Monday, August 1, 2011

Tightening ladders in knitting

Today, as I was sewing up a sweater, I devised a quick and easy way to eliminate the "ladders" between my knits and purls. I've knit a lot of sweaters and have always tried to avoid creating these ladders. I was grateful to read the explanation of and suggestions for avoiding or tightening ladders in a 2010 post in TECHknitting. After reading this and studying the illustrations, I realized that it all centers on moving the extra yarn. I'm sure the methods described in the post would work on most ladders. However, mine was extreme:

I don't have the usual ladders in my knitting. Thankfully, years of knitting ribbing and cables has helped me tighten up my knitting. This ladder was created when I decided to modify the pattern and place the decrease, a purl stitch, next to a twisted knit stitch. I see now that I should have moved the decreases over one stitch, placing a purl stitch between the twisted knit stitch and the decrease. That's hindsight. I saw the ladder as I was knitting, but could not tighten it up. I planned to move the yarn into the next few stitches when I blocked the sweater. However, there was just too much yarn. Worse still, this is a superwash, a more slippery wool.

I was trying to decide if I wanted to add a stitch there by laddering one up when I realized I could sew it up.

I took a length of yarn slightly longer than the laddered column (there are four of them, one by each raglan seam line, each about 8" long. Using my yarn needle, I wove the yarn around each ladder, going under it in the opposite direction. I am sewing from the lower right to the upper left in the photo above, going under a ladder and coming out on the right side of it. Then I move to the next ladder on the left and repeat.

After an inch or so, I pulled the yarn I was sewing tight.

This twisted the ladder, just as adding an extra column of purls would have. However, it was much quicker. (There's a thin line that I drew on the photo under the length of yarn to highlight it.)

Most importantly, it worked!

Now to get back to sewing up that sweater. Here it is blocking, so you can see that it was worth improving.

I'm glad I managed to fix the ladder. More importantly, though, I can avoid the same mistake in the future now that I know not to put a purled decrease next to a knit stitch.
More on the sweater on my Ravelry project page.

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Wool Winder said...

Nice fix!

CanarySanctuary said...

Wow! Thanks for the post. I've had this issue as long as I've been knitting. I can't wait to try the new technique.
Also, I came to your blog to say thanks for the tip you left in a comment on my blog re: Brittany needles. You're so helpful and informative. Thanks :)

Lies said...

That's one really nice piece of knitting! And nice work on getting rid of the ladder.

Rebecca said...

THANK YOU for sharing this technique! I was dismayed to have ladders on some sweater sleeves. I'm usually able to avoid them, but they showed up this time. I tightened them with your method, and now I'm happy enough with the sleeves that I don't cringe when I look at them. :)