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Knitting Tutorial: The Versatility of Long Stitches

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In the last update discussed making long stitches with needle and stitch elongation techniques. In this update we'll look at some of the ways elongated stitches are used in stitch patterns. The extra length of these stitches makes some wonderful patterns possible, with stitch manipulations ranging from simple slipping to more complex combinations of slipping, threading, crossing and twisting. Let's look at a few examples.

Elongating Select Stitches

The signature look of these patterns is created by elongating only some of the stitches in the stitch or row repeats. Seafoam is an example of this type that not only elongates select stitches but elongates some more than others. In each 10-stitch repeat there are five regular stitches, and five stitches preceded by yarn overs. The number of yarn overs ladders up from two to three to four, and then down from four to three to two. In Photo 1 you can see how I am using my right index finger to hold the multiple wraps on the right needle as I work the next stitch; Photo 2 shows the ladders of wrapped stitches. On the following row the yarn overs are dropped from the needle (Photo 3), and only the stitches are knit (Photo 4). The extra length in the dropped yarn overs (Photo 5) will need blocking and perhaps some tugging (Photo 6) to fully open up the fabric. Notice how the placement of the elongated stitches alternates every four rows to balance the fabric.

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Slip-stitch patterns use unworked stitches, slipped purlwise (as if to purl) with the working yarn either to the public or private side, to create a wide variety of effects. Elongating stitches before slipping them allows them to easily span multiple rows. Shadow Check is based on 1x1 ribbing, using a single yarn over to elongate the knit stitches, which are slipped for three rows. There are two somewhat tricky moves. The first, on Row 3, is holding the yarn over in place (Photo 1) while slipping the knit stitch with the working yarn in back (wyib) (Photos 2, 3). The second is on Row 4 when dropping the yarn over off the needle with the yarn in front (wyif) (Photo 4): both yarn over and working yarn should end up on the front (the wrong side of the fabric) as you slip. After slipping the stitch and letting the yarn over drop off the needle, the working yarn is taken to the back as you knit the next stitch (Photos 5, 6). The resulting fabric has a striped vertical appearance on the "right side" and pronounced horizontal cording on the other side, produced by the relatively short extra length of the dropped yarn over.

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Threading refers to the technique of bringing one or more stitches through one or more other stitches. Threaded Stitch uses needle elongation to make stitches of the row before threading larger and threads one stitch through another. I used a needle four sizes larger here. To thread stitches: With yarn in back insert the smaller needle purlwise (pwise) through the first stitch, then into the second stitch as usual (Photo 1). Wrap and pull through a new loop and leave it on the needle (Photo 2). Then take the needle through the back loop (tbl) of the first stitch (Photo 3) and wrap as to knit (Photo 4). Slide the old stitches off the left needle (Photos 5, 6). The end result of this sequence of manipulations is that the first (right) stitch of the pair ends up looped around the base of the two new stitches.

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Much as cable stitches switch position, so do elongated stitches in this category switch positions, though given the elongation, a cable needle is not necessary. ZigZag Check illustrates how an elongated stitch can be crossed to slant to the right (Row 6) and to the left (Row 12). Select stitches are elongated by wrapping twice (k1-w2x) on a wrong-side row; on the following right-side row the extra wrap dropped as the stitch is slipped wyib (Rows 2, 8). On subsequent rows (3-5 and 9-11) the elongated stitch is slipped with yarn to the wrong side.

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To cross right (Row 6), slip three stitches to the right needle (Photo 1), drop the long stitch to the front of the work and slip the three stitches back to the left needle, then put the long stitch back on the left needle (Photo 2) and knit all four stitches.

To cross left (Row 12), drop the long stitch off the left needle (Photo 4) to the front of the work, slip three stitches to the right needle and pick up the long stitch with the left needle (Photo 5). Slip the three stitches back to the left needle and knit all four stitches (Photo 6).


Groups of elongated stitches can be worked in many interesting ways. In Anemone Stitch, twice-wrapped stitches of wrong-side rows are slipped off in groups of four to elongate them (Photo 1), placed back on the left needle, and worked together through the front (Photo 2), back (Photos 3-5), front, and back again (Photo 6), thereby increasing back replacements for the stitches being worked as one. If you've worked a knit-through-front-and-back (kfb) increase, the moves are the same, just done twice and through four stitches instead of one! The stitches worked together alternate every two rows to keep the fabric square.

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The basic moves in these stitch patterns will get you started. There are a lot move variations out there to try. Ask yourself that what-if question as you work one, and you may create your own!


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