Ask Patty: Magic Loop Solutions
Let me start by saying that I love magic loop. I love it so much because it brought circular knitting back into my life. (I had quit when I couldn’t deal with dpns—which I HATE). But there are two things that totally baffle me.
One is, whenever I turn I have so much trouble tucking the needle back into the front stitches. The problem seems to be the last stitch, but I swear to you I didn’t knit just ONE stitch too tight (I know to size them to the shaft of my needle thanks to your class), so what gives?
The other even more baffling mystery is I sometimes find I have YO and I have to rip back. I am a continental knitter and I never drop my yarn, so I SWEAR I did not black out and move the yarn over my needle—so what is happening?? Hoping for a magical solution, because I REALLY don’t want to go back to dpns.
Denise (save me from dpns)
P.S. I also don’t get why I still get ladders sometimes. Not as bad as dpns, but they’re still there.
First of all, I totally feel you. I myself am not a big double pointed needles fan. From the moment I discovered magic loop, my dpns became hair sticks, plant stakes and back scratchers. However, some knitters LOVE dpns. I remember teaching magic loop to my pal Penny many years ago. She mastered it and then kindly said, “Very interesting. Can I have my dpns back now?” So . . . different circular strokes for different knitting folks.
Don’t despair. Since your love is magic loop, let’s look at three simple, yet magical, solutions to improve it.
In the MDK Shop
Fixing the dreaded ladders
I’ll address the easiest one to fix first, the ladder. I find that I get no laddering at all in magic loop, but they can crop up if you have space between the front and back needles.
Some knitters hold the front needle separate from the back needle. This means that working yarn has to make a much longer trip, right across your hand, to reach the next stitch.
Notice in both pictures (for picking or throwing), how far away the working yarn is from the next stitch to be knit.
If, however, you hold both needles together as if it were one needle, then your working yarn is so very close to your next stitch, so you will not get a ladder.
Sometimes you might be using a circular needle with a cable that is just not flexible enough. You might start seeing a gap in the spot that you pull your cable through because the non-flexible cable is pushing the stitches apart. Easy fix!! You can move that gap around by pulling the cable through a different place each round.
The issue of the ladder is directly connected to the too-tight stitch issue. To create perfectly spaced stitches, we must control the path of the working yarn. Since our stitches are all connected by one magical piece of yarn, when that path is too long, we get a ladder. But, sometimes one of the fixes for a ladder, entering the second stitch and giving the yarn a firm tug, will cause another problem in magic loop. The overly tight stitch.
The Mystery of the Tight Stitch
What about that mysterious tight stitch? You say you are knitting perfectly formed stitches. You are sizing them to the shaft of the needle, carefully using your needle as your measuring cup, and yet, every time you turn you find that last stitch sooo tight you can barely slide the needle in!! HOW you might ask? Simple, because when you work magic loop you have to remove the back stitch from your measuring cup!
Here we have the bizzaro world problem to the ladder. Since your stitches are connected, when you pull on the working yarn, guess what happens to that (formerly) perfectly formed stitch.
Notice in this picture that when I slide out the back needle to work with it, there you see the perfectly sized stitch on the cable. What could go wrong?
The trouble comes when we pull on the working yarn and compress that last perfectly formed stitch, down to the size of the cable!
Now that we’re aware of the issue, we can knit that first stitch carefully without pulling too hard on the yarn. If you are a puller and find this a hard habit to break, I have a little knitting hack for you.
Where Did That YO Come From???
First of all, you did not black out and in some kind of trance wrap your yarn over your working needle. You did however, wrap your yarn around the back cable.
It all has to do with the turn. When we work magic loop, we work across the front needle, turn our work, tuck the new front needle in and pull out the back needle as our new receiving needle. If our working yarn is coming from behind the back needle, we will get a yarn over.
Notice here for both picking or throwing, the working yarn is coming from behind the back needle. That means the yarn will wrap around the cable.
The yarn needs to come between the two needles just as if it were coming from behind the next stitch you were going to work.
Remember, if you end up with an accidental YO, when you turn and work across that needle, you’ll see it at the very end of the needle. No need to rip back, just kick that off the needle — it was never meant to be there. Don’t worry too much about that little bit of extra slack. It will work its way in over the next few rounds and you’ll never even notice it.
So don’t despair. If you are a magic loop lover, no need to break up now. With a few simple adjustments, as Bogart said in Casablanca, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
And then, there’s always two circs, but that’s a story for another day.