I don’t know about you, but I hate weaving in ends. If I can avoid doing it, I prefer to, so I love patterns where I can carry my yarn with me as I work rather than breaking it.
In my pattern, Star Trails, the colours can be carried throughout most of the work, with the contrast colour being carried through the whole shawl and never broken until the very end.
This is done in the kfbf stitch, which is used at the start of right side rows as the main increase.
So here’s a few instructions and some pictures to help explain how I use this technique.
How to carry the yarn
When knitting the kfbf stitch, start by knitting in the front of the stitch as usual without removing the stitch from the left needle. Insert the tip of the right needle into the back of the same stitch on the left needle as you usually would to work the second part of the stitch. You’re now at the point as per the photo below where you need to make a few slight adjustments to carry the yarn.
Take the colour you want to carry (in this case, the lighter colour yarn) and move it so that it is lying over the working yarn that you are using. I do this by lifting the yarn over from left to right so that it is on top of the working yarn. You can see how this looks in the photo below.
Knit into the back of the stitch as you usually would, again without removing the stitch from the left needle. The yarn that is being carried will be ‘caught’ in this stitch.
Now at this point, the yarn has been caught and you could finish off the kfbf stitch as per usual without any further work on yarn carrying. However, I found I could get a much neater finish with a few more simple steps.
Insert the needle into the front of the same stitch to work the last part of the kfbf stitch. Cross the colour being carried over your working yarn again, this time from right to left. This shown in the picture below.
Work the final stitch in the kfbf stitch as usual and lift the stitch off the left needle. After working the kfbf stitch, tug and stretch the edge (for Star Trails this is a selvedge) of the shawl where the yarn is being carried as you would when blocking. This ensures the yarn is being carried loosely enough that it will not affect the tension in the shawl and distort the shape while blocking.
I find that the stretching to ensure there is enough yarn being carried works best if repeated a couple of times. After working the kfbf stitch, I work a few more stitches along the row (five or six) and then stretch the increase edge of my work.
When I get to the point where I am switching the colour I work with (so, for example, I have been carrying the contrast colour up the side of my work and I am now about to start knitting with it again), I also repeat the stretching along the full area where the colour was being carried before I start working with that colour and again after working the first two or three stitches in that colour. Doing this doesn’t take long and it ensures that I have a nice edge to work with when blocking.
Things to watch out for when using this technique
In my pattern, the contrast colour yarn is carried throughout the whole shawl. But the main colour is broken before the lace panel and rejoined after the lace panel. Why did I do this?
Because I found that if I carried the yarn loosely enough that it didn’t distort the selvedge that it was slightly visible in some of the lace. Given the trade off between the wrong colour being visible (only just – I know this wouldn’t bother some knitters) and a tight edge, I decided that breaking the yarn was the best approach.
These results will vary depending on the pattern, yarn, knitting style and subjective taste of the knitter. But when using this technique, I think it’s best to observe closely – particularly before working with the yarn that’s being carried again – as you always have the choice to break it and rejoin if this technique isn’t suiting your taste.
Happy knitting and I hope you enjoy both this technique and this pattern. Any questions about this technique? Feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with me!