Knitting ?: keepin' it flat
October 2, 2018 11:05 AM   Subscribe

I've been using a knitting stitch that naturally curls the scarf. I like it, but for my next scarf I'd like slightly less curling without losing the bouncy stretchiness of the particular stitch, which is kind of a fun stitch.

I used a honeycomb stitch to make this scarf, and I really like it. It goes:

Row 1: knit
Row 2: yarn over, knit two together
Row 3: knit

Repeat until eyes cross.

It produces a sproingy mesh fabric that is satisfying to pull on. However, it curls so much you can't see what a cute stitch it is.

I'd like my next one to be just slightly more stable and was thinking of 3-stitch seed stitch along the sides, coupled with a 3-stitch seed stitch running up the middle.

I use a slightly larger needle than recommended for the yarn, if that makes a difference, and on the first scarf, I did do a first few rows of seed stitches on both ends; it didn't really help.

Any other ideas or tips for giving a tiny bit of structure to sproingy knit stitches without taking fun stretch and ease out of the fabric?
posted by A Terrible Llama to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, knit stitches that curl (like Stockinette) cannot be uncurled. The only solution I've found is to create a small border of a stitch that doesn't curl, like k1 p1 or k2 p2 or seed. You only need a few rows of this to keep the whole thing straight.
posted by Melismata at 11:07 AM on October 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

What kind of yarn are you using? Did you block? If so, how?
posted by elsietheeel at 11:15 AM on October 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Adding a noncurling border (not just at beginning and end of the pattern but the beginning and end of each row) helps somewhat. People will tell you that blocking will do something--it doesn't.

(I'm furrowing my brow trying to think of why this particular pattern is curling so much. It's basically garter stitch, which doesn't curl, with a row of lace inserted that's itself knit-based...I have, or had, a shawl that was very similar, it just had a few more rows of garter between the lace row, and it didn't curl.)
posted by praemunire at 11:25 AM on October 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

Like @praemunire, I can't imagine why this is curling. It really shouldn't. I'm wondering if you might be doing your YO backwards somehow, so that it's more of a purl stitch than a garter stitch? Other than that, I really can't imagine why it's curling. I think a small seed stitch border, just on the edges should be enough to keep it from curling. I don't think you also need it in the middle.
posted by OrangeDisk at 12:00 PM on October 2, 2018

Terrible llama, can you provide a picture of the FO? We might be able to diagnose if it's anything OrangeDisk mentioned.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:08 PM on October 2, 2018

Here are two images, one with the curling, one with it laid out on my leg.

Hopefully this works; imgur is weird.

The yarn is I forget -- I think mostly wool, a little alpaca, and some silk. I used an oversized needle with the stitch. Maybe that has something to do with it (like a ten U.S. when it called for an eight or something).
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:15 PM on October 2, 2018

Also...five rows of seed stitch at either end (not along the sides that is, but at the ends. Didn't stabilize it.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:17 PM on October 2, 2018

Oh, sorry, last thread sit--haven't blocked it yet.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:18 PM on October 2, 2018

That is a lot of curling! Yeah, a stable stitch along the sides aren't going to correct that. I've had a lot of success with wet-blocking lace and I highly recommend it. Can't be certain if it will make this particular garment lie totally flat but you should see an improvement. That is a really cute pattern, though!
posted by acidnova at 12:32 PM on October 2, 2018

The pattern is really cute, I can see why you like it! Looking closely at the second picture, I don't see any purl bumps on it, the way you would if it was garter stitch. I think there's something going on in that second row that is making this more like stockinette than garter stitch. Wet blocking might help, especially since it's a natural fiber, but I'm worried that it might curl up again as you wear it. A balanced stitch (like seed) on the sides will help, but won't totally solve the problem with that much curling.
posted by OrangeDisk at 12:56 PM on October 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Are you sure you're knitting across the back? It looks like you're purling across the back, causing the whole scarf to be in (essentially) stockinette?
posted by some chick at 12:59 PM on October 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

When you're doing the yarn overs and k2tog are you still keeping the yarn behind the needle and not inadvertently doing a p2tog?
Either that or you could just change rows 1 and 3 to be a purl across and do row 2 the same way you were doing it before.
posted by acidnova at 1:04 PM on October 2, 2018

When you're doing the yarn overs and k2tog are you still keeping the yarn behind the needle and not inadvertently doing a p2tog?

I definitely did something like that a couple of times because I needed to pick the front of a stitch to slip the needle in to knit, then spaced out because the needle was there anyway, and purled instead. But mostly I did what it told me to do, which was the above, over 21 stitches.

Wait, but as I do the yarn over, then I'm doing a knit stitch with the yarn in front--not a p2tog right?

Looking at this thing right now I honestly am no longer sure what the hell I did. Also, I think I switched right side and wrong side halfway through and didn't realize it. (I'm a beginner, in case that wasn't obvious.)

I guess my question is whether there are any tricks that I can use that keep sproingy stitches a little more flat, whether I'm using this or some other sproingy stitch....
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:21 PM on October 2, 2018

Are you sure you're knitting across the back? It looks like you're purling across the back, causing the whole scarf to be in (essentially) stockinette?

I'm not a reliable narrator.

But there was no purling involved, I chose it for it's repetitiveness and lack of purling; I just wanted a nice, loose, stitch to space out to.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:23 PM on October 2, 2018

I would love to see a video of how you're doing the k2tog because it sounds like you're describing a p2tog. If you haven't already, find a youtube tutorial that shows how to k2tog (I don't know how you've been learning to knit, so maybe you already did that).

Edited to add a link: Here's a tutorial
posted by acidnova at 1:25 PM on October 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nthing that it looks like you purled rather than knit the even rows (the ones with k2tog) – it looks like stockinette, which will curl like that for sure.

It's still a cute scarf, there are lots that are purposefully designed to look like squishy knit rope!

For knitting this pattern in the future though, definitely check out videos on how to do a yarn over and k2tog. Like any skill it takes practice!
posted by fraula at 1:35 PM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

On the plus side, if you continue practicing and improving, that pattern would make a great sweater!
posted by acidnova at 1:37 PM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I swear this is what I did!

(Learning mostly books, Youtube, and searching the 'knitting' tag on Metafilter...)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:43 PM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think I will knit this pattern too in order to see how it turns out and see if we can solve this mystery! I'll memail you a pic whenever I finish it. I will be doing it on a much smaller needle because I happen to have a skein of lace weight yarn I would love to use for this but that should really have no effect on whether or not it curls up like that.
posted by acidnova at 1:49 PM on October 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would so appreciate it!
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:52 PM on October 2, 2018

There is a possibility I screwed this up in translation at the very, very beginning--I write the name of the stitch and instructions on an index card that goes into a canvas zipped bag with the yarn and needles and a pair of if I screwed that up at the very beginning, like neglected something like 'you have to K1 at the beginning of each row'...I could see how I could have done this on my own while still being convinced I had the right instructions.

Unfortunately, I didn't write down the source and there are dozens of stitches that are labeled some type of honeycomb. I was looking for a lacey stitch that would be sort of airy.

I do know I was looking for something simple and without purling, so I could space out and get into a rhythm.

I still do like the scarf and have been wearing it a lot, at least.

Sorry about all the threadsitting.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:00 PM on October 2, 2018

I wouldn't worry too much about how you wrote the instructions up top. Forgetting to write a knit1 at the beginning of every row would not have caused the issues we're seeing. What we're noticing is that on your scarf, you see the stitches creating the little V shapes which is what you get when you do a stockinette stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row) as opposed to garter stitch (knit every row). This is what is making us suspect that you're inadvertently purling the stitches when you do the k2tog. But without being able to watch you knit, it's not possible to know exactly what it is that you were doing.

But I fully encourage you to keep learning and practicing! Every knitter at every level of experience makes mistakes! It's part of the process!
posted by acidnova at 2:07 PM on October 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

In fact, almost every "mistake" in knitting is actually just a way of accomplishing some effect. Maybe not the one you're after, but somebody somewhere is doing it on purpose for a reason.
posted by praemunire at 2:17 PM on October 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

Just wanted to chip in a little bit about blocking, since some people were kind of down on the idea upthread. I really encourage you to block this scarf, even though it probably will still curl somewhat afterwards, because wet blocking it will help you see the stitch more clearly, but won't take all the "pull" out of it! Most "sproingy," lacey stitches must be blocked in order to truly shine. A lot of people don't like blocking because it takes time. But it makes a huge difference in the finished object!

There are different ways people block. The most annoying way is to get the whole thing wet, lay it out on a mattress or bunch of foam matting, and pin it down so it's evenly stretched out in the dimensions you want. Then let it dry. It's annoying cause it takes forever and something like a scarf is frustrating to lay out - you really do have to lay it ALL THE WAY OUT, which means you have to do it in a hallway or something probably. But it's worth it! In the end, things look much better. Here are some examples that ought to show you why blocking makes lacey knitting and crochet look better, even if it doesn't completely solve your curling problem.
posted by branca at 5:26 PM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Maybe too basic for you, but this is my favorite springy stretchy pattern for a scarf, and it doesn’t curl. All credit to Yarn Harlot!

The pattern is called “One Row Scarf” and it’s simply:

Row 1: *knit 2, knit into the back of the next stitch, purl 1. Repeat from * till there are 2 stitches left. Knit 2.
Repeat until desired length is reached, and cast off!
posted by mylittlepoppet at 5:38 PM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

How tight are your stitches? Any time I knitted my stitches too tightly, they curled like heck. Keep it nice and loose, especially around the edges.

Beautiful work, though! That is a lovely stitch/design.
posted by chatelaine at 10:23 AM on October 3, 2018

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