Right now I am working on a project that requires a wrap and turn, abbreviated as w&t (in some patterns it can also be W/T). This is a technique used to create what are called "short rows" that allow for shaping in a piece of knitwork. Really, it allows a designer to only be limited by their imagination- the handy wrap and turn shows up in shawls, sweaters, hats, socks...you name it, there is a pattern out there with a short row for it. It can seem intimidating, but as with many things, it is not as scary as you initially think. I feel like any technique that gets it's own special name or symbol tends to frighten the novice knitter, but go forth with confidence...you can do this!
A wrap and turn is exactly what it sounds like; you wrap a stitch and then turn your work and knit in the opposite direction. For example, if a piece has 20 stitches across your needle, a pattern may want you to wrap and turn at the half way point. This means you would knit 10 stitches, wrap the 11th stitch, turn your work around then head back to where you came from. In a pattern, it may look something like this:
That is why a wrap and turn creates what is called a short row. The row you knit is shorter than the full set of of stitches on your needle. The wrap and turn eliminates the small holes that would appear if you simply turned your work and went the other way without wrapping a stitch. It works as an anchor, of sorts, to create seamless, hole-less shaping. Now that you have a basic idea of what a wrap and turn is, let's dig deeper into how to achieve it.
I will say at the beginning of this tutorial that the wrap and turn is often a two-step process, though some patterns do not require the second step, so make sure you read through completely. The second step would be in a row worked after your wrap and turn. As you knit the row above your wrap and turn, patterns will often ask you to pick up and knit the wrap with the stitch that it is wrapped around. To achieve this, simply treat the wrap yarn as its own stitch and complete a k2tog (knit two together) with the wrap yarn and the stitch it wraps. If you forget this step, it is not the end of the world. It simply serves to make the short rows you are creating even more seamless. However, wrapped stitches are not obvious themselves, so please do not unravel a project if you forget the second step. In fact, as I mentioned, some patterns do not even ask it of you.
This picture tutorial takes you through the process of the wrap and turn for both a knit stitch and a purl stitch.
A Knit Wrap and Turn
The first step is to knit to where you need to execute the wrap and turn. Keeping with our example, in a k10, w&t scenario, you would knit ten stitches. Then, on the eleventh stitch, with your working yarn in back, you would insert your right needle into the first stitch on your left needle as if to purl. Slip the stitch from the left needle to the right needle.
Your working yarn was in back when you slipped the stitch. Now, bring that working yarn forward.
With that yarn still in front, slip the last stitch on your right needle back on to your left needle. (This is the stitch that you slipped in the first step.) Your working yarn should now be "wrapped" around this slipped stitch, coming forward between the first and second stitch of your left needle.
Last, you turn your work. Now your working yarn is in the back of your knitting and between the first and second stitch on your right needle. Use the working yarn and simply knit back the way your came. You have achieved a wrapped stitch.
A Purl Wrap and Turn
Working a wrap and turn for a purl stitch is essentially the same, with a few subtle differences in where you hold your working yarn.
Work your piece to where you need to wrap and turn. Then, with your working yarn in front, insert your right needle purlwise into the first stitch on your left needle. Slip this stitch from the left needle to the right needle.
Move your working yarn to the back. You have now wrapped that slipped stitch and need to return it to your left hand needle. Simply slip the first stitch from the right needle on to the left needle, making sure to keep holding your working yarn in back.
After slipping the stitch, turn your work. Your working yarn should be in the front, coming forward between the first and second stitches on the right needle. Now purl back the way you came, you have successfully completed a wrap and turn!
Sometimes when you pick up that beautiful skein of yarn at the store, it can be a little overwhelming trying to decipher what the label is really telling you. It can feel like it is written in another language. In a way, it is. It is written in the language of fiber craft. I thought perhaps it would be helpful to deconstruct a common yarn label step-by-step. There is a wealth of information that can help you be more successful in your fiber adventures. Once you know what to look for, you can successfully choose a yarn for a project with confidence.
1. The brand of yarn is usually on the front of your label. This is fairly self-explanitory but useful information if you want to buy the yarn in the future. Even if you are unable to remember specifics, if you can remember the brand you can often times find your way back to a yarn. Also, the fiber content is easy to see and useful to remember. Cotton, wool or acrylic are worlds apart when it comes to uses, care, drape and feel. Usually the fiber is broken down into percentages. The examples shown here are 100% of their respective fibers, but you can have combinations. For example, something can be 70% Alpaca and 30% Rayon.
2. Beyond the brand and fiber content, things start to look a little scary. Another important tidbit would be the weight of the yarn. (Tutorial on yarn weights coming soon.) Most of the time, this information will be communicated in the form of a number, 0-7. It can often be found in a cute illustration of a yarn ball. This numbering system follows the Craft Council of America's standard system for yarn weight. The link I have provided will take you to a useful chart of numberings, yarn types and other information about yarn weight. The labels pictured here show a number 4. This means it is a medium weight yarn which includes your worsted, afghan and aran weight yarns. While one of the labels does not explicitly state the type of weight yarn it is, the other includes the information "Worsted Weight."
3. Once you know the weight of your yarn, you can start to think about the needle size you will need to obtain the gauge you want. This information is crucial if you are substituting a yarn in a pattern or you wish to draft your own pattern. Sometimes you will see a graphic of a little square that will tell you the stitch count on a single size needle for a four inch square. For example, it could say on size 8 needles, you should get 20 stitches and 24 rows in a 4x4 inch square. The labels shown here do not include that square, but the information is still there! The labels here, which I see a lot, show you how many stitches to expect in one inch. They also include a range of appropriate needle sizes. This is because every knitter is different, and your stitches may be tighter or looser than a knitter sitting next to you. So, where one knitter needs size 7 needles, another may need size 8. This is also why it is so important to swatch before you start a project where size matters.
4. Dye Lot is another important piece of this puzzle, especially if you are working on a project that requires multiple skeins of yarn (like a sweater). You can see, the color often is associated with a number, like "157W Boysenberry." Think of this as a catalogue number; Brown Sheep Company, Inc. makes this particular color, along with many others. However, within this 157W Boysenberry color, the yarns are died in batches. Makes sense, right? It would be unreasonable to think they can anticipate and dye all the yarn they will ever need in a given color at the same time. Dying yarn in batches introduces the possibility of different variables playing a role in the ultimate color of the yarn. This can lead to slight variations in the color from one batch, or dye lot, to another. This means you will want, when possible, to get all of the yarn for your project from the same dye lot to minimize the chances the yarn will be different from one skein to the next. The dye lot shown in the example above is 033. It would be awful to have half a sweater done, and then the next skein be a slightly different shade of Boysenberry. Where you wanted one cohesive piece, you may end up with a two-toned garment.
5. The last bit of information we will discuss here is the garment care. This is directly related to the type of fiber your yarn is made from. The care instructions, however, are possibly the most confusing of all the symbols you might see, since there are quite a few different ones. To help you, I found a general chart of care symbols you can reference, here. This site provides a key for all of those triangles, squares and circles that make up the hieroglyphics of yarn care. However, one of the most important things to notice is whether you need to hand wash the fiber, which is often depicted by a hand dipping in to a basin of water. If you are able to machine wash the fiber, this is depicted by a wash basin without the hand. If there are lines underneath the basin, as there are in one of the labels featured here, it means you need to use a gentle cycle. Lastly, how do you dry the fiber? If it needs to be air dried, you will see a square with either one horizontal line or three vertical lines inside. The horizontal line means to dry flat whereas the vertical lines mean to drip dry. If the square has a circle in it, like the cotton label above, you are in luck! You can throw that sucker in the dryer. Once again, if there are lines underneath it, you should use a gentle cycle.
Without muddling the issue more, I hope this was a helpful tutorial. The labels of your yarn really provide invaluable information for the success of your project. Choosing the right yarn really makes all the difference. If you are going to put the hours of sweat and tears into a project, it would be discouraging to be tripped up with the wrong yarn choice. So, walk in to a yarn store with confidence, you now speak the language of yarn labels!
Don't you love when you discover that something that looks complicated turns out to be easy? That's how I feel about the knitted mitered square. It's a fun pattern that looks unique and a touch more complicated than it really is. And once you master this tiny square, there is a lot of creative freedom to go wild with colors and square configurations. (There is a tutorial post about joining mitered squares as you go if you are interested. Very useful if you are working on a large project.)
This tutorial will walk you through a simple pattern for a mitered square. Through my knitting journey on the topic, I have uncovered various methods to accomplish the same marvelous mitered masterpiece, but every pattern has a double decrease in the center. It is the center double decrease (CDD) that gives the signature zippered diagonal of the mitered square. The method outlined below is one I found to be straightforward and easy.
1. The first step is to cast on the correct number of stitches. This takes a little thought. If you want your finished square to be a certain size, you must double that count and add one. Stick with me here, I promise it will make sense. If you want a finished square with 10 stitches along each side, you will need to cast on 10+10+1 or rather 21 stitches. To make this an equation that is universally applicable to any desired project, let's make it algebraic. If you want a square with Z number of stitches along each edge, you will need to cast on 2Z+1 stitches. Just for clarity's sake, let's do one more real stitch example. If you want a square with 24 stitches on each side, you would cast on 2(24)+1, which is 49 stitches.
2. The next step is to place your marker. While holding your needles with the stitches cast on in your right hand, count stitches starting on the right side. You will count over Z+1 stitches and then place your marker. Using the example above, you will count over 24+1 stitches, or rather 25 stitches. This gives 25 stitches on the right side of the marker and 24 on the left side.
3. Knit one row sliding the marker as you go.
4. Now it is time to work your first "zipper" row. Knit across until two stitches before the marker. Slip those two stitches knitwise onto your righthand needle. Remove the marker. (Don't slip the marker, it will get in your way. You actually need to remove it.) Knit one stitch. Now, pass the two slipped stitches over the one knit stitch. You will have decreased your number of stitches by 2. Replace your marker. Knit to the end.
5. Knit one row slipping the marker as you go.
6. With your knitting in your left hand, you can take a moment to make sure things are going as planned. Count the number of stitches on the right side of the marker. Then count the number on the left side. The right side should have one more stitch than the left. Using our example, we started with 25 stitches on the right side and 24 on the left. We have completed one zipper row, which is my way of saying we did a CDD. Now there should be 24 stitches on the right side and 23 on the left. You can do this counting check at any point when making your square. With the needle in your left hand after working the knit row, you should always have one more stitch on the right side than the left.
7. Work another "zipper" row. (Repeat step 4). You can start to see the corner of your square forming early in the process. It is like magic, each zipper row brings you closer to a neat little square.
8. Continue to work a knit row then a zipper row until you only have three stitches left. You will work these three stitches in the same fashion, slipping two, knitting one then passing the slipped stitches over. This will leave one knit stitch on your needle. Tie off your work and you have your mitered square.
Casting on is where everyone has to start, even the most experienced knitter must cast on stitches before working magic. With that in mind, the first series of tutorials I will post will be cast-on methods that may be useful, especially if you are just beginning to knit.