Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ribs: Side-to-Side Elasticity

I got home Monday afternoon from The Soo. It was a delightful trip. The sponsoring guild, Country Spinners& Bridge Shuttlers , did a great job, and the teaching space at Gloria Larke’s store, Gloria’sHappy Hooker, was just fantastic.

I taught the knitting workshop, Shaping With Stitch Patterns, on Sunday. I was so excited to share some of my recent knitting thoughts.  As I prepared for the workshop, knitting all those swatches and deciding what to say, I came to realize that swatches are not only good for checking your stitches-per-inch and your rows-per-inch gauges. Swatches also give you important information about the drape of the knitted fabric and the elasticity of the knitted fabric.

Elasticity of knit stitch patterns became a major theme of the workshop.

We started out the workshop by examining stockinette stitch. Then we examined the effects of ribbing and welting (both quite elastic). Here are a few thought on the nature of rib stitch patterns.

Rib patterns are created by putting knit stitches and purl stitches in vertical arrangements. Compared to stockinette stitch, rib stitch patterns cause the fabric to pull in sideways.

The amount of pulling in increases as the rib width increases. The swatches below are all 40 stitches wide and 42 rows long. In order from the top, the swatches are: 1X1 rib, 2X2 rib, 3X3 rib, and 4X4 rib. I hope you can see that the 4X4 rib looks narrower than the 1X1 rib. In other words, the stitches-per-inch gauge increases as the rib width increases (when the swatch is measured not under tension).

Although these patterns pull the fabric in sideways, they all have a great deal of lateral elasticity: it’s easy to stretch the fabric out sideways. This phenomenon can be used to great advantage in sweater design: you can put these stitches in places that you want to be narrow looking while still having expanding ability.

You may also notice that when knits and purls are organized in vertical lines, the knits come to the fore (convex), and the purl stitches recede (concave).

The rib stitch patterns above all have knit and purl columns of equal width. The elastic effects of these stitches also occur in patterns where the rib columns are of unequal width or when the rib pattern is “broken”. Here are two wonderful expamples:

Knife Pleating (multiples of 13 sts)

Row 1 (RS):  * k4, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p3, rep from *.
Row 2:  *k3, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p4, rep from *.

Deep Chevron Pattern (multiples of 18 sts)

Rows 1 & 3 (RS):  * k1, (p2, k2) twice, p1, (k2, p2) twice, rep from *.
Rows 2 & 4:  * (k2, p2) twice, k1, (p2, k2) twice, p1, rep from *.
Rows 5 & 7:  * (p2, k2) twice, p3, k2, p2, k2, p1, rep from *.
Rows 6 & 8:  * k1, p2, k2, p2, k3, (2p, k2) twice, rep from *.
Rows 9 & 11:  * p1, (k2, p2) twice, p1, (k2, P2) twice, k1, rep from *.
Rows 10 & 12:  * (p2, k2) twice, p1, (k2, p2) twice, k1, rep from *.
Rows 13 & 15:  * (k2, p2) twice, k3, p2, k2, p2, k1, rep from *.
Rows 14 & 16:  * p1, k2, p2, k2, p3, (k2, p2) twice, rep from *.

Next time, I’ll point out some interesting effects of welts. Oh boy!

1 comment:

  1. Good information. I am playing with ribbing on socks right now.