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Stranded Knitting: Post 9 - Weaving Yarns to Catch Long Floats (Video Episode 10)

On the top of my very unofficial poll of the things that most concern beginning stranded knitters are how to…

hold the yarns

how to get even tension

how to weave in yarns to catch long floats

We’ve talked about the first two…but before we get into the “weaving” part, let’s talk about why you want to catch the long floats.

Just like there are different types of tensions, when you talk about “weaving in” yarns, more than one type of weaving comes to mind. There is the weaving in of the ends when finishing a garment and there is catching or weaving in long floats. We’ll talk about the catching of long floats type of weaving here….and save the weaving of ends for the “finishing” segment.

A float, as you will remember, is another name for the span of the non-working yarn that is stranded across the back of the fabric. Long floats are just that…long strands of yarn looping across the inside of your garment. In addition to catching jewelry and fingers when the garment is pulled on, these loops can be a detriment to even tension. (See list of concerns above.)

If you are working with yarn that felts easily…like Shetland wool…this finger catching nuisance may not be as big of a problem, however, if just for the sake of even tension, catching the non-working yarn is a pretty good practice. Also, we will use the technique again in the next two sections.

What you are trying to do here is to trap the stranded yarn between the back of the project and the working yarn. If you remember, there are two stranded coming out of the back of your work…the one on top (or over or above) and the one on the bottom (or under or below). There is a different way to catch each of these yarns.

If you are holding your yarns in the same hand...either right or left…you will need to take the over yarn from under the under yarn or the under yarn from over the over yarn. If that is about as clear as mud, let me try again.

If you look at your hands at the two yarns…the over yarn should be towards the it purple…and the under yarn should be towards the left…call it green.

So say you are working a series of purple stitches and you need to catch the green yarn in the back so there will not be a long green float. You will need to go under the green yarn and to work the purple…twisting the two and catching the green yarn.

If you are working a long series of green stitches and need to catch the purple yarn, you’ll need to go over the purple to work the green.

….and if that is still indecipherable, I might remind you that I knit stranded two handed…and it might be easier to check for a video online than to listen to me. ;)

Now…if you have decided you are a two handled stranded knitter, here are two videos of how I do this catching floats thing.

The first shows catching the left hand yarn with the right….which is accomplished by just tilting the left yarn forward so the right yarn can go behind it to work the stitch.

The second video shows a multi-step process of catching the right yarn with the left…which is accomplished by sticking the right needle into the stitch as if to knit...and holding the needle there until all of the following shenanigans are finished…then…wrapping the right hand yarn around the needle as if you are going to work it western style…scooping or picking the left yarn continental style, unwrapping the right yarn…and then…and only then…completing the stitch by pulling the left yarn through the loop and taking the new stitch off the left needle onto the right.

Note about video: for some unknown reason, when I refer to the pinching the needles to stabilize the work, I apparently was concentrating so hard on the weaving technique that I got middle and ring fingers confused...which means when I say ring finger, I really mean middle finger,..but you could figure that out for yourself. I just wanted to let you know that I know as well.

Ok, now…your next question is when do I do these little yarn dances? The answer is …it varies. (Doesn't it always with knitting?) Some say in a run of 4-5 stitches …some say 7-9…some say it depends on your gauge …others say you catch the back yarn if the float is to be over an inch in length. Some styles of stranded knitting have you do this every stitch…producing a very dense fabric.

What do I do? I usually don’t have a float of longer than three stitches…no matter the gauge or the yarn. This means I will catch the stranding yarn on the third and sixth stitch…if the run is that long. “Knit, knit, catch” just becomes a rhythm on the long runs. I am doing it too often? Maybe…but it works for me…and it makes things consistent. :)

Next time: Using this weaving techniques to add new yarns and finish with old ones. Also, using weaving to help prevent laddering.

Until then, enjoy your knitting.


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