Another Hobby Blog

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Eastern Uncrossed Knitting

I am an “Eastern Uncrossed” knitter. At least, I think I am. I’m fairly new to the term, actually. … and really, I’m fairly new to the technique.
I used to do all of my knitting (knit stitches and purl stitches) “backward,” which is to say that I wrapped my yarn around my needle clockwise instead of counter-clockwise. (It’s easiest to tell which way I’m wrapping the yarn if I look at the point of the needle dead-on as I pick up the new stitch.)
This resulted in the “leading edge” of my stitches on the back side of my needles instead of the front side of my needles.
(I learned to avoid crossed stitches by paying attention to the leading edge, and always knitting through it unless I wanted my stitches to cross!)

And then one day I realized what was happening to my yarn. My poor, store-bought, standardized, S-twist yarn!! Each “Backward” stitch that I made took a little bit of the twist out of the yarn instead of putting a little bit of twist into it! This isn’t a problem at the beginning of a project, but half-a-skein into it, the yarn is so loose that the tip of my needle gets caught between the strands of the ply, and affects my tension measurably.

So I tried to learn Continental.
And I re-discovered that the reason I adopted/invented my “backward” knitting method in the first place. After only a few rows of Continental purl stitches my wrists, elbow, and shoulder begin to ache, grate, and stiffen.

Fortunately, about this time I stumbled across an explanation of the “Eastern Uncrossed” or “Combination” knitting method. If I understand correctly, the Eastern Uncrossed method loops the knit stitches counter-clockwise around the needle so that the leading edges are in front, and the purl stitches clockwise around the needle so that the leading edges are in the back. There may be more to it than that, but that’s the part that resonates with me.

By making my knit stitches in the standard style, I can help keep my store-bought S-twist yarn from unspinning! And my joints hold up reasonably well. (They do fatigue a bit quicker than if I were also doing my knit stitches “backward,” but only subtly so, and they recover pretty quickly with brief rest breaks.)

By making my purl stitches “backward,” I can keep my joints from seizing up on me, which would force me to lay aside all knitting for weeks or months on end! (made the mistake once. Not doing it again!)

Voila. Eastern Uncrossed.

(Unless I’m working with my own hand-spun which is by default a Z-twist yarn.)

The challenge comes in interpreting standard patterns. For me, shaping stitches depend upon the row beneath them. If an SSK is being formed on top of a knit row, then it’s an SSK. If it’s being formed on top of a purl row, then it’s basically a K2Tog since my leading edges are already in the back!

Hence, the fascination I currently indulge in the Structure of knitting, especially lace patterns. I look at my own knitting swatch and see that it turns out differently (subtle, but noticeable) than Gipsieee’s. …and then I try to figure out why.

At the moment, I’m still working on the first clue for my Mystery Stole. After getting a few rows into my lace yarn and realizing my result was measurably different from Gipsieee’s, I decided I’d better do a test swatch to examine the different possibilities and make an educated, informed decision about the end result I want.


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