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18 april, 2007

My recently completed Baby Bell Bottoms alerted me to the disgraceful fact that I have a tendency to row out.   Always in an experimental mood, I'm on a mission to find a solution.  It's hard to see in this picture, so you're going to have to trust me -- you do trust me don't you!?  From bottom to top:

  1. Rowing Out With US 5 Needles -- my purl stitches are definitely bigger than my knit stitches causing my stockinette stitch to look stripey, a phenomenon Priscilla Gibson-Roberts calls "rowing out".  To see a better picture of rowing out, click here.
  2. Purl Stitches Wrapped Clockwise --  Instead of wrapping the yarn counter-clockwise when purling, I wrapped the yarn clockwise.  This style of knitting is called "Combination Knitting" and definately solves my rowing out problem.  Since the new stitch is formed with a clockwise wrap, it must be knit (or purled) into its back loop when next encountered -- not a problem.

  3. Purl Stitches Knit With Smaller Needle -- I used a US 5 for knit rows and a US 4 for purl rows.  I was a little skeptical about this suggestion, but it did indeed eliminate the rowing out.

  4. Rowing Out With US 7 Needles -- I thought perhaps the rowing out was caused from knitting this yarn at a tighter gauge then recommened, so I tried using US 7 needles instead of the US 5s.  No change, still rowing out.

My conclusions?  I think I may try Combination Knitting for awhile and see what's what.  Of course, I'll keep you posted.

April 18, 2007 | Permalink


Proud of you, nona! Experiment away.

Posted by: Deborah (a.k.a. Mt. Mom) | Apr 18, 2007 11:58:06 PM

i'm going to have to check, but i probably row out too. so sad. i so don't like being considered less than excellent by priscilla gibson-roberts

Posted by: maryse | Apr 19, 2007 3:40:31 AM

I do that too! I knew a purl coming right after a knit was a problem, but I didn't know why! I thoguht I was knitting too loosely so I tried doing it tighter but it only sort of solved the problem.

Perhaps I should be a Combination Knitter too!

Posted by: Arianne | Apr 19, 2007 3:55:33 AM

I do this too. I knew what the problem was, but didn't know how to fix it. Thanks for the suggestions!

Posted by: Heather | Apr 19, 2007 6:22:11 AM

Combination knitting cured my rowing out. I tried the two different needle sizes. It works as long as I remembered to change needles on the purl row. Combination knitting is easier. I use combination knitting on heel flaps also. Nice and even. I knit a bit tighter in Combination, which is perfect for heel flaps
Loving your samples

Posted by: Suzann | Apr 19, 2007 6:35:56 AM

I think this is a really common problem. I've somehow gotten into the habit of tugging my purl stitches a little more than the knit stitches. I'll have to try the combination knitting to see what effect that has. Cool demo to show the difference!

Posted by: Anita | Apr 19, 2007 7:03:24 AM

Thank you! When I learned to knit I was taught combined knitting, continental hold. After not knitting for decades, I came back to it, and, confused at first by various sources, I re-tooled my knitting--now I know why it looks the way it does and why it is so loose. Back to basics for me.

I am learning a lot from this swatching series.


Posted by: Kathleen | Apr 19, 2007 7:16:20 AM

It looks in the photo like eliminating the rowing out has also affected the gauge. Is it just the photo or is the swatch a bit narrower in section 2 and 3? It would make sense if half the stitches became smaller.

Posted by: Margaret | Apr 19, 2007 7:21:29 AM

Yeh, but. The little v's look a bit different in Section 2 - almost but not quite twisted. I'm probably being too picky. Gonna have to try this myself. These investigations of yours are always interesting.

Posted by: Mary K. IN Rockport | Apr 19, 2007 7:26:36 AM

Ok, I know I was one of the people who suggested it last time, but personally I think section 3-purl with smaller needle-looks the best. Which only reinforces my love of this technique :D

When people say combined knitting, do they also mean using one particular hand to hold the yarn? I haven't heard much about which hand combination knitters use, so I'm curious.

Posted by: Liz | Apr 19, 2007 7:55:32 AM

I've heard of knitters using Denise interchangeble or Knitpicks Options style circulars with two different size ends to negate the effects of "rowing out". You always have the correct size when you get to the end of the row and turn to knit flat.


Posted by: midj | Apr 19, 2007 7:56:56 AM

I don't row out and I think I know why:

I wrap my knit stitches clockwise and wrap my purl stitches counterclockwise. I knit normally, not through the back loop. My stitches aren't twisted, either.

Posted by: Christina | Apr 19, 2007 8:22:17 AM

Impressive effect of the combination knitting! I am having a horrible time getting tight enough knitting for a sweater. My gauge isn't changing appreciably with needle size. So I have a question: does the combination knitting provide a tighter all-around tension for you? I am wondering if it would be something I could try to fix my problem.

Posted by: Brenda | Apr 19, 2007 9:16:40 AM

Thank-you for identifying yet another problem I wasn't that aware of. I'm an inconsistent knitter, I guess. I'll try your way.

Posted by: Angie | Apr 19, 2007 10:44:32 AM

VERY interesting... and educational! I plan on sending a little info email on to my knit whits group members. thanks!

Posted by: Natalie | Apr 19, 2007 10:47:51 AM

Nona! Of course you knit a swatch faster than I could even comment on your other post about Combination Knitting. Sorry, I usually try to read it all before I comment to not be another silly repeater, but sheesh! Now I will still wax poetic about you and Combination Knitting!

Posted by: Amber | Apr 19, 2007 12:43:06 PM

Gwyndolyn love-Love-LOVES nona's experiments! She is in awe of nona's willingness to pick up sharp sticks and have a go. She is INSPIRED! (Except the log cabins. Gwyndolyn prefers well-insulated houses with central heating, thankyouverymuch.)

Posted by: Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy | Apr 19, 2007 3:46:34 PM

I try hard to never work stockinette flat so rowing out isn't an issue, but I do wrap the 1st purl of K2 P2 ribbing "the wrong way" so my ribbing is more even. Works like a charm.

Posted by: becky c. | Apr 19, 2007 3:58:35 PM

I thought combined knitting might be the solution for you. Of course, you have to be careful with decreases and other stitch manipulations. But I know you're a Thinking Knitter so you will figure it all out. :)

Posted by: Laura | Apr 21, 2007 11:30:58 PM

i'm fairly new to knitting, so this may be a silly question . . . with combo knitting, you knit through the back loop, right? well, what do you do when the pattern calls for you to knit tbl? thanks!

Posted by: monica | Apr 24, 2007 5:21:28 AM

thanks for this post. I've learned combination knitting from my mother (whose mother was from Bohemia by the way and loved knitting), and I've been wondering for quite a while why in all the books the purl stitches were shown differently to what I had learned.
Now I know!!! Thank you!!!

Posted by: Mirjam | Oct 8, 2010 10:42:59 PM

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