The physical size of multiple YOs

A question came up elsewhere online about how to make double and triple yarnovers smaller.

I’ve actually thought about this before, but haven’t used my ideas in my stitch patterns – my secret code method when applied to lace means that I need to chart the lace with a yarnover in every encoded square.

But there’s no reason why someone couldn’t knit my stitch patterns with the methods I’m going to describe below. I do have two caveats:

  1. The stitch count will vary from row to row, and the more times the pattern repeats across the row, the more it will vary. I’m not sure whether this might cause blocking issues or if it would just have the effect of making the row vertically shorter because the stitches would be stretched horizontally.
  2. It requires more thought on the return rows, which makes them less restful.

Even so, it’s a handy way to think about it. (Also, this can be a useful method for coping with having made a single YO instead of a double or triple.)

The important thing to realize is that when there’s a double or triple yarnover on the right side row, it doesn’t actually increase the knitting by that many stitches. It just makes a single large new stitch. It’s the number of stitches worked into the double (or triple) yarnover on the return row that makes for more than the single increase. Having multiple loops makes for an  reminder of the location for multiple stitches but there’s no inherent reason to have them.

The swatch in the featured photo is the result of my playing around with this knowledge on a small scale, using one horizontal repeat of Friendship. The blocked swatch shows that some of the size of larger yarnovers has as much to do with blocking and their context in the larger stitch pattern as with how many loops were made at the time – still, it’s a worthwhile exercise.

Here’s the chart for the swatch:

Experiments with multiple YOs

In short:

  1. The first time through the pattern was worked as usual. (Minus the cables which are only present with more than one horizontal repeat.)
  2. On the second pass, all  double YOs were made with a single YO on the right side, in which I worked (k1, p1) on the wrong side. All  triple YOs were worked as double YOs on the right side, in which I worked (p1, k1, p1) on the wrong side.
  3. The third time through, all double and triple YOs were worked as single YOs on the right side. I  worked (k1, p1) in the YOs that should have been double, and (p1, yo, p1) in the YOs that should have been triple.

I hope this is helpful to you sometime!