The fun to be had in knitting helically

Whilst jogless stripes are the most well-known application of helical knitting, I have become captivated with other possibilities for helical stitch patterns. Working helically is just (in my humble opinion) a heap of fun. It’s satisfying and simple, and at the same time can create quite complex fabrics with a minimum of fuss.

Helical knitting is sometimes a solution to a problem, but in other situations it’s just an elegant approach to a stitch pattern.

Garter stitch in the round seam line_rec.jpg

Most knitters start by learning the knit stitch, and work at least something in garter stitch. Knitting back and forth makes a flat fabric with classic garter stitch ridges. As a newer knitter I tended to see garter stitch as the unsophisticated cousin of the far superior stocking stitch (which when worked back and forth requires purling). Over the years I’ve come back to garter stitch, no doubt helped along by some stunning garter stitch designs from favourites like Martina Behm or Stephen West. Garter stitch brings a squishiness to knitted fabric that I find very pleasing, but when worked in the round, it suffers from a noticeable “seam” or jog at the change of the round (see image above). This occurs because you work one round as knit and the next round as purl, so at the change of the round you have a knit stitch adjacent to a purl stitch, and vice versa.

Garter stitch can be worked helically, with one yarn always knitting and one yarn always purling. In doing this you end up with a double helix of stitches where all the knits are adjacent to knits and all the purls are adjacent to purls, and hence no seam line. It’s also fun to do!

Helical honey cowl_rec.jpg

Back when we released my Hyacinthus armwarmers at the start of A Year of Techniques, Kay (over at Mason-Dixon Knitting) immediately wondered about the possibility of using the helical method to address the “seam” in the beloved Honey Cowl pattern. I went away and experimented, and lo and behold it is totally possible to work the stitch pattern used in the honey cowl helically, and it completely removes the seam line. I knitted a Honey Cowl and made some notes on my Ravelry project page about how to adapt it to be worked helically. This set me on the path that lead to this book… I started to wonder about other stitch patterns that could be worked helically – not simply to remove a seam line, but also in general, whether there were stitch patterns that would be fun to work helically. The answer came back as a resounding yes!

Chapter two of Something New to Learn About Helical Knitting includes photo tutorials on how to work garter stitch helically, as well as a selection of other two-round helical stitch patterns. I’ve included notes on how to read your knitting as you work helically, and the chapter concludes with two simple designs that allow you to practise working stitch patterns helically. I hope that our new ebook will be a starting point for knitters to experiment with the possibilities of working helically. I have a feeling that there is a whole world of untapped helical knitting, just waiting to be discovered.

Something New to Learn About Helical Knitting goes on sale on Friday 28th September, with the patterns and tutorials being released in four fortnightly instalments commencing on Tuesday 9th October. Don’t miss out on the news! Sign up for blog posts by email and/or our newsletter by clicking below.

Happy (helical) knitting!