Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jogless Color Changes

After a year and a half of lace knitting, I got a yen to knit a pair of legwarmers for my precious, adorable, loveable, never-sits-still, determined, speed-crawling 1-year-old granddaughter.  Momma Jenny said she really likes stripes.  And bright colors.  My LYS recommended Plymouth Merino DK which throws in "Superwash" on the label, to boot.  This is a corded type, many-ply yarn with very high twist and it has no halo.  (That also spells frighteningly high stitch definition where any irregularity GLARES at you.)  All they had for "bright" was orange, but since Jenny likes orange and they had one lone skein left in a green that was asking to be paired with it, that was that.  Her colors. 

Okay, so in my 5 years of knitting, I've never done stripes that are narrow enough to keep two yarns active, carrying them forward.  Let alone doing that on a tube, knitted in the round. 

So at my first color change, I tried a simple k2tog which I'd been shown at the LYS but didn't like it.  Next, I tried TechKnitter's "jogless" method where you simply start knitting with the new color, but on the next round you slip that first color-changed stitch purlwise (without moving yarn to back I found out).  I still saw a visible jog.  Now, TK says it's minimally noticeable if seen on the fly, and her samples appeared to have been blocked which can make a huge difference, but I'm obsessive about stuff like this, in the raw.  So I then went to youtube and watched "jogless knitting stripes in the round" by knitpurlhunter, where she also just starts knitting with the new color but on her next round instead of slipping the stitch as TechKnitter does, she lifts the right leg of the stitch below, up onto her left needle and knits it together with that stitch.  I didn't like that one at all.  I did watch Eunie Jang's video on the subject.  Well, as always, I was so depressed watching how freaking fast she knits that I don't even remember how she did her color change other than that, again, I saw a jog.

So I went back to the TK's method.  Okay, so it does have a jog but admittedly it's not a bad jog.  And I do see that if stretched much at all, it shows very little. 

Ignore the top green-to-orange change just having been made on the needles, which I'll talk about in a minute.  The rest of the color changes are just as TechKnitter prescribes.   

Well, looking at it closely, it's that right leg that's the culprit.  That's the long-ish one from the slipped stitch.  The left leg lends itself to "unobtrusive slant" if it just didn't have that damned right leg sticking down longer. Still, it was the best I'd tried out of the lot, so I accepted it. 

After a couple of times though, just for the heck of it, I tried something of my own to modify it.  And Wow!!  NO jog!  There is still the slant, yes.  But knitting in the round is a continuous spiral, so you're going to get slant anyway.  But this had very minimal added slant. 

Here's the first color change with my little added trick, shown at the top of the green-to-orange color change just after knitting a few rows beyond the above photo.
So here's what I added to TK's method (my changes shown in red). 

Round 1 of a color change:  Knit 3 sts in old color just as you've been doing.  Then simply start knitting with new color starting on the next (4th) stitch.  Knit around with new color up TO that 4th stitch of the next round (your first new color stitch).

Round 2:  And having knitting the first 3 sts and now ready to slip the 4th (color changing) stitch, bring OLD color's yarn to front of work.  Slip stitch #4 purlwise (wyib).  Return OLD color's yarn to back of work again and drop it, and just continue knitting with new color.  (You'll have now wrapped the slipped 4th stitch with the old color.)

Round 3:    Knit 2 of the first 3 again, and knit the 3rd stitch somewhat tightly.  Knit 4th stitch (the one you've slipped and wrapped) as normal.  On 5th stitch, pull old color's wrap taut from the back so that its tension looks consistent with all else on the front of the work, and trap old color's yarn however you normally trap a floating carry-forward (OR see below note re trapping a yarn being carried forward vertically).  And just keep knitting with the new color.  At some point, give a glance to the wrap to make sure its tension remains right, and maybe trap the old (carried forward) yarn once again in another couple of rounds just to secure it more.

So what have we done here?  Not much!  TechKnitter's little jog is still there.  All I did was wrap the slipped stitch with the old color.

Here's a close up, face-on shot where it shows with the wrap pulled aside.

These next 2 photos are shot at the same angle, one with the wrap pulled loose, 
the next with it pulled closed.

So we've used TK's otherwise very excellent color changing method, however we've added an old color's wrap around TK's 2nd round's slipped stitch which simply covers up the bottom of that right leg that creates the jog.

Now what's fun about all this is that normally a wrap sits horizontally across the top of a stitch, just like a purl stitch's collar.  But because slipped stitches pull things off skew, fortunately the wrap itself gets pulled into a slant too, just enough to be really useful. 

So that's how I'm going to do my color changes from now on.  Using TechKnitter's very good method, but adding a simple wrap around her 2nd round's slipped stitch and securing its tension on the 3rd round.

Meanwhile, just a side note.  Many people do their color changes at the beginning of a round because that's where they do them at the beginning of a row when knitting flat. Well, when I first started knitting in the round, I'd already seen laddering from both magic loop and DPN needle changes and vowed I'd never get them.  I learned that when you change needles on either Magic Loop or DPNs, you do want to pull that first stitch tight, sure.  But it's the SECOND stitch that needs to be pulled tight also.  So that's sure not the place to be doing color changes!  So I just picked the 4th stitch of a color changing round arbitrarily because by then I'm done with pulling the first 2 sts tight after a needle change, and I do like to snug even the 3rd one a bit. 

One last thing about color changes followed by a slipped stitch done on the next round.  Techknitter points out that if you do the color change repeatedly on the same column (e.g., in my case on the 4th stitch), especially on narrow stripes, you'll very likely start to see some pulling up, because you have repeated cases of slipped (not knitted) stitches in the same column.  She suggests moving your first stitch of the color change over to the next stitch each time.  So my first color change took place on the 4th stitch of the round as outlined above.  The next color change after that, I did on the 5th stitch.  And so on.  The last color change on this particular legwarmer took place on the 11th stitch of that color changing round. 

Trapping a Carry-Forward yarn while knitting with the alternate color:  Okay, since carrying another color yarn vertically was all new to me, I was really watching everything closely because I wanted this first legwarmer to be the only place I see any messes.  It's my learning piece.  Well, I found that when I wanted to anchor (trap) my old color's yarn every few rounds to avoid long snag-worthy floats, I've only known to twist the old yarn once around the new yarn every now and then to trap it, and keep knitting.  One time it worked fine, it all stayed behind the scenes.  But another time, the old yarn peeked through so that there, right in the middle of my subsequent nice clean knitting, there was this unwanted peek-through of the unused color.  Awk??  I had no idea what I'd done differently.  Well, oddly enough, on the good traps where it did not show through, I'd twisted the yarns counterclockwise.  The one where it showed through, I'd twisted them just the same, except I'd done it clockwise.  Now don't ask me why this would make any difference, but the ugliness happened twice and both times I'd twisted the yarns clockwise.  So while I'll just plan on making my trapping twists counterclockwise from now on, if you have any idea why there's a difference, please leave a comment because I'd love to know.

Techknitter's article on color changes:  http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/01/jogless-stripes.html
...and in getting the link to include here, I just happened to scroll down farther on her page only to see that she has a sample with the exact same green/orange color combination that I'd used for these legwarmers!  So hey, not being an orange or green fan, at least I know I picked 2 colors that have some universal appeal.  :-)

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