Confessions of a Flat Knitter
True confession time, I’m a flat knitter. Yes, you heard that right I like to knit flat, including colorwork. I know some of you think there be dragons when your knitting has edges, but it works for me.
I was so happy to see flat colorwork in Field Guide 25. Dee Hardwick does amazing color and is also a fan of flat knitting—solidarity, sister!
One of the most gorgeous pieces in Botanica is the Cottage Throw, so many motifs and such great color, all knit flat.
I pulled out a single motif to sample, a sweet line of flowers. The giant chart for the throw might become so many things for me. I may never knit the throw, but I will use the motifs as a mix and match stitch dictionary for other projects—the hem for an otherwise plain sweater, or the cuff of a mitten …
To swatch I chose Skyline and Barn Red—two colors of Atlas, that are high contrast and that I wouldn’t normally put together. I am auditioning all of the things.
One reason I knit flat is because it’s how I learned to knit so it’s familiar and comfy. In my knitting life I’ve knit both throwing and picking, so two-handed knitting is no problem for me.
The biggest reason I knit flat for colorwork is when I knit in the round, I look for speed. In colorwork knitting I might pull a little tighter with my picking strand in my haste to fly. That microscopic tightening means uneven floats, and sad, sad knitting for me.
I feel like I have much more control over gauge and floats, knitting flat. I go slower and am much more methodical with my knitting, so I enjoy it more. I even have a better memory for color dominance when I knit flat.
Some Tips to Get Even Floats
One of the easiest ways to help keep your floats even is to make sure your stitches are evenly spaced when you make the color change (upper left). I am a stitch buncher. I feel like my knitting goes faster if I have all of my stitches bunched up on my left needle ready to be knit. If I do this while knitting color work, my floats are woefully short and my knitting is permanently scrunched.
If I’m knitting while stressed or while watching something intense (I do love a good murder mystery show) and suspect I will be pulling more than I’d like, I slide a finger between the knitted fabric and the float being formed (upper right). For me this helps keep the floats loose without thinking too hard about it. I do this a lot when I do knit color work in the round.
If I have a float that’s too loose and floppy I could rip back or cut and spit splice the float. I prefer the LaZee™ method, I knit the floppy float together with a stitch in the next row. Left to right, top to bottom, I have a floppy float on the purl side (sometimes they are even bigger than this), I work to a stitch on the knit side that is about in the middle of the loose float and knit the float and the stitch together. Even though the colors of yarn have high contrast I can’t see the float peeking through, and it’s nicely caught on the purl side.
I can’t be the only knitter that prefers working colors back and forth. Flat knitters let me know you’re out there!