Colourwork Jogs

It’s been a while since I last wrote anything. In September, I started a new job and, three months later and five qualifying exams sat, I don’t know where the time went. I know I barely knit, instead turning to crochet. I often do that when I get stressed, as there is less for me to worry about and as I work row after row on my blanket. But in the back of my mind, just waiting for exams to be done, was a knitting idea.

Can we eradicate the jog that occurs at the start of a new round?

All About The Jogs

Last year, I knit a Marius jumper. They are lovely to knit, simple one colour bottom up construction up to the armpits and then a beautiful colourwork yoke is. If you ever have knit one, you might remember the pattern is very clear but rather concise. When it comes to starting the yoke, the pattern doesn’t mess about with explanations. It gives the chart and says off you go!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the end result. But in the image below, there would be no prizes given out for working out where my start of round was.

IMG_20181209_125538.jpg
Close up of the Marius jumper yoke illustrating the colour jog at the start of the round where the stitches do not line up in pattern. This is due to the stitches on the right appearing one round higher than those on the left.

Pardon the well loved nature of the jumper in the photo. It’s possibly the most worn item of clothing I own, mistakes and all.

 

Hopefully, the pictures have given you an intuitive sense of what I am talking about when I mention colourwork jogs.

Technically, they happen because knitting in the round is a spiral. In crochet (sorry knitters who don’t crochet if this is confusing), it is common to come to the end of the round, work a slip stitch to join the first and last stitches together and chain two or three to start a new round. You move up a level to start the next round. In knitting, the next round is started by knitting the next stitch. The last stitch of the round is therefore level with the first stitch of the next round, not the first stitch of the round you have just completed.

A jog occurs when the first stitch of the round is not the same colour as it was the round below resulting in the stitch at the start of the round being noticeably lower than the stitch at the end of the round.

It’s 2018 and we’re in the hayday of knitting; there has to be techniques to correct it. These are some that are some of the ones people suggest:

  1. Leaving it alone
  2. Steeks
  3. Jogless stripes (a technique popularised by techknitter)
  4. Picture Framing

These are fantastic methods for doing what they intend to do, and which I’m going to describe in more detail in a moment. However, they do not solve the colour jogs shown above. I’m looking for a method or combination of methods which will stop the beginning of round jogging the colourwork chart as shown in the pictures above.

To do that, I’m going to be writing about three methods you might not have heard of over the next few days. This may be because they’ve been adapted by me but who knows in the knitting world. Someone else’s family might have been doing it this way for years! These are

  1. 1 round jogless stripes
  2. Moving Picture Frames
  3. The Lice Stitch fix

Each of these are going to get their own post and hopefully, this list will turn into a list of links soon enough. However, today I want to talk about why these methods are worth doing by looking at what the common techniques are good for and why they don’t solve this particular problem (even though they are fantastic at what they set out to do).

Leaving it alone:

‘So what if the stitches do not line up in pattern?’ And if you were wondering that, you would be completely right. It’s a perfectly functional garment, and you do not have to care about jogs in the slightest. Bung the start of round over your back shoulder, you will never see it while wearing it.

The ‘usual’ advice is that at tight gauges (say fingering weight), the jog is less noticeable. However, the photos shown above were knit at around 9 sts per inch (36 stitches for 4 inches / 10 cm) and it still is pretty noticeable to me. Obviously, your knitting may vary and it may not be a problem for you.

But if there was an easy way of solving it? I’d do it in a heartbeat.

I’m not the most confident of people anyway, and I dress to feel comfortable. I don’t want to have to worry about what I’m wearing. Handknit jumpers are actually very good for that, because I make them to be exactly what I want to wear. I love making them, I love that it showcases what I’m capable of, and I love wearing them. It’s a win all around. Eliminating the jog adds to all that. It’s not hard to do, it’s a cool thing to be able to do and I don’t have to worry about someone who’s staring really closely at my back noticing the tiny glitches. (Nobody would do that, but try convincing my brain of that.)

Steeks

I’m writing this post from Scotland, so I would be truly amiss if I didn’t mention a historical way of eliminating the jog. Fairisle knitting, a type of colourwork, originates from Fair Isle, an island in Shetland in Northern Scotland and has been around for hundreds of years.

In that time, people far cleverer than myself tackled this problem and came up with an ingenious solution. If you were making a cardigan anyway and were steeking it (knitting it entirely in the round and then cutting the fabric to create openings of the sleeves and button band), you can hide your colour jogs in the steek. The steek once cut is not visible and any jog will be well hidden.

Obviously, if you’re not knitting a cardigan and don’t have a steek to hide the jog in this doesn’t really work. However, it is an excellent solution if you are knitting a cardigan. Make sure your start of round is worked in the steek stitches, and you are done.

Jogless Stripes

This is the answer that everyone seems to want to work, myself included. There’s thousands of videos on YouTube about working jogless stripes. I first heard about this method on Techknitter and so that’s what I go back to. If you were to follow the link, it would take you to the method when the stripes are three rounds or more. If you want to knit one or two round stripes, the helical knitting method is suggested, which I will get into in a moment.

This is a fantastic technique for stripes of three or more rounds. I have even heard of it working for one round stripes, though it doesn’t quite work for me. (The method I’m going to show you is adapted from this, but takes it a step further.) It’s simple, and doesn’t break you from your knitting flow.

However, it does only works for stripes. If you are looking to eliminate a jog from a colourwork motif such as those shown above, there is too much going on for this technique to work. Elongating the first stitch such that it sits next to the final stitch hides the jog on the first round but jars the pattern enough that the eye can still see something is off.

Picture Framing

While the previous method is aimed at stripes, this method is actually aimed at solving the distortion in colourwork charts. I first read about it in a techknitter post but it is far older a technique. I read it, and then had a Homer Simpson “D’oh” moment. Ever noticed how you don’t get a jog when you knit most mittens patterns? That’s because of this method.

Above, I gave this description of a jog:

A jog occurs when the first stitch of the round is not the same colour as it was the round below resulting in the stitch at the start of the round being noticeably lower than the stitch at the end of the round.

So what if we keep the first stitch of the round the same colour? You will get a column of stitches in one colour, but no jog.

This can be worked into a pattern, creating a padding or a frame around the design. This can be as simple as a column of the main colour between the front or back of the mittens, or be several columns incorporating a small motif.

An example of where this would work is the following chart. It’s easy to place the start of round in one of the plain columns and the start of round will never have to go through the motif. The start of round will be invisible.

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 10.56.04
A chart which can be picture framed and the start of round hidden without a jog

However, this doesn’t work when the chart does not include padding and wraps around such as in the yoke of the Marius jumper, or in the Christmas ornaments shown above. The following chart is the exact same number of stitches, but picture framing would not work as there is no column where the colour does not change.

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 10.55.12
An example of a chart where picture framing would not work

An additional column cannot be added as the chart wraps around and the last stitch of the motif ties up with the first stitch of the motif.

To finish up!

If you have made it this far, congratulations. I will be editing in links to future posts where I actually go into the other techniques as I put them up. Did this need an entire post? I don’t really know, but I wanted to set the scene. Most of what I have started to do to eliminate the colourwork jog isn’t invented by me. There’s so much knitting technique developed already that anything I say is building on what is out there. I’m putting what I do out there in the hope that it might contribute something even if it is small.

I take enormous pride in my knitting. Not necessarily because it is the most beautiful (oh god, some of the things I’ve made) but because when I look back I can see how I’ve improved. I’m a process knitter and I knit because I enjoy knitting more than for the finished object. It helps when the finished object is fun or useful and improving the look of what I make is definitely something. But looking back over how I’ve improved project by project and made my knitting better is priceless.

 

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