Friday, February 5, 2010

Right Twist Method Comparison and New WIP!

A topic of recent discussion in our online Ravelry Group has been the variety of methods that can be used to do a Right Twist (RT) stitch. The RT is just a 1x1 right cross cable, but it gets a special twist designation because... well because it's special, I guess.

Right and Left Twists are fun to use in socks because they are ways to make patterns move and flow without using a lot of stitches. My With a Twist sock is shown on the right to demonstrate how the technique can be used to simulate an Aran effect.

Another nice thing about twist stitches is that they can be worked without a cable needle, which makes them quick to work. There are several methods for doing this, and I've had an opportunity this week to compare a couple of them as I'm working on a new design. The methods I've identified are:

A. Insert the right needle into the 2nd stitch on the left needle, drawing its front loop across the 1st stitch and knit the stitch. Next, knit the 1st stitch on the left needle, and then drop both stitches from the left needle. This method was published by Montse Stanley in the Handknitters Handbook, and frankly that book is my technique bible. This is also the "standard method" for doing this stitch according to Barbara Walker in her Treasury of Knitting Patterns series of books - my other bible!

B. Insert the right needle into the 2nd st on the left needle, allowing the needle to go through to the back, and knit the stitch. Next, knit the 1st stitch on the left needle, and then drop both stitches from the left needle. This method was identified by one of our group members who found it on YouTube. It is easier to work than method A.

C. Knit 2 together, leaving stitches on the left needle. Insert the right needle from the front between the two stitches just knitted together, and knit the first stitch again. Then slip both sts from the left needle. Barbara Walker has published this method as her preferred method for doing the RT - she finds it to be faster than the "standard" method A.

D. The cable method: Slip the first stitch on the left needle onto a cable needle or dpn and hold the needle behind the work. Knit the next stitch on the left needle, and then knit the stitch off the cable needle. Most people would agree that this takes longer than the above cable needle-free methods.

E. Slip the right needle into the front of the 2nd stitch on the left needle as if to purl. With your left hand, pinch the first two stitches at their base just below the needle with your index finger and thumb. Slip both stitches off the left needle, using your "pinching" to keep them from running. Grab the first stitch with the tip of whichever needle it's easiest for you to grab it with, and then put both stitches back on the left needle and knit them in their new reversed order. This method is probably best used with the thicker yarns (say, DK and above) as the fingering and lace weight loops are so small that they are easily lost in the shuffle. This method is also great for doing wider cables (2x2, etc) as it is often quicker than pulling out a cable needle.

So for our sock application, I would say that options A, B, and C are the best candidates. Below is a comparison of two of them...
On the upper left of the photo, I've done a succession of RTs using method A. On the upper right of the photo, I've done the same using method B. Clearly these two methods result in a very different look. For comparison, on the bottom I've shown a succession of Left Twists. I find that the Method A RTs are much better matched to the LTs.

So, at this point in the comparison, I'm standing by Method A. I'll have an opportunity to try Method C in a few days, and will post my findings. This is going to be such an educational pair of socks!

Now - for my new WIP!!! I couldn't resist the skein of CamelSpin that I bought in November any longer! After much deliberation about what to make from it, I decided the 300m would work for a little shawlette - particularly if I started top-down so I can gauge my yardage as I go. The ironic thing about this is that I have a full-sized shawl on the sticks right now that is really pretty, but I don't like working on it very much, and recently vowed to never make another one. Just goes to show you what kind of mischief a luxurious new skein of yarn can talk you into.

In order to have the finished shawl be big enough to be called a shawl, I decided to pull out some bigger needles for this project. CamelSpin is roughly fingering weight yarn. For my first attempt at this project, I whipped out my beautiful rosewood size 15s that I've never used since purchasing them from a lovely lady at last years Stitches West. Her name is Deborah, and her store is Asciano Fiberarts Tools. I was all excited about going back to her booth this year to show her what I did with her needles, but alas, that needle size was just too big to give any stitch definition to the lace pattern I'd drafted. So... I backed off to size 11 and started down the path again, this time with much more success. Above is a photo of the progress so far - it's actually going to be suprisingly large for a one-skein project (I've only used about 40% of the yarn so far.) I plan to add a bit more to the body of it, and then will move into a beaded border that will add a little weight to help with the drape.


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