Sometimes when I sit at my machines to just “play” I like to give myself a very specific assignment or a detail to explore in depth. A few weeks ago, I wanted to see how much variation I could develop over 3-4 stitches. I was quite pleased with some of the effects and had to force myself to stop with a baker’s dozen of variations. I know you will think of even more ways to play with this theme.
Needless to say, none of these are likely to command much attention as a single repeat on the front of a sweater, but staggered placements or multiple repeats across the fabric would be much more interesting. Maybe just incorporating some detail on a pocket or collar would be nice. I’ll leave the applications up to you.
 To begin, transfer the stitches from the 2 needles marked with a dot to the adjacent needle at each side as shown on the chart. Bring the empty needles to working position (WP) and knit 1 row. Then drop the stitches (loops actually) that just cast onto the two empty needles.
*Use a latch tool to remove the stitch from the center needle of the 3 working needles between the two empties. Slide the stitch behind the latch of the tool and keep your finger on the latch so that stitch stays put as you catch the stitches from the 1st and 3rd needles at center in the hook of the tool. Pull those two stitches through the stitch that was behind the latch and place the resulting stitch on the center needle. Bring the empty 1st and 3rd needles to WP and knit 1 row. Bring the two needles marked with the dot to WP, knit 1 row and then drop those two stitches.** Repeat * to **.
The center column almost looks like seed stitch and the bars at either side twist nicely. This might be a strong addition between columns of cables on a sweater. I think it would also make a beautiful lower band on a simple sweater. I’d probably begin with 8-10 rows of fairly tight stockinet first so that the lower edge is rolled.
 The center stitch of these three stitches is fairly raised. The bars of the ladder at each side of it are straight – no twisting. *Transfer the 1st and 3rd stitches to the center (2nd) needle and then knit 1 row.** Repeat * to **.
After the first repeat to set up the pattern, you will actually only be transferring loops from the 1st and 3rd needles. This is another effect that I think would be great alongside cables instead of the same old latched up stitches.
 This one is similar to #2 except that the bars of the ladder are twisted. *Transfer the 1st and 3rd stitches to the center (2nd) needle and knit 2 rows.** Repeat * to **.
 This variation is similar to #3 in that the ladder bars are twisted. However, instead of transferring the 1st and 3rdstitches to the center needle, they are transferred to the adjacent needle at each side. This causes the stitches at the edge of the ladder to be somewhat raised and it also stabilizes the ladder and the adjacent stitches so that they don’t spread or loosen with the extra length from the ladders.
 For this simple flower shape, I worked one repeat of #3, #4 and #3 from above.
 The flower shape becomes a decorative column by continuing to alternate #3 & #4 for the full length.
 The center stitch of this variation creates a seed stitch effect. *Use a transfer tool to remove the stitches in orderfrom needles 2, 3 and 1 and replace all 3 stitches on the center needle. Bring the 2 empty needles to WP and knit 2 rows. Remove the stitches in order from needles 2, 1, 3 and replace them all on the center needle. Bring the 2 empty needles to WP and knit 2 rows.** Repeat from * to **.
 The way these 3 stitches are moved around creates a small, braided effect that should work well between larger cables.* Transfer the 3rd stitch behind the 2nd stitch and place on the 1st needle. Then move stitch 2 to needle 3, leaving the 2nd needle in WP. Knit 2 rows. Transfer the 1st stitch behind the 2nd stitch and place on the 3rd needle. Transfer the 2nd stitch to the 1st needle and leave the 2nd needle in WP. Knit 2 rows.** Repeat * to **. Depending on your yarn, this effect may stand out better with a purl/latched up stitch at each side of it.
 * Move stitches 1 & 2 to needle 3. Return needle 2 to WP and knit 1 row. Then return needle 1 to WP and knit 1 row. Next, move stitches 2 & 3 to needle 1, leaving needle 2 in WP. Knit 1 row and then return needle 3 to WP. Knit 1 row.** Repeat * to **.
 This example is worked like #9 except that the empty needles are brought back to WP in a different order. After the first transfer, bring needle 1 back to WP first and then needle 2; for the second part of the repeat first return needle 3 and then needle 2. The effect is nearly the same – nearly – but if you forget and start to mix the two orders, it will show as a mistake so pick one or the other and stick to it.
 This is just a single, stabilized ladder that is worked across 5 stitches. The center stitch, #3, is the only stitch that transfers every-other-row. *Transfer the 3rd stitch behind the 2nd stitch and place it on the 1st needle. Return the empty needle to WP and knit 2 rows. Then transfer the 3rd stitch behind the 4th stitch and place it on the 5th needle. Return the empty needle to WP and knit 2 rows.** Repeat * to **. The bars of the ladder will be twisted and the ladder – tiny as it is – will remain open.
 *Remove the 2nd and 3rd stitches on a latch tool and keep them behind the latch. Catch the 1st stitch in the hook of the tool and pull it through the other 2 stitches. Return the stitch from the tool to the 2nd needle and knit 2 rows. Then remove the 1st and 2nd stitches on the latch tool and keep them behind the latch as before. Catch the 3rd stitch in the hook of the tool and pull it through the other 2 stitches. Return the stitch from the tool on the 2nd needle and knit 2 rows.**
 This is actually more than a 3-stitch pattern, but I have included it here because it grew out of the others. *Transfer every-other-stitch (EOS) to the adjacent needle at left. Bring the empty needles to WP and knit 1 row. Transfer the same EOS to the adjacent needles at right. Bring the empty needles to WP and knit 1 row.** Repeat * to **. The alternating direction of the ladder bars, caused by the alternating direction of the transfers, creates a small honeycomb effect.
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