February 25, 2015

Bias Knitting Made Easy

You know, knitting in a sideways direction is really quite easy.  Some of the easiest and most interesting patterns en vogue right now are worked up sideways.  It's all in the increase or decrease, depending on where you put them.

 I think that many knitters, even a large percentage of veteran knitters, are confused by or daunted by the term "knitting on the bias".  I had been doing it for years and years before I even bothered to find out what that term meant.  In fact, my kitchen sink has been home to bias knitting since I was in college; my mother's and grandmother's sinks far longer than that.  The first dish cloth that I learned to make was, it turns out, bias knitting.  If you increase at the beginning of every row with a YO or an M1, whether you are working solids or stripes, you are knitting on the bias. As a matter of a fact, all you have to do is to keep knitting in garter stitch until you have an equilateral (all sides equal) triangle.  Then, you just work in reverse: instead of increasing at the beginning of each row, you increase and then decrease at the beginning of each row.  I almost always knit my dish cloths, or should I say do my bias knitting, as follows:

CO 4 sts. K one row.
R1: K2, YO, K across. Repeat for all rows until all sides of the triangle are equal. (That's about 52 rows for me in dish cloth weight cotton with US 8 needles.)

R1: K1, K2tog, YO, K2tog, K across. Repeat for all rows until you have decreased to 4 sts. BO. Weave in ends.

Is that not the simplest pattern you've ever seen in your life?  And it's bias knitting to boot!

But there's more to do with bias knitting than just to make a dish cloth.  You could make a bazillion squares, seam them together, and have an afghan.  You could make them smaller and have coasters.   Or you could modify this pattern just a wee bit and make a garter st (change WS rows to purl for stocking st) bias scarf. I'll also say that the increase method is totally flexible. If you don't want to do a YO, do a Kftb or an M1L.

Set Up:
CO 4 sts.
R1: K.
R2 (RS): K1, YO, K to last st, YO, K1.
Work these two rows until you end up with the width that you like--I'm an 8-inch wide kind of gal, so my scarf would be about 36 sts in a worsted weight yarn on a US 8 needle.

(This is beginning to look a lot like knitting a dish cloth, isn't it?)

Now the bias fun begins:
R1 (WS): Knit all sts.
R2 (RS): K1, YO, K across to last 2 sts, K2tog, YO, K2tog.
Work these two rows until your scarf is just shy of the total length that you desire, and then you'll cap it off by basically working the set-up in reverse.

Decreasing to the Finish Line:
R1 (WS): Knit all sts.
R2 (RS): K2tog, YO, K2tog, K across to last 4 sts, K2tog, YO, K2tog.
Repeat until you have 6sts remaining.
Then, K2tog, YO, K2tog, YO, K2tog. 5 sts remain.
Knit next row.
K2tog, K1, K2tog. 3 sts remain.

Weave in ends and block.

As an afterthought to this pattern: if you make a bazillion bias scarves, you can seam them together for one nifty blanket, too. This little bit of bias knitting that I've done for the photos comes out to be just the right size for a Barbie bath mat. If I had made it a little larger and then made a second, I could have sewn the 2 together for a little phone pouch.

So that's about all there is to bias knitting.  It's pretty much just simple increases or decreases. You should try it.  You won't believe how long it took you to learn to knit sideways when it's been so simple all along!


KFTB:  knit through the front of the st, knit through the back of the same stitch, slip off left-hand needle.
YO:  yarn over
M1L:  increase by picking up the bar between stitches from the front of the bar and knitting into the back of the twist.


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