Gather together: permutations of a knitting stitch

There’s a knitting stitch combination that I’ve seen called a gather, and I’ve mostly seen it in Estonian stitch patterns, though I’m guessing they get used elsewhere too. Essentially, they are a combination of a double decrease (or more) and a double increase (or more) happening at the same time.

It sounds more complicated than it is. Take the 3/3 gather. When making a k3tog decrease, the basic principle is to insert the needle through all three stitches as if they were one stitch, and then knit one stitch in that clump of stitches. The gather expands upon that: knit those three stitches together without removing them from the needle, then yarnover, then knit the three stitches together again. This is the same as working a KYOK at the same time as a k3tog. Start with three stitches, end with three stitches, but they’re gathered together.

But thinking of it as a decrease/increase started making my brain fizz.

There’s other kinds of double decreases, too: sssk, CDD, sk2p. What if I worked a KYOK in those? How would that look? So I knit a swatchlet as a starting point.

five variants on gather stitch

From left to right, these are

  1. The standard k3tog gather
  2. Sssk gather
  3. CDD gather
  4. Sk2p gather
  5. CDD gather, but with (p1, yo, p1) instead of (k1, yo, k1)

regular gather stitch

Number 1 is the classic: knit three together without removing them from the needles, yo, and then knit the same three together.

sssk gather stitch

For number 2, I slipped each of the next three stitches as if to knit, then slipped them back to the left needle. I knit them together through the back loop without removing them from the needle, then I worked a yo and knit the same three together again. (Photo just shows the part where they’ve been slipped back, ready to be knit through the back loop.) This results in the mirror image of number 1, no great surprise. This could have its uses!

CDD gather stitch

For number 3, I had to pause a moment, then I worked it out. First, slip 2 as if to knit them together, just like a regular CDD. Then I worked (k1, yo, k1) in the next stitch. Finally, I passed the two slipped stitches over the three new stitches. A little awkward (especially because I think I was using needles a smidge too small for my yarn), but perfectly possible. I like this result a lot, and think I could do something interesting with it.

sk2p gather stitch

Once I worked out 3, it wasn’t hard to figure out 4: slip 1 as if to knit, then I worked (k1, yo, k1) in the next two stitches together, then I passed the slipped stitch over. It’s not really visually different from 2, but maybe it will come in handy for something anyway. We’ll see!

While I was knitting plain rows after working the CDD version, I was thinking about how the KYOK works. While the maneuver is (k1, yo, k1), the yo doesn’t actually look like a yo. If you turn the fabric over and look at the other side, you can see that the yo is structurally identical to a knit stitch. I’m not going to talk about why in this post, though. Anyway, the inverse of (k1, yo, k1) is (p1, yo, p1). After looking at #3, I wondered if working a CDD with a PYOP instead of a KYOK would make something with more vertical symmetry.

The answer was yes. I really like this one and want to figure out where to use it. Stay tuned!