Gossamer: A Beginner’s Guide
Joji Locatelli’s Gossamer is absolutely on my “to make” list for the winter. I plan to use it as a warming layer under my coat for extra-nasty days, and as a snuggly wrap for days I need a bit of glamorous comfort. I’m just as excited about the relaxing knitting this project will provide: I’ve got hours of TV to catch up on, this will be just the thing.
It’s a straightforward knit, but let’s take a closer look at two technical points: the slipped stitches, and the buttonholes.
The Slipped Stitches
Sl 1 = slip a stitch. There’s more to this instruction than it might seem, as you’ve got two decisions to make. The first is how to put the needle into the stitch; the second is where the yarn should be.
Unless otherwise instructed, when slipping a stitch, always put the needle into the stitch as if you’re going to purl it— often referred to as “slipping purlwise.” (The only time you slip a stitch knitwise is as part of a decrease.)
At the start of a row
The other consideration is where the yarn should be. Sometimes a pattern is explicit about this, sometimes it’s not. When slipping a stitch at the start of a row, unless otherwise stated, the rule is to slip with yarn held to the wrong side of the work. That is, on a RS row, hold the yarn at the back and then slip the stitch:
On a WS row, hold the yarn at the front of the work, and then slip the stitch:
In the middle of a row
Slipped stitches in the middle of the rows of the back of Gossamer provide a pretty detail at the center of the back and flow elegantly into the edging when you separate for the fronts. Because the move is slightly unusual—slipping two stitches instead of one—the instruction is specific about the yarn position: “sl 2 wyif” means slip two stitches with the yarn held in the front.
You’ll have just worked a knit stitch, so bring the yarn to the front and leave it there while you slip the next two stitches purlwise, then take the yarn to the back into position to knit the next stitch, tugging on it a bit. This will cause the two slipped stitches to snug up together, and push away from you and towards the RS to make the rib stand out even more.
On the following rows those stitches are knit normally. The result is this handsome detail, a rib of slightly elongated knit stitches that stand out from the rest of the fabric:
This pattern uses my favorite type of buttonhole: the tidy and flexible yarnover/decrease combo. It works well here because it’s fairly inconspicuous, so it doesn’t look funny if you’re not buttoning up. And it’s stretchy to accommodate a range of button sizes.
Joji has used two versions: one with ssk, and one with k2tog. Because you’re working in ribbing, you need to pay a little bit of attention to the yarnover.
When working the back, the buttonholes are worked at the start of RS rows, as [yo, ssk].
For this one, you’ll have just worked a purl stitch, so the yarn already is positioned at the front. To make the yarnover, drape the yarn over the right-hand needle, then work the ssk decrease.
Yarn is draped over right needle. Working the ssk with the yarn in this position will complete the buttonhole.
When working the fronts, the buttonholes are worked at the end of RS rows, as [k2tog, yo].
Work the k2tog first, of course, which puts the yarn at the back. To make the yarnover, bring the yarn to the front, drape it over the right hand needle and bring it around to the front again, to be in position for the following stitch, which is a purl.
Yarn is wrapped all the way around right needle. Working the following purl stitch with the yarn in this position will complete the buttonhole.
If you find, over time, that the buttonholes stretch out, or are a little too big for your buttons, you can tighten then up a bit. Cut yourself a few inches of yarn, and using a darning needle, catch the loops of neighboring stitches, just at the very edge of the hole. Cinch it up a tiny bit, and then weave the ends in.
I hope these tips are helpful. Time for me to cast on!