work all those knit stitches with no worries, letting your mind drift to wherever it wants to go.
Double Increase with YO: work [K1, YO, K1] all in the same stitch – increase of 2 stitches. Here is an excellent video by Suzanne Bryan on How to work KYOK.
I dove into my stash and collected these bits. The greeny-blue ball on the left was left-over from a cowl. The middle and right balls are small balls of sock yarn (I have small feet so have lots of these little balls). They together weighed 117g. Perfect for a scarf.
Greeny-blue background with Striped Magic Rows in the darker colourful wool.
When I ran out of the one greeny-blue I just started with the next one. You might be able to catch where the change is.
Then I thought it could be a little longer so dove into my odd ball stash again and found a tiny sock ball with a little of that same green in it along with those little black and white blips. You know the kind of sock yarn I mean? The blips add a certain something to the outside edge. I ran out of greeny-blue so finished up with the last of the variegated and had only a couple feet of yarn left, that’s all. Whoohoo.
Thanks for reading. Hope you’re having fun shawl-knitting,