The plague of the twisted stitch.
Let me start by saying there is no right or wrong way to knit, however you do, theoretically, want your stitches to look even and pretty, and you probably want knitting to be fairly easy, smooth and quick.
Stitches that are not twisted have the yarn lying in even rows, smoothly bumping up to, but not crossing over it’s neighbor stitch, or itself. The stitch presents itself to you politely on the needle and is easy to pick up and to work. In stockinette stitch shown to the right you have nice, even little V’s all in tidy rows.
Then you have the twisted stitch, it fights back, you can’t figure out where your needle goes, it’s hard to work each stitch, your knitting is not as nice as what you’ve seen around you and you start asking yourself at what point does knitting become relaxing??
Twisted stitches can happen a few different ways, and there is not one simple answer as to how they occur or how to fix them as we can all knit differently, and may knit differently one project to the next depending on the yarn, the mood, the needles or just for the heck of it. The causes and fixes are related to the following:
- You pick up your stitches through the back loop of the stitch, or
- You pick up your stitches through the front loop of the stitch
- You wrap the yarn counter (anti) clockwise, or
- You wrap the yarn clockwise.
Playing with these four basic elements, (make it eight elements when working alternating knit and purl rows) is what will create or take away the twisted stitch.
Here is an example of stitches that are twisted on every row. To create this, on my right side (knit) rows, I picked up my knit stitches through the front part of the loop and wrapped my yarn clockwise to creat the Knit stitch. With my purl stitches, I picked up again through the front of the loop and wrapped the yarn under my needle and over, also clockwise.
If you compare this to the first picture, you will see that each little V is now crossed at the bottom, instead of just touching. It’s actually not bad looking, but every stitch was a battle and this sample took me about 3 times as long to work up compared to the untwisted version.
When knitting the 1st sample of untwisted rows, I picked up my stitches in the front for both the knit and the purl rows, and wrapped my yarn counter-clockwise.
A lot of knitters, when just learning, will have twisted sts on just one row and untwisted on the following. They are still figuring out what goes where, and are feeling all thumbs, wishing they had a third arm to hold anything as it’s all so confusing.
Here in this 3rd sample is what that can look like, I’ve again picked up my yarn from the front, but on my knit rows I wrapped the yarn counter-clockwise, and for the purl rows, I wrapped it clockwise.
So, you will see that in all these samples, the only thing that has changed is whether I’ve wrapped the yarn clockwise or not.
Habits are easy to make and hard to break, and the direction the yarn is wrapped is a tough one to change for some. In that case, a way to get rid of the twist would be to pick up your stitches through the back part of the loop, instead of the front and see what happens. So on which row do you do that, the knit or the purl? Again, no real right answer, since it ultimately depends on what you are doing that is causing the twist.
If it is an alternate row twist, then the first thing to try would be to pick up the yarn in back on the row that is fighting you back, you will all of a sudden find the stitch wants to be knitted (or purled), and ta-da! in a few rows you will see the twist is gone!
If you are twisting all your stitches on every row, then it will probably be a two-step trial and error process to see what works best for you, comfortwise, to change, whether it be the direction of the wrap, or the way you pick up that stitch from your needle.