Sunday, March 15, 2009

Long Tail Purl Variations

Sometimes I like to CO in pattern with the long tail CO. Thanks to a knitting buddy, I was recently introduced to the real version of the Long Tail Purl CO (LTPCO). Until now, I thought what I was doing was the only way to purl when doing LTCO. After researching the topic, I discovered that I was doing the purl CO that's used specifically when doing a 2-color or double knitting CO in long tail. It's a reverse LTCO and has sometimes been dubbed Reverse Continental. Yet, many knitters refer to it as The LTPCO. It's not, and I'll explain why.

When doing the 2-color/DK LTCO, the knit stitches are created using the thumb loop while the purl stitches are created using the index finger loop. The working yarns alternate as a result. Alternating back and forth between thumb and index finger is necessary to alternate the colors of the CO sts. But what if you're only using a single color to CO? Sure, you could still use the same method, especially if you're partial to the resulting edge that's created (see my sample below). However, there is a LTPCO that uses the thumb loop, just like the LTKCO.

The LTPCO is worked like a Norwegian Purl st --the method of purling wyib. The only difference is in the way the stitch is wrapped. If you watch the linked video of the Norwegian Purl, imagine the working yarn being wrapped the opposite direction (clockwise, aka Eastern): After going behind the working yarn and entering the thumb loop purlwise, bring the thumb loop back under and then around the working yarn to pick up a stitch. So the LTPCO is an Eastern-wrapped Norwegian Purl. Now that you've seen the Norwegian Purl, here's a video of the LTPCO:

Besides being 100% reversible, using the front thumb loop for both knits and purls, and looking nice, I also like that there's a shortcut way of doing the LTPCO that looks exactly like a Combined Purl stitch (Eastern/clockwise). I happened upon a video of someone doing 1x1 rib CO in long tail who used the shortcut LTPCO for the purls. Here it is (The LTPCO shortcut begins at about 1:50 or so.):

Note: I found that you don't have to bring the working strand so far down below the thumb loop. Just as long as you can pick at it after entering the thumb loop p-wise, you'll be OK. Actually, instead of moving the working yarn in front, I just move my thumb behind the working yarn which automatically causes the working yarn to be in front, ready to purl. With your working yarn in front and your thumb loop behind it, do a Combined Purl stitch (wrapping clockwise). Voila, it's that easy, not to mention fast! It cuts out the first couple of steps of the longer version. The longer version is a Norwegian purl (wrapped clockwise); whereas the shortcut version is a Combined Purl. If you prefer doing your purl stitches the Norwegian way wyib, then the longer method is for you. For Combination knitters who typically knit Continental and wrap their purls clockwise (aka Eastern Uncrossed), you'll prefer the shortcut method. Either way has the exact same construction and resulting stitch mount.

Long Tail Purl Collage
I made three samples of 1x1 ribbing CO that you see here in this collage. (FYI: You can open the samples picture in another window or tab for larger viewing.) The purl variations shown are: Reverse Continental, LTPCO, and German Twisted, respectively. The knits were all done using LTKCO. You can see how different each edging looks. Notice how the LTPCO edging looks a lot more like regular LTCO. The ribbing also snugs up nicely. The best feature of all is that the LTPCO is 100% reversible. The other COs aren't since they produce a line of purl bumps on the other side. Personally, I like the LTPCO because I knit Continental Combined when doing ribbing. It's fast, it's simple, and it looks nice. ...and it was/is, respectively, used by Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen (Supposedly, it's shown in the book and/or video of Knitting Around.).

Despite all my fuss over LTPCO, there's another way to CO in rib I've also recently learned about. You can alternate LTCO and German Twisted, using GT for the purls. The purl stitches have an extra twist and look like purls from the front. The only cons would be that it's not 100% reversible or as fast as LTPCO. But hey, sock knitters wouldn't mind this if they want the extra twist. Many videos I've seen of the German Twisted make it look really fiddly. Lucy Neatby has a video where she shows how to bend your thumb downward to make the CO a lot easier. Here it is:
Lucy Neatby German Twisted Cast On

Show and Tell is now over ;-p Hope everyone had a great weekend!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is so helpful and informative and awesome!

-Sarah (sylphette)