Creative Knitting Updates
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Tutorial: Bobbles, Baby
Bobbles go with cables like scones go with tea; each is good on its own, but oh-so-much-better together! Aran knit sweaters made this pairing famous, with bobbles and clusters of bobbles extending the 3-D qualities of the style. Cables are one of the main themes of the latest issue of Creative Knitting magazine (more on that later in the update!), so herewith, a little bobble tutorial as a complement.
Bobbles are simply nubs of stitches that protrude from the fabric. They can be small or large, depending on the number of stitches and rows used to create them. To make a bobble, work multiple times into one stitch, increasing it to three, five or more. Work several rows on just those stitches, turning as usual between rows. Then decrease back down to just one stitch and continue. The increases can be made by working into both the front and back loops, or by working yarn overs between knitting into the front loop, or a combination of these methods (small bobble increases are sometimes made by alternately knitting and purling into the front loop). The decreases may be worked by passing stitches over each other, working single decreases, working double decreases or a combination of these methods. All these methods can be used to make bobbles, but you may find one easier to work, or you may be more satisfied with the end result of another. If you keep the size the same, then you are free to substitute; a classic five-stitch, five-row bobble is used below to illustrate ways to work the increasing, plain rows and decreasing.
Knit In Front and Back/Pass Stitches Over
This is the classic method that is often found in older books and patterns. It combines kfb increases, four rows of plain stockinette stitch and bind-off decreases to produce a large oval bobble. Working in the same stitch without slipping off, [knit into the front loop, knit into the back loop] twice, knit into the front loop once more, then slip old stitch off left-hand needle.
[Turn the work; purl 5. Turn the work; knit 5] twice. With left-hand needle, pull second, third, fourth and fifth stitches one at a time over the top of the leftmost stitch. Give the working yarn a tug to tighten things up; use your index finger to shape up the bobble.
Yarn Over/K2tog, SSK, S2KP2
Working into the front and back of the loop can be difficult, especially if the yarn is fine. The yarn over method makes this a little easier. This version also illustrates spreading decreases out over two right-side rows and working wrong-side rows even in stockinette. The end result is rounder and a little smaller than the bobble above. Working in the same stitch without slipping off, [knit 1, yo] twice, knit 1, then slip the old stitch off the left-hand needle. Turn; purl 5. Turn; k2tog, knit 1, ssk.
Turn; purl 3. Turn; work s2kp2 in this manner: slip 2 as if to knit 2 together, knit 1, pass the two slipped stitches over the knit 1. Tug the working yarn to tighten; use your index finger to shape up the bobble.
There are many ways to vary these basic bobbles. Work increases on successive rows, using kfb to add two on the first row and yo, purl 1, yo on the center stitch of the following wrong-side row. Or, after the single row of increases, try working two rows even and then work the first set of decreases on the following wrong-side row (ssp and p2tog). Or put both together -- experiment! And take your favorite out for a spin on this update's featured knitting pattern, Bobbles Beyond Compare!