I’ve been writing a series of sporadic posts about the structure of various knitting stitch structures. I’m in the middle of a series about increases, and before I go on to various ways of making increases by knitting into existing stitches, I want to talk about a maneuver that seems at first glance as if it ought to be an increase, but isn’t.
My experience with learning to knit as a child and teen was a haphazard one; I learned some things from other people or from books, and some other things just by trying stuff. One thing that I tried at some point was turning one already-knit stitch into two stitches by knitting into it twice. I was baffled to see that it didn’t work; instead, this produced one stitch, but with the yarn wrapped around the needle twice, instead of once. At the time, I didn’t understand why, but just accepted it. Later I learned that this is a useful way of introducing some slack into a stitch on purpose; it’s called an elongated stitch.
This post is written to explain the why of it.
My other stitch structure posts can be found in my stitch structure tag.
- These posts aren’t meant as instructions for how to work these stitches; instead I’m showing the structure of the resulting stitches. In aid of that, I am not showing needles in the stitches as I feel they make it harder to see the fabric structure.
- The yarn is drawn to be much thinner relative to the stitch size than would be practical for actual knitting. This helps make it easier to see the structure, but it doesn’t look exactly like the final knitting.
Here is a column of two existing knit stitches. The bottom one, in medium-dark green, is just there to show how the bottom of the light green one is kept in shape. The light green knit stitch is the one from the previous row that is about to have a new stitch made in it. The dark green yarn is about to be pulled through the light green stitch.
The light green stitch is drawn extra-large not because it actually is, but because it will make the structure of the loops in the next two illustrations more visible.
A dark green yarn loop has been pulled through the light green knit stitch to form a new knit stitch.
A second dark green loop has been pulled through the same light green knit stitch as if to make a second knit stitch. The sneaky thing about this is that if you actually do this, it looks as if there are two stitches formed on the needle—but it’s really that the yarn is wrapped around twice. (If you’re doing this on purpose, it’s easier to just wrap the yarn twice instead of pulling two separate loops through.) If you look at the illustration above, the dark green yarn wiggles up and down twice, but only the outer two bits are anchored by the light green stitch. The U shape in the middle is just resting in place, nothing is holding it.
When the needle is removed, it becomes one long stitch that is actually bigger than the other stitches because the yarn was wrapped around the needle twice.
Elongated stitches are useful for a couple of circumstances. I sometimes use them if I’m going to be slipping that stitch and don’t want to pull the yarn out of the stitches to either side. They’re also good for a lacy effect. Here is an elongated stitch tutorial from Interweave which shows how it looks in use as well as on the needles. (The elongated stitches there are wrapped three times, but the principle is the same.)
What questions do you have about this?