Patty Asks Patty about Short Rows and Bind-Offs
This month’s special Ask Patty features a letter from a particularly challenging knitter: me.
Dear Future Patty,
You’ve always said that knitting is a living craft and that we learn new things all the time. So my question: Do you ever change your mind about a trick? Do you ever find that you were wrong, and re-unvent one of your unventions?
Dear Past Patty,
Well, “wrong” might be a bit harsh, but funny you should ask.
We often learn from our own questioning, but also from our own answering. That’s right—sometimes we’re explaining the how and why of something we’ve done a million times, and a brand-new idea will just pop into our heads.
Recently I was working on the circular trick section of my book (finally handed in!) when I had two such moments. Brand-new ideas.
German Short Rows—Past Is Prelude
The first ah-ha moment had to do with hiding German short rows when returning to work in the round. I first wrote about the trick I’d always done here. My original solution—knitting the legs of the double stitch (DS) separately—was effective, but the DS wasn’t invisible:
At left, the DS made on the RS row closed nicely with a k2tog. On the right, when we close a DS created on a WS with a k2tog, we get the sad hole.
The ah-ha? We’ll work over the gap!
Step 1: Work to one stitch before the DS and slip that stitch as if to knit.
Step 2: Advance the DS to the tip of your left needle so you can enter the first leg of the DS through the back loop. Getting into this stitch can be tricky, so if you have trouble, pull down on the back of DS on your left needle to reveal that first leg. Wrap your yarn around your right needle to knit and pull it through that first leg.
Step 3: While hanging onto the second leg of the DS (so you don’t drop it accidentally), remove the stitch just knit.
Step 4: Pass the slipped stitch over the stitch you just made (into first leg of the DS), and give a snug to your working yarn.
Step 5: Knit the second leg of the DS through the back loop.
Now you have a filled-in, invisible hidden German short row.
Jogless Bind-Off? Why Not?
If I saw this scene in a movie, I wouldn’t believe it.
My book was finished. I hit Save and was going to send it in the morning after one more read. I lay my weary head down on the pillow to go to sleep, and a thought popped into my head: “It can’t be that simple. Would that really work?” I jumped out of bed, cast on, and it worked! I added one final trick to the book in the morning.
The dreaded jog at the bind-off—most knitters solve this ugly issue by using the tail to connect the bind-off braid. It works well enough, but you do have to connect it over a height difference.
The result? The “It’s so simple I can’t believe I never thought of it” jogless bind-off!
Step 1: Remove your end-of-round marker and slip the first stitch of the round, purlwise, from the left needle to the right needle. This will now be the last stitch you bind off. Now your working yarn is coming from the second stitch on the right needle.
Step 2: Begin your bind-off by working the first two stitches on your left needle, and passing the first stitch over. (This is the second and third stitch of the round.) You’ll have a small float of yarn that goes across the back of your slipped, unworked stitch. Just like the cast-on!
Step 3: When you bind off your last stitch (the first stitch of the round that you slipped) you’ll have connected the last stitch of the round to the first stitch of the round. Cut the yarn and lift up on the needle, pulling that tail out of the final stitch you just made.
Notice the difference between a regular bind-off and this one. The first stitch bound off and the last stitch bound off are now at the same level.
Complete your masterpiece by using a tapestry needle and the tail to connect that last braid as shown here. Even with a chunky yarn, you’ll have an invisible join.
The moral of the story: Question everything, and just because you were right the first time, doesn’t mean you can’t make it righter. Yeah, that’s a word.