Judith Duffy’s Cabled Edging

Talk about something I wish I had invented, but didn’t! I LOVE this edging/Bind Off/trim and have used it for all kinds of things over the years. With Judith Duffy’s kind permission, it appeared in Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters (page 183) and there was even a hand-knit version of it in Knitters’ Magazine to accompany the machine knit pattern I did for the gold sweater that appeared in the blog post of March 7, 2016 – and again here (below).

I first saw this edging when I was a contributing editor for Threads Magazine (in the earliest years of the magazine) and they were doing a feature article on fiber artist Judith Duffy’s work. They asked me to choose one of her textures to reproduce for the article and I spent some time figuring out machine knit directions for the cabled edging. Do you remember the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing garment that graced a back cover in those early years? It was a stunning piece by Duffy and unlike anything I have seen before or since, hand or machine knitted.

Notice the Duffy Edging on the ribs - great way to bind off ribbing for a change!
Notice the Duffy Edging on the ribs – great way to bind off ribbing for a change!

The gold sweater at left is a twisted stitch and latched up tuck stitch pattern (see previous blog 3/7/16), but take a close look at the edge of the ribbing. I started all the garment pieces on waste yarn and went back later to work the ribs. Instead of a conventional rib bind off, I worked the Duffy Cabled Edging to trim and bind off the ribs all at once.

 

 

 

Check out the pretty neckline with JDCE finish!
Check out the pretty neckline with JDCE finish!

Most of all, I think I have used it to bind off neckline stitches when shaping a neckline with short rows, preserving live stitches. On a standard gauge machine it produces a lovely, delicate neckline finish.

You can also use this edging to join two garment or afghan sections together by rehanging them on the machine with the wrong sides facing each other and then working the edging. As with the I-cord join (blog 4/8/16), make sure you always hang the pieces the same way as there is a right and wrong side to the way the edging joins the base fabric.

This Cabled Edging can be worked on live stitches or selvage edges, which makes it perfect for finishing afghans!
This Cabled Edging can be worked on live stitches or selvage edges, which makes it perfect for finishing afghans!

The method is quite simple. Hang the work on the machine with the right side (whatever that is) facing you – live stitches or selvage edges (whole stitches are best). All of the needles except the first 3 on the carriage side are in holding position and the carriage must be set to hold needles in HP. Knit 12 rows over the 3 working needles and then remove those stitches on a 3-prong tool and pass the tool under the adjacent 3 needles and re-hang the stitches on the 4th, 5th and 6th needles from the edge.Place the empty needles in NWP. Repeat till you either reach a corner or the end. If you want to turn a corner, add two more rows to the last two groups on each side to help make the corner so that it doesn’t flatten out. You’ll also find that you can’t easily hang the next side of an afghan until you get right to the corner. At that point, you might want to remove those last few stitches and re-hang them on the far right end of the bed to give you lots of needles to re-hang the next side.

I almost always work with 3 stitches and knit 12 rows for each spiral, but you can certainly work with more stitches if you have a tool to handle them. Twelve rows almost always works out right, but you might find that 10 or 14 are better so work the edging on your gauge swatch to find out before you begin. You might also find that you want to adjust your stitch size a bit smaller or larger – sampling always pays off.

As I said in the tutorial, the float that passes underneath the first 3 needles always gets hidden inside the spiral, but you can certainly opt to knit those needles back and eliminate the float if – for some unforeseen reason – it shows. Also, by way of variation, I have seen students work this trim in two colors, which is very cool. In that case, it might be best to knit back the float of at least one of the colors.

When you reach the end, you want the trim to end quickly and neatly. What I have always done is to knit half as many rows on the second to last group and then immediately reduce those 3 stitches to a single stitch. Move that single stitch to the last needle at left, knit 1 row over the last 3 needles and then reduce those stitches to a single stitch and pull the yarn tail through to secure.

I think there are all kinds of creative possibilities for this edging – I love the cabled effect and the fact that it also binds off stitches. Lately I have been playing with a cabled cord effect by e-wrapping, knitting 1 row over all needles and then working the JDCE. I think it still needs a little work and then I will share it with you! What other ways can you think to use this trim?

The Every-Other-Needle Tool

The every-other-needle or EON tool is one of my favorites. In addition to transferring stitches for row after row of eyelets, you can also use it to knit baby basket weave – a twisted stitch pattern made up of lots of 1×1 crossed or twisted stitches. If you own a copy of Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters (HMS, which really doesn’t stand for Her Majesty’s Stitches even tho I may have said differently from time to time….) there is a discussion of baby basket weave that starts on page 93.

EON eyelet grid
EON eyelet grid

To knit an all-over eyelet pattern like the one at left, you could transfer all the alternate stitches individually, but it would take a very, very long time to complete a sweater. With the EON tool, you can transfer 8 stitches at a time and the work goes fairly fast (in terms of hand manipulations). One thing to keep in mind for an all-over grid like this, you should transfer alternate sets of stitches each time. Otherwise, if you always transfer the same set of stitches, the eyelets will form in columns.

The way I keep track of which set of stitches to use is pretty simple. I choose the first needle on the right of zero the first time – and all the alternate needles – and I transfer those stitches to the adjacent needles at right. After knitting two rows, I make sure the next selection in includes the first needle at the left of zero and I transfer those stitches to the left. If you lose track, you should be able to tell what you did last by looking at the way the stitches slant.

Apart from looking neat and even, alternating the direction of the transfers will guard against the fabric biasing, as it might if all the transfers were made the same way. Why chance it?

Alternating needles and the direction of the twists creates a woven effect
Alternating needles and the direction of the twists creates a woven effect

I use the same system of selecting needles to knit baby basket weave. The stitches are twisted (or, in this case, shifted) every two rows and the direction of the twists and the needles selected alternates each time. By choosing alternate needles/stitches each time, it effectively takes care of the “splitting pairs” needed to create woven and braided cable effects. Splitting pairs, coupled with alternating the direction of the crossing/twisting is what gives this fabric the woven effect. The same two rules also apply when crossing cables of any width: splitting pairs and alternating the direction of the crosses will create woven or braided effects.

If stitches 1 and 2 cross 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 cross 7 and 8 the first time, the next time you cross cables, 3 and 4 will cross 5 and 6. That is what is meant by splitting pairs. And, in this example, stitches 1-2 and 7-8 would not be used at all in the second row of crosses.

babybasketgridBecause so many adjacent stitches are crossing, you must enlarge the stitch size by at least one full number from where the yarn usually knits a comfortable stockinette. Otherwise, the stitches will be very tight and difficult to cross (i.e. dropped and broken stitches) and the fabric will have even less give than it does – which isn’t a lot. This is a very firm, stable fabric.

EON tools for 6.5mm and 9mm machines are available at www.guagliumi.com. For standard gauge machines, you can use an adjustable 7-prong tool. If you own a Passap or Superba, Passap used to make an adjustable (5 mm) transfer tool that is well worth having if you can find one. You can pull the prongs out of the holder and re-set them in whatever order you want. Do I ever wish those were available in all gauges!

 

(By the way – I really DO plan to post more often than I have been doing lately, but I have been busier than I can describe getting ready to teach a very special class in Denver next month……)

Latching Up Stitches

This is the first of a series of short “How-To” lessons I plan to post here on the blog. While the information is old hat to a lot of you, there are so many new knitters out there (working on used machines all by themselves) that I figured I would start with some basics and then get progressively more involved and creative as time rolls on.

I think the important thing for new knitters to know about handling the latch tool is that slower, smoother motions ultimately end up being a lot faster than having to re-do the same thing over and over. Speed comes with experience so don’t rush it!

When I latch up a stitch, I concentrate on making sure that the old stitch slides smoothly over the latch to open it before I catch the next ladder bar in the open hook. Then just pull back enough for the old stitch to close the latch and slide over it. The fabric itself should hardly move – let the tool do the work.

When reforming stitches from the purl side, I always insert my tool into the bottom stitch in the column then release the stitch from its needle and let the stitch drop back to the tool. Dropping first means you would have to poke around to insert the tool through the stitch and sometimes that isn’t as easy as it looks. Doing it first is much safer and a whole lot easier.

I really love the way a tuck stitch looks along side cables and in addition to looking a bit more open than a reformed knit stitch (purl on the other side), tuck has the added advantage of returning a little width to the fabric. Lots of cables can cause a fabric to become narrower so using a tuck at each side of a cable actually returns that width to the fabric. With very large sizes, it could mean the difference between having enough needles – or not – to knit your garment!