I'm the new Project
Editor at Interweave and will be a regular contributor to this blog. I'm also
new to blogging (this is my first-ever post), so please bear with me as I learn
may be learning a lot of new things right now, but I'm not new to
knitting. I've been a technical editor and knitting illustrator
for over 25 years. In that time I have edited hundreds of patterns and
illustrated thousands of stitches. As a result, I've gained a deep
understanding of the structure of the knitted fabric. My brother Patrick
mechanical engineer who owns and operates a small engineering firm in
One day, I was describing a knitting technique to him using some
illustrations, and he said, "Oh, I see, you're a fabric engineer!" I
love that description--it's entirely accurate. Nothing gives me more
than to discover some new (to me) knitting technique, especially one
improve the appearance of the finished project. I'd like to share my
discoveries with you because, well, the truth is I just love talking
technical "stuff." But also because I believe a successful
project is really just the product of a hundred "elegant" details. And
each detail we master raises the level of our "knitting game."
instance, Daniela Nii's beautiful pillows in the Spring 2011 issue of
Daniela uses a technique called
"diagonal intarsia." Typically, in intarsia, a diagonal line is the
result of simple color changes. These color changes create a "stairstep
effect" which, in this case, would blur the strong lines that make the
pillow design so effective (illustration 1).
Instead, Daniela uses a
combination of increases and decreases on each side of the color change to move
the colors while maintaining a straight line between the colors (illustration
2). And because the increases
and decreases are always paired, there is no
change in the stitch count. A right diagonal is achieved by decreasing stitches
in the first color section while increasing stitches in the adjoining color
section to the left. A left diagonal is achieved by doing the opposite:
increasing in the first section and decreasing in the second.
can use any type of increase or decrease methods you choose. I've seen patterns
which used Make 1's and even loop cast-on's for increases, but I think the
lifted increases that Daniela uses result in the neatest color transitions. For
the left diagonal, she worked a lifted increase into the right side of the
last stitch of the first color section (illustration 3), then knit the last
Then she began the next color section immediately with an ssk
decrease. For the right diagonal, the first section ended with a k2tog decrease,
and the next section began with a knit stitch, then a lifted increase worked into the left side of the stitch that was just knitted (illustration 4).
angle of the diagonal lines can be adjusted by changing the rate at which the
increase/decrease rows are worked. For a more acute angle, work them every other
row. Or for a more oblique angle, work them every fourth row.
may take some experimenting to get the results you want. So, get out your
knitting needles and do some "fabric engineering" of your own!