Stranded Knitting: Post 15, Creating Stitches for Sleeves and/or Ribbing



Creating stitches for sleeves and/or ribbing

Notice I did not say “picking up stitches’ or “knitting up stitches”.

I sat in on a class once given by a fairly prominent designer. She asked the class what was preferred “picking up” or “knitting up”. Since at the time, I just kinda did what I did…and still do things that way, I suppose…I had to look up the difference between the two.


To the best of my knowledge, you can create stitches along either the cast on or cast off edge (for areas where the stitches are more or less traveling in the same the direction as the piece you are adding to…i.e. borders, hems, or edges) OR along a row or round side or edge (for areas where the stitches are traveling more or less perpendicular to the piece you are adding to…i.e. sleeves and neck and front ribbing or edging).

So back to the question at hand…“picking up” stitches involves scooping up identified strands with a needle or crochet hook, thus separating these strands from the body of the work. Presumably, you will eventually knit these stitches off the left needle to continue. The question by the designer/teacher was “isn’t that really a form of “knitting up”?

“Knitting up”, from what I can tell, is using the right needle or a crochet hook and scooping up an edge stitch…either one or both sides of the “V”, wrapping the yarn around the needle…or hook…and pulling through...which in my mind, feeble as it is, is really only “picking up” stitches as mentioned before and then knitting them up. Kinda the same thing as above, right?

To the point of the designer/teacher, when would you ever as a knitter to “pick up” stitches when you will eventually knit the stitches anyway?


This whole question is really only academic as far as I am concerned. I just do what I do, remember? In my mind (see “feeble” note above), any scooping up of threads or stitches has the potential of distorting the surrounding stitches.

So what I do is actually stab my right needle through the fabric…in the valley between the edge stitch and its neighbor, wrap the yarn around the needle, now in the back of the fabric and pull through to the front in a bit of a scooping motion to create a stitch.


Here’s an example of how it would work in practice…


Say I am creating stitches for a front cardigan rib. (Note: my patterns usually say “pick up and knit” or just “knit up” …figuring the knitter might be confused with “create x number of stitches”. Right now, I am considering changing to “create” with words of explanation in the definition section of the pattern…what ya think? Can I get away with that?)


Anyway, I need say…110 stitches for the cardigan button band. With right sides facing, I would divide the front edge into quarters or even eighths and mark these sections with a dpn…or locking marker.

Then all I have to do is get 13 or 14 stitches in every 1/8 section. I place a marker on my needle for every 25 stitches, if I am feeling ambitious…every 50 stitches, if not…just to keep count. This method eliminates the “three for four” type counting.


Remember also, that stitch and row gauge in stranded work is almost, if not exactly, equal. With this in mind, I have seen stranded knitters pick up one for one…and then decrease to the desired number when the first round is knitted...figuring because of the gauge, “one for one” and the “desired number” will not be too different.


Oh, I should mention that I use the smaller needle and the background shade to create the stitches. I have found that the created round will disappear a bit more with the smaller needle and more discrete shade.


Also…I haven’t said this in a while…but this is by no means a decree of what you should do. It is just the way I do things. It seems to work for me. If it doesn’t work for you, no worries.

Oh…and while I’m being honest…when it comes to creating stitches from cast on or cast off edges, I scoop up and knit the closer side of the perpendicular “chain” across the top edge. Is this inconsistent to what I just talked about? Well, yes…and I have two things to say…remember my “generally, but not always” caveat…and to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”. ;)



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