Friday, January 18, 2013

Welts: Up-and-Down Elasticity


 Welts are the horizontal analogue of the vertical rib stitches: welts are delightfully elastic in the up-and-down direction.

Welts are created by putting knit stitches and purl stitches in horizontal arrangement. A 1X1 welt is none other that the humble-yet-amazing garter stitch.

Welts cause fabrics that pull in top-to-bottom; they shorten. And they shorten more as the width of the welt is increased. The swatches below (all 40 sts wide, 42 rows long) are, from top down: 1X1 welt (aka garter stitch), 2X2 welt, 3X3 welt and 4X4 welt.






Notice that in welts, the purl stitches come to the fore (convex) and the knit stitches recede (concave).

As with ribs, you can get similar elastic effects with uneven or broken welts.  I showed one of my favorite broken welts the other day, the Escalator Pattern.  Here are the instructions:

Escalator Pattern
(multiples of 32)

Row 1 (RS):  * k5, p11, rep from *.
Row 2:  * k11, p5, rep from *.
Row 3:  * k5, p11, rep from *.
Row 4:  p
Row 5:  k
Row 6:  p
Row 7:  p4, *k5, p11, rep from *, end k5, p7.
Row 8:  k7, * p5, k11, rep from *, end p5, k4.
Row 9:  p4, *k5, p11, rep from *, end k5, p7.
Row 10:  p
Row 11:  k
Row 12:  p
Row 13:  p8, *k5, p11, rep from *, end k5.
Row 14:  k3, * p5, k11, rep from *, end p5, k8.
Row 15:  p8, *k5, p11, rep from *, end k5.
Row 16:  p
Row 17:  k
Row 18:  p
Row 19:  k1, p11, * k5, p11, rep from *, end k4.
Row 20:  p4, *k11, p5, rep from *, end k11, p1.
Row 21:  k1, p11, * k5, p11, rep from *, end k4.
Row 22:  p
Row 23:  k
Row 24:  p

And here’s an uneven welt pattern that is actually a game: Wager Welt. I found it in one of my favorite knitting books, Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns.

“…the game being to wager that no one will guess the number of rows to be purled in the receipt.” (Mary Thomas)


This is an 8-row repeat. How many rows are purled? The answer: one.

Wager Welt
(any number of sts)

Row 1 (RS):  k
Row 2:  p
Row 3-8:  k

(If you don’t already have Mary Thomas’s book, go out and get it. Now.)

Now, I like elastic fabrics. I like the elasticity of ribs. I like the elasticity of welts. And I especially like the elasticity of fabrics in which ribs and welts are combined.  Take the Double Basket Pattern for example.


Double Basket Pattern
(multiples of 18 sts plus 10)

Rows 1 & 5 (RS):  * k11, p2, k2, p2, k1, rep from *, end k10.
Rows 2 & 6:  p1, k8, p1, * p1, k2, p2, k2, p2, k8, p1, rep from *.
Rows 3 & 7:  * k1, p8, k2, p2, k2, p2, k1, rep from *, end k1, p8, k1.
Rows 4 & 8:  p10, * p1, k2, p2, k2, p11, rep from *.
Row 9:  k
Rows 10 & 14:  p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, * p10, k2, p2, k2, p2, rep from *.
Rows 11 & 15:  * k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p8, rep from *, end k2, p2, k2, p2, k2.
Rows 12 & 16:  p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, * k8, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, rep from *.
Rows 13 & 17:  * k2, p2, k2, p2, k10, rep from *, end k2, p2, k2, p2, k2.
Row 18:  p

This stitch pattern is perfect for a blanket. And it is one of those patterns best left unblocked; let the ribs and welts do their thing.

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