03 August 2015

Symmetrical Yarn Over Net Pattern

It has been a busy summer with lots of travel. While I usually don't mind travel, I've done enough at this point that I think I get one victory point for every day in August in which I do not move my car. I am ecstatic to be sleeping in my own bed, working on my own projects, and having time to share my most recent discoveries.

One of these discoveries is an interesting maneuver and stitch pattern. It started when I saw my mother wearing a commercial sweater with this pattern:


Non-knitters probably don't notice anything about it, but knitters may notice the pattern is symmetrical. Not a big deal, you might think. Think again!

There are a number of ways to make a fabric with holes on the half drop. Most of them are not 100% satisfying. In the examples below, odd-numbered rows are always right side.

Swatch #1:
Multiple of 2 stitches.
Row 1: alternate yo, k2tog.
Row 2: p all.
Row 3. alternate k2tog, yo.
Row 4. p all.
Repeat these 4 rows for pattern.
This does produce a mesh. If you look closely at Swatch #1, you'll notice the zig-zags of yarn alternate thick and thin. It is possible to make a mesh similar to this in which the decreases stack to create horizontal lines moving across the fabric. In either case, the fabric has thick and thin areas — thin corresponding to yarn overs and thick corresponding to decreases.
You may think the solution is to use a centered double decrease (ddec) — a 3-into-1 decrease such as slip 2 together knitwise, knit 1, pass the 2 slipped stitches over.

Swatch #2:
Multiple of 3 stitches.
Row 1: yo, (alternate ddec, double yo), end with ddec, cast-on 1 {replaces a yo}.
Row 2: p2, (alternate [k1, p1] in double yo, p1), end with p1 in single yo.
Row 3: k all.
Row 4: p all.
Row 5: k1, yo, (alternate ddec, double yo), end with k2tog.
Row 6: p1, (alternate [k1, p1] in double yo, p1), end with p1 in single yo, p1.
Row 7: k all.
Row 8: p all.
Repeat these 8 rows for pattern.
Here the problem is that the 3-into-1 decrease means you've lost 2 stitches not 1. To keep your stitch count constant, you'll need two yarn overs for every centered double-decrease — yo, ddec, yo. When you line these up next to each other, it mean you have to work double yarn overs — yo, ddec, yo, yo, ddec, yo. On the wrong side row, you have to make two stitches from the double yarn over, usually by knitting and purling into the giant hole. The combination of knit and purl in the yarn over will create a bump near the top of the hole, slightly disrupting its shape.

Furthermore, it is hard to stack a yarn over directly above a centered double decrease. If you look closely at Swatch #2, you'll notice the subtle asymmetry in the pattern, as that central wale must go either left or right to go around the hole directly above it. Another way of thinking about it; since there are two stitches coming out of the hole but the decrease is over three stitches, the double decrease can not be centered on top of the double yarn over. Would a promising alternative be to substitute ssk and k2tog for the ddec, so as to allow the wales to split and travel around the hole? Swatches #3 and #4 seem to be moving closer to a solution. There are two choices.

Swatch #3
Multiple of 4 stitches.
Row 1: yo, (k2tog, ssk, double yo) across, end with k2tog, ssk, cast-on 1 {replaces a yo}.
Row 2: p1, (p2, [k1, p1] in double yo) across, end with p2, p1 in single yo.
Row 3: k all.
Row 4: p all.
Row 5: ssk, (double yo, k2tog, ssk) across, end double yo, k2tog.
Row 6: p1, ([k1, p1] in double yo, p2) across, end [k1, p1] in double yo, p1.
Row 7: k all.
Row 8: p all.
Repeat these 8 rows for pattern.

Swatch #4
Multiple of 4 stitches.
Row 1: yo, (ssk, k2tog, double yo) across, end with ssk, k2tog, cast-on 1 {replaces a yo}.
Row 2: p1, (p2, [k1, p1] in double yo) across, end with p2, p1 in single yo.
Row 3: k all.
Row 4: p all.
Row 5: k2tog, (double yo, ssk, k2tog) across, end double yo, ssk.
Row 6: p1, ([k1, p1] in double yo, p2) across, end [k1, p1] in double yo, p1.
Row 7: k all.
Row 8: p all.
Repeat these 8 rows for pattern.
In either case, the 4-into-2 paired decrease allows the wales to snake around the holes. The double yarn over problem is still not solved, as you can still see a slight asymmetry along the top of the double yarn overs. After looking at these, it becomes even clearer why the swatch at top is exceptional. I set out to replicate it and, after a few tries, here is what I discovered.

The key to the flat, symmetrical swatch is the decrease is not 3-into-1 or 4-into-2 but rather 3-into-2. This seems wrong until you actually knit it. The 3-into-2 decrease means you've lost 1 stitch not 2. Thus, the double yarn over problem does not occur. The trick is in devising a symmetrical 3-into-2 decrease. Fortunately, I had for reference my mother's commercial sweater with just such a decrease!

Swatch A
Over a multiple of 3 stitches.
Row 1: (alternate 3→2, yo) across, end with 3→2.
Row 2: p all. (Should be one stitch fewer than cast on.)
Row 3: k all.
Row 4: p all.
Row 5: k1, (alternate yo, 3→2) across, end with yo, k1. (Stitch count restored.)
Row 6: p all.
Row 7: k all.
Row 8: p all.
Repeat these 8 rows for pattern.
Version A:
Special maneuver: 3 into 2 decrease: 3→2.
Theory: Work a k2tog and an SSK over 3 stitches rather than 4. The central stitch of the group of 3 is involved in both maneuvers and lies on top of the group.
Practice:
Work a k2tog but do not drop the old stitches off the left needle.
Drop the back stitch of the pair off the left needle but not the top stitch.
SSK the two stitches on the left needle. (One stitch is the held stitch from the k2tog and the other stitch is the 3rd stitch of the original group of three.)

Swatch B
Over a multiple of 3 stitches.
Row 1: (alternate 3→2 version B, yo) across, end with 3→2.
Row 2: p all. (Should be one stitch fewer than cast on.)
Row 3: k all.
Row 4: p all.
Row 5: k1, (alternate yo, 3→2 version B) across, end with yo, k1. (Stitch count restored.)
Row 6: p all.
Row 7: k all.
Row 8: p all.
Repeat these 8 rows for pattern.
Version B:
Special maneuver: 3 into 2 decrease trough: 3⇾2
Theory: Work an SSK and a k2tog over 3 stitches rather than 4. The central stitch of the group of 3 is involved in both maneuvers and lies behind the group.
Practice:
Work an SSK but do not drop the old stitches off the left needle.
Drop the top stitch of the pair off the left needle but not the back stitch.
Reorient the back stitch by slipping and returning.
K2tog the two stitches on the left needle. (One stitch is the held stitch from the ssk and the other stitch is the 3rd stitch of the original group of three.)
For version B, use this alternative 3 into 2 decrease on Rows 1 & 5.

After working Swatches A and B, I decided to try more open variations by leaving out two of the three plain rows. I must admit I am very pleased with the results!

More mesh-like version of Swatch A.
Work rows 1, 2, 5, & 6 of Version A (central stitch on top).
More mesh-like version of Swatch B.
Work rows 1, 2, 5, & 6 of Version B (central stitch beneath).
The video shows both versions of how to work the 3-into-2 decrease. Enjoy!

4 comments:

Jay Petersen said...

Very nice!! As you know, I'm always on the lookout for new techniques.

Holly Briscoe said...

This is terrific! I had seen on Schoolhouse Press's Knitting Glossary how to do this decrease as SKP-K2tog, so this is great that we can actually do it as SSK-K2tog as well as K2tog-SSK.

I would like to link this blog post in my e-book on knitting charts if that's OK. I'm still writing the rough draft of the chapter the link would appear in, but most of the book is uploaded at my website. I can e-mail you the rough draft if you would like to see it before you give me permission.

Thanks!

Brian B. said...

This is a clear and understandable tutorial for me, as a beginning knitter, so thanks! I can also be pretty CDO, so I really like the symmetry of the mesh.

Can you walk me through how this can be adapted for a circular knitting project? (...or maybe it already is, but I missed how...!)

Thanks again for the technique!

Brian B.

Monique said...

Super pattren, j'adore ! I tried in circles, but without success, is there a trick?

J'adore tricoter ce point, mais en rond je n'y arrive pas, quelqu'un aurait un truc, une idée ?
D'avance merci
Monique