Freia and the Knitwhit

A Blog about a Dog with some Knitting thrown in here and there

Knitting Tip #2 – Twisted Stitches September 28, 2006

Filed under: Knitting,Knitting Tips — knitwhits @ 1:37 pm

The plague of the twisted stitch.

Stitches Not TwistedLet 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.

Stitches Twisted on Every RowHere 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.

Stitches Twisted on Alternate RowsA 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.

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13 Responses to “Knitting Tip #2 – Twisted Stitches”

  1. Haptotrope Says:

    I’m an alt row twisted purler. (tho for me, twisted purling is way faster)

    The issue I ran into with the wrapping clockwise, vs counterclockwise was that the wrapping is from the point of view of the *point* of the needle, instead of how you look at it (down the shaft to the tip) from the knitter point of view.

  2. EricaVee Says:

    Thank you so much for this! I happened to read something on line about Continental making twisting stitches and I’ve been in a panic ever since trying to figure out if I was doing something wrong. I’ve also been wondering why when I purled in the round, the reverse stitches looked better than my knit stitches. Thanks for the explanation and great pics, now I can correct my mistakes!

  3. Sheri Says:

    Thank you so much for this page! It has just became apparent that I too have twisted stitches and this will help me figure out just what is going wrong. I knit when I was 5 or 6 for only a summer with my grandmother. Two years ago I started again and now that I’m spreading my wings into circular needles with socks, ribs and cable and others such things I noticed at times my knits and purls looked and acted strangly. Thanks for you work and sharing this information. Other sites I’ve visited don’t begin to explain as you do. Thanks again.

  4. knitwhits Says:

    Sheri, Your message here made me remember one other thing regarding twisted stitches on circular needles. They will often cause your work to lean dramatically at an angle if working on circulars. Just something else that can be a clue on whether your stitches are twisted or not.

  5. Carolyn Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! My twisted stitches have been driving me mad and thanks to your clear instructions my stockinette now looks beautiful… not a twist in sight.

  6. Jolene Says:

    Thank you!! I am a beginner and knew what I had done (slipped stitches off the needle to correct a mistake and did not take them off correctly) but did not know how to correct it. Your blog was a big help! Now I can finish my grandbaby’s blanket!

  7. indigosand Says:

    thank you so much for this! I have been battling twisted stitches from the beginning and couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. To make things more complicated, I’m a left handed knitter and self-taught. I finally “got” what I was doing wrong and wow, the stitches slide so easily now! LOL!

  8. Claire Says:

    Thank you! You made that so clear and simple! I have been teaching myself to knit and COULD NOT work out from written instructions why every second row was twisted. I was sure I had followed the instructions to the letter – but no, I must be winding the yarn the wrong way. Back to it tonight!

    Thanks again – my new jumper(sweater) is closer by the day.
    Claire in Australia.

  9. Lee Ann Says:

    I have been trying to figure out how to twist my stitches and get a slightly different look out of stockinette, so thank you for posting this!

  10. meredith Says:

    OMG. Thank you so much for this (yes, I realize I am more than 4 years late) because I apparently have been making all twisted stitches all the time! In the round, back-and-forth … all the same! I could tell I was doing something odd when I tried my first project using twisted rib, because it looked horrendous but I couldn’t figure out the clockwise/counter-clockwise thing! So again, thank you thank you thank you for your extremely clear explanations!

  11. Shirley Ann Says:

    Thank you VERY MUCH! I am a self-taught knitter and I had absolutely NO CLUE regarding the counter-clockwise method of tossing the yarn. I have read your explanation three times…because it is clear and so thorough! I get it!!! Now I see why my stitches have been looking so strange!!!! Without you and Google Search I would never have descended from Venus where our stitches (and other things, too) are always twisted!!

  12. Donna Says:

    I was making a top down cardigan sweater, (knit 1 row, purl 1 row) everything was fine until I had to start the sleeves and work in the round. Two different kinds of stitches, I never even knew I knitted like that!!! Ripped the whole thing apart. Now working on a cowl in the round, pattern calls for some short rows, working some knit and purl rows, same thing is happening. I don’t know what I am doing wrong, but at least armed with your information I can try to fix it.

  13. metricula Says:

    SO helpful! I’ve been twisting my purls this whole time!


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