Basic knitting stitch structure, part 2

Last week I wrote about how the basic knit stitch is formed. This week I want to talk a little bit more about basic knit fabric.

stylized illustration of two columns of three knit stitches each

Here are two columns of knit stitches next to each other. There’s something in particular that I find really interesting about plain knitting: if you shift your gaze over by half a stitch with these two columns, there’s a single column of knit stitches rotated halfway.

Well, here.

In the left image, there’s a box around a knitting stitch in the left column of stitches. In the right image, I’ve moved the box over halfway, so it surrounds half of the stitch I outlined previously, and half the stitch to its right. Those two halves make a complete knitting stitch, upside down.

If this were actual knitting, that center column of stitches could unravel, going upward, just as either of the two original columns could run downward. (There are some knitting stitch patterns like ribbing where this is not the case.)

This phenomenon is useful in knitting because it means that a knitter can pick up the bottom loops of a row of stitches and start knitting in the other direction, smooth as can be. The one downside for some purposes is that the knitting that goes in the opposite direction is offset by half a stitch, so it’s impossible to get perfect vertical mirror symmetry.

Does this spark any questions for you?