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Turn your knitting on its side!

May 16, 2012

Sometimes I want a knitting project that's a challenge to knit paired with a really interesting looking finished product. Mathew Gnagy's designs fit that bill to a T. But, P.S., by "a challenge" I don't necessarily mean that they're hard to knit, but that they need some attention to the pattern and to the knitting, so not TV knitting, as many easy projects are called. That also doesn't mean that I won't be watching TV while I knit the project, but I probably won't be paying too much attention to the program that's on, at least at the beginning of the project.

The Jesse Pullover by Mathew Gnagy
Anyway, back to Mathew. In his book, Knitting Off the Axis, Mathew presents his fabulous designs, all based on his technique of knitting sideways and all interesting and beautiful. He's also just finished taping a Knitting Daily workshop, Sideways Knits with Mathew Gnagy, which takes you through his designing and knitting techniques.

Here's Mathew's philosophy on sideways knitting:

In earlier days, sideways knitting was usually confined to a dolmen-style garment or a shapeless T. I have never subscribed to such one-dimensional thinking. Instead, I like to create nicely shaped underarms that will fit well against the body. In the garments that do have a dolman styling, I have updated the look. In other cases, I have done away with traditional sweater shaping altogether and gone with geometric styles that seem prevalent in today's fashions.

I like to knit sideways because there are interesting variations on shapes that are easier to create with sideways knitting. With the use of cables, it is easier to use a cable panel as a hem rather than knitting it first and then picking up or sewing it on later. That said, several of the patterns in this book combine both horizontal and vertical cable panels, which makes it necessary to pick up stitches or apply a cable at the end of the knitting to achieve the desired effect.

To facilitate great shaping, I have tinkered with commonly accepted modes of shaping. For example, many sleeve increases are made in the interior of the sleeve, either centered over a couple of stitches or on each side of a central cable motif. These central increases force the active knitting edge into a curve, which results in a better fit and more streamlined finishing.

In some of my patterns, I ask you to bind off, only to pick up stitches on your bound-off edge later on in the work. Though it is possible to leave the stitches live until they're needed again, I would advise against it. Sideways knitting aligns the greater stretch of the fabric vertically along the body when worn. Gravity and wear will lengthen the garment. By binding off the edge stitches and then picking up through them, you will create a much firmer edge that has less tendency to stretch out of shape overtime.

So, if a sideways knitting technique seems odd or deviates from traditional knitting, I suggest you just go with it—I have given much thought to when and where each technique is used to prevent the sideways knits from stretching in unexpected ways.

—Mathew Gnagy

Sideways Knits features the Jesse Pullover by Mathew, a sweater pattern that is worked from side to side, beginning with the left sleeve. After binding off stitches for the underarm, the front and back are begun separately, and then all stitches are placed on the same needle. After working the body, the right sleeve is worked down to the cuff.

It's such an interesting way to knit a sweater! Plus, the stitch patterns are wonderfully rich in texture—something else that Mathew is known for. And the Jesse Pullover is a free download that comes with the DVD!

Here's a preview of the workshop:

Pretty neat-o, yes? Pre-order your Sideways Knits DVD now, or download it and watch it today!


P.S. What do you think of Mathew's sideways knitting technique? Let us know in the comments!

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Knitting Daily Workshop: Sideways Knits with Mathew Gnagy
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Turn your knitting on its side with Mathew Gnagy's workshop video for knitting sideways.


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Turn your knitting on its side with Mathew Gnagy's workshop video for knitting sideways.


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Sonya Matte wrote
on Feb 2, 2015 4:32 PM

Bonjour! Je viens tout juste de recevoir le livre "Knitting off the axis" de Mathew Gnagy afin de tricoter le merveilleux chandail Jesse et ce modèle ne s'y trouve pas! Je suis tellement déçue! Ne le trouve-t-on que sur le DVD? Est-ce possible de n'acheter que ce patron si nous possédons déjà le livre? J'apprécierais avoir la possibilité de pouvoir faire ce superbe chandail sans avoir à me procurer le DVD en plus! Merci beaucoup!

NormaDeee wrote
on May 14, 2013 6:59 AM

I have bought Mathew Gnagy's book and have knitted a couple of garments. Wonderful patterns but how can I get hold of the pattern for the Jesse Pullover?

CynthiaL@14 wrote
on May 17, 2012 9:36 AM

The sweaters shown in the video are beautiful! They do, however, look like they are knit in several pieces. I'm a one-piece kinda gal and will adjust any pattern to get around putting pieces together.  I wonder if these can be adapted easily to my way of knitting?

NormaDeee wrote
on May 17, 2012 6:46 AM

How can I obtain the patterns for these sideways knits??

tleider wrote
on May 16, 2012 7:52 PM

I love Matthew's Knitting off the axis book.  Just finished one of the beautiful patterns in it.  Plus, it was great to learn a new technique!  

CarolK@63 wrote
on May 16, 2012 2:48 PM

Will the pattern for the Jesse Pullover be offered apart from the DVD? I already have the book and don't really need the DVD. The pattern on the yoke is exactly what I have been looking for, a deeply textured diagonal.

JessicaG@26 wrote
on May 16, 2012 11:02 AM

I'm really intrigued by that beautiful sweater with the pockets!

Bevy4 wrote
on May 16, 2012 8:58 AM

These patterns look very interesting and I would almost buy it but without knowing what the size range is, I won't do it.  I am not wasting money on any pattern that doesn't give this information up front.  I have bought too many patterns that way only to discover they don't run big enough for my size (2-3X) and I don't want to have to try to adjust the whole pattern to the size I would need.  I am intrigued by the knitting technique and would love to try it.  If in your advertising of books, patterns, etc, you could mention size range, I would be very satisfied and more likely to purchase.  Thank you.

Raptorhaven wrote
on May 16, 2012 8:53 AM

The patterns are nothing like I expected!  They are beautifully designed and unique.  There are none of the unstructured characteristics of most sideways knitted garments.  I can't wait to try some.

gumbiecat wrote
on May 16, 2012 7:55 AM

The patterns are so very attractive!!  

My only concern is...with a rounded upper back, I use short rows in that area to increase the length of the back without lengthening the armscye.  I don't understand how one would make a lengthwise adjustment with sideways knitting?

Judy in SE Wisconsin

the7gerbers wrote
on May 16, 2012 6:47 AM

>>>>In earlier days, sideways knitting was usually confined to a dolmen-style garment or a shapeless T.

dolmen???? I see it was corrected the 2nd time in the paragraph. A dolmen is something quite different: