Decorative Tulip Edging

This tulip edging is one of my favorite trims and it offers beginners a whole wealth of new techniques.

You’ll need to cast on a multiple of 7 stitches, plus 2 for the final edge. I usually use a simple crochet/latch tool cast on to begin, followed by 3 rows.

This chart shows the extra 2 stitches used to balance the design; those stitches only appear with the very last repeat.

Next you’ll need to reduce each group of 7 stitches down to 5 stitches by transferring the 1st and 5th stitch in each group onto their adjacent needles. There will be 2 plain stitches between each reduced group. This leaves you with empty needles spaced across the width of the knitting. Although you could scrap off and re-hang, you’ll find that it is a lot faster to remove all of the stitches on a garter bar and then replace them on the needles, shifting the GB to the left after each group of stitches is returned to the needles. If you count the empty needles after making the transfers, you will know how may needles to eliminate; push half of the extra needles back to NWP at each edge to remain centered on the bed.

After knitting 3 more rows, you need to reduce the groups of 3 stitches down to a single stitch. Make the transfers then remove the work on the GB and eliminate the extra needles at each side before replacing the stitches on the needles, shifting the garter bar as needed to fill in.

The two plain stitches that divide each repeat should be latched up in order the help the tulips stand out from the background. I usually do this after all the decreases and GB work are done and before I work the row of chaining on the front of the fabric.

I use a single row of chaining in front of the fabric to sort of cap off the trimming, but you might choose not to do this – especially is you are going to continue the rib effect through the entire fabric either by manually reforming stitches or using a ribber.

This trim reduces down quickly; each group of 7 stitches reduces down to just 3 stitches. So, for example, if you cast on 149 stitches (21 repeats of 7 plus 2 to balance the edge), that will reduce down to a mere 65 stitches. This is the widest piece of trim you will be able to knit on a mid-gauge (150 needle bed) machine. 198 stitches on a standard gauge machine (20o needle bed) will reduce down to 86 stitches and on a bulky machine the maximum width trim will reduce from 107 to 47 stitches.

Because the final number of trim stitches will be used as the beginning edge of your garment, unless you are knitting baby clothes, you will need to piece this trim for larger sizes. One edge stitch on each piece will be taken into the seam and will be invisible if you use mattress stitch to join the pieces.

Enlarging Stitches – really HUGE stitches!

I usually rely on Bridging (or double bed drop stitch) to create enlarged stitches across a row – either increasing the stitch size or hand-knitting specific needles back to non-working position. I covered Bridging in my first book and dedicated the entire second book to the subject. I think it is the most important thing to know for opening up the possibilities on any machine!

I demonstrated Bridging in the video that Taunton Press produced to accompany Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters and posted the section on Bridging on my YouTube channel (Susan Guagliumi). If you have my Hand Manipulated Stitches Craftsy class, I explain it there as well.

I have to say that I got a chuckle out of watching the YouTube version the other day when I got to the part where I definitively say “these are the largest stitches you can form on a single bed machine”. Ha! It was just 1989 and although I knew full well that double bed drop stitch would allow me to form enormous stitches, I really hadn’t yet begun experimenting with other options for single bed knitting.

In some earlier posts, I presented some YouTube videos by a Russian knitter named Elena Luneva. She uses a similar method to produce enlarged stitches and loops and I recommend you taking a good look at her work as well.  The more tricks you have at your disposal, the less likely you are to be frustrated by the :limitations” of the machine!

Instead of just hand knitting the needles back to non-working position, I eventually figured out that I could pass the yarn around a gauge of some sort before hand knitting each needle back to the rail. The larger the gauge, the larger the stitches I can form. You have the option of wrapping the yarn around your gauge and then knitting each needle back to working position – or all the way to non-work. You could also wrap the yarn around the gauge twice for each stitch.

In this video, I have used a size 13 wooden knitting needle and a standard desk rules as gauges. There are all kinds of things you can use for a gauge and the size of the gauge also helps determine the size stitches you can make.

You will find that the first few wraps and needles knitted back are awkward to manage. You can use a paper clip or an elastic band to help stabilize the gauge if you want to – I usually find that they get in my way so I struggle through the first few (as I did on the video) until the first few stitches help to stabilize the gauge and make it easier to hold onto.

You will find that the stitches drop more easily and evenly if you have a well-weighted comb inserted in the lower edge of the fabric. Also, try to always wrap the yarn around the gauge the same way each time so none of the final stitches is twisted or crossed.

Believe me, I would not advocate working an entire garment like this, but for occasional rows of a special texture, this method is worth trying. For knitters who work on single bed machines and cannot rely on double bed drop stitch, this method opens up all kinds of possibilities!

 

Doing it Double!

If your machine has a ribber, you probably don’t have a lot of use for a double latch tool. However, if you use a single bed machine, you’ll find a double latch tool can save you lots of time. Initially, it might feel a little clumsy to use, but, like anything else, once you get going a double latch tool is a wonderful thing to have!

Double latch tools make it much faster to re-form stitches for 1×1 or 2×2 rib, whether you want a ribbed band or just some columns or blocks of rib stitches in the body of a garment. The latch hooks need to be spaced for the gauge of your machine and they all work pretty much the same way.  Here are some tips for success:

First of all, Insert the tool at the bottom of the columns of stitches you plan to drop and then drop the stitches from the needles above, rather than dropping the stitches and then fishing around for the stitches. It is much safer and a lot less frustrating, but you also have greater control over how far down the stitches drop.

Keep plenty of downward tension on the ladder of stitches you are reforming so that the individual bars do not split as you work them.

Push the tool just far enough away from you to make sure the “old” stitches open the latches and slide back over them. Catch the next bars of the ladder in the hooks of the tool and pull just hard enough to make sure the old stitches are pulled over the latches to form the new stitches. If you look at the video carefully, you will see that the surrounding stitches move very little, which is how it should be. You don’t want to start distorting adjacent stitches.

When you work with a single latch tool, the last stitch is transferred from the tool to a needle on the bed by hooking the tool onto the needle. This isn’t possible (at least not easily!) when using a double latch tool. Instead, when you reach the top of the column, hold the tool above the edge of the bed and just poke the needles through the back of each stitch. Make sure you keep some tension on the tool so that the stitches are easier to see and easier for the needles to enter. Once you poke the needles through the back of the stitches, you can just remove the tool.

Back in the day (as they say), many knitting machines came with double latch tools, although they were usually standard gauge machines – both European and Japanese. The hooks projected straight out from the end of the handle. At www.guagliumi.com I have double latch tools for 2×2 rib for 4.5, 6.5 and 9 mm machines, tools for 1×1 rib for 6.5 and 9mm machines.  I designed these tools with the metal perpendicular to the wooden handle because I find the much easier to work with – I hope you do too!