Monday, April 28, 2014

Ribbing the Sampler

      A couple weeks ago the Tuesday Studio Knitters began working through the marvleous Sweater Sampler from the Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee.  I did one of these samplers over twenty years ago (that's it on the right in the photo) and I learned great basic techniques that have served me well in the years since.  It's funny looking but full of knitting merit.

     Jacquie Fee could be called an Elizabethan Knitter (she attended Elizabeth Zimmermann's camps for years) and so her thought processes in creating this circular sampler of techniques to use in knitting and designing circular sweaters make great sense to me.  It is great fun that the Tuesday Studio Knitters wanted to use the book and the format of the sampler to explore techniques as well.   I like the new revised edition, with its additional historical photos and updated designs, but I won't give up my first edition either.  Yes, my bookshelves do groan!
     We are taking our time knitting through this project, exploring just one or two techniques each week.  As my teacher did before me, I am adding to and expanding on the techniques already in the book.  The layout of the Sweater Workshop book includes lots of space on each page to add one's own notes and I'm encouraging the TSK's to be brave and write all over their own fresh new copies of the book.  I certainly am doing so.  And in pen.  Fearless aren't I?

    We are currently exploring 1 x 1 ribbing in the Sampler.   In the photo below, the ribbing at the bottom is regular k1, p1 ribbing, looking a bit irregular as it will when worked, for convenience sake and as the book directs, on the same size needle as the rest of the Sampler.  So here's a great chance to expound my standard  ribbing rule of thumb:  always go down two to three needle sizes to do a ribbing on a sweater.  Purl stitches mixed in with knit stitches will puff up the fabric, which can look dreadful,  especially in ribbing.

     Now take a look at the two k1, p1 ribbings in the middle of the photo, both of which are of the twisted variety.  The left-hand side has the knit stitches twisted (by knitting into the back of the stitch) every other round and on the right-hand side I have twisted the knit stitches on every round.  Until I did this particular sampler I was of the opinion that the EOR twist was the best looking but now I am really enjoying the looks of the knits twisted on every round. It is more crisp and defined to my eye.  Of course you understand that it is only because we are working in the round that twisting the knit stitches every round is at all tempting.  On a flat piece of knitting, getting that same look would entail purling into the back of those stitches on every other row. That's a bit too fussy for me.  If I was knitting a flat ribbing and wanted a twisted look, I would choose the ribbing on the left which is still handsome (especially worked on a smaller needle) and just as easy to achieve on either circular or flat pieces.
     From what I can tell there is not much difference in elasticity among the ribbings though the every-round-twist may be a bit more firm.  Elasticity of 1x 1 ribbing tends to be influenced more strongly by the depth of the ribbing, with more rows creating a more elastic fabric than do fewer rows, and I expect  that any difference in the elasticity of these two ribbings could be adjusted by knitting more or fewer rows as desired. 
     So maybe it's all just a matter of aesthetics. Swatching will tell and I love to have choices.  What do you think?  Any opinions on which is better and why?  What's your experience with a 1 x 1 ribbing?  I'd love to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave your comments below.