Slip-stitch Knitting and Cable Knitting: Ultimate Texture Tools

The merest hint of autumn weather always feels like a promise to me: soon it will be cold. Since I hate hate HATE the heat, this is a big deal. Last week, Colorado’s nighttime temperatures dropped into the 50s—instead of pushing cats away from my sweaty body, I begged them to cuddle me. We were all much happier. Best of all, autumn means I can unearth my best, warmest sweaters from their storage boxes and return to the type of knitting I love best: textures. There’s something magical about watching motifs develop via cables and my new obsession, slip-stitch knitting.

Who would have thought that, simply by rearranging the order of stitches, knitters could create so many cable motifs? These four sweaters manipulate stitch order to create different and striking patterns. In the upper left, Kathy Zimmerman adorns her Neota Cardigan (from Interweave Knits Fall 2016) with large round motifs around smaller round motifs. Cables also play a starring role in Love of Knitting Fall 2016. Allison Jane’s Wishbone Pullover (upper right) features rope cables twisting in opposing directions at the sides, while inverted V shapes cover the front. Two very different leaf shapes made from cables adorn the bright blue Leafy Path Pullover by Melissa Leapman and Rebecca Blair’s green Embossed Leaves Pullover.

Cable knitting can produce many distinctive patterns into garments.
Cables simply involve working stitches out of order, but that one small step has infinite possibilities. Clockwise from upper left: Neota Cardigan, Wishbone Sweater, Leafy Path Pullover, Embossed Leaves Pullover.

Slip-stitch knitting is another terrific technique that has recently grabbed my attention. Designers often use it to inject color into knitting, but if you haven’t experienced its textural possibilities, you’re missing out. Where cable knitting involves rearranging the order of stitches, slip-stitch knitting ignores certain stitches. These stitches migrate from the left needle to the right without being worked until the next row or round. Once they are worked, the knitted fabric develops floats or elongated V shapes (depending on whether the working yarn stays in the front or moves to the back during the slip). Consider these two pairs of socks from Love of Knitting Fall 2016. Mone Dräger’s Byzantine Tiles Socks develop their color pattern with slip stitches: slipping with the yarn in back stretches out some of the knit stitches, so they pop from the background. Dana Gervais stuck to one color and used slip-stitch knitting only for texture. Her Crestwood Socks slip stitches with the working yarn in front, creating a horizontal bar that could be mistaken for a round cable motif.

Slipstitch knitting introduces color and/or texture.
Slip-stitch knitting introduces color and/or texture. Left: Byzantine Tiles Socks. Right: Crestwood Socks.

If you need more slip-stitch eye candy, see how this technique inspired designers in KnitScene Fall 2016.  Allison Jane took a subtle approach with horizontal chevrons in her Troposphere Sweater. Faye Kennington chose dramatic motifs at the waist for her Aerial Skirt. Dana Gervais decided diamonds were a girl’s best friend on her Perigee Socks.

Slipstitch knitting can do it all, from quiet textures to over-the-top motifs.
Slip-stitch knitting can do it all, from quiet textures to over-the-top motifs. Clockwise from left: Troposphere Sweater, Aerial Skirt, Perigee Socks.

I love both these techniques so much, it’s hard to choose between them. So my fall knitting queue will open with the El Greco Pullover from Interweave Knits Fall 2016. Quenna Lee decided to combine cables and slip-stitch motifs—it’s the best of both worlds!

Cables PLUS slipstitch in the El Greco Pullover!
Cables PLUS slip-stitch in the El Greco Pullover!

Tell me about your fall knitting in comments. What do you like to make as the weather gets cooler?


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Love of Knitting