Rotini Twisted Stitches

3-Stitch Rotini Twists

IMG_0237These twisted stitches are less suitable for traveling stitch patterns, but it is possible to twist 3 stitches with a pair of tools. Instead of twisting every two rows, however you should only twist every 4-6 rows so the stitches have time to recover. These twisted stitches look like columns of swirled cables – or rotini macaroni! (They are shown at the end of the 3/4/16 post video.)

twistsandtuckssweater_64 copyThe gold sweater at left was worked with rotini twists, outlined by latched up tuck stitches (see previous blogs) and finished with the Judith Duffy Cabled trim (another favorite). The sweater appeared in issue #34 of Knitter’s Magazine (Spring 1994) with machine knit directions. You might be able to find a back issue of the magazine and I am hoping to re-knit the sweater one of these days (with a current yarn) and will make that pattern available as a freebie on the web site – once I find a little more free time!

In the meantime, I have included a PDF chart for the twist/tuck pattern that you can download. The original twisted the stitches every 3 rows, but I think it looks better every 4. Try it both ways and decide for yourself.

As for the tuck stitches, you can reform them at the end of every repeat or use a ribber. Because the pattern shifts from one repeat to the next, the ribber may not be much faster than latching by hand and you may find (as do I ) that the ribber gets in the way. Have fun!


Twisted Stitches

Twisted Stitches have always been one of my (many) favorite hand manipulations on a knitting machine. There is a whole chapter in Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters devoted to twisted stitches as they are one of the basic ways to manipulate stitches.

By hand or machine, classic twisted stitch patterns are created by twisting pairs of stitches every two rows. The end result looks a lot like 1×1 cables, but twisted stitches are much faster and more fluid to produce. The machine knit version, by the way, looks exactly like the hand knit and you can follow hand knit charts at the machine. Take a look at the book Charted Knitting Designs by the great Barbara Walker. It has a huge chapter on twisted stitches so you will never run short of inspiration.


IMG_0239The method is pretty simple as I’ve illustrated in the video on this post. You use a pair of 2-prong transfer tools, removing the stitches on the first tool and then inserting the second tool from above. Remove the first tool, rotate the tool holding the stitches to the right or left and replace the stitches on the same two needles. (They will, of course, be on each other’s needle due to the twisting.) The  diamonds I knitted on the video are pictured at right.

When working vertical columns of twisted stitches, it doesn’t mater whether you twist the tool to the right or to the left as long as you are consistent throughout the garment. However, if you want the stitches to “travel” across the knitting – which is where twisted stitches really show off – the direction that you twist is very important. If the stitches are supposed to be traveling towards the right (as the fabric faces you on the machine), you should twist the tool to the right. When traveling left, twist to the left.

The effect is sharp and clear on the knit side of the fabric and although you can faintly make out the pattern on the purl side (sort of a ghost image) it really doesn’t show or have much character. In fact, if the pattern looks great on the purl side, you have twisted in the wrong direction as the knit side will only bear a trace of the twisting.

“Traveling” is how I describe the way the twists seem to progress across the fabric. This is accomplished by making each twist with one stitch from the previous pair and one new stitch.

I love working diamond shaped grids with twisted stitches because once I establish the first pairs of twists in the very first row. I don’t need to consult the chart again. Set up for a diamond grid by twisting pairs of stitches with an even number of stitches between them. As the stitches travel towards each other you will come to a place where you will twist the last stitch from each previously pair together. After that, they will split and travel in the opposite direction.





The blue sweater at left appeared in an early issue of Studio Design Magazine and the directions are available in the Free Stuff on my web site (  It features popcorns in the middle of each diamond and a trim at the lower edges of the garment and top of the sleeves (as an insert) that is worked with a garter bar. I think that today I would make the sweater a little more oversized and ditch the ¾ sleeves. After all, fashion changes and this was done in 1993.

pinktwistedstitches_53 copy

The pink sweater is a much more elaborate twisted stitch pattern. There are parallel trails of stitches that seem to weave through each other where they intersect. I’m sorry to say I have no idea what ever happened to the pattern for this one, but the chart and photo below should give you a pretty good idea of how those interlacements work and could be applied to any garment.

Notice how the trails of stitches seem to interweave where they cross. You can leave the centers of the diamonds plain, but sometimes they just beg for a cable or a popcorn to jazz them up!
Notice how the trails of stitches seem to interweave where they cross. You can leave the centers of the diamonds plain, but sometimes they just beg for a cable or a popcorn to jazz them up!
The arrows indicate the direction twist the tool. Notice the areas shaded blue - this is where the interlacement occurs.
The arrows indicate the direction to twist the tool. Notice the areas shaded blue – this is where the interlacement occurs.

















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!

The Very First HMS Video

I decided it would be fun for the first post on this new blog to start with a clip from the video that was produced to accompany the book, Hand-Manipulated Stitches for Machine Knitters back in 1990. I have to say that it is kind of strange seeing myself as a 30-something on the screen and then facing 60-something me in the mirror! Enjoy this younger version because the videos I have planned for future posts will certainly feature a more mature version of Susan!