I was showing something about twisted stitchesto a knitting pal the other day, and I thought that other knitters might like to see it too. I know that I’ve discussed them here before as part of the post about knitting backwards, but I’ll recap.

Twisted stitches are made when you knit or purl into the back as opposed to the leading leg of an existing stitch. Sometimes people make them inadvertently when they work a stitch as usual, but that stitch was mounted with the leading leg behind the needle:

The person I was working with does exactly what my mother does – forming stitches so that she routinely ending up with leading legs behind after working a knit row, then untwisting the stitch on the purl row. Ifmom is working stockinettein the flat, the final product looks like everyone else’s knitting, but ifshe’s working stockinette in the round, they end up with all twisted stitches because there are no purl rows on which to de-twist. My knitting pal was having the same problem. We worked on being able to tell the difference between legs in front and legs behind so that she could choose to either compensate or alter her technique. While learning to recognize and compensate is certainly a good solution, it is a limiting one. To this day my mom prefers knitting in the flat and working intarsia to knitting in the round or doing texture patterns. She especially dislikes texture patterns that do not include rows of plain purling in between the rows in which other manipulations occur. With no plain purl rows to un-discombobulate her stitches, she runs into that same twisting problem.

But twisted stitches aren’t entirely bad. Sometimes there’s good reason to make them. They’re great decorative accents, and have structural uses as well. I happen to like using twisted stitches in my work. In terms of structure, Ifind them particularly useful for working ribbing on cottons, silks and linens because they are a bit firmer than regular knit stitches, and help the ribbings in those fibers keep their shape between washings. That firmness and crispness of line is also a great tool to use in surface decoration. Here’s an example from a pattern available on wiseNeedle.

The pattern is for a lacy blouse with a wide vee neck and clingy fit. The combo of the diagonal lines of openwork and the vertical ribs makes it especially flattering to the zaftig among us. Here the firmness of the twisted stitches is put to use making the cotton yarn hold its ribbed, body-hugging shape. Also the verticals formed by the twisted ribbing really stand out. I chose to do them synchopated, so that the K2, P2 ribs don’t line up after they’ve been intersected by the eyelet diagonal. That movement of line makes the piece more lively, with a more interesting total surface effect. (Or so I think.)

Here’s another nifty use for twisted stitches. In this case, I can take credit only for execution. The pattern is from Reynolds, and was put out around four years ago in a summer book for their Saucy Sport yarn. Look at the nifty way the twisted stitches are used to make the lobster’s outlines, feet, feelers, and to differentiate the textures of the filled-in areas in head, body, tail, and claws. All in all, a very clever design:

Apologies both for the quality of the photo, and for the wear-and-tear on the lobster. This is one of my favorite summer sweaters, and he’s no longer fresh from the trap.

What yarn are these two samples knit in? It so happens that I used the same yarn for both. It’s Silk City Spaghetti, a cotton sport-weight woven tape, now long discontinued. I love this stuff, and even though it does shrink in the wash(my lobster sleeves are now about an inch too short), I’d buy it in a flash were I to find it still available. I do have enough left over from my cones of the khaki and paprika that I might be able to do a shell out of each. Or if I could countenance the resulting color combo, combine them in some sort of a two-tone piece. The jury is still out on the color combo thing.

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