Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters

Streamlined Incs and Decs

Even though I really, truly love hand manipulated stitches, I don’t like taking longer than necessary to get things done and usually find myself thinking of ways to streamline various motions so I get a better “economy of motion” out of them.

I can assure you I am not the only one who works full fashioned increases and decreases as I’ve shown in the video, but I thought it was worth showing for all the new knitters out there who are working on their own and don’t have many opportunities to watch experienced knitters work at a machine. If you are an experienced knitter and find yourself thinking “I know this stuff already”, bear with me and take pity on the newbies!

Full fashioned increases will look exactly the same on the knit side whether you work them with a 2-prong tool and then pick up the purl bar to fill the empty needle – or you work them as I do with a 3-prong tool. In this case, it isn’t about the way things look. Rather,the smoothest, fastest way of dispensing with those increases as you work your way up a sleeve.

This edge was shaped with standard full fashioned decreases, using a 3-prong tool

This edge was shaped with standard full fashioned decreases, using a 3-prong tool

The decrease that I show on the video is an important one to understand and not the way full fashioned decreases are shown in any knitting machine manual I’ve ever seen. They usually just show a 1-step decrease where 3 stitches are removed and shifted one needle to the left (or right) to make the decrease.

 

 

 

This edge was shaped with 2-step decreases, using a 3-prong tool

This edge was shaped with 2-step decreases, using a 3-prong tool

The 2-step decrease always maintains the same stitch on the front of the fabric which creates a strong decrease line along the edge of the fabric. If this 2-step method is also used when making transfers for lace designs, for example, it produces a totally different effect on the knit side of the fabric than does a 1-step decrease. This one-versus-two step decrease is the main thing that defines machine knitted lace and accounts for the difference between hand and machine knitted lace patterns.

Lace carriages always do a 1-step decrease because they are not generally capable of transferring two stitches at the same time, as they would need to do for a 2 step decrease. And, quite frankly, the hand knit equivalent of a 2-step decrease is very common in hand knitting patterns. You can, however, work 2-step decreases into hand-manipulated lace (and other transfer) patterns.

Compare the two photos above. The decreases on both samples were worked with a 3-prong tool. You should notice right away that the 2-step decreases formed a sharp line along the edge of the fabric, while the standard method produced a sort of “feathered” line. Also, there are just 2 stitches between the standard decs and the edge of the  fabric; there are 3 stitches between the 2-step decs and the edge of the fabric. This would account for the decreases being spaced a little further from, say, a raglan seam.

 

10 Comments

  1. Tanya on March 29, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I loved your YouTube video, Susan. I, too, am a bit of a fanatic for finding more economical ways of doing things. Both of your techniques are new for me, but you can bet they’ll be a regular in my ‘bag of tricks’! Thank you.

  2. Mariles on March 30, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Great tip as always and emailing to my knitting friends.?

    • Susan Guagliumi on March 30, 2016 at 8:30 am

      Tell them to subscribe to the blog so they don’t miss anything!

  3. Jeannie on March 30, 2016 at 8:21 am

    So obvious, and yet….I can’t wait to try it! Thanks

  4. Dianna on March 30, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Thanks for this great tip! Have have been machine knitting for a few years and this would make it much faster to increase/decrease. BTW – Just received your Hand-Manipulated Stitches Book and am totally loving it! Great way to add pizzazz to plain old stockinette stitches.

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    • Susan Guagliumi on May 6, 2016 at 10:31 am

      And I proof and proof and proof them too! I know there are some bad typos on one of the videos, but it is a whole lot of work and time (harder to come by) to redo them and then remount them on YouTube and link back to the blog without ending up with duplicates,etc. Just have to vow to do better as time goes on.

  6. Justine on September 29, 2019 at 8:40 am

    Your point about lace carriages is so interesting for a novice like me. Many thanks for the post.

    I’m 40 and I’m sure when I learned to knit all the lace patterns I could get in the UK used k2tog (right leaning decrease) as the ONLY form of decrease. Now I’m now used to designers using matching right and left leaning pairs of k2tog and ssk (or similar) and wouldn’t dream of switching back to only having one direction of decrease in my hand knitting toolbox.

    I wasn’t aware a lace carriage would only be able to do one of those decreases (k2tog I suppose?). It’s so obvious now you’ve said it!

    I currently have an LK150, which I bought after watching your wonderful classes on Craftsy. If I ever splash out on a standard gauge machine I’m glad I know the limitations of a lace carriage as I’d hate to find that out after buying one!

    • Susan Guagliumi on September 29, 2019 at 10:39 am

      Happy the info was useful. That said, lace carriages are still well worth having!

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