You’ve learned to knit. You’ve made at least one of the obligatory beginner’s scarves, and perhaps a hat or two. You’ve dabbled in other small items of clothing. Now, you’re ready to take it to the next level. Where do you go when you’re ready to abandon garter stitch and stockinette for something a little more challenging?
Crossing stitches over each other to create a twisted or ropelike effect.
Cables are easy to learn, fun to create, and add beautiful adornment to just about any knitted item. The most classic examples of cabled pieces are fisherman’s and Aran sweaters, many of which are works of art unto themselves. For those just starting out with cables, though, there are many beginner-level patterns such as chunky cabled scarves, hats with one or two cables up the side, and even sweaters with simple cable motifs.
Cables may be created with or without a cable needle. Beginners may be more comfortable using a cable needle until they become familiar with crossing stitches. Cable needles come in two styles: a hook or a straight needle with a small U shape in the middle. Either of these can effectively hold stitches either in front or in back of the work. Those who are ready to try cabling without the aid of a needle can learn from a book or online tutorial.
Using multiple balls of yarn to place a single large motif on a piece.
If Aunt Gertrude routinely gifted you with dreadful smiling reindeer sweaters every Christmas, you have intarsia to thank. Fortunately, intarsia can be used for a variety of designs from the kid-friendly to the elegant. Working with multiple colors may seem daunting at first, but intarsia is a good way to ease into the concept. Unlike fair isle, intarsia only requires you to be in control of one color at a time. The biggest challenge of this technique is learning to switch between colors without leaving any gaps.
Knitting blocks of color to create a basketweave effect.
The overall effect of entrelac is intricate and beautiful. It allows a knitter to create color patterns that aren’t possible with other techniques, and it gives the finished piece a unique look. Entrelac takes a little work to pick up on, but the end product is worth the effort.
The technique begins with a row of “starter triangles,” which set you up to knit alternating rows of blocks, usually in different colors. Due to entrelac’s unique nature, it may be best to try and find a class to take in order to master this method. Online tutorials are also available.
Using multiple colors to adorn a piece with a small, repeated motif.
The fair isle technique often looks more complicated than it is. Though a fair isle piece may include a multitude of colors, only two are used on any given row. This makes it fairly easy to learn, even for those who are intimidated by color knitting. Much like the picture on the cover of a puzzle box, charts for fair isle motifs give a clear picture of how the design will look once it’s done. So all you have to do is take a deep breath, read the chart, and start working your way towards a beautiful fair isle piece!
Reinforcing and cutting open a designated set of stitches in order to place a button band, zipper, or other adornment.
Steeking is perhaps the most frightening of knitting techniques. The thought of taking scissors to a beautiful finished piece is enough to scare some off learning it at all. However, this technique has its benefits. It is mostly used when knitting fair isle sweaters or more complex motifs that are best worked in the round. Rather than trying to convert these motifs for flat knitting, a steek can be placed wherever the garment needs to be split, such as down the middle when making a cardigan. This allows for a smoother knitting experience and keeps the motif from being broken up. Steeking is best learned from from a detailed tutorial or someone who is familiar with the process.
Each of these techniques can enhance your knitting and help you advance to more intricate patterns. With each method you master, your finished pieces will take on a more professional look, and you’ll feel like a super knitter in no time!